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Kanye West is an entity of his own and never takes the traditional route.
Last night the multi-platinum rapper launched his new album by promoting its first single, New Slaves. He did this by projecting his face across 66 multi-storied buildings worldwide.
Yeezy announced the event on Twitter with hundreds of fans gathering at each location to see what the rapper had in store.
The video was projected at multiple times throughout the night across several major worldwide cities, including New York, Toronto, Chicago, London, Paris, and Berlin. It even made it down here to Sydney, Australia.
Running one and a half hours later than schedule, the final stop for the roving projector handled by Universal Music was a location near “George Street South”, Pedestrian TV made a hypothesis of Martin Place. Universal Music kept the tweets coming in order to keep the hype surrounding the guerrilla-marketing stunt. The congregation came and went as the minutes to hours ticked past 11pm. Finally a crowd of about 50 people stood to watch Yeezy rap. The sound was disappointing due to unsatisfactory speakers but the message of the track was clear. New Slaves is a dark and brooding tune, brimming with intense emotions about the state of society through West’s eyes.
Check out the stunt below (language may be NSFW).
At Martin Place, the first projection ended with one fan yelling “Thank you Yeezus!”, an appropriate line indeed as today the announcement came that the title of Kanye’s upcoming album on June 18 will be Yeezus.
Rap-Up confirmed the title of the album, and girlfriend and baby-mumma of Ye, as well as his manager Don C. later posted a photo of the what-looks-to-be-unfinished album art as well as a pair of red Yeezy IIs with a tag ‘Yeezus’ to their Instagram accounts.
Kanye has been in the studio with Daft Punk, who programmed drums for the album.
“It was very raw: he was rapping—kind of screaming primally, actually,” Thomas Bangalter of the French duo told Rolling Stone. “Kanye doesn’t give a f*ck.”
Billbord has put together a great infographic outlining what we know about the album so far (click to enlarge).
So what are your thoughts on New Slaves? Are you looking forward to the return of Yeezus?
Read more about Kanye West:
Kanye West on the set of Anchorman 2
Say What: Kanye West’s New Album to release on June 18… maybe?
Marques Houston is set to release his 6th solo studio album “Famous,” with a Marvin Gaye meets D’Angelo feel.
“I wanted to do an album for my fans. I took some time away from my music to focus on my acting and producing films, but because of my Twitter and Instagram blowing up with all my fans requesting new music, it gave me the motivation to get back in the studio,” says Marques Houston.
A Viral leak of his song/video entitled “Speechless” was released on VEVO and fans raved about his vocal performance. He recently completed a remake of Marvin Gaye’s song “Sexual Healing” featuring the Los Angeles native Rapper Problem.
From television, to films, to making ladies melt with his steamy hit album “Naked,” which shipped over 500,000 copies, Marques Houston has conquered it all. With his great acting success, he has one of the most famous faces on television and the big screen. Marques played the role of “Roger Evans” on the hit TV series “Sister, Sister” on ABC. Houston also starred alongside actress Shannon Elizabeth in the UPN Network television series “CUTS”. He’s also well known for his film rolls in the 20th Century Fox comedy Fat Albert as Dumb Donald and his leading role in the hip-hop dance film “You Got Served” which debuted #1 at the box office with Sony Pictures. “You Got Served” went on to gross over $80 million in box office, television, and VOD sales.
Now it’s back to music for soulful sexy crooner. “If I was going to make another album, I wanted it to be a Classic,” says Marques Houston. It’s been two years since Marques Houston released new music but the highly anticipated album, “Famous” which is set to be released Summer of 2013. Marques Houston seems to know exactly what his fans want with each album he releases. “Famous” is sure to be another hit.
Marques Houston will be doing a major market club tour to give his audience a feel of his new style of music with his all female band. He plans on rocking the clubs with “Unplugged” style jam sessions.
In preparation for his “Born Sinner” album, J. Cole gets Kendrick Lamar to speak about his early influences.
With the release of Born Sinner coming up this year, J. Cole has enlisted the help of Kendrick Lamar, who participated in an interview featured on Cole’s site. This K. Dot interview is the second installment of a series produced by Cole. Designed to build anticipation for Born Sinner, Lamar opened up about connecting with Gangsta Rap and having respect for Cole’s work.
“Me listening to Gangsta Rap coming up was vivid stories of a lifestyle I was seeing every time I went outside,” Lamar explained in the interview. “So, me as a kid, I looked at it as these people is basically writing in journals. I caught that early on. Tupac would be talking about these real deep concepts of a teenage boy being lost. I couldn’t really understand it. I wasn’t a teenager yet. I was still doing back-flips off the rooftop thinking everything is fun. But my older cousin who was 17 would be like, ‘Man, this nigga ‘Pac know exactly what I’m feelin’ right now. I’m a wild lil’ nigga. I can’t control myself.’ So that was a way to make that connection, through older influences.”
Kendrick also spoke about his respect for Cole, adding that J has “that gift.”
“Everybody can rap but only a few get in these positions where they can really speak to a generation of people and have them follow it,” Dot added. “When I listen to people like Cole, it’s that gift. Entertaining can only go so far.”
Lamar and Cole have built a strong bond over the years. Exactly a year ago today, it was confirmed that they were working on an album together. Earlier this year, Cole acknowledged that their work together was becoming “mad competitive.” The album is set to feature J. Cole as the primary producer on most of the songs. Cole’s solo album, Born Sinner, is set to be released in June.
Lupe Fiasco is geared to reach Number One on the Billboard 200 charts with his third studio album Lasers. The emcee has brought fans on a roller coaster ride through label woes and album pushbacks. However, now Lasershas not only seen the light of day but will top the charts, a feat for Fiasco, considering it’s his first #1 album (Food & Liquor only reached #8). To take note of his success, here are ten lessons we can learn from Lupe Fiasco.
1. Atlantic Records knows who more than T.I. and Wiz Khalifa are now.
2007’s The Cool marked the beginning of the end of the Lupe Fiasco conversation for a while. The album didn’t do nearly as well as his debut Food & Liquor, despite one chart-topping hit (“Superstar”). Labels speak dollars and sense, and there is no Rosetta Stone to speak their language, regardless of the talent an artist possesses. On the Hip-Hop front, T.I. was the apple of Atlantic Records’ eye, even with jail time. Then a man named Wiz Khalifa came along with a hit song to accompany Pittsburgh’s waving of the Terrible Towel (“Black and Yellow”) and it’s like “Lupe WHO?” Well, Lupe is #1 before Wiz even dropped Rolling Papers. Mr. Lupe Fiasco, welcome back to the boardroom meeting.
2. If you whine about it, they will come.
If you thought Kanye West doesn’t shut up, try putting a coin in Lupe. Twitter, interviews, freestyles, you name it and it’s his podium. Lupe has never been tight-lipped about his business affairs, whether as cautionary tales or open windows to air out his grievances. Many artists don’t complain until it’s too late, but not Lupe. He voiced his concerns about label pushbacks, and was unrelenting, even suggesting he be freed from recording contract. Someone in that New York City skyscraper listened, and now his album has made it to our ears. Sure it’s like three years late, but who’s counting?
3. Hip-Hop Really CAN Save Your Life.
On The Cool, Lupe Fiasco has a song with singer Nikki Jean called “Hip-Hop Saved My Life,” discussing the rise and fall of a rapper. On the song, he discusses an emcee trying to pound the pavement promoting his art. The rapper later finds himself rhyming over instrumentals like “Wipe Me Down,” thereby crafting a mainstream hit he never thought possible. This was the fuel to move that rapper to the next plateau. Lupe probably thought he was speaking about himself with his first album. However, as Lasers drives Lupe’s music in a more mainstream direction, perhaps he was telling the future, since the album is on deck to break the 200,000 unit mark in sales its first week. Prophecy fulfilled.
4. Twitter is an acceptable soapbox for artists.
@LupeFiasco has quite an active Twitter feed. His recent posts unfortunately discuss that he is on Doctor’s orders to go on voice rest. However, when Lupe isn’t promoting his album or pushing audio links and interviews, he is telling it like it is right on Twitter. Sometimes that leads to @ reply wars, but most of the time it is Lupe discussing what is really going on to his 445,000-plus followers. It’s a no-brainer that Twitter has made celebs more accessible to their fans. However, in this instance it has provided thoughts and opinions right from the horse’s mouth that even his label can read. Notes were obviously taken.
5. Blogs Don’t Make #1 Albums
It’s become a norm in the music industry to assume that the fate of a rapper’s career lies within the blogosphere. Major blogs and Hip-Hop websites pull millions of hits and promote an artist’s music through a vehicle that no one has previously driven. Lupe Fiasco for the past year or so has been intertwined in a battle with the largest Hip-Hop blogs on the internet and none of them (with the exception of a VERY slim few) have promoted his music. It was a boycott of sorts. The details of the boycott are irrelevant (check back on Lupe’s Twitter if you MUST know the gossip). That isn’t important here. What is important is that Lupe Fiasco had the best debut of his career without the internet to lean on. Now granted, his previous albums arrived at a time when Hip-Hop online was just beginning to blow up. But in recent years a huge thanks for an artist’s success has been due to blogs. Lupe didn’t have that luxury and he still won. So who can he thank for that?
6. CRS is NOT happening...
Remember Child Rebel Soldier with Lupe, Kanye West and Pharrell Williams? Yeah, no. That super-group has been rumored to be in the works since the 1800’s. When no one heard that Lupe album titled LupE.N.D., everyone was hedging their bets on getting that CRS album before another Lupe release. It felt as though Lupe NEEDED that crew to maintain Hip-Hop’s cosign. When the CRS song “Don’t Stop!” was featured as part of Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Friday series, the reality of CRS became a thing once again. Now though? Hell has frozen over and Lupe’s album saw the light of day before CRS. It’s just not happening. His OTHER super-group All City Chess Club with Asher Roth, B.o.B., The Cool Kids, Charles Hamilton, Blu, Diggy Simmons, Wale, J. Cole, and Dosage has a better chance of releasing an album together at this point, and imaging getting all of them in a studio at once?
7. …But if CRS DOES happen, Lupe is no longer the “middle child.”
Let’s face it. Kanye West, Pharrell Williams… Lupe Fiasco? Sure Food & Liquor set the tone for the direction Hip-Hop was going in circa 2006, and Lupe was being hailed as a genius so hard that he was considering retiring like any overwhelmed artist does. He was already acting like a veteran. Then The Cool didn’t do as well, Kanye became KANYE, Pharrell became PHARRELL, and Lupe became Jan Brady. Sad to say, but LF became an afterthought. While we’re not convinced that CRS will happen at all, if it does at least now the trifecta seems all around powerful. Lupe has a Number One album and has complained more than Kanye West. He’s earned his spot as a Child Rebel Soldier, since he’s been all three within the span of three years. Way to go!
8. Sometimes a shelf helps.
You put wine on a shelf for a while and it tastes better. Cheese sits on a shelf to become cheese. Check out some of your old baseball cards and bet you’ll find one worth alot of money. The point is that while artists hate being shelved by a label (as they should), in Lupe’s case it proved to be invaluable. What if his third album arrived in 2008 or 2009? Would the fans have cared as much? Would it have moved Food & Liquor units or The Cool units? Who knows. What we do know is that the anticipation grew with everyday we waited for the album, and when it finally arrived it sold more than Lupe probably ever imaged it would. Maybe in place of the shelved album, Lupe will have a Platinum plaque on that shelf.
9. A good album doesn’t always do well.
Let’s address the elephant in the room. Critics are not feeling Lasers. Lupe himself isn’t even feeling Lasers. In comparison to previous Lupe Fiasco releases, Lasers doesn’t hold a candle (or a laser!). Lasers reached Number One though. Some may argue that The Cool was more epic than Food & Liquor. Therefore, the best quality work may not always move the most units, and in Lupe’s case it hasn’t. With Lasers, the work everyone agrees that they like the least, it does the best. See how that works?
10. Fans are fans.
There is one huge lesson to be learned here: when a fan loves an artist they will always support that artist. Lupe Fiasco has been to hell and back with his fan base, yet they were there when Lasers released to support. That says something. Hopefully more artists can have fan bases as strong as Lupe’s…maybe he can write his own Industry Rules some day.
Inside the dirty little mind of Kendrick Lamar: Wunderkind rapper, radiant dreamer, gangsta avoider, groupie evader, freshly anointed poet-laureate of South Central Los Angeles, and deliverer of hip-hop’s message of the moment.
Few hip-hop stars have arrived as fully formed as 25-year-old Kendrick Lamar. Hailing from the MC hotbed of Compton, Lamar has been cranking out increasingly adventurous mixtapes since he was a teen, at first under the name K.Dot (a moniker he later abandoned). But with the release last fall of his proper major-label debut, good kid, m.A.A.d. city(Interscope/ Aftermath/Top Dawg Entertainment), Lamar took his show widescreen. He subtitled the album A Short Film by Kendrick Lamar, and there is something palpably cinematic about it. It’s a deftly nuanced work filled with richly painted vignettes, complicated characters, and shifting perspectives that begins with a 17-year-old Lamar trying to find his way as he is being pulled in multiple directions by his friends, parents, hip-hop fantasies, girls, and the culture of Compton, and ends with him figuratively taking the baton from Dr. Dre while wondering if what he has achieved is a victory or simply part of a cycle. (Another Compton legend, MC Eiht, appears on the track “m.A.A.d. city.”)
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Can’t Hold Us,” featuring Ray Dalton, rises 2-1 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the pair’s second leader. With prior hit “Thrift Shop,” featuring Wanz, having reigned for six nonconsecutive weeks, the act is the first duo to take its first two singles to No. 1 in the Hot 100’s almost-55-year history.
Who said you need Major behind you?
As society’s infatuation with hip hop transpires, the role of the record label is one that rappers love to hate but often find necessary to boost profiles and earn a solid dollar.
On Saturday, May 4 Lauryn Hill released Neurotic Society: Compulsory Mix. Alongside the drop she asserted her emotional perspective via Tumblr: “Here is a link to a piece that I was ‘required’ to release immediately, by virtue of the impending legal deadline…”
Miss Hill’s relationship with Sony Music stems from the criminal tax debt she’s been litigating since April. She signed with the major label in order to earn a dollar to repay the debt that exceeds $970 thousand, which she successfully repaid. But prison time was imminent, originally facing a sentence range of between 24 to 36 months.
Today Hill was sentenced to three months prison plus three months house arrest followed by nine months supervised release
The necessity of signing to make money, dichotomised by a yearning to create and master music before it is shared with her fans is clear.
The disillusion that faced Lupe Fiasco was a lot darker. “I am hostage,” he said to the Chicago Sun-Times. “I gave them what they wanted. If I didn’t, at the end of the day the album wasn’t coming out.” Lupe describes the label as bullying him for that number one record and vilely diluting the true complexity of the social and political messages often found within his rhymes.
In 2010, Nas wrote an irate email to Def Jam Recordings advising them to release The Lost Tapes, Vol. 2, “I have a fan base that dies for my music and a RAP label that doesn’t understand RAP.”
Although Nas’ audacity is esteemed on the opposing side of the spectrum, the assistance labels provide to the artist is respected.
A$AP Rocky signed to Polo Grounds Music (a subdivision of Sony) for a $3 million sum; $1.7 million for his solo output and $1.3 million to fund a label called A$AP Worldwide. While Interscope signed Chief Keef to a three-album contract worth approximately $6 million. This is a conditional contract, which only pays out if his debut album Finally Rich sells 250,000 copies by December 2013. Otherwise Interscope can terminate the contract: raw deal or great opportunity?
A true recount of the rapper and record label love hate relationship can be discussed by hip hop heads for days, but something that we tend to agree on is that often, what the labels force out of the industry’s most talented rappers is far from their best.
J. Cole’s latest track Cole Summer, sheds perspective: “Wanted to drop the album in the summer, but the label didn’t think that they could sell it. Recoup the first week, I think it ain’t sh*t they can tell us.”
In a short span, many notable or fringe Hip Hop contributors took their own lives. Somehow, nobody wants to talk about it.
Hip Hop suffered a disheartening loss on Christmas Eve last year, as fans awoke to the news that Capital Steez, a 19-year-old rising underground star had committed suicide. Just before midnight on December 23rd, Steez, born Jamal Dewar, ominously tweeted, “The end.”
The unfulfilled potential of what appeared to be an intelligent kid, clearly capable of greatness, intensified the tragic impact of Steez’s suicide. But a rugged, Brooklyn rapper who committed suicide surely won’t receive the media-manufactured immortalization of a grungy Rock star from Seattle. Nevertheless, Steez somewhat immortalized himself with a classic mixtape, AmeriKKKan Korruption. His underground acclaim earned posthumous tributes from the likes of Blu and Statik Selektah. While evidently respected and remembered, the cause of his death, suicide, has fallen from the conversation.
Less than two weeks later, On January 5, 2013, much like Steez, fellow rapper Freddy E took his own life after the following series of cryptic tweets:
“It’s…all… bad…y’all. *puts finger around trigger*…I love you Mom…I love you Dad…I love you Katherine…God… please forgive me…I’m sorry.”
In a relatively short span, enough either notable or fringe Hip Hop contributors took their own lives to make suicide in Hip Hop a full on problem. The prior year, on August 30, 2012, 44-year-old Hip Hop mogul, Chris Lighty, allegedly killed himself with a gunshot to the head. Earlier, in February of 2012, famed “Soul Train” host and producer Don Cornelius took his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot. Lighty and Cornelius’ deaths inevitably brought to mind the 2008 suicide of Shakir Stewart, the executive VP of Def Jam, who had succeeded Jay-Z shortly before killing himself. Also in 2008,Johnny “J” Jackson, the producer responsible for a classic chunk of Tupac’s catalog, leaped to his death from an upper tier in the Los Angeles County jail while serving a sentence for DWI. With so many suicides happening, why wasn’t anyone talking?
Suicide often disappears from the public discourse once an isolated incident fades from the news cycle. Lighty’s legacy earned his death a little more attention than others had received. While Lighty’s situation was different in that 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, Q-Tip and a number of Lighty’s friends and former clients launched an investigation to probe the circumstances surrounding his death, a New York Times obituary wasn’t enough to spark a discussion about the dark, uncomfortable, enigmatic subject of suicide.
Read more: http://www.hiphopdx.com/index/editorials/id.2098/title.death-is-silent-addressing-hip-hop-s-rash-of-suicides
Michael Cohen is a freelance journalist from Staten Island, New York. He has contributed to the New York Daily News, The Village Voice, Urban Latino Magazine and others. He is currently working on his first documentary film, Staten ill-Land; Forgotten Flava From The Forgotten Borough. You can follow him on twitter @mcohenSINY