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Tag: Hip-Hop/Rap (61-70 of 190)

The Roots on 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon': Spot Inspection

There’s been some concern-trollish hand-wringing going on in certain quarters since word got out last fall that the Roots would be the house band on Jimmy Fallon’s new late-night show. Cool artists signing up for a safe, steady mainstream gig: Oh, the horror! Now, the Roots have been one of my favorite bands for years. I was a little dubious about their latest career decision, myself — especially when I read that their participation in the show might be limited to playing seconds-long "sandwiches" instead of actual Roots songs — but I’ve been trying hard to take a wait-and-see attitude about this. Now that Fallon’s been on the air for a week, though, it’s show-and-prove time.

The Fallon episodes I’ve caught this week have included some sweet musical moments, like when the Roots played a couple of songs with Ludacris last night. I’d think that was dope if I saw it at a Roots concert, and it’s still dope to see it on TV. More collabs like this with the guests du jour can only be a good thing. Meanwhile, they’ve also rocked at least one moderately LOL-worthy comedy bit, Monday night’s "Slow Jam the News" (below). I knew Black Thought could rap about literally anything with no preparation, but crooning seductively about the House stimulus package? Damn, Tariq!

That said, I’m still not 100 percent sold on Fallon as a late-night host. There were times when seeing this band reduced to his sidemen made me want to call up Jeff Zucker and tell him to just greenlight a TV show where the Roots sit there playing awesome jams from their albums for a full hour every night, already. It would be more entertaining than Fallon, I swear! But look: These guys have been on the road continuously for something close to 15years. They can’t live that life forever, even if I’d like them to, andI think they’ve earned the right to settle down however they want. If that means playing five-second intros and outros for Fallon’s interviewees, plus at least a few spotlight performances like the ones they got this week, I think I’m mostly okay with that. For now. Especially if they still make albums and do occasional concerts during gaps in Fallon’s TV shooting schedule. If they really become full-time TV sidekicks with no other public activities, though, all bets are off. How about you?

More on Jimmy Fallon and the Roots:
Ken Tucker’s been watching and rating Fallon every night
Black Thought speaks on the Fallon gig
A track-by-track Q&A about the Roots’ last album, Rising Down

Young Jeezy signs with Kanye West/Lil Wayne management team

File this one under "power moves": Atlanta rapper Young Jeezy is signing up with Hip-Hop Since 1978, the heavy-hitting management firm that handles both Kanye West and Lil Wayne, according to a press release. (His longtime manager Demetrius "Kinky B" Ellerbee will continue to work with the new team.) This is a big piece of inside-baseball news, a signal that Jeezy has entered the realm of rap royalty. Will HHS1978 be able to take him to the same level of cultural dominance they’ve helped Kanye and Weezy reach? Right now, who knows. But for the guy who informed us that "It’s the recession/Everybody broke," Young Jeezy certainly seems to be doing pretty well for himself. Jeezy fans can celebrate by watching his newly-released video for the very solid single "Circulate" below (some NSFW language/imagery).

More on Young Jeezy:
His album The Recession got a B+ review from EW
Bill O’Reilly and Dennis Miller vs. Jeezy and Jay-Z: World’s lamest tag-team faceoff?
Are Young Jeezy and John McCain really pals?

Kanye West's 'Storytellers': Did he really rant about Chris Brown, Thom Yorke, and O.J. Simpson?

Kanyeweststoryteller_lKanye West is nothing if not a man of strong opinions, so it’s not too huge a shock to hear (via a Reuters report) that he might have shared some controversial thoughts with the studio audience while taping his episode of VH1’s Storytellers, which airs tomorrow night. According to Reuters, Kanye lashed out at Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke for somehow snubbing him backstage at the Grammys, which raises the question of whether Kanye has ever seen an interview with Thom. (Blindingly awesome creative genius, yes; enthusiastic green-room schmoozer, possibly not.) Reuters also says that Kanye went on a tirade against those who are quick to judge Michael Phelps (word) — as well as defending Chris Brown, Michael Jackson, and O.J. Simpson. "Can’t we give Chris a break?… O.J. Simpson, amazing. Is he not? What he did, when he did, what he did. Was he not amazing though?" Uh, no comment on that one, Yeezy.

Reuters says many of these remarks got cut from the final VH1 broadcast, so it’ll be hard for anyone to tell whether those quotes made more sense in context. (VH1 has issued a statement saying that "Every show/concert performance that’s taped for television goes through an editing process and this episode of Storytellers is not unique to that"; Kanye’s reps haven’t replied to my e-mail asking for comment on this.) So given that all this should probably be taken with a grain of salt, what do you think? Does this make you more or less interested in watching Kanye’s Storytellers? And if you do watch it, what do you think are the chances that you’ll ignore whatever he says in between songs and end up saying, "Was he not amazing though?"

More on Kanye West:
The College Dropout is one of EW’s New Music Classics
The Clipse and Kanye West first listen: "Kinda Like a Big Deal"
Exploring the Kanye-verse
Kanye West’s "sexual" childhood videogame: Uh, TMI?

The Clipse and Kanye West first listen: 'Kinda Like a Big Deal'

Clipsekanyewest_lFor fans of the Clipse, the Virginia rap duo’s upcoming third album, Till the Casket Drops, is a big deal, indeed. So it was with great pleasure that I ventured out tonight to hear the album’s first teaser single, the appropriately titled "Kinda Like a Big Deal," which features a guest spot from Kanye West and should be released for public consumption on March 9. Super-instant react: It’s dope. The song finds the Thornton brothers in a far more upbeat mood than 2006’s supremely bitter Hell Hath No Fury – it just might be their first bona fide party track in years.

That vibe starts with the beat, a burner courtesy of DJ Khalil that opens with a blazing electric guitar lick before falling into a wicked sampled organ, guitar, and drum groove. Pusha T leads off with some vintage braggadocio: "The third time’s the charm/After two classics, another stripe upon my arm." Pusha also finds time to crow about "how it feel to blow a hundred thou in a recession/With no second-guessing." Recession rap this ain’t. Next up is Kanye, who delivers a swaggering verse that will remind listeners of how great he is when he actually raps. If Kanye’s lyrics comparing himself to "the black Marshall, mixed with Jay" are any hint, maybe he’s planning to get back to rapping full-time soon, lord willing. (Trivia note: I’m pretty sure I recognized a couple of Kanye’s punchlines, like the one mentioning "alligator souffle," from a verse Yeezy spit on an early version of T.I.’s "On Top of the World" that I heard last year.) Pusha’s brother Malice follows with a sick verse of his own. Clever lyrics (of course), a tight beat, and a Kanye cameo: All in all, this single should make for a strong reintroduction for the Clipse.

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Rick Rubin joins the Clipse in the studio

Clipserickrubin_lLegendary producer Rick Rubin has been working on tracks for the Clipse’s long-awaited third album this month, the rap duo’s camp tells EW. Rubin, who signed the Clipse to Columbia Records shortly after taking over as the label’s cochairman in 2007, has completed one tune with them so far in a Malibu studio; they plan to work with him on one to two more in the coming weeks. Though Rubin began his career in the ’80s working with acts like Run-D.M.C., LL Cool J, and the Beastie Boys, he’s more recently focused on producing rock and pop bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Weezer — along with occasional high-profile forays into hip-hop like Jay-Z’s "99 Problems" in 2003. Needless to say, the thought of the bearded studio wizard crafting tracks for critical darlings the Clipse is enough to make many rap fans salivate.

The Clipse is currently aiming for a late-summer release for Til the Casket Drops, which will feature contributions from a wide range of beatsmiths. First single "Kinda Like a Big Deal," produced by DJ Khalil and featuring Kanye West, is set to drop March 9.

Clip du jour: Kid Cudi's 'Day 'n' Nite' video

Kid Cudi’s single "Day ‘n’ Nite" is almost a year old — it was on my personal ’08 singles list, and it’s part of the reason we named the Kanye-approved Cleveland rapper one of EW’s Nine to Watch in ’09. Whatever, I still love the hell out of that song, and the official video that finally debuted this week is way too cool to let go by unremarked. The clip was directed by So Me, the French illustrator responsible for such triumphs as Kanye West’s "Good Life" and Justice’s "D.A.N.C.E." Watch out for those freaky animated mirages, Cudi!

Flo Rida comes 'Right Round' to the top of the charts

The No. 1 single in the country right now, in case you haven’t noticed, is a horrendous rap remake of Dead or Alive’s "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)." Yes, a record-breaking 636,000 people downloaded Flo Rida’s "Right Round" last week. What does all this say about us as a society? Mainly that we really, really enjoy cheesetastic ’80s hair-pop hits in whatever form we can get ‘em, I guess. (Check out "Right Round" below, if you must — though this YouTube clip may soon fall victim to Flo Rida’s label’s copyright-claiming spree, which in this case is a true public service.)

Truth is, Flo Rida is not the world’s worst rapper. He can ride a beat, just like his name says. But this song is straight-up awful. Tell me, am I going crazy here? Were any of you out there among the proud 636,000 who paid for this thing?

More terrible music:
The 20 Worst Cover Songs Ever
Ouch! That Was My Ear! on PopWatch
Lil Wayne’s "Prom Queen": Make it go away!
What’s worse: Michael Bolton or the lash?

Dr. Dre's 'Topless' leaks: Now let's hope it actually gets released

Seasoned fans know better by now than to get too excited when material that’s destined to appear on Dr. Dre’s Detox leaks. No matter how dope a track may sound, there’s no guarantee that it’ll really end up on the good doctor’s infinitely delayed album. Indeed, the very fact that you’re hearing a Detox demo may make it less likely that that song will ever see the light of day: Rumor has it Dre has scrapped months of studio work in frustration at seeing snippets leak to the public in unfinished form. So take all that as a word of caution before listening to "Topless," the totally awesome alleged Detox demo featuring T.I. and Nas that leaked yesterday. (Check it out below; some NSFW language.)

Here’s one glaring hint that "Topless" is an incomplete demo: Dr. Dre doesn’t actually rap on it. Instead, the song opens with T.I. delivering a sick verse that’s evidently meant to come out of Dre’s mouth. ("Look, Eazy, ain’t a damn thing changed, I promise/Still live like we did back on Straight Outta Compton…") It’s widely known that Dr. Dre gets the best lyricists in the game to draft verses for him — check how he flowed exactly like Eminem on "Forgot About Dre," or like credited cowriter Jay-Z on "Still D.R.E." How cool is it to hear T.I. demonstrating his ghostwriting contribution first-hand? Nas’ guest verse, on the other hand, seems intended to be rapped by Nas as-is, and it’s another winner, packed with the kind of intricate imagery that only God’s Son can pull off.

And the beat? Well, it’s one of the best things Dre’s done in years, all dusty piano keys and boom-bap drums. Those sounds have more in common with the golden age of New York hip-hop than with the glossy synth melodrama of most post-2001 Dre productions — a welcome evolution for an NY head like yours truly. But like I said, I’m going to cut myself off before I get too psyched about this track, only to be disappointed when a completed version never materializes. How about you?

More on Dr. Dre:
The Chronic is one of EW’s New Music Classics
"California Love" is one of EW’s Top 25 Summer Songs
Snap Judgment: Listening to music Dr. Dre’s way
Detox was one of EW’s most anticipated albums…in 2002

Bob Marley licensing deal: Do you care?

The ink is barely dry on the deal Bob Marley’s heirs have signed with a private equity firm to license clothes, food, and other merch with their patriarch’s likeness — and already some quarters are predictably crying "hypocrisy!" "Bob Marley Now Owned By Wall Street," the folks at Gawker righteously intoned. (Gawker Media, of course, is a radical artists’ collective which eschews all contact with unclean capitalist commerce. Nice T-Mobile ad above your post there, guys!) Look, yes, it’s unfortunate that our culture expresses its love for creative geniuses by slapping their images on things to be sold. I don’t love that aspect of modern life either. But it’s not like cheap, mass-produced Marley gear doesn’t exist already. Millions of people want to buy this stuff, mostly because they like Bob Marley’s music. Am I really supposed to be mad at the Marley family for wanting to get a piece of that action? And spare me the concern for the poor counterfeiters whose business model is going to get destroyed by this deal. Something tells me Hilco Consumer Capital isn’t going to be able to quash every under-the-table manufacturer of Natty Dread-logo rolling papers — the whole point of a black market is that it’s difficult to track and regulate.

Anyway, this licensing kerfuffle isn’t even the most noteworthy piece of Marley-related news I’ve come across this week. Much more exciting: Nas is supposedly recording a full album with Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, Bob’s youngest son and a fantastic musician in his own right. Who knows if this project will really come to fruition by spring, as promised. If Nas and Jr. Gong’s 2005 single "Road to Zion" (below) is any indication, though, this is something to start getting psyched for. Don’t you think?

More on Bob Marley:
Legend is one of EW’s New Music Classics
Margeaux Watson took an in-depth look at how Bob’s children are keeping his legacy alive
Happy Birthday, Bob Marley!
Who should play Bob Marley in an upcoming biopic?

Snoop Dogg: King of all MTV media?

Snoopdogg_lTons of Snoop Dogg news today, all of it from a single press release sent out by MTV. Let’s take these one by one, shall we?

1. Dogg After Dark is joining your basic cable lineup next week. It’ll be "the only nightclub TV show hosted by you know who," Snoop assures us in that press release — which also casually mentions "raw interviews," "hilarious sketch-comedy segments," and "Snoop’s own in-house band, the Snoopadelics." As somebody who sorely misses Doggy Fizzle Televizzle, let me tell you, I am crushed that I will be stuck at the office and unable to catch the premiere next Tuesday night at 9.

2. MTV Games is preparing to introduce an unspecified number of Snoop hits to its Rock Band platform. Seems like a sorta weird fit, but hey, who doesn’t want the chance to karaoke-rap along to "Murder Was the Case"…or solo over it with a plastic guitar?

3. Snoop has left Geffen behind and plans to release his next album, Malice In Wonderland, directly through MTV later this year. This makes him the latest star to ditch the creaky major-label system in favor of an ambitious new model that may or may not work any better. All I know for sure is, Snoop had better make good on that title by featuring the Clipse’s fearsome Malice on a track that samples Stevie Wonder.

But how do you feel about watching Snoop’s new show / playing Snoop’s songs in a video game / listening to Snoop’s new album? Weigh in quickly, now, before MTV announces he’s writing an MTV Book and writing code for MTV.com.

More on Snoop Dogg:
He’s responsible for one of EW’s 10 Classic TRL Moments
His last album, Ego Trippin’, got a B review
EW hung out with Snoop during his sober years
…and when he was backstage at High Times‘ Stony Awards

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