Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

While Drake is currently considered as one of the top-tier artists in hip-hop, his relationship with the media and the press has been one filled with trials and tribulations. From his back-and-forth jabs with Chris Brown about Rihanna to his comments about Kendrick Lamar’s “Control” verse, more often than not Drake comes across as overly sensitive and emotional. And after a recent interview with Rolling Stone that was made public this week, it appears that Drake has not fully learned from his lessons. From controversial comments about some of hip-hop’s biggest stars to misguided quotes about the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman after the publication’s release, the interview took a turn for the worst as things were taken out of proportion once the power of social media took over. While Drake is not on Kanye West’s level in terms of “ranting”, he tends to make costly public relations mistakes when he should just let his music do the talking for him.  (more…)

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The Grammy’s and hip-hop have had a longstanding, disagreeable relationship that was fueled with even more controversy after this year’s award show. Ever since the inclusion of the hip-hop genre, the Grammy committee has been unequipped to judge rap music as an art form. This can be proven by the fact that legendary emcees/rap groups such as Nas, Tupac, Biggie, Run-DMC, Public Enemy, and Ice Cube have never been chosen as winners. That is quite a stacked list and all of those artists are similar in the fact that much of their music was rebellious, touching on topics that those in higher societal positions would rather avoid. Jump-start to 2014 and the stigma against high quality rap music still remains. The Seattle hip-hop group of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have blown up on the national scene in the past two years with their album The Heist cultivating numerous radio-friendly singles such as ‘Thrift Shop’ and ‘Same Love’. Meanwhile, Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar also rose to prominence after the release of his critically-acclaimed “insta-classic” concept-driven album good kid, m.A.A.d city as well as his widely-covered “Control” and BET cypher verses. But by the end of Grammy night, “King Kendrick” was left empty-handed and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis landed wins in four of the seven major categories they were nominated in, as well as three rap awards that were not televised. To put it mildly, many in the hip-hop community were outraged at these results, and it is another example of the Grammy’s slighting the genre to the point that it makes it hard for any hip-hop enthusiast to take its judgment seriously.  (more…)

Everyone has moments when they are listening to their favorite song and are inclined to look up the lyrics. This applies even more so to listeners of hip-hop as many artists have deliveries that are not always easy to follow along with. As the Internet continues to evolve, plenty of websites have popped up that outline the lyrics of musicians from all genres. However, none have made the impact Rap Genius has since its inception in 2009 as they became not just the go-to lyrics website, but a source of discovery through user annotations/interpretations. The site relies on user-generated content through a ‘Wikipedia-like’ format in which contributors earn “IQ” points for well thought out explanations. Rap Genius has become a lyric encyclopedia not just for hip-hop, but many other musical genres as they recently expanded with the creation of News Genius, Rock Genius, and Poetry Genius. Whether you want to read an explanation of an outrageous Eminem line or if you need some help understanding a Robert Frost poem, Rap Genius prides itself on being your primary destination for cultural knowledge. And although the Rap Genius co-founders have run into some legal trouble due to their somewhat misguided SEO practices, the website received a $15 million investment from the Silicon Valley venture firm Andreessen Horowitz last year and are well-positioned to become a digital giant.  (more…)

While once upon a time music fans were limited in the ways they could consume their favorite songs and albums, nowadays people are running into the opposite problem. iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, Google Play, SoundCloud, and YouTube. Although all of these platforms differ in their technical infrastructure, they are similar in the fact that they offer options for people in terms of listening to music. iTunes has become the standard digital music store, Pandora started strong but suffers from a lack of variety, Spotify has grown into a worthy competitor of iTunes as a free option, Google Play is still gaining traction, SoundCloud is the primary location for up-and-coming artists, and YouTube offers convenience yet suffers from a lack of quality (not quantity). Is there room for another big-time player in this space? Co-founder of Interscope Records Jimmy Iovine, along with Beats By Dre partner Dr Dre, certainly think so as they officially brought their Beats Music streaming music service to the market this week and are taking an unique approach in their latest business venture. (more…)

While The Beastie Boys are always credited as being the ‘white pioneers’ in hip-hop, MC Serch is an artist that had a monumental impact on the rap game from the 1980’s onward. Many recognize MC Serch for including a young Nas on his song “Back To The Grill” back in 1992 as it was one of his first appearances on record. MC Serch is responsible for that and much more, which he talks about with Peter Rosenberg and Cipha Sounds on their weekly Juan Epstein podcast. Their interviews are always insightful as they sit with guests for an extended time period, and their conversation with MC Serch is filled with unexpected gems. All hip-hop nerds will be in heaven listening to some of the stories told by the veteran MC Serch.  (more…)

Last summer, it was announced that “The Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellowship” would be created at Harvard University in order to fund artists and creative minds who have exceptional, passionate talent within the wide spectrum that is the culture of hip-hop. Marcyliena Morgan, professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard, is the founder and director of the Hiphop Archive and Research Institute, and they are taking the lead in the implementation of the Fellowship. In a recent video on Ammunitiongroup.com, the Fellowship was profiled in an interview that featured several figures such as Nas, Professor Morgan, and Professor Henry Louis Gates. (more…)

Childish Gambino is one of the more unique hip-hop artists to rise to prominence recently. Not necessarily because of his alternative musical style nor due to his start in the entertainment business as an actor on the TV show Community, but more so his pure honesty as an individual in every sense of the word. Many hip-hop fans did not take Childish Gambino seriously early on in his rap career. His 2011 album Camp was bashed by many critics and it was not clear at the time where the talents of Donald Glover belonged. Gambino has not shied away from these doubts among many others as he shared a list of fears in a series of unfiltered Instagram pictures last year. While doing this stirred up quite the public reaction, in private Childish Gambino had been creating a creative masterpiece with his project Because The Internet. The album was released last December and snuck itself in many Albums Of The Year lists due to its plethora of musical styles and distinct production. In a interview with Complex, Childish Gambino shared some insight regarding the buildup to Because The Internet and what the body of work really means to him.  (more…)

2013 was a monumental year for the hip-hop genre has there were album releases from many rap heavyweights such as Kanye West, Jay-Z, Drake, and J Cole. Whether you are a fan of the more radio-friendly style of hip-hop or if you stick to the independent and underground side of things, chances are you had plenty of awesome music to keep you entertained. The story-lines of 2013 were endless as Kendrick Lamar shook up the industry with his “Control” and BET Cypher verses while Kanye West was the subject of many headlines for his experimental Yeezus album and media outbursts. Some of these stories may carry over into the new year, so let’s take a look at what we are looking forward to in 2014.  (more…)

In the past year, you have not been able to turn on your favorite hip-hop radio station without hearing a Macklemore song. From the socially humorous/against-the-trend “Thrift Shop” to the more seriously toned gay-rights focused “Same Love”, it is safe to say Macklemore is now a bonafide celebrity in the music industry after years of work on the independent grind. Macklemore and producer Ryan Lewis will be center stage on the night of the Grammy’s (January 26th), and Macklemore has already started 2014 on a high note being placed on the cover of The Source as the “Man Of The Year”.  (more…)

Future has swiftly become one of the more popular hook kings in hip-hop the past year or so. His recent street single “Sh!T” is one of many hits that have caught on recently, most likely attributed to the fact that high rising producer MikeWiLLMadeIt is the man behind the club favorite hood anthem. Due to the tracks’ success, “Sh!t” is getting the remix treatment from a number of high profile rappers, but this version featuring Drake and Juicy J is the one that has everybody talking as Drizzy seems to fire multiple subliminal shots at none other than Kendrick Lamar.

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