Today Jay Z’s “Big Pimpin” celebrates its 17th Anniversary

Jay Z’s, “Big Pimpin” was released 17 years ago today.

The last single from Vol. 3: The Life & Times of Sean Carter, this song got the Making The Video treatment. It was shot in Trinidad during Carnival.

This is my favorite Jay Z songs of all time.  The fun lyrics.  The cadence.  The beautiful music video and its use of white in contrast to the color of Carnival.  This song was the introduction to the opulent rap that Jay would soon be known for.

This song is also named the best rap song of 2000 by Shea Serrano in The Rap Year Book.

There was actually a lot of drama behind this song. As discussed in this article, Pimp C originally did not like the beat, and refused to travel to be in the video. Jay Z also said in his Decoded after reading these lyrics, he regretted some of the lyrics.

Despite all of this, still one of my favorite songs. Check out the video below.

Two of Ariana Grande’s Victorious castmates reunited at her Forum show

There was a mini Victorious cast reunion at The Forum stop of her Dangerous Woman tour by having past castmates Leon Thomas (Andre) and Matt Bennett (Robbie) hang out backstage for the show.

These two have always been supportive of her music career. Bennett was in her “One Last Time” video and Thomas was a producer on her debut album “Yours Truly” and on her EP “Christmas Kisses.”

Check out the pic of them back together below.

Elijah from “Girls” reminds us of our favorite fallen star of a show, “Smash”

During his audition for the musical interpretation of “White Man Can’t Jump,” which I would love to hate-watch, Elijah decided to sing “Let Me Be Your Star” for his audition instead of his original choice of a song from “Newsies.” His rendition reminded me of this gem of a show. Yeah, the actual story of the show didn’t make sense after a while, but the music of “Smash” was always amazing. Also, it introduced me to Leslie Odom Jr. from Hamilton so another win for this show.

Check out Elijah audition below and check out a playlist of the best songs from Smash.

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Rihanna’s “Umbrella” celebrates its 10th Birthday

“Umbrella,” the first single off Rihanna third album “Good Girl Gone Bad” celebrates its 10th birthday today. And that song is the definition of a love hate relationship in music to me.

“Umbrella” was the song of the summer in 2007 and I heard it at least a million times a day. Keep in mind, this was before Spotify, so it wasn’t like I was choosing this song on purpose. I couldn’t it avoid it. The remix with Chris Brown. The Mandy Moore cover that was featured on The Hills. I couldn’t avoid it. Still to this day, I don’t purposely play that song.

However, this song did mark the transition where me, and basically everyone else, fell in love with Rihanna. She had two successful albums before that. “Music of The Sun” and “A Girl Like Me” had hit singles. “Pow De Replay” “S.O.S” and “Unfaithful” were big songs. But with “Umbrella,” Rihanna showed that she didn’t need some formula anymore. She cut her hair. She was sexual, yet owned her sexuality. “Good Girl Gone Bad” spawned so many hit singles that is showed the popular of “Umbrella” wasn’t a fluke. Rihanna basically didn’t make a misstep since “Umbrella,” so even though I loathe that particular song, glasses up to celebrating 10 years of Rihanna being flawless.

In celebration of his birthday, a celebration of Justin Bieber’s most underrated album: “Journals”

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Bieber celebrates his 23rd birthday today, March 1st and while we can talk about all of his shenanigans, I rather be positive and think of his best work.  And while his last album “Purpose” was nominated for Album of The Year and this year’s Grammy, I actually think his best work is the unsung hero, “Journals.”

Many people don’t even remember this album. It is more or less a compilation of singles that he released at the end of 2013 on “Music Mondays” for ten weeks in head of the release of his film “Believe” on iTunes each week, with a few extra songs. The songs didn’t sound like any of his other pop heavy stuff that he released before with “My World” and “Believe.”  It was R&B influenced, moody and probably his most personal album to date. Fresh off the break up with Selena Gomez,  Justin moaned about heartbreak and regret over beat reminiscent of R&B slow jams. He wasn’t on the 2015 mindset of “Love Yourself,” he wanted Selena back and made it really clear on songs like “All That Matter To Me.”

While his sound was completely different, he did include his obligatory rap features, however, even these had a different approach. On his song “Confident” featured Chance The Rapper.  Keep in mind this was 2013, the same year he started to gain recognition with his mix tape “Acid Rap” but was no where near the mainstream success that he would have years later. Bieber showing that he had his ear to the streets edged him up a bit more.

His record company did not like the new sound, and plans for a physical release of the music was scratched. The album was only available digitally until it was released on vinyl in 2016.

Despite negative opinions, “Journals” was a turning point in Bieber’s career. He eventually experimented with other type of music, which I think makes “Purpose” his most diverse musical project.  To me, “Journals” is his strongest, most intimate work.

“Where the bangers at?” The issue with quick Twitter responses to new albums

Pigeons and Planes put out a video that shows the inner fight of listening to new music in the social media age.

We’ve all seen this on Twitter, when an album drops or leaks, people are quick to respond that its either garbage or a classic, before they have time to live with it, or even listen to the complete album. These quick opinions have definitely made me biased when listening to an album, and even a bit arrogant when I like a album that is being trashed on social media. As Evil Jinx says “they’re sheep…they aren’t smart enough to get it.”

There are plenty of albums that after a first listen I have one opinion and some time later, after its been integrated into my life a bit, I have a different opinion about it. For instance, last year, I wasn’t really a big fan of Rhianna’s “Anti” the first time I listened to it. After all the hype building up to it, I was a bit disappointed, and only really liked the single “Work.” But a few months later, a friend was playing the album, and I had a new perspective on it. Songs grew on me that I didn’t expect. For instance, “Close To You,” which can’t be described as a “banger” is such a beautiful, heartbreaking song.

I feel like you need to really sit with an album before you can give a definite response to it. I believe if you aren’t willing to listen to it three months after it was released, its probably not that great. But what about the necessity of album reviews coming out quickly? Well I do still understand that they need to come quickly, and having a strong opinion, negative or positive, does bring traffic to the site. But they should be taken with a grain of salt for those exact reasons. But when it comes to your own personal soundtrack to your life, understand that it takes more than 16 minutes to create an opinion.

Kehlani’s most empowering lyrics so far

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Kehlani might change a lot of things about herself, such as her hair or her body with tattoos, but one thing is consistent with her, her empowering and unapologetic lyrics.

In anticipation for Kehlani’s debut album, “SweetSexySavage” being released Jan 27, I decided to highlight a few of Kehlani’s most empowering lyrics.

Alive

We were in so deep
We could barely tread
But now I found a way to heal myself instead
And damn I feel alive

The Way

Baby boy, you gotta be the dopest
Gotta be to fuck with the coldest

CRZY

If I gotta be a bitch, I’ma be a bad one

Running

But I say she’s a keeper if she got it on her own and keeps it runnin’

Unconditional

I’m far from perfect, nothing even close
But that’s what makes me beautiful, that’s something you should know
I’m not looking for someone to tell me how to row my boat
So let me live and let me learn I promise we will grow

Chance The Rapper 2016 TV Performances

In anticipation of Chance The Rapper closing out SNL for the year again, here is a look back on all of Chance The Rapper’s TV performances this year.

What are you hoping he performs on SNL?

February
“Ultralight Beam”


(I couldn’t find the entire clip)

July
ESPYs

August
Good Morning America
“Summer Friends”

September
Ellen
“No Problem”

October
The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
“Blessings (Reprise)”

November
BBC Radio 1
“Feel No Ways (Drake Cover)”

“All We Got”

Rappers show their vulnerable side by talking about God

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“We’re all self-conscious I’m just the first to admit it.” This line from “All Falls Down,” Kanye West’s single from his debut album “College Dropout” was the first time I’ve ever heard a rapper be vulnerable. I was used to rappers being bragadocious, something I just couldn’t relate too. Being sensitive and guarded was something I understood completely, and Kanye’s “All Falls Down,” an anthem about contradictions and human nature, is one of my favorite songs.

There was a lull in venerable raps until Kanye put out the album “808s and Heartbreak.” The songs talked about the fear of being unloved and destructive relationships. This album changed how rap artists talked about love, paving the way for artists like Drake.

Rappers showing their vunerable side continued with the discussion of religion. Ironically, one of the first mainstream gospel rap songs was also off “College Dropout,” with “Jesus Walks.” Yet another reason that “College Dropout” is Kanye’s best album and I have lost respect for friends who have told me “Graduation” is the best, but I digress. The influence of God started coming back with artists like J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar. J. Cole’s second album “Born Sinner” was about dealing with temptation while trying to be a man of God. Kendrick Lamar’s music has always had religious undertones. On the 2010 song “Growing Apart (To Get Closer),” Kendrick talks about his relationship with God and how he has been lazy, and then he says “I promise to stay faithful, focused and sanctified.” Several skits in his debut album “Good Kid M.A.A.D. City” included prayers. The lead single from his last album, “i” was about his Christian faith.

Chance The Raper has further pushed gospel rap to the forefront. His profanity free song, 2015’s “Sunday Candy,” was about church and his relationship with his grandma. Chance made public declaration of his Christianity when he performed the song on Saturday Night Live, becoming the first independent artist to perform on that show. He also performed the song “Somewhere In Paradise” that included the lyric “I might give Satan a swirly.”

In 2016 he continued to bring his religion to the forefront. He again performed on SNL, this time with Kanye West, Kirk Franklin and Kelly Price on the gospel rap song “Ultra Light Beam” that he cowrote for Kanye. He referenced his previous gospel rap song, “Sunday Candy,” by pronouncing “I made Sunday Candy, I’m never going to hell.” The performance included a payer from Kirk Franklin and a gospel choir.

“Coloring Book,” the highly anticipated follow-up to his 2013 mixtape, “Acid Rap” which was heavily influenced by acid use, was influenced by the completely opposite subject matter, God. Songs included “Blessings” which featured the chorus “I’m gon’ praise Him, praise Him ’til I’m gone/I’m gon’ praise Him, praise Him ’til I’m gone/When the praises go up, the blessings come down/When the praises go up, the blessings come down/
It seems like blessings keep falling in my lap/It seems like blessings keep falling in my lap.” The song “How Great” opens with “How great is our God/Sing with me, how great is our God/All will see how great is our God”

The inclusion of God into rap shows a more vulnerable side to rappers. Showing any type of vulnerability makes rap songs more relatable. However, this inclusion of God shows a progression in rap. Rap, a genre is is often cricticised for not being progressive is showing growth by increasing its subject matter.

Listen to some Gospel Rap songs below:

5 Essential Chance the Rapper Songs to listen to before Coloring Book

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Before listening to Chance’s newly released mixtape, “Coloring Book,” here are five essential tracks to check out. Whether you have been a Chance fan since his first mixtape “10 Days” or you recently became familiar with him after his SNL appearances, reflect on Chance’s career so far with these songs.

“Acid Rain”-From “Acid Rap”

“Acid Rain” can best be described as the thesis statement of the mixtape that brought Chance The Rapper to the limelight. On the track, Chance opens with the line “kicked off my shoes, tripped acid in the rain” as he reflects on his life. He touches on friends, the past and violence in Chicago, including the murder of his best friend that he witnessed. After venting off his problems, he feels clean and ends the song with

I am a new man, I am sanctified,
Oh, I am holy, I have been baptized,
I have been born again, I am the White Light
Rain, rain don’t go away.

“Sunday Candy”-From “Surf”

This profanity free ode to his grandma is the sweetest thing Chance has ever written (pun fully intended). Chance talks about the unconditional love that he and his grandma share and his chorus focused on God is probably one of the best gospel rap songs out there. Some enderaring lines include

She could say in her voice, in her way that she love me
With her eyes, with her smile, with her belt, with her hands, with her money
I am the thesis of her prayers

I like my love with a budget, I like my hugs with a scent
You smell like light, gas, water, electricity, rent

“Angels”- From “Coloring Book”

“Angels” started a new chapter for Chance The Rapper. “Angels” explores Chance’s personal growth, from being an independent artist, to a father and also a role model to his city. “Angels” is the perfect bridge to Chance’s new era.

“Wanna Be Cool”-From “Surf”

“Surf” made history as the first album that was given away free on iTunes, which Chance references on the track “Angles” with the line “I even got Steve given out Apples for free.” “Wanna Be Cool” was a declaration of being comfortable with yourself and not changing to fit in, something Chance is all too familar with by not following the normal path of having a label. In an age where everyone is trying to find esteem anywhere but themselves, this is Chance’s anthem for the misfits.

“Wonderful Everyday”-Not from any album

Chance’s cover of the cartoon “Arthur” theme song, Chance reintroduces his audience which grew on with this show with its powerful message of being kind and believing in yourself.