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KahBang Festival Relocated To Portland, ME

Our friends at the KahBang Music & Art Festival last week announced a rather sudden change of venue, relocating the entire festival from Bangor, ME, where it has been held since its inception six years ago, to Portland. Organizers insist that the move was essential to the survival of the festival, and point to the advantages of the shift, including a significant increase in lodging options.

With headliners including St. Vincent, DMX, and Wheatus, not to mention our pals in Late Cambrian, those of us in the Boston area are not complaining much about suddenly being 130 miles closer to the festival, which also includes a film portion, to be held at Portland’s Longfellow Square, and an arts portion, to be held at the city’s Community Television Network. The music will be spread around familiar venues like the State Theatre, the Big Easy, and Port City Music Hall. (h/t Vanyaland)

KahBang

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DMX’s ‘It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot’ Turns 15

Nostalgia is everywhere this year, and a lot of it has to do with music. The first generation of people to grow up fully embracing the internet are now in their early twenties and pining for the simplicity of a decade before with tumblrs, tweets, status updates, gifs, instagrams, and pinterest boards dedicated to the things that we credit for making us who we are today. I too am guilty of aiding this obsession with the recent past, and today another modern classic hit a special anniversary.

Fifteen years ago today, DMX released his debut album It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot. The album featured the breakout single “Ruff Ryders Anthem,” as well as a number of additional fan favorites. At the time there was no other emcee in hip hop with the kind of aggressive flow X was bringing to the mic, and it was this released that went on to spawn a million imitations. Join us in remembering this classic and view one of its biggest videos below. (more…)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Soundcheck: Rock The Bells Recap

Guerilla Union kicked off their 9th Annual ˜Rock The Bells’ Festival in San Bernardino, Calif.  The two-day event attracted thousands of hip-hop fans to three stages featuring an eclectic mix of headliners, up-and-comers, and old-school favorites.  The blistering heat was no match for the scorching set-list that included Kendrick Lamar, Tyga, Nas, Ice Cube, and Common among others.

Photo by: Ashton Bowles

The first day of the festival was a real scorcher, with temperatures reaching 101 degrees, leaving fans clamoring for shade between sets. Still, 2Chainz’ mid-day performance on the 36 Chambers stage was packed.  Fresh off his No. 1 album debut last week, he treated the crowd to dance lessons during his high-energy set; where he performed hits like Mercy, Beez In The Trap, and No Lie.
Yelawolf was the next emcee to grace the stage and was backed up by Psycho White collaborator, Travis Barker on the drums.  The Detroit-based rapper rocked an American flag under his hat and waved middle fingers to the crowd throughout his 30-minute set.
Tyga rocked his noticeably young crowd with a medley of radio hits; showing off his tattoo collection to throngs of screaming girls.  Across the lot, Common delivered a power-packed performance of classic hits including, I Used To Love Her, Testify, and Be.  Dressed casually in shorts and a T-shirt, his subdued set was a welcomed relief from the more eccentric offerings of the day.

Soundcheck: White Rappers Making Waves

The road has been rough for Southern rapper, Yelawolf, whose Interscope debut, Radioactive delivered less than stellar sales and prompted his label to drastically diminish its promotional support. Health problems plagued the emcee as well, with a ruptured spleen delaying both his sophomore album and a much-needed promotional tour. To make matters worse, he’s currently not very happy with his label situation.

I don’t fuckin’ know anybody up there, not no one. I’ve never fuckin’ walked up in the building. The couple of people that I do know are friends of mine and that’s it, he told HipHopDX.

They obviously can’t have their hands on everything”there’s a lot of fuckin’ artists under the wings of a big label like that, so when you become part of a label or a situation that fuckin’ massive, you have to just really be smart about how you handle your business and make that your team in on-point with everything single thing and you’re paying attention to every single detail. If you lose that, then sometimes you get caught up.

Despite the difficult circumstances, the Alabama native has released two mix tapes; The Slumdon Bridge and Heart of Dixie. If all goes accordingto plan, he’ll do another mix tape with Travis Barker and Big K.R.I.T. He’s also set to drop his sophomore album, Love Story along with a sequel of sorts, Trunk Muzik Returns. He has had to take his business into his hands, but it’s been a reluctant transition.

I just don’t want to fuckin’ do business, man, what the fuck. I’m a rapper, I’m an artist. I pay my manager to handle all that shit. I don’t even like talking like this, I feel like a nerd to even be bothered with the business of it, he said. I want to be creative. I don’t want to worry with this shit. I want to fuckin’ make my music and tour and do what I do. Unfortunately, you have to pay attention to it, and that’s kinda like what I’ve been forced into this past couple years. All of that like, pent-up, ‘What the fuck is going on?!’ type of shit is gonna be coming out in my music and everything that I do. Even with the bad, it’s really fueling everything that I’m doing in a positive way because it’s only making me hungrier.

Machine Gun Kelly is ready to release his debut album, Lace Up in August. Last week, he revealed his thoughts on the first LP he’ll release from the house that Diddy built, and promised some serious support from collaborators like DMX, Bun B, and Tech N9ne among others.

I got legends on there. DMX. Me, Tech N9ne, and Twista on one track, the song everybody wanted to hear. Fuckin’ Eminem, I’m just playing. That would have been certified platinum¦Bun B. Everyone’s really like legends, he told VladTV

Lace Up is a lifestyle. Everything I stand for, it’s everything my fans stand for.  It’s tattooed on our bodies for life. It’s something I will never explain to the general public because it’s something beautiful that you have to discover for yourself. You have to find your own meaning in it, he said. “But the album is definitely one of the best albums of the decade and will be a problem at The Grammy’s 100 percent. Regardless if my singles haven’t taken off the way that we wanted them to it’s all a part of the journey because I believe that because I never caught that quick-winded hype I’ll be around for a long, long time.”

Once pitted against each other as competitors, it seems these two emcees have more in common than their skin color and affinity for rhyming.  Yelawolf and Machine Gun Kelly will be wowing crowds with new music at Guerrilla Union’s ‘Rock The Bells’ Music Festival in August.

The Second Coming of DMX

Let’s face it, sometimes the past should stay dead. But when an awesome artist fades from popularity,  fans later wonder, Where are they now?  You may not know it, but many artists you’ve loved in the past are still hard at work writing new albums or preparing to tour again. Fortunately, you now have Second Coming to reintroduce some of your favorite acts of the last few decades and give you the scoop on what you can expect from them in the future.

THEN: DMX (a.k.a. Earl Simmons) didn’t have a typical childhood. As a kid living in Yonkers, New York, he learned to steal money from drug dealers”a hobby that quickly landed him in group homes and juvenile detention. When he was off the streets, he turned to rapping and beatboxing to pass the time. After he was written about in a column about unsigned hip hop artists, DMX was signed to Columbia Records. The signing led to the young rapper scoring a few guest spots on the albums of hip hop heavyweights like LL Cool J, Mase and The LOX. When it came time to drop a single of his own in 1998, DMX did not disappoint. “Get At Me Dog” was certified Gold and the classic “Ruff Ryders Anthem” from debut It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot is still heralded as one of the best hip hop songs of all time. Later that same year, he released a second album, Flesh of My Flesh and Blood of My Blood, which followed Dark to a No. 1 Billboard debut, a feat only accomplished before by Tupac. After all this success, it was X’s third album, …And Then There Was X, that truly catapulted the rapper to star status. The single “Party Up (Up In Here)” has become an iconic anthem for every frat party and dance club rave since its release. Unfortunately, X’s following two albums couldn’t seem to match the sales or the commercial success of his third record. His last album was released in 2006.
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Friday, January 20th, 2012

Bieber And The Musicians Singing The Paternity Blues

Justin Bieber’s meteoric career has been characterized by many hallmarks of popularity and success: his rabid, cultish following and equally rabid legions of haters, his memeification by the Internet, his well documented young adulthood being carefully monitored by the media. Now, Bieber can add one more notch to his fame belt: the paternity suit!

Is Justin Beiber a father? Well, no, probably not.

You’ve likely heard something about this case when it was first reported in early November. Since then there have been numerous developments in the story, from the questions of the credibility of his accuser Mariah Yates to Maury Povich’s request to host the singer’s DNA tests on his show. This all came to a head on the Nov 23rd when Bieber did confirm that he had taken a paternity test. This is well after Yates dropped her suit, mind you. While the test results haven’t been confirmed yet, Bieber certainly does not appear to be the father of the child, given the young star’s willingness to sort out the whole mess promptly and as thoroughly as he has. For the record, we think the Biebs would have made a great dad. After all, who would be better at singing “Baby” as a lullaby?

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Swizz Beats' Got A Milli… In Taxes

Seventy six days. That’s how long we have until the most dreaded day of the year: tax day, April 18th (normally it would be on the 15th, but thanks to an obscure holiday in Washington DC we’re getting a little extension this year). It’s the day when we all hunker down and actually do our tax forms that we said we had already done. We scramble to the post office to turn in our forms and we all curse the Tax Wizard for magically taking all of our precious monies away. But you can rest your head with the knowledge that no matter what your circumstances, there’s always going to be somebody who owes the government more than you do. Like Swizz Beats, for instance. The producer has racked up a whopping $2.6 million in outstanding debt to the IRS. The question is¦ why?

Swizz, in Swizzier times

Beats is not just any producer. He’s a Super Producer, a man deserving of all the uppercase first letters in his title. Check out the Wikipedia page for his production discography for an idea of the scope of his work. It’s deep, going back years with tracks for Beyonce, Jay-Z, Ludacris and Lil Wayne. He also produced this. It’s not as though 2010 has been a quiet year for him either. Fancy and Roman’s Revenge alone should put anybody into the green. I’m not even going to mention the other pots he’s got his hands in. Plus, he’s married to Alicia Keys!

The man does have his expenses though. Beats recently paid alimony owed to ex-wife Mashonda in a lump sum of $334,000. And I bet his new mansion is a little on the pricey side too. Still, someone with this level of success shouldn’t carry this much debt. While it seems to be a sign of the times that many people are living dangerously beyond their means, this issue seems removed from all that. Sure, we all remember the MTV Cribs where we saw some flavor of the month rapper and his lavish estate only to hear to talk of their bankruptcy not to long after. Beats can probably afford to get whatever he wants; he’s 32 and had produced his first hit when he was 17, DMX’s Ruff Ryder’s Anthem. He’s been in the game for years and been as successful in music as one can be. And yet Swizz is still this deep in the hole?

It’s unlikely that Beats will be facing any jail time as his lawyers are reportedly in talks with the IRS to work out a payment plan on his outstanding liens. Still, I guess the old adage is true: “Mo money, mo problems.”