Drake must be the luckiest guy in music. He’s got an enviable portfolio of assets: looks, talent, street cred, excellent connections, gold and multi-platinum. Now the Canadian rapper has a beautiful woman, too”at least a controlling interest in her legacy. But is ownership of the next posthumous phase of Aaliyah’s career one benefit too many?
That’s what some are wondering as we approach the 11th anniversary (on August 25) of the death of Aaliyah, who was killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas in 2001, at age 22, cutting short one of the most promising careers in music. Since then, there’s been scant new material issued under her name. I Care 4 U, a posthumous album released in December of 2002, was followed by nearly a decade of silence.
Until now. Earlier this month, Drake unveiled a new Aaliyah track, Enough Said, credited to Aaliyah featuring Drake and produced by the rapper’s Take Care collaborator Noah 40 Shebib. There’s more: Drake has promised a new Aaliyah album, executive produced by himself and 40, with 13 or 14 tracks, to be released later this year.
But is it a true Aaliyah album if key players in her life and legacy”namely her immediate family”are left out of it? Her brother, Rashad Haughton, went so far as to deny the family’s involvement on Aaliyah’s Facebook fan page. There is no official album being released and supported by the Haughton family, he posted on August 7, several days after Drake released the new single. (more…)
Last week, the music industry lost a female veteran when Ms. Melodie of Boogie Down Productions died on Wednesday. Her 1989 release Diva made her one of the first emcees to spit alongside the heavy-hitting male rappers of the day, like ex-husband KRS-One.
The loss made me reflect on today’s female rappers, and the position they hold in the hip-hop world. Aside from Nicki Minaj, it seems that female rappers have all but disappeared from the mainstream landscape over the past few years.
But times may be changing. The days of Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown may be over, but a slew of new spitters have been staging some serious attacks, and a few familiar faces are poised to return, ready to make a big impact on the rap game.
Eve recently announced plans to release her oft-delayed project Lip Lock this fall. It will be her first album since Eve-Olution hit the streets 10 years ago. If things go her way, the former Ruff Ryder will be rocking radio waves again, showcasing her sick rhyming skills and ever-present ability to get a party started with her sexy but scathing style. She recently made her first-ever appearance at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans and received a warm welcome from legions of loyal fans who can’t wait for her return to the mic. (more…)
Let’s face it, sometimes the past should stay dead. But when an awesome musical artist fades from popularity, their fans later wonder, Where are they now? You may not know it, but many artists you loved in the past are still hard at work writing new albums or preparing to tour once more. Fortunately, you now have Second Coming to reintroduce you to 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: A protégé of the late Notorious B.I.G., Lil’ Kim made her debut as a member of rap group Junior M.A.F.I.A in 1995. A year later, she reintroduced herself to the world as a solo artist by dropping her own album, Hard Core, and appearing on tracks by Mary J. Blige and Missy Elliott in 1997. The album, which was very accurately described as “gangsta porno rap” by US politician C. Delores Tucker, raised more than a few eyebrows. Kim’s sophomore album, The Notorious K.I.M. (see what she did there?), reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 200 charts. The same year, she contributed to the anthemic “Lady Marmalade” cover sung by Christina Aguilera, Missy Elliott, P!nk and Mya for the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. She saw additional success with her duets with 50 Cent (“Magic Stick”) and X-Tina again (“Can’t Hold Us Down”), but her fourth album, The Naked Truth, didn’t do so well, commercially. In 2005, she served a year-long prison sentence for perjury. Four years later, Kim returned to the spotlight when she appeared on Dancing With The Stars and finished in fifth place.
NOW: Though she hasn’t released an official album, Kim has been in music news lately, thanks to her ongoing rap feud with Nicki Minaj. Soon after accusing Minaj of stealing her style, Kim became the subject of Minaj’s biting, diss-laden track “Roman’s Revenge,” which featured Eminem. Kim responded with a mixtape titled Black Friday, taking multiple shots at Minaj’s album Pink Friday. The rap battle rages on, as Nicki has seen recent success with her Kim-targeted single “Stupid Hoe,” and has named her sophomore album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded after Roman, her angry male alter-ego who loves to hate on Kim.
But, feuds aside, Kim’s gearing up for a big year in 2012, including the release of her new album. She enlisted the help of rap heavyweights 50 Cent and Dr. Dre for the record, which has not yet been titled. Kim has also written a book, titled The Price of Loyalty, which is set to be released simultaneously with the album, as well been the subject of a documentary. According to ThisBeatGoes.com, Kim said the following about her book: When I did my book deal they were basically like ˜we want the Kim life story.’ But my lawyers were like ˜no, no, that’s like four different checks. ‘Cause [my story is] to be continued, to be continued, to be continued.
It’s everyone’s favorite stripper quartet! Check out Lil’ Kim’s appearance in the video for “Lady Marmalade” below:
Jermaine Lamarr Cole, better known as J.Cole, has been hip hop’s best kept secret for years. Ever since Jay-Z signed him to RocNation, we’ve been waiting to hear what all the hype was about. After his debut album was pushed back¦and back last Spring, our interest in the newbie only intensified. After a jam-packed summer of touring and teasing, the wait is finally over.
Cole will release his debut album, Cole World: The Sideline Story on September 27 on the heels of a massive build up. In the months leading up to his debut release, Cole treated fans to new music through his “Any Given Sunday” campaign, delivering singles each week since July 13. While he had initially planned on dropping a mixtape prior to his major release, he changed his mind, deciding to stream music on his Web site and Ustream instead.
He told media in July, The music I was gonna put on the mixtape I’mma just slowly drop it. I’ll just drop it out online and they’ll find it. You know, my fans will find it how they will. I’m confident. I don’t wanna run and drop a mixtape. I don’t want people to get confused with that. I don’t want them to love it, because they’ll love it. If I put out a mixtape they’re gonna love it cause I don’t know how to put out a bad mixtape. That’s the problem.
Cole wasn’t being cocky. His mixtapes are what gained the attention of Jay-Z back in 2007”The Come Up mixtape earned him a spot on The Blueprint 3 in 2009. After his secondmixtape, The Warm Up hit the streets that year, Jay signed him as the first artist at his RocNation imprint. Since then, Hov has kept his protégé on his toes, making him wait til the eleventh hour to lend a verse to Mr. Nice Watch.
I’ll never forget the day Basia lied to me. Twice. I was interviewing the Polish singer (best known for her 1988 hit “Time and Tide”) shortly before the release of her 1994 album, The Sweetest Illusion, which was coming five years after her previous album, London Warsaw New York. That day, she promised me two things: First, she would never again make me wait so long for new music. Second, she’d never release a run-of-the-mill greatest hits album featuring, well, her greatest hits. She felt that at the very least, artists owed it to their fans to reprise their hits as brand-new tunes, not just repackage the same old songs.
Her next studio album, It’s That Girl Again, wouldn’t arrive until 2009, nine years after she had released Clear Horizon”The Best of Basia, one of those run-of-the-mill greatest hits albums featuring, well, her greatest hits.
The morals of this story: 1) You can’t rush inspiration. 2) The first cut isn’t only the deepest”sometimes it’s the best, too. That’s a lesson Mariah Carey may have learned last year when she scrapped plans to release Angels Advocate, a remixed version of her Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel album, after a new version of “Up Out My Face” (Memoirs‘ best song) featuring Nicki Minaj limped onto Billboard’s Hot 100 at No. 100 and refused to go any further.
But apparently, Lady Gaga, the reigning queen of remix albums and EPs, still hasn’t received the memo. When she released Born This Way back in May, she put out a special edition that included a separate disc with remixes of five of the album’s songs. (Bryan Ferry did a similar thing with last year’s Olympia.) Divine inspiration or clever marketing ploy? Perhaps a little of both, but “Born This Way”-with-a-twang never would have spent six weeks at No. 1. The “Country Road Version” makes for an interesting one-time listen, but I never need to hear it again.
Women have played a critical role in the evolution of hip hop; Queen Latifah, Lil’ Kim, Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill and Nicki Minaj, to name a few, have all left distinguishable marks. In 2008, the Hip Hop Culture Center in Harlem recognized their importance with its first annual tribute event called “The Impact of Women in Hip Hop”. Our very own fast-growing pool of female talent, living in the Hip Hop Channels on OurStage, also deserves some love, and we thought that featuring a playlist with a few of them was apropos.
One prime example is Nikki Lynette, who won our “NextMovie Review” competition just weeks ago with her upbeat, genre defying dance jam “Love U Crazy.” Check out her review of the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie for MTV’s NextMovie.com. And that’s not her first big moment on OurStage; Nikki was a finalist in OurStage and New Music Seminar’s “Artist on the Verge” competition last year. “I was competing against all male rock bands, she recalls, and I still managed to come in 2nd. Black girls know how to rock, too!” She’s lingered in the Top 100 of our Best of Urban charts for nine weeks this year, too, peaking at 11.
Another exciting artist to follow is @Ibtunes. This Houston sensation has opened for Drake, J. Cole and Wale and was featured as the Unsigned Band of the Month in this past March’s edition of High Times Magazine. She’s also been doing very well on OurStage this year; take a minute to check out some of her mixtapes here. I mean, c’mon, they’re free!
The Lyrical Maze is another one to keep your eye on. Given her childhood interest in writing and poetry, TLM is aptly named. Her confidence on the mic is not surprising either”she’s been competing in and winning talent contests since she was thirteen. More recently, she’s transferred these skills into live performances and even a headlining slot at the NWO Word Warriors Tour. This interview with Female First sheds some more light on the person behind the music.
Tracks by these women, along with other female artists, are included in the player below. We’re proud of their achievements, and we’re sure there’s something here for everyone. Do any of these tracks really stand out to you? Write us a comment and tell us why.