Hip-hop is no stranger to violence, whether it’s in boastful lyrics, videos, or the actual past lives of emcees who’ve escaped the streets and struggles of the inner city. Sometimes, though, it gets too real. Cut to Monday morning in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where Rick Ross barely escaped a barrage of bullets in an apparent drive-by shooting on the morning of his 37 birthday. Ross and girlfriend Shateria L. Moragne-el were reportedly on their way to a birthday breakfast when a gunman from another car opened fire on Ross’ 2011 Rolls-Royce. Ross sped away, only to quickly crash into a nearby apartment building. Though the bullets pierced the window of a nearby diner, neither Ross, nor his girlfriend, nor any of the diner patrons were injured. The night before, Ross has been celebrating his birthday with P. Diddy at the LIV nightclub in Miami. (more…)
Lana Del Rey’s SNL performance
There’s no arguing that Lana Del Rey has a beautiful voice, but there’s also no arguing that she is gangly as all get-out. The torchy chanteuse made her television debut on Saturday Night Live last weekend, and it turns out she’s quite a polarizing performer. Juliette Lewis initially dissed Del Ray, saying it felt like watching a twelve year old in their bedroom. But the next day Lewis woke up singing a different tune. Decide for yourself if Del Rey is fresh and yummy or wiggity-wack by watching her performance below.
Trent Reznor, Flaming Lips, Radiohead protest Internet legislation
Musicians are up in arms this week over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA)”two bills making their way through Congress that will allow the government to block access to sites accused of copyright infringement before their court date. The Lonely Island, Nada Surf, MGMT signed this online petition, while Radiohead and Flaming Lips posted anti SOPA and PIPA banners on their Web sites and Twitter profiles. We’ll see if star power can move mountains, or at least Capitol Hill.
Jay-Z hasn’t retired the b-word after all
This week numerous media outlets reported that Jay-Z had released a poem announcing he’d given up the word bitch in honor of his daughter, Blue Ivy. Turns out, the whole thing is a crock of bitch (hey, if he’s not retiring it, then neither are we). Jay-Z will still be going H.A.M. when it comes to profanity, which gives us a sneaking suspicion of what Blue Ivy’s first word will be.
Kate Bush stalker breaks in to propose
When Kate Bush sang Let me into your window in her song, Wuthering Heights, little did she know one day a fan would let himself into her window in an ill-fated attempt at a marriage proposal. Police arrested Frank Tufaro after he broke into the reclusive singer’s home with a $4,500 engagement ring. Bush wasn’t home at the time, but we’re guessing her answer would have been no.
Elton John and husband get catty with Madonna
Madonna won the Best Original Song at the Golden Globes on Sunday, much to the dismay of Sir Elton John and his husband, David Furnish. John was nominated for his song, Hello Hello from Gnomeo and Juliet, but lost to Madge’s Masterpiece from W.E. That pissed Furnish right off, and he let everyone know it on his Facebook page. You can read the rant here, and see a screenshot of Elton John’s sourpuss during Madonna’s acceptance speech.
Diddy loses another battle in the vodka wars
Page Six is reporting that P Diddy lost his cool once again when patrons of a pre-Golden Globe party were prohibited from drinking his Ciroc vodka because the event was sponsored by Grey Goose. Not that anyone was asking for Circoc, mind you. Maybe that’s what he was really mad about. Get the rest of the gossip here.
- Lookout! Records going under
- Sinéad O’Connor seeks treatment for depression
- Merle Haggard hospitalized
- Santigold blasts Katy Perry and Lady Gaga
- LL Cool J to host GRAMMY Awards
- Adele defends relationship on Web site
- Miley Cyrus buys boyfriend a puppy
- Bruno Mars cleared of cocaine possession
- Paris Hilton recording song with LMFAO for new album
- Kanye West recites poem about MLK Jr.
- Rihanna goes green on vacation
Misogynistic, homophobic, hateful, racist and an all-around bad influence on our children”the list of grievances against hip hop is a long one. Perhaps that’s why so many celebrities have an issue with the genre. In 2009, Gladys Knight said she isn’t a fan of the genre or the vulgarity that comes with it. Oprah Winfrey had a beef with several prominent rappers in 2006, after they claimed she mistreated them on her show. And last week, it was actress Ashley Judd who came down hard on rappers, citing its rape culture and insanely abusive lyrics and depictions of girls and women as ‘ho’s’ as the contemporary soundtrack of misogyny in her memoirs. (Of course, her remarks against hip hop might be a publicity stunt aimed to sell books, but who are we to judge? Girl’s gotta eat.)
Seemingly in an effort to prove Ms. Judd right, rapper Gucci Mane was arrested on assault charges last week after he pushed a woman from a moving car. Actually, that’s not the whole story. He allegedly offered her breakfast, then tried to give her $150 for sex and THEN pushed her out of the car. (See? Totally different.) But in all seriousness, Gucci Mane’s antics and the antics of other boneheaded rappers like him are why self-righteous actresses everywhere feel justified writing off the entire group as sexist, dangerous a-holes.
Although guys like Gucci give hip hop a bad name, keep in mind that every genre has its bad eggs. Remember that time Casey Royer (ex-Social D) was arrested for overdosing in front of his 12-year-old son? How about Christina Aguilera, who was arrested recently after becoming so intoxicated she couldn’t remember her own address? Or what about last month, when Screeching Weasel frontman Ben Weasel punched a girl in the face during a show? Yes, Gucci Mane’s actions were deplorable. But rap is far from the only genre that’s home to some troubled musicians.
And let’s not forget all of the great things that hip hop artists do. Dead Prez, Talib Kweli and KRS-One have always been known for their socially-conscious lyrics. Trey Songz and Big Boi are teaming up with NYC Mayor Bloomberg for an anti-truancy campaign. M.I.A. is using some of that Paper Planes money to help build schools in war-torn Liberia. And Snoop Dogg and P-Diddy supported YouthAIDS”an AIDS-awareness group affiliated with MTV that created hip PSAs about the disease. In fact, that’s what started all this trouble in the first place”Judd didn’t think Snoop was a good enough person to warn people about AIDS. Seriously, get off your high horse, girl!
Bottom line: Be it rock, pop, rap, 8-bit or shoegaze, every genre is going to have good guys and bad guys. There’s just one important thing to take away from all the turmoil, and it’s this: don’t get into a car with Gucci Mane.
Rapper, actor, producer, writer, designer “ Sean “Diddy” Combs is one of the busiest men in the music biz. And despite his already packed résumé, Combs shows no signs of slowing down. He recently teamed up with vocalists Dawn Richard and Kalenna Harper to form Diddy Dirty Money, a dance-infused hip hop trio who won fans over with their moving single “Coming Home.” OurStage got the lowdown on the new collaboration from singer Dawn Richard, who told us about the challenges of working with Diddy, the concept behind Last Train To Paris, and what sets Dirty Money’s soulful dance music apart.
OS: So how did Dirty Money come together?
DR: I had just came from Danity Kane, I was writing for Mya, Cassie and Day26 and sending records to Puff for his new project. He had asked me to come write on his new project he was starting. At the time he had no idea who was going to be in his group. I was writing and referencing records for him, and I think he just loved what Kalenna and I were writing and the hustle we had. I had that “hustle ˜til we win attitude” that Puff had. Four am one morning Puff called me and asked if I would be in his group. I was skeptical at first because of all the previous drama from my last group experience, but I knew this would be life changing for me”an opportunity to make great music and write an amazing story.
OS: Diddy has been involved in so many projects in the industry, what sets this group apart?
DR: The fact that Puff is in this group with two women. That alone sets this design apart from anything he has ever done.
DR: The only challenge is people not being able to see there are three people in the group. Puff is such a huge entity they can’t see where we fit. But we aren’t the type to let that bother us. All we need is a mic and a stage and the rest is for the birds. People will see, one city and live show at a time.
OS: What does the band name mean? Some people have speculated that it’s about drug money.
DR: [Laughs] No, we just wanted a name that was as epic and different as “Vampire Weekend” or “Silversun Pickups.” Dirty Money was the perfect candidate.
OS: Did you write or co-write any of the songs on Last Train To Paris?
DR: Kalenna and I co-wrote on Last Train to Paris: Loving you no More, Ass on the Floor, Hate you Now, and more … That was one of the reasons I signed on to this project. It was the opportunity to use my pen on the project. Being the female perspective and voice of the ride.
OS: Can you describe the concept behind Last Train To Paris?
DR: The journey of finding love, losing love and getting it back again. Puff tells his story of love in the male perspective while me and Kalenna play the female conscience of Puff ‘s love interest. We are the right and left of her brain. I may be the part of the woman that wants love to work where K might be the woman scorned. It’s the emotional tug of war love takes you through.
DR: We actually just played records for them. And they picked the records they wanted to be on. We were so blessed to have so many great people hit us up and say “yo can we get on” or “I can outdo the records you already got”. It made for amazing, organic features that added color to the album.
OS: What does Dirty Money bring to dance music that’s original and fresh?
DR: We bring soul, truth and rawness. We are the ones that will get you to dance a lil’ different than you are used to. That pelvic region will be the first to sway with our shit… [Laughs]
OS: What’s next for the group?
DR: The tour is at the end of March”The Coming Home Tour. I just released my mixtape AtellTaleheart … along with our V-Day mixtape Love Love vs. Hate Love. Basically taking over the world one day at a time.
Twenty-year-old Jason Derülo has certainly had an incredible year. It began with his first tour ever, where he found himself not only traveling across the country, but performing for thousands of fans as an opening act for pop megastar Lady Gaga. His hit singles, “Whatcha Say,” “In My Head” and “Ridin’ Solo” have topped the charts for months, and now he’s wrapping up a headlining world tour. OurStage got the chance to speak with Jason about adjusting to the star life and what’s in store for his undoubtedly bright future.
OS: Though you’ve always been a performer, you originally made a name for yourself in the industry as a songwriter for Lil’ Wayne, Cassie and Danity Kane, to name a few. How did you land that job at such a young age?
JD: I was 16 when I got my first placement, and I wasn’t chasing the writing dream. What I was doing was kind of tricking the producer that I was working with into thinking that I was a writer [laughs]. I just really wanted them to record records for me…but I was posing as a songwriter so I could get them to record me. While I was doing this, I just so happened to get a placement and the ball just kind of started rolling. Once you get one placement, it just kind of snowballs…then Lil’ Wayne, Danity Kane, Cassie, for all these people…P. Diddy…all of them kind of fell in line. Once you start getting more and more, more come.
OS: You had over 300 songs recorded before the album was put together. How did you narrow down that huge list to the nine that eventually ended up on the CD?
JD: I think every song is special in its own way…and I wanted to have every song be totally different from the last. You can kind of tell from the singles… none of them were really in line with the others. Every single song can really spin on its own and be it’s own story. When I narrowed it down, I took the best in each category. Those were the ones that I felt were special.
OS: Your hit single “Whatcha Say” samples Imogen Heap’s song “Hide and Seek.” What made you decide to use that piece for the chorus of your own song?
JD: It was actually JR [Rotem, producer]’s idea to sample that. When he brought it to me, I was floored because it’s just so different… I knew it would be something that would cut through and would catch people’s attention. It’s such a beautiful song…and when I wrote to it, it really meshed together and it just happened to be magical.
OS: You work with so many other artists as a songwriter but haven’t collaborated with any yet. Who would you most like to collaborate with on a future release?
JD: I’m not that person that’s going to have a million features on his album, because I think that your album is a representation of you. I don’t really need to hang on anyone’s coat tails, you know? If it is a collaboration, it would be a collaboration that’s right for the song. I wouldn’t sacrifice a song that I thought was good on its own to have a feature on it. But, I mean, if I had my first choice…I would choose Madonna! [laughs] She’s been able to reinvent herself time and time again and I have yet to be a part of another reinvention. I grew up listening to Madonna because my mom listened to Madonna.
OS: Earlier this year, you spent six weeks touring the country as an opening act for Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball. What was that experience like?
JD: Lady Gaga, she’s awesome…I had a great time on tour with her. She’s spectacular in terms of helping the process run smoothly. She was an absolute sweetheart and her staff were really helpful in making my first tour a success. It was my first tour, so I needed time to get acclimated to being on tour….living in a tour bus, performing in front of thousands of people everyday…it takes some getting used to. It’s a completely different life. But she was awesome throughout the whole thing. She’s inspiring. She said a lot of inspiring words to me. She’s a kind, kind girl.
OS: Your live show is very energetic. How do you prepare for weeks of touring?
JD: It’s crazy. My schedule is so crazy that I have minimal time to really, really prepare. I feel like every show is somewhat of a rehearsal. Because literally, before my tour, I had one rehearsal on my set. I was thrown on the stage in London, one of the biggest cities in the world…and I had to do my thing. And I think it makes for a better performer, being put on the spot, and to just go. I think that’s the beauty of performance…when you can just go and be yourself, without all the gimmicks…you can make a great show.
OS: In addition to being a singer, songwriter and dancer, you’re also an actor. Do you have any plans to return to the film set in the near future?
JD: It’s crazy, you know…I never thought I’d be turning down film roles left and right… it’s pretty crazy. I did this series online and it raised a lot of buzz in the acting world. It was the story of my life…I played myself, it was called “The Walk of Fame.” It raised a lot of attention. I’m getting offered film roles left and right, but I can’t”everything that I’m doing is taking up my time, in the music world. But I hope to in the near future, because I love it. It’s an amazing thing, also.
OS: You have an incredible work ethic and don’t seem to ever rest. Do you have any interest in working on the business side of the industry?
JD: Yeah, I actually have a girls’ group coming out in Australia, first…and I [am also mentoring] a young girl, Alyssa, she’s 15, as well. I’m really into fashion, too, so I’ll probably do that.
Don’t miss Jason Derülo at the last dates of his world tour:
10/20 – Arizona State Fairgrounds, Phoenix, AZ
10/21 – University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
10/22 – Rider University, Lawrenceville, NJ
10/23 – Warehouse Live, Houston, TX
10/25 – House Of Blues, Dallas, TX
10/27 – Center Stage, Atlanta, GA
10/28 – The Ritz Ybor,Tampa. FL
10/29 – Alumni Hall, Fairfield, CT