Tupac Shakur’s Mother Vows To Release His "Entire Body Of Work"

Anyone familiar with the work of Tupac Shakur is already well aware of his posthumous career. In fact, Tupac (or rather, his estate) has released more albums featuring new material after his death than any other musician in history, and it seems we may soon have even more to enjoy.

Tupac’s mother, Afeni Shakur, has released a new statement vowing to release the fallen rapper’s entire body of work in order to give a new generation a chance to experience the rapper’s unheard material. She is the head of her late son’s estate, and recently handed over the management of that estate to Jampol Artist Management (JAM). During this transition, Afeni shed light on plans to release material even die hard fans have yet to hear. Her statement reads: (more…)

Coachella Breaks Records for Attendance…And Arrests

According to Rolling Stone, the first week of Coachella 2012 didn’t just break an attendance record – it broke an arrest record, too. The Indio, California police department has estimated that 80,000 to 85,000 people attended each day of the three-day festival. This is up 10,000 people last year, the previous all-time high. The police department claims that there has already been 130 arrests at the festival, as well. This is a big increase compared to last year’s 40 arrests. Due to the tremendous increase in attendance, most of the arrests are alcohol-related. Despite the seemingly large number, Benjamin Guitron of the Indio Police Department told NBC that this number was small “compared to other events-sometimes there are 200 arrests at football games.”

The second weekend of the Coachella Festival will begin tomorrow. According to Rolling Stone, the line up is essentially identical to last week’s. From what we can tell, some big names include Swedish House Mafia, Radiohead, Bon Iver, and of course Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and the now-famous Hologram Tupac for Sunday.

Click here to check out Coachella 2012’s full lineup.

Why Amy Winehouse Doesn't Belong In The 27 Club

By: Joshua Neuman

There is a feeling that is equally as powerful as shock, but which perhaps is more addling.

When someone close to you passes away suddenly, you are struck by a vicious one-two punch: The fact that someone you loved is gone and the fact that you didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. I got that feeling when I was by my brother’s hospital bed at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital on September 12, 2001 in New York, watching the morose testimonials of those who had lost loved ones the day before just a few miles south of us.

If only I could have just told her how much I loved her.

I would give a limb in exchange for three more seconds with him.

I never had a chance to tell her how I felt about her.

Those were some of the refrains we heard over and over that day. I remember looking at my brother as he watched the 4-inch black and white television hanging from a crane-like apparatus that he could adjust from his bed. I remember feeling grateful that I had the chance to say everything that I needed to say to him.

Despite the tremendous outpouring of sadness since she passed away last week, Amy Winehouse’s death wasn’t a shock to anyone.  Late night talk show hosts have been making light of her dance with death for years. A website, WhenWillAmyWinehouseDie.com, received over 96,000 entries since it launched at the end of 2007; even Amy’s mother talked openly about the likelihood that her daughter would die young. Upon learning of her death last week and deprived of the ability to process it through shock, a strange feeling ensued”I’m not sure I know how to describe it. It’s not like it’s less painful than the feeling of learning that someone close to you died with little warning. No, gradual decline grants no more reprieve from pain than slowly inching yourself into an icy pool of water grants you from feeling cold.

If anything, the fact that we knew that this was coming, that there was no opportunity for shock, made it more painful. We couldn’t fantasize about things we would have wanted to say to Amy Winehouse”we had every chance we needed to say anything we wanted.  We couldn’t fixate on the results of the toxicology report as we did with Heath Ledger”who the hell cared which specific substance had done her in? We didn’t get angry at her father, who was traveling to New York City at the time of her death to perform at the Blue Note”after all, he probably did all that he could to save her.

The snail-like pace of Amy Winehouse’s descent deprived us of the capacity to feel shock upon her death and perhaps shows us how much we use shock to insulate us from our experience of death.  In her farewell, she has less in common with the 27 Club than she does with Biggie and Tupac, whose lives and work seemed to forecast early death”however unable to soften its sting.

Rapper's Delight: East Coast West Coast

The ’90s coastal hip hop feud has been talked about, debated and over analyzed since, well, the ’90s. People are fascinated by the relationship between Biggie and Tupac, between Bad Boy Records and Death Row Records and of course the music that spawned from the disjuncture. In fact, you’re probably tired of hearing about it. So, here’s a (hypothetical) feud that you haven’t heard about: the riff between East Coast and West Coast rappers on OurStage! Let’s take a look at some of the players in this epic struggle for hip hop dominance.

Biggie and Pac

You can’t have a conversation about East Coast hip hop on OurStage without talking about Overdose, aka “theofficialod.” This revolutionary emcee is redefining NYC rap and taking OurStage by storm at the same time. Sure he’s got a handful of badges for Top 40, Top 10 and even won the Alt. Hip Hop Channel, but earlier this year he was also crowned first place in our Best of Urban charts”three weeks in a row. Outside of OurStage, Overdose earned himself a feature on Nick Cannon Presents…America’s Wildstyle Champs and was a two-time finalist on Loud.com. Check out his track “Stepping Stone” below”after all, music does speak louder than words.

Born in Harlem and raised in the Bronx, Tribeca is another true New York talent. Not just by birthright, either”he’s toured with East Coast legends Fat Joe, Gang Starr and the Wu Tang Clan. Before he started rapping, however, he made a name for himself in the studio producing for other Bronx locals like Camp Lo and KRS-1. This guy’s done it all. I mean, he wrote the theme song to ESPN’s “The Life,” wrote a novel called Party and Bullshit and even body-doubled as Biggie for VIBE Magazine and VH1. Some other East Coasters you need to hear include Dom P MFD, Jae Apollo and Yonas.

This is only half the story though; we still need to take a look at their West Coast counterparts. Dylan Synclaire, for example, although born in Missouri, spent most of his life in Washington state. When given the choice of college or a music career after high school, the independent eighteen year old chose to follow his passion and started to write and perform locally. After making a name for himself in Kent, WA, Synclaire took the plunge and drove down to LA to test his mettle. Within a year, he signed a deal with Westlake Recording Services and worked with the engineer/producer for Salt-N-Pepa: Al Machera. Since then, he’s evolved into the uniquely polished but still raw artist he is today.

Also on the West Coast roster is the LA-born Element. Element is the perfect illustration of a natural-born rapper. The son of an R&B singer, Element was exposed to music and encouraged to dabble at a young age. This, coupled with severe domestic issues, caused him to fuse his interest in reading and poetry with writing music and free styling. In the last ten years, Element has taken his God- given talents to the next level. Don’t believe us? Give “Mic 2 Tha Thrizzoat” a listen on the playlist below.

Last, but hardly least, we should mention a California girl named Sibley. This hellraiser took LA by storm in 2005 and hasn’t relented since. She’s made a cameo in an Usher video, been all over the radio and eventually earned the chance to work with all-star producers Marc Kinchen, Brian Kennedy and Kadis & Sean. Other West Coast honorable mentions include Kadeve, Reyn, OddiO and J. Vic.

Well, there it is”some of OurStage’s most promising rappers from both coasts. Give both playlists a listen and post your thoughts below. Only the fans can truly decide who wins this brutal (and made up) feud!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Soundcheck: A Final Farewell To Nate Dogg

Hip hop lost a dear friend one week ago, when Nate Dogg died at the age of forty-one. Born and raised in Long Beach, California, Nathaniel Dwayne Hale helped lay the foundation of west coast rap. He signed to Death Row Records in 1993 after he joined with Snoop Dogg and Warren G to form the rap trio, 213. He made his debut on Dr. Dre‘s classic, The Chronic in 1992 and flooded rap hooks with his unique, soulful voice, narrating the emergence of the G-Funk era. Tracks like How Long Will They Mourn Me? with Tupac Shakur and his first hit, Regulate with Warren G helped put Long Beach on the map and would go down in history as part of a rap revolution.

His 1998 double album, G-Funk Classics: Volume 1 & 2 was a fan favorite, and was followed by his 2001 chart-topper Music & Me. Legal troubles hindered the rapper’s planned 2004 release of his self-titled album, Nate Dogg, ultimately postponing the drop date until 2008. In 2007, he suffered a stroke in Pomona, Ca, and in September of 2008, he suffered a second stroke, ending his music career with his final release. His health troubles claimed his life on March 15, sending another rap legend to an early grave.

For me, the loss is a bit more personal than another rap legend passing away. Nate Dogg played an intricate role in shaping my relationship with rap music. At the tender age of ten, I bought my first rap single, Regulate by Warren G and Nate Dogg. I had my first fight with my father, when he confiscated the music that was in his opinion, inappropriate. It was the first time I felt censored. The first time I felt my thirst for rebellion be quenched through music. As a ten-year-old girl in an upper-middle class suburb, I certainly couldn’t relate to the song’s literal story getting in a fight with rival gang members in my neighborhood, calling for back up and anticipating a raunchy rendezvous in a seedy motel”but that wasn’t the point. I could relate to the melody, to the beat, to Nate Dogg’s powerful voice radiating through the bass line like a drum. His bellowing story-telling narrated a fantasy world that caused a stir in me I had never felt before. It was fun, it was exciting, almost like being catapulted into a four-minute action movie. I felt empowered, instantly memorizing the lyrics, mimicking them in my mirror, giving my best effort at a gangster pose.

Now, as I sit and write this column from my home in Pomona, I can see the rooftop of the hospital that treated Nate Dogg for his first stroke. An odd sense of time and place overwhelms me, and I find it peculiar that our paths intertwine, without ever intersecting. He’s so close, and so far away at the same time. Kind of like hip hop. Kind of like the story it tells and the picture it paints. If you close your eyes, you can find yourself there. Perhaps in a different battle than the rapper, but fighting just the same. Using their words as a personal anthem, borrowing their swag and substituting rhymes for redemption. Nate Dogg’s voice lit a fire in me and ignited my love for hip hop. He gave me my first taste of rebellion, of overcoming oppression, of self-expression. Like so many artists unknowingly do, he helped define my voice in a way that would later help define my life.

To him, I would like to give one final “thanks”. Sixteen years ago he invited me into a world that I’ve never left, and introduced me to a part of myself I may have never known.