amazing icon

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.

Exclusive Q&A: Jessie and the Toy Boys Play Around With 'This Is How Rumors Start'

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsJessie Malakouti has a story to share with everyone. And what a globe-trotting story it is. She started her career in LA and eventually landed big in 2006 with the all-girl hip hop group Shut Up Stella. But, when things took a downturn with that group, Jessie made the daring escape to Europe. After spending some time in the UK club scene honing her craft, she made her triumphant return to the States with a new approach to music along with a brand new group to go along with it. Jessie took some time out of her busy recording schedule to sit down with OurStage to give us the lowdown on her new group: Jessie and the Toy Boys.

OS: Do you have any goals for Jessie and the Toy Boys?

JM: I’m currently working like a worker bee on the album which is going to come out in early 2012. So, that’s kind of the most immediate goal, which is finishing this record. Making it sound exactly how I want it to sound and to put it out for the fans, because I know they’re tweeting me everyday, asking when it is [coming out]. So, I’m working as fast as I can to finish the album.

OS: Why did you go with mannequins?

JM: I decided to form Jessie and the Toy Boys with the Toy Boys, because I have grown up in different bands and, no shake to anyone in a band I’ve ever been with, I know exactly who I am as an artist and I have a very clear vision of what I want to do, how I want to sound, how I want to look and all those things. It changes too, with my mood. It’s difficult to be in a band with me, because I’m a creative control freak, so I decided to start a band with mannequins, or as I like to call them, Toy Boys, because they don’t talk back. They’re awesome bandmates. And also, from a visual point of view, I have so many visual ideas with them. It’s fun.

OS: Does it feel different, having a lot more control over the creative direction of the album?

JM: It’s something I’m used to doing, but it’s different for me to have a team and a label that allows me to have control. I’ve always had control over everything that I’ve done. Just maybe in the past, with Shut Up Stella, it was more of a tug-of-war about what they wanted us to be and what we wanted to be. People have an idea of who you are and it doesn’t always mirror what I think I am, so this is the first time I’ve been able to take control of everything and have the full support of my time, so it’s really nice.

OS: Have you felt like you want to go wild with it and push off from the barriers?

JM: I don’t necessarily break barriers, but if I do along the way, that’s cool. I just like to create music that I like. So, when I leave the studio and there’s a song I listen to in the car, even in a rough state, over and over, then I’m stoked. I know there’s something that I’m proud of and that I love. Same thing with the videos, because I’m involved with the creative process of that as well. Any form of art that I’m hooked on and love to watch or listen to, for me, that’s cool and I’m proud of this.

OS: Do you have any interesting stories from your time in the UK that you would directly attribute to your inspiration for this project?

JM: I have a really interesting story, which kind of unfolds on the album. Not to give away too much, there’s a short film that’s broken into five parts. It’s called This Is How Rumors Start, along the title of the album. Each episode is a song title, so I wanted to push it. It’s going to be coming out soon. Basically, as you go through the episodes, you kind of see what happened. It’s based on the truth, mostly. You see what I went through in the UK and Europe, and why I started Jessie and the Toy Boys, and how I met the Toy Boys, and how everything started to come together and why I came back to America. I don’t want to give away too much of it. I want people to check out the webseries when it comes out or mini-movie, as I like to call it. But, you can hear it in the music. Once you see the visuals too, you’ll understand more what songs are about. Sometimes people think it’s cool, because I put a song out on my EP earlier called Running Makes the Girl Goes Round and it was a fan/critic favorite. It’s funny, because it’s kind of turned into this strip club anthem, but it’s totally not that. It’s a song about my best friend selling me out. When you watch This Is How Rumors Start, you totally see that and you see what the songs are really about. But I like to keep it kind of open-ended, because I like for the listener to listen to my music and make their own connections about what they think songs are about. That’s the beauty of music to me.

OS: What do you feel is the difference between the club scene in Europe and LA?

JM: The difference between the two of them is that America is very late. When it comes to dance music, we’re 100% late. I was making records that sounds like everything coming out right now three years ago. My old demos could come out right now and sound relevant. But, I personally think we go harder though in the clubs, especially when I was touring with Identity Festival and the whole electronic dance tour. The crowds were fucking out of control and really awesome. So, there’s a really cool energy in the dance music scene, but probably because we’re late. Because it’s so new over here, everyone’s so stoked and pumped and even with dubstep. Not to be like I do everything first, but I put out a dubstep record in 2008 and I remember everyone in the club I played it for when I came over for Christmas was like What is this? I was like Just wait, it’s gonna explode. But, I like that it’s all happening over here now, because everyone seems so much more enthusiastic about it where I think in Europe, they’re starting to flatten out on dance music a little bit. I mean, who knows? But I love it, I love the genre no matter where it’s popping off. It seems to be a global phenomenon, so I’m happy that it’s the kind of music I make.

OS: How do you view your collaborations with rap music and artists like Yelawolf?

JM: It’s cool. Growing up in the LA music scene, I’ve always been amazed and impressed by hip hop and people who are just awesome at hip hop. I found Yelawolf online a while ago before he signed to Eminem and started tweeting him. I thought he had something really cool and really liked his style. Basically, we became friends. I played him Push It one day in my car and then we drove to the studio. Five minutes later, he recorded the rap that you hear on it. That’s how I like to get down with music. I like for it to be genuine and organic and never want to do anything that feels forced. A couple of weeks ago, I met this really cool rapper named John Christopher. He’s on tour with Kanye and CyHi (Da Prynce) and I think we’re gonna collaborate on some stuff, so you can look for that. I just love hip hop and talented emcees, so it’s cool to get to collaborate with them.

OS: Are there any underground pop acts that you might be interested in working with?

JM: I don’t know how underground she is. I think she’s started to take off in a major way as well. But, her name is Winter Gordon and she’s a friend of mine. We both [were at] Miami Winter Concert this year together and we became friends there. She’s come to LA a couple times and we’ve hung out. We’re gonna do something together. There’s this cool new group called DWNTWN. I met them because they’re co-managed by DJ Skeet Skeet and he’s a friend of mine. They’re really rad and they’re working on a remix for me for the song that just dropped Let’s Get Naughty. It’s cool, they’re going really industrial with it. I don’t know how to classify what they do, but it’s definitely pop though. You should check it out. They just played CMJ. I’m excited about that project, so I want to do more things with them too.

OS: Are there any stereotypes that are really strange that get applied to you?

JM: I don’t think so. Not any that I can name. I guess, in general, pop music has a stereotype that it’s disposable and there’s no substance there. I think that’s true with some songs, but I’m looking forward to introducing to the world the entire body of work I’ve been creating, because I feel like there’s a lot of depth to this record and there’s a lot of songs that I’m really proud of and hope stand the test of time. I think pop doesn’t have to be just disposable dance music, and even if it is, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think everybody likes to have a good time. But, there’s some songs on This Is How Rumors Start that thematically run a little deeper, so I’m excited for that to come out.

Be sure to check out Jessie and the Toy Boys’ official web site for all the latest news on This Is How Rumors Start. And watch the official video for “Let’s Get Naughty” below!

UTG: REVIEW: Yelawolf – Radioactive

Artist: Yelawolf
Album: Radioactive
Genre: Hip Hop
Label: Shady

 

2011 has been a huge year for hip hop. From genre-defining releases like Tha Carter 4 and Watch The Throne, to the overwhelming success of mixtape artists MODSUN and Freddie Gibbs, there is little to no doubt that this was one of the biggest years for the hip hop community in recent memory. Now, arriving just in time to close out the year by helping us get through the holiday season, Shady Records’ Yelawolf has dropped his debut record and made it clear that there is still a lot of great new music to experience before we say goodbye to 2011.

Even though November has found itself packed with hip hop releases, practically no two have been alike. Pusha T talked drug rap like no one’s business, Childish Gambino referenced pop culture the way most reference bitches, and Drake showed us that wearing your heart on your sleeve no longer has to be a sign of weakness in this tough man’s arena. With Radioactive, Yelawolf showcases the wide range of possibilities within the genre. From the the songs made to set the night off right (Let’s Roll and Hard White), to the introspective (Everything I Love The Most), autobiographical (Get Away), and even romantic (The Hardest Love Song In The World), Radioactive keeps you on your toes while continuing to deliver again and again. (more…)

Soundcheck: Fall Music Preview

As the warm weather fades away and summer comes to a close, there’s still one thing to look forward to; a new season meansnew music. Now that J. Cole has dropped Cole World: The Sideline Story, and Weezy finally released The Carter IV this month as well, the bar is already set pretty high for this season’s set-lists.  Here are a few projects we can’t wait to get our hands on.

B.o.B. gave fans a taste of what’s to come last week when he released Strange Clouds, the first single off his upcoming sophomore album of the same name. While no drop date has been set, the song features Lil Wayne and a markedly more aggressive Bobby Ray.  He told HipHopDX, Hopefully fans will be able to hear the new album very soon. I’m as impatient for you to hear it as you are. It’s a more mature sound but nothing too experimental, he said. It’s a happy medium between the sound of B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray and the mixtapes, so everyone should be able to enjoy it.

Drake will release his sophomore effort, Take Care, on October 24 under Young Money Records.  Just last week, he released the cover art to the album with a note to fans:

Feels like it’s been so long. Is life moving so fast in this generation that when we desire something it begins to move in slow motion? Are we just used to getting what we want right away? Or do we require one another to feel right about all that is going on around us? Maybe our anticipation is justified by the fact that we genuinely cannot wait to share a moment again? Either way, your life and mine are scheduled to meet on October 24…I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Neither would we, Drake.  Wonder if this little note was meant to distract fans from the fact that the album was due out October 4, and has been pushed back.  Still, if his singles, Headlines and his latest, Free Spirit featuring Rick Ross are any indication of what’s to come, it’s definitely worth the wait.

(more…)