Category: Drake

Justin Bieber, Drake to appear at Stevie Wonder's toys benefit

Stevie Wonder Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder will be getting assists from Justin Bieber, Drake, Michael McDonald, Faith Evans, Little Anthony & the Imperials, gospel singer Hezekiah Walker and additional guests for his 16th annual House Full of Toys benefit concert Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Nokia Theatre in L.A.

Wonder's holiday shows are typically generous affairs, with him performing throughout the evening, alternating with and sometimes joining the guest performers. Concertgoers are asked to “bring an unwrapped toy or unwrapped gift of joy” to the show, which will be collected for distribution to Los Angeles area children, people with disabilities and families in need.

Other performers slated for this year’s lineup include Charlie Wilson, Noel Gourdin, Gerald Clayton, Nuttin’ But Stringz, Shelea Frazier, Treasure Davis and Savannah Robinson. “American Idol” musical director Rickey Minor will be producer and music director. Tickets are $39.50 to $149.50.

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--Randy Lewis

Photo of Stevie Wonder at the House Full of Toys benefit in 2004. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times.

Google launches Google Music

DrakeThe online music storage and commerce wars got more competitive today when Google officially debuted Google Music, its integrated MP3 store, cloud storage service and social media service.

Google Music comes half a year after the beta launch of its cloud-storage service that didn't have backing from any major labels. This offical version has co-signs from every major label (except, for now, Warner) and Merlin, a consortium of larger indie labels. It offers free wireless storage accessible across a range of devices and full integration with an MP3 store as part of Android Market. Users can also share tracks across Google's struggling social network platform Google+, and unsigned artists can sell their own songs in the market.

Alex Pham has in-depth reporting on the service's launch, which kicked off at a party in Los Angeles Wednesday night with sets by Drake and Busta Rhymes, at our sister blog Company Town.

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-- August Brown

Photo of Drake by John Shearer/Getty Images for T-Mobile.

Drake talks criticism, singing, sweaters and doing things his way

Drake

When Drake sat down with The Times last week for a feature, most of the discussion was about his unusually low-key approach to promoting his new album, "Take Care," which hit retail on Tuesday.

But the 25-year-old Canadian rapper-singer also discussed a lot of other things, including the criticism of his singing and fashion choices (he doesn’t care that you hate his sweaters), striving for consistency on the new record and doing things his way.

Here is a further snapshot from an evening spent with Drizzy at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

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Album Review: Drake's 'Take Care'

Album review: Drake's 'Take Care'

Throughout “Take Care,” Toronto actor-singer-rapper Drake references plenty of the accouterments that come with living as one of hip-hop’s rich and famous. There are strippers and there are millions of dollars spent on “nice things” like Persian rugs. Yet the former do little more than cause guilt, and despite all the cash Drake raked in after his million-plus-selling 2010 debut “Thank Me Later,” the man can’t stop worrying about his taxes.

That’s not to say Drake hasn’t been enjoying his success. On “The Ride” he shows off his knowledge of the menu at Napa Valley’s French Laundry, and on “Look What You’ve Done” Drake has the means to take care of his family, even if he’s still torturing himself for acting too bratty to his mom.

To discuss Drake requires a mention of how he represents the softer side of hip-hop. It’s not just anyone, after all, who gets a guest harmonica turn from Stevie Wonder. His gorgeously pensive solo ends “Doing It Wrong,” a stand-out R&B cut in which Drake is nearly too nervous to end a relationship.

The template here, and for essentially the entirety of Drake’s young career, is Kanye West’s “808s & Heartbreak.” Drake shares West’s love for mood and never-ending existential analysis (80 minutes of it, to be precise). “Marvin’s Room” showcases Drake’s talents for both: he recounts how his sexual conquests are destroying his love life, sounding lost in murky, synthesized soul.

Drake doesn’t come off as a rapper who attempts to sing. In fact, the customary guest raps from the likes of mentor Lil Wayne can distract and sometimes even outpace him, as is the case with Nicki Minaj. For someone who simply longs for the girls from his hometown, Drake's voice and lyrics would be better suited to having a duet partner who could draw out the best in him, instead of leaving him behind.

Drake

"Take Care"

(Young Money/Cash Money/Universal)

Three stars (Out of four)

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--Todd Martens

How Stevie Wonder sparked Drake's 'Marvin's Room'

Drake


Before a late-night drunk dial became the anchor of Drake’s bitter breakup jam, “Marvin’s Room,” his phone buzzed during a studio session with a surprising voice on the other end: Stevie Wonder.

“He’s one of the kindest, most spontaneous individuals. He said, ‘I’ll be there in 20 minutes,’” the Canadian rapper-singer recalled from a booth in the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel. “So we started cleaning up.”

Drake was already in the legendary Marvin’s Room studios in L.A. when he received the call from Wonder, who, true to his word quickly, arrived. Drizzy and his longtime producer Noah "40" Shebib were cutting “Doing It Wrong" when Wonder requested to go into the booth.

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Drake takes cautious approach to stardom

The singer is taking an unusually low-key approach to promoting his new album, ‘Take Care,’ whose title might also describe his personal philosophy.

Drake

Drake could have employed a surefire strategy of platinum producers, staggered singles and aggressive promotion to help ensure that his new album, “Take Care,” would avoid the sophomore slump. Given the pomp and hype the 25-year-old has amassed over his abbreviated career, such an assault was certainly expected. Instead, the Canadian rapper-singer has taken a decidedly low-key approach to rolling out his new disc.

He recorded “Take Care” largely in his own home studio in Toronto instead of New York or L.A., offered no advance listens and restricted both his live performances and press — something only rap veterans such as Jay-Z and Kanye West can pull off these days. No matter how popular rap’s newest star may be, the move is risky.

“I feel like the generation that’s digesting music right now, they are so easily swayed by opinion that’s put forth prior to hearing the music. I just want the world to have their own experience with it simultaneously, rather than being led in a direction,” he said from a booth in the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel. “It’s sort of a silly thing because you miss out on a lot of press opportunities that way.

“But my music has never been about that,” he continued, driving the point. “It’s never been about the listening party that everybody came to. My music has always belonged to the people.”

And clearly, it still does: The album leaked Monday, a week ahead of its scheduled Nov. 15 release, and instantly became a trending topic on Twitter.

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Drake apologizes for 'Take Care' album delay

Drake

Drake is apologizing to his fans after he was forced to push his highly anticipated sophomore effort, "Take Care," back a few weeks to Nov. 15.

The album originally was due on the rapper's birthday (Oct. 24), but he said he needed to delay the release in order to get clearance for three samples he wanted to use on it.

"I have completed 19 songs (17 on physical and 2 on bonus), and have run into a roadblock of clearing 3 samples in time to make the October 24th date," he wrote in a statement on his website. "My options were to take the songs off and make the birthday release happen, or to take an extra couple weeks to get the paperwork right and give you the album the way I NEED you to hear it. The choice was clear as day for me. November 15th you will get Take Care the exact way I created it with no trimmings. This music means too much to me to get attached to dates and I do apologize for the delay but I promise that it is only for the benefit of our experience together."

He has also postponed his upcoming Club Paradise college tour until after the holidays, so he can hit more schools.

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-- Gerrick D. Kennedy
twitter.com/GerrickKennedy

Photo: Drake performs at the second-annual OVO Festival at Molson Amphitheatre on July 31 in Toronto. Credit: George Pimentel / WireImage

Snoop Dogg, Drake and B.o.B take top honors at BMI Urban Awards

Snoop_dogg

Snoop Dogg, Drake, Lex Luger and B.o.B all took home top honors at BMI’s Urban Awards in Hollywood on Friday.

The annual event celebrates the songwriters, producers and publishing companies who had the most-performed R&B and hip-hop songs of the last year.

With seven songs that he helped pen, Drake was awarded the BMI urban songwriter of the year. Lexus “Lex Luger” Lewis became the youngest person to be named urban producer of the year as the 20-year-old logged singles from the Throne (Jay-Z and Kanye West), Wale, Ace Hood, Waka Flocka Flame and Rick Ross. B.o.B took home the urban song of the year award for “Nothin’ on You.” Urban publisher of the year went to the Universal Music Publishing Group.

Before being given the BMI icon award by friend and longtime collaborator Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg was honored with a string of his hits from Wiz Khalifa, Lady of Rage, Too Short, Warren G, Kurupt, Daz Dillinger, Game, Charlie Wilson, Akon and Nas.

"I gotta lot of love for this man; he's one of the people responsible for putting me where I am today,” Dr. Dre said during his speech. “He makes me excited to go into the studio and make music."

Snoop joins a list of past honorees that includes George Clinton, The Jacksons, James Brown, Isaac Hayes, Little Richard and Chuck Berry.

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy
twitter.com/GerrickKennedy

Photo: The Game, left, Snoop Dogg, musician Bootsy Collins and singer Charlie Wilson perform at the 11th Annual BMI Urban Awards at the Pantages Theatre on Aug. 26, 2011. Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Grammys 2011: The year Eminem, Drake, Jay-Z and hip-hop win big?

In the days leading up to Sunday's Grammy Awards, which Pop & Hiss will be covering live, this blog will tackle various Grammy artists, personalities, categories and just plain oddities. For even more Grammy info, check Awards Tracker and The Envelope.

  DRAKE_EMINEM_JAYZ

A rundown of the races to watch during Sunday’s 53rd Grammy Awards. The ceremony from Staples Center will be broadcast on CBS at 8 p.m.

Album of the year

It's not unusual for hip-hop artists to earn a nomination for album of the year. Actually winning, however, is still a rarity. The favorite for this year's top prize is Eminem, whose "Recovery" was 2010's top-selling album. Once a magnet for controversy, Eminem on "Recovery" is more thoughtful and serious, with a darker, less hook-filled tone. This is, however, Eminem's third album of the year nod, having been bested before by Steely Dan and Norah Jones.

Such has been the fate for many a hip-hop artist, because Kanye West couldn't garner the votes to top Herbie Hancock, and Lil Wayne never had a shot against Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. Yet Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" is too frivolous, even by Grammy standards, and Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" is pleasant but not the crossover force that was Taylor Swift's "Fearless." Forget Arcade Fire, whose adventurous concept album "The Suburbs" is significantly outgunned by the star power here. Lady Gaga's "The Fame Monster" spawned hit after hit, yet at only eight tracks was billed as an EP. That should clear the way for Eminem, who, seven albums into his career, is something of a seasoned old-timer, which is a trait Grammy voters love.

Record of the year (artist and producer)

Jay-Z has never won in one of the top Grammy categories; his pairing with Alicia Keys for "Empire State of Mind" is likely his best shot yet. The I-heart-N.Y. anthem has already been granted iconic status. Still, this award typically goes to something voters consider more serious, which likely spells doom for Cee Lo Green's "[Forget] You" and B.o.B.'s "Nothin' on You." Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" is the type of slow-moving pop song right in the Grammy voters' wheelhouse, and Eminem and Rihanna's "Love the Way You Lie" found a way to turn themes of domestic abuse into a No. 1 single.

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Drake, La Roux, Willow Smith to ring in 'Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve'

Willow New Year’s Eve offers a few guarantees: drunk, raucous crowds with tacky countdown goggles, a boom in sales for streamers, confetti and whistles and, for those who decide to celebrate from the couch, "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve."

For its 39th consecutive year, the show, now hosted by Ryan Seacrest after Clark suffered a stroke in 2004, will once again ring in the new year with an impressive lineup.

The more than three-hour bicoastal celebration will feature performances from Drake, Willow Smith, Jennifer Hudson, La Roux, Far East Movement, Jason Derülo, Mike Posner, Natasha Bedingfield, Ne-Yo, Avril Lavigne and Train from both Los Angeles and Times Square in New York.

Black Eyed Peas frontwoman Fergie is returning for a fifth year to host the Hollywood portion, while Seacrest will be joined by funny girl-cum-bestselling author Jenny McCarthy from Times Square.  

As usual, Clark will be doing the countdown to midnight from the comfort and warmth of ABC studios.

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy
twitter.com/gerrickkennedy

Photo: Willow Smith performs live at the holiday tree lighting and opening of the L.A. Kings' holiday ice rink at L.A. Live on Saturday. Credit: Katy Winn / Associated Press

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