Category: Jay-Z

Ice-T gets back to hip-hop roots in ‘The Art of Rap’

In the new film ‘Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap,’ Ice-T reels in artists like Dr. Dre, Kanye West and Eminem to tell the story of hip-hop’s gritty beginnings.
Ice-T“Look around you,” says Ice-T. “Where are the Bentleys?”

Even amid the pleasantly neutral setting of a Hollywood press day, there’s still one topic that gets the 54-year-old rapper-actor riled up, and it’s not his 12 seasons on NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”

“In rap, everyone is driving a Bentley and drinking Cristal,” says Ice-T, born Tracy Marrow. “That’s not reality. We have a war, we have a black president, we have people unemployed, we have people losing their homes, we have some pretty serious stuff and music is not reflecting it. It’s like everything is Lady Gaga and life is perfect.”

To remind the public of a time when hip-hop more regularly addressed societal concerns comes Ice-T’s directorial debut, “Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap.”

The documentary -- out this week -- offers candid interviews with Dr. Dre, Eminem, Grandmaster Caz, Kanye West, Mos Def, Nas, Rakim and many others, probing the masters of the genre on their inspiration. The film stops short, however, of presenting a thesis. Still, Ice-T had a mission: To capture secrets of the craft from as many artists as possible, and remind artists, fans and moguls that rap is more than “money, cars, girls, jewelry or beefs.”

The film is arriving at a time when other hip-hop pioneers are taking a preservationist view toward the genre. In L.A., acclaimed indie artist Murs is staging a six-month-long hip-hop performance series, “Through the Mic,” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Superstar Jay-Z has also become a curator of sorts, and is programming a multi-genre, two-day festival in Philadelphia over Labor Day weekend.

As one of L.A’s groundbreaking rap pioneers, Ice-T specialized in bringing a moralistic bent to inner-city tales. His 1988 single “Colors,” from the film of the same name, captured the toll L.A. gang life has on a family, and 1992’s “Cop Killer” was a ferocious reaction against the LAPD following the beating of Rodney King.

The latter, recorded with his rock band Body Count, galvanized those who fought for explicit content stickers on albums, and the violence-in-lyrics controversy ultimately led to his split from Warner Bros. Records. His 1993 “Race War” addressed whether any lessons had been learned from the L.A. riots (they had), and now “The Art of Rap” culls stories from many who had a hand in hip-hop’s countercultural beginnings.

Today, Ice-T’s acting and celebrity persona have arguably eclipsed his rap roots. His résumé ranges from the tough 1991 film “New Jack City” to the blithe, unscripted E! series “Ice Loves Coco.” But despite venturing out of the studio and in front of the camera, Ice-T’s plea to return substance to the pop charts isn’t just talk.

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Kanye West, Jay-Z's 'Throne' dominates BET Award nominations


Kanye West leads the list of nominations for the 2012 BET Awards, which the network announced on Tuesday.

West scored a leading seven, six of them the result of his heralded collaboration with Jay-Z.

When the two rap heavyweights announced they would join forces on “Watch the Throne,” under the equally royal moniker the Throne, it became one of last year’s most anticipated releases. Fans were eager to hear what the frequent collaborators would offer.

The pair bypassed traditional album promotion: They didn’t issue a handful of visuals for the singles outside of “Otis” and “ … In Paris” -- both of which compete for video of the year -- and if you wanted to see them perform together, the best chance was their massive fall tour, which became one of 2011’s highest grossing.

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Jay-Z rips anti-gay marriage movement as 'discrimination'

Vice President Joe Biden generated headlines -- and inspired a few jokes -- when he credited sitcom "Will & Grace" with educating the American populace on gay rights. Now it's Jay-Z's turn to make headlines.

This week, the hip-hop star-entrepreneur and longtime supporter of Barack Obama echoed the president's sentiments on the topic of gay marriage. Denouncing gay rights "is no different than discriminating against blacks," Jay-Z told CNN. "It's discrimination, plain and simple."

Jay-Z is one of the most powerful figures in a genre that over the last decade has been shedding its perceived anti-gay tendencies, a dialogue that went mainstream after the union of Eminem and Elton John at the 2001 Grammy awards. To be fair, Jay-Z himself used an anti-gay slur more than once in his early works, but he left no room for misinterpretation this week when he stated that the refusal to allow gay couples to wed is "holding the country back."

Jay-Z could prove to be a powerful ally. For one, his "Empire State of Mind" has positioned him as a modern-day Frank Sinatra, and his daughter with Beyoncé, Blue Ivy, is treated like American royalty. But more important, American voters remain divided on the issue, and ballot box polling has shown that gay marriage is a particularly contentious issue among African Americans. The Times recently reported that in "2008 more than 9 in 10 black voters in California backed Obama, then overwhelmingly voted for Proposition 8, the successful ballot measure to overturn the state Supreme Court's decision allowing same-sex marriage."

Jay-Z has been making the media rounds to discuss the two-day Made in America festival he'll be hosting Labor Day weekend in Philadelphia. No doubt by then, more artists will have weighed in with their thoughts on the upcoming election, but one topic won't be up for debate at the event.

"What people do in their own homes is their business and you can choose to love whoever you love," Jay-Z told CNN. "That's their business."


Musical moments with U.S. presidents

Campaign music: Politicians are playing their song

Parsing President Obama's mixtape: POTUS on Spotify

-- Todd Martens

Image: Jay-Z at the press conference for his Made in America festival. Credit: Associated Press.

Watch it now: Jay-Z and Beyoncé's baby on 'Saturday Night Live'

"Saturday Night Live" has been on target lately with its music-world sketches. Latest case in point: This weekend's hilarious bit involving hip-hop power couple Jay-Z and Beyoncé's new addition to the world, their baby girl Blue Ivy.

The comedy institution hasn't always been tapped into the beat. Don't hold us to historical record here, but it seems as if there was a long and lonely time, where cold winds blew across the empty plains of "SNL," in terms of pop stars and their endless foibles. Talk about missed opportunities! (And no, just for the record, a smarmy Justin Timberlake pretending to wrap his private parts in a box doesn't count, as awesome as it was.)

A few weeks ago, Kristin Wiig took to Seth Meyers' "Weekend Update" as Lana Del Rey, to defuse the backlash that exploded on the torchy singer after singing a couple of songs that either flopped, confused or mesmerized, depending on your position. "Based on the public's response," Wiig-as-Lana tells Meyers, "I must have clubbed a baby seal while singing the Taliban national anthem."

This weekend's sketch doesn't handle something nearly as contentious. At the center of it all is a well-coiffed Blue Ivy, in her crib, feted by a variety of famous visitors -- a parade, it turns out, of top-notch imitations from the "SNL" cast, including a suitably awkward Bon Iver, played by Timberlake sporting a fake bald pate.

We won't ruin the best moments for you, but we wish we had Jay Pharoah hanging around the Pop & Hiss office, ready at a second's command to launch into his spot-on Jay-Z "ha-ha-ha-ha, YEP!" call.


'SNL' introduces the world to Lana Del Rey

Bon Iver on 'SNL': Indie-pop at its most easy-listening

Jay-Z celebrates his 'greatest creation' in new song 'Glory'

-- Margaret Wappler




Jay-Z celebrates his 'greatest creation' in new song 'Glory'

"You're my child of a child from Destiny's Child."


With the Internet still abuzz over the delivery of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s firstborn, Blue Ivy Carter, the rapper did what any excited new papa would do: He released a song.

The tribute track, "Glory," made its debut on Jay’s website, Life and Times, on Monday -- only two days after his little girl made her debut (reportedly in style at a private wing in New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital). In the post, there's a photo of the Empire State Building and the words "Life just got REALLY good."

Jay-Z has been notoriously mum on his relationship with Beyoncé, and his emotional verse on his “greatest creation” dug deep into the couple’s struggles to conceive a child, revealing that Bey previously suffered a miscarriage.

“False alarms and false starts, all made better by the sound of your heart. All of the pain of the last time, I prayed so hard it was the last time,” he rapped. “You don’t yet know what swag is, but you was made in Paris and Mama woke up the next day and shot an album package.”

Just when the song couldn’t get cuter (there’s plenty of one-liners to pull at your heartstrings), Jay even gives “Daddy’s little girl” her first feature as he recorded her cries for the end of the track. He even shouts out his long fallen friend Biggie by crediting her, B.I.C.

Take a listen to the track here, and we dare you not to get misty eyed. 


J. Cole gets off sidelines with album, Grammy nod

Allen Stone aims to change perception of soul singers

Best of 2011 in local hip-hop and R&B: Gerrick D. Kennedy

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy

Photo: Jay-Z and Beyoncé in a file photo. Credit: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

U2 is tops again in concert and music-sales revenue

The Irish band tops Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga for concert and music-sales revenues.

Demonstrating that there's no substitute for the live concert experience, U2 has once again taken the crown in Calendar's annual Ultimate Top 10, a ranking that combines concert revenue with sales of recorded music.

U2 amassed $160.8 million for 2011, well ahead of runner-up Taylor Swift, whose combined earnings came to $126.8 million. Lady Gaga was the only other act to top $100 million, posting $109.4 million to place third. Country music road warrior Kenny Chesney landed in fourth place with $98.5 million. The year's blockbuster album and singles sales champ, Adele, pulled in at fifth place with $92.8 million, a figure that certainly would have been higher if vocal cord problems hadn't forced her to cancel big chunks of her 2011 tour itinerary.

Figures are drawn from Pollstar's recently published tallies of North American box office revenues and Nielsen SoundScan's tracking of retail music sales in the U.S. The Ultimate Top 10 uses figures from North America because they are tracked more reliably than in many other parts of the world. But most of these musicians pulled in even more than these totals with ever-expanding ancillary income sources such as tour merchandise, product endorsements, video game sales, ring tones and clothing and jewelry lines.

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Pitbull remixes Kanye West & Jay-Z's 'In Paris'

It was nearly impossible to ignore the ubiquitous “In Paris” last year. And as if you hadn’t heard the track enough, Pitbull -- otherwise known as Mr. Worldwide, Mr. 305 or that guy who dominated pop radio in 2011 -– has added himself to the list of those who have remixed or covered it.

Pitbull, however, one-upped Kanye West and Jay-Z by traveling to the City of Light alongside Dominican rapper Sensato for the music video to "Latinos in Paris," which he directed himself and premiered on New Year’s Day.

The clip is exactly what you'd predict: hobnobbing backstage before a sold-out concert, dancing on a private jet, clubbing with women and "balling" in front of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, all while wearing designer shades.

Check out the video, which relies on the same menacing Hit Boy-produced beat, unprintable language and Will Ferrell sample as the original, to see how the two “chicos get crazy.”


J. Cole gets off sidelines with album, Grammy nod

Allen Stone aims to change perception of soul singers

Best of 2011 in local hip-hop and R&B: Gerrick D. Kennedy

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy

Photo: Screenshot taken from Pitbull's "Latinos in Paris."

Review: Jay-Z and Kanye West at Staples Center

Review: Jay-Z and Kanye West at Staples Center

If you were to transcribe the hundreds, if not thousands, of lines delivered by rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West during their “Watch the Throne” concert Sunday night at Staples Center, the resulting tome --  crammed with memorable lines, narrative strands, footnotes, quips, odes and epiphanies -- would invite microscopic scrutiny.

The grand and epic show, the first of three nights at the arena, featured more than three dozen songs, including the hit single "... in Paris,” which they returned to at least half a dozen times in a grand finale, a testament to the vitality not only of two of the most magnetic rappers to ever make the music, but also of hip-hop as a cultural force whose intricate constructions have served as the musical blueprint of a generation. With each rhyme, the stack of verbiage piled higher, and thousands of people recited every word to every verse like Baptists at a Bible retreat.

“Black cards, black cars/Black-on-black, black broads/Whole lotta money in a black bag/Black strap, you know what that’s for?” wondered Jay-Z during a heavy-as-a-boulder version of “Who Gon Stop Me.”

PHOTOS: 'Watch the Throne' concert

West offered back-up in the form of a taunt worthy of Cassius Clay: “Who gon stop me, huh?,” repeating it twice before moving into a remarkable -- but unprintable -- 16  bars delivered in Pig Latin.

The two were touring in support of their 2011 collaboration, “Watch the Throne.”

Jay-Z, born and raised in Brooklyn, and West, reared in Chicago, have worked together for more than a decade, first when the Midwesterner was an upstart producer and the New Yorker had established himself not only as Jay-Z, but also as Jigga, Hova and a host of other monikers that have since become shorthand for lyrical genius. West soon broke out on his own, and has since become one of the most important (and controversial) voices on the pop music scene.

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Jay-Z and Kanye West add third 'Watch the Throne' show in L.A.


Jay-Z and Kanye West have further expanded their upcoming joint tour by extending their stay in L.A. to three nights, Live Nation announced Monday.

Due to "overwhelming demand," the duo --  billing themselves as the Throne -- have added a Dec. 11 date at Staples Center. In October, the two announced a revamped itinerary for the tour, which is currently underway.

Tickets for the newly announced show go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. at and  Tickets for the previously announced Dec. 12-13 shows are currently on sale.


Jay-Z and Kanye West expand 'Watch the Throne' tour

Jay-Z, Kanye West plan unusual release for album, leak 'Otis'

Studying Jay-Z: Rapper is source material for Georgetown course

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy

Photo: Rappers Kanye West, left, and Jay-Z perform during the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show at the Lexington Armory in New York on Nov. 9. Credit: Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Jay-Z and Kanye West expand 'Watch the Throne' tour


Jay-Z and Kanye West -- excuse us, the Throne -- have expanded their upcoming joint tour, Live Nation announced on Monday.

After quickly rolling out plans for an ambitious 24-date North American trek, the Watch the Throne tour was then "modified" due to overwhelming demand and the need to add dates.

New tour stops include a pair of shows in New York City at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 7 and 8, Chicago's United Center on Nov. 30 and an additional Staples Center date on Dec. 13. 

Tickets for the newly announced shows go on sale on Friday at 10 a.m. through Ticketmaster and LiveNation. 

Check out the full itinerary after the jump:

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