At best, it's counterintuitive to insult your headliner right before he or she takes the stage, and probably just not a good idea. Especially if it's Nicki Minaj.
The pink-haired rapper was set to headline Hot 97′s Summer Jam festival in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday but pulled out shortly before her set. Minaj nixed her performance at the festival, one of only a few annual hip-hop events of its size, following disparaging remarks from Hot 97 personality Peter Rosenberg, who also hosts MTV's "Hip-Hop Squares."
Rosenberg, obviously not a fan of Minaj's club-friendly, RedOne-produced jingle, "Starships," told the crowd that the radio station was “all about that real hip-hop.”
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.
To the surprise of virtually no one, Adele’s “21” is officially the top-selling album of 2011, with a final tally of 5.82 million copies, while the British soul singer’s single “Rolling in the Deep” was the year’s bestselling song with 5.81 million copies, according to Billboard, based on Nielsen SoundScan's year-end sales report.
Adele’s album has not dropped out of the Top 10 since it entered the chart at No. 1 in February. It is now in its 14th non-consecutive week as the nation’s top-selling album.
Michael Bublé’s latecomer holiday entry “Christmas” was the No. 2 selling album of the year with nearly 2.5 million copies, followed by Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” (2.1 million), Lil Wayne’s “Tha Carter IV” (1.9 million) and Jason Aldean’s “My Kinda Party” (1.6 million).
The remainder of the top 5-selling digital songs behind “Rolling In the Deep” are LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” (5.5 million), Katy Perry’s “E.T.” (4.8 million), Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” (4.1 million) and Pitbull’s “Give Me Everything” (3.9 million).
Industry -wide perhaps the best news in the year-end figures is that album sales increased over the previous year for the first time since 2004, up 1% to 330.6 million units, compared to 326.2 million in 2010. Overall music sales, including albums, singles, music video and digital tracks, increased nearly 7% in 2011 compared to a year earlier.
More from Nielsen SoundScan’s year-end report will be reported in Thursday’s Calendar.
-- Randy Lewis
Photo: Adele's performance in February at the 2011 Brit Awards at the O2 Arena in London. Credit: Joel Ryan / Associated Press.
Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Rick Ross and Kanye West lead the nominations for the 2011 BET Hip-Hop Awards, which the network announced Thursday.
Fresh off of his impressive chart-topping debut with "Tha Carter IV," Wayne leads the pack with a record-breaking 18 nods, including a nomination for the MVP of the year trophy. He's also nominated in top races such as best live performer, best lyricist, track of the year and viewer's choice.
West and Khalifa garnered nine nods each, and will compete against Wayne in the MVP race, along with Nicki Minaj and Ross, who scored six and eight nominations, respectively.
The Rookie of the Year award, the BET Awards' version of best new artist, will be a showdown between Khalifa, Big Sean, Diggy Simmons, Big K.R.I.T. and two Odd Future members, Frank Ocean and Tyler, the Creator.
Other races worth watching include the Sweet 16 award for best guest verse -- will Minaj's venomous spot on West's "Monster" or Busta Rhymes' tongue-twister rhymes on Chris Brown's "Look at Me Now" take the crown?; two verses from Khalifa and one from Wayne round out that category -- and track of the year, which features "6 Foot 7 Foot," "Black and Yellow," "Look at Me Now," "I'm on One" and "My Last."
Comedian Mike Epps will host the sixth-annual awards, which will be pretaped at the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center in Atlanta on Oct. 1, and will be broadcast on the network Oct. 11.
-- Gerrick D. Kennedy
Photos: From left: Kanye West. Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press; Rick Ross. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times; Wiz Khalifa. Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images; Lil Wayne. Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press.
With his latest release, "Tha Carter IV," Lil Wayne wasn't able to match the million-plus bow of his 2008 effort, "Tha Carter III." However, the fourth edition in the series far from disappoints, at least from a sales perspective, with "Tha Carter IV" debuting atop the U.S. pop chart after selling 963,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Lil Wayne also owns three of the top-20 selling digital singles, led by his "Mirror" at No. 6 with Bruno Mars. That cut sold 150,000 downloads this week, while "Blunt Blown" is at No. 14 with 73,000 downloads sold, and "How to Love" is at No. 20 with 68,000 downloads sold. In between release of the third and fourth editions of "Tha Carter," Lil Wayne dropped lesser-received efforts -- the rock-influenced misstep of 2010's "Rebirth" and that same year's "I Am Not a Human Being."
The return of Lil Wayne puts local vets the Red Hot Chili Peppers at a distant No. 2 on Billboard's top 200, as "I'm With You" sold 223,000 copies in its first week. The Billboard archives remind us that 2006 effort "Stadium Arcadium" debuted at No. 1 with 442,000 copies sold.
Other notes from this week's chart:
Game’s fourth album, “The R.E.D. Album,” took about two years and a slew of scrapped release dates to make it into stores. But it all paid off for the rapper, as the disc bowed at No. 1 with 98,000 copies sold in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
This is the third No. 1 debut for the Compton rapper, after 2005's "The Documentary" and 2007's "Doctor's Advocate." His last album, 2008’s "LAX," debuted at No. 2 after the disc moved 239,000 units.
Game also released a companion book, “The Making of Game's The R.E.D. Album,” that documents the constant delays and working with Dr. Dre, Lil Wayne, Drake, Rick Ross and Pharrell for the project.
Though his tally was enough to knock Jay-Z and Kanye West's "Watch the Throne" out of the top slot -- the duo sits at No. 2 after moving 94,000 additional copies -- the rapper shouldn’t get too comfortable in his position, as another MC is set to take the throne. Lil Wayne's highly anticipated "Tha Carter IV," which was released Monday, is being projected to sell upward of 850,000 copies, according to Billboard.
Other notes from this week's chart:
You can trace the problems of “Tha Carter IV” to its track-listing. See the “Interlude” and “Outro,” two of its finest tracks, in which Lil Wayne is literally missing in action — an afterthought to a collection of decapitating raps from Tech N9ne, Bun B, Nas, Busta Rhymes and an unbilled Andre 3000.
Throughout the Wayne’s ninth solo album, the idiosyncratic drugged-out loon of his 2005-07 zenith is similarly AWOL. Gone is the purple-sipping and chronic-smoking satyr that slurred about being so high he could eat a star. The stream-of-consciousness id that Iggy Pop might once have envied is still on display, but here it feels corralled into a pen of predictable similes and metaphors.
Wayne’s first full-length since he was released from Rikers Island in November is more pedestrian than embarrassing. His rapping remains rambunctious and acrobatic, particularly on standout street singles “6 Foot, 7 Foot,” and the Rick Ross-assisted “John.” But where he once used his war-ravaged croak to ransack a beat’s pockets and scrounge them for every bit of lint, he seems content to calmly search for cash.
A dominant hip-hop force’s set contains plenty of jubilation, and his band pushes familiar hits into new stylistic territory.
When Lil Wayne introduced himself Friday night at Irvine’s Verizon Wireless Amphitheater as “a 28-year-old self-made millionaire,” it wasn’t his gains or how he got them that left an impression. It was the reminder of his age.
No less a dominant force in hip-hop than Jay-Z (41), Eminem (38) or Kanye West (34), Lil Wayne has achieved more before his 30th birthday than most rappers do in a lifetime. His success registers on whatever scale you use to measure it: albums sold, sure, but also radio play, YouTube views and ticket sales — not to mention the reaction of the audience in Irvine when he tossed what appeared to be an asthma inhaler from the stage.
What’s most surprising about Lil Wayne’s youth, though, is that he doesn’t seem particularly young. Much of that is attributable to his voice, preternaturally raspy since his teenaged days in New Orleans’ Hot Boys. (Among his more revealing nicknames is Weezy.) And, of course, there’s the endearingly genteel comportment that famously led him to tell Katie Couric in a 2009 interview, “I’m a gangsta, Miss Katie.”
But Lil Wayne’s primary claim on a sense of experience beyond his years is the Zen-like certainty with which he operates; he never seems to be in a rush to get anywhere, even when he’s running or riding a skateboard, as he did repeatedly across the stage at Verizon. Friday’s concert came near the end of Lil Wayne’s I Am Still Music tour, his first since being released from jail last November after a conviction on a gun-related charge. (The show also included performances by Rick Ross, Keri Hilson, Far East Movement and Lloyd.) And although his nearly two-hour set contained plenty of jubilation, it always felt as if it was working toward something: a statement, a demonstration, a stockpile of evidence in support of Lil Wayne’s assertion that he’s the best rapper alive.
He is without doubt one of the most versatile. On Friday his five-piece band pushed familiar hits into new stylistic territory, Lil Wayne adapting his delivery to match the fresh settings: soft-focus R&B in “Lollipop,” meaty rap-rock in “A Milli,” parched jazz-club balladry in “I’m Single.”
To tide them over, and apologize for his tardiness, Wizzy released a new mixtape Wednesday.
"Sorry 4 the Wait" is a 12-track pre-gamer that shows the rapper both spitting his typical boastful rhymes and apologizing more than once for the delay.
Though nothing here reinvents the wheel, the title track borrows from Adele's smash "Rolling in the Deep" and is worth a listen alone -- so if you aren't exhausted from hearing the track every two minutes (no offense, Adele), check out Wayne's freestyle over the rollicking beat.
"I know I promised a whole lot of dates, but I'm sorry for the wait," he says over the final track, a thank you to the tune of Beyoncé's "Run the World (Girls)." "I know y'all have been patiently waiting. I hope my apology is accepted, just as much as my music is."
Wayne has been notoriously tight-lipped about the disc, his first full-length since being released after an eight-month prison stint at Rikers Island. His ninth album was originally slated for release in the spring, then pushed back to June 21 and is now set for release Aug. 29. He offered Pop & Hiss only a rather cryptic teaser when asked about it.
“Just know that I have a pleasant surprise. A very pleasant surprise for this album when it comes out,” Wayne said earlier this year. “I’m only doing this for the fans. Which I do every … thing for.”
Download the mixtape for free here, but be forewarned, it contains many expletives.
-- Gerrick D. Kennedy
Lil Wayne had run through a string of hits during the taping of his “MTV Unplugged” special Thursday night before he took on a rather serious tone.
“A few months ago I was in a dark place that I don't like to really shed light on,” he said referring to his time behind bars last year. “Everyone always asks, 'How was it?' I figured I'd find a way to answer that question.”
The rapper then launched into a cover of 2Pac’s "Hail Mary" –- the last single from his final studio album, “The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory.”
Wayne was incarcerated for attempted gun possession, from a 2007 arrest following a Manhattan concert.
During his time behind bars -- which included a month of solitary confinement as punishment for possessing "music contraband" (headphones and a charger for an MP3 player) -- he released his last disc, “I Am Not a Human Being," and it debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, with 110,000 downloads in its first week.