Tag: hiphop

The Playlist: Cardi B Hits Pay Dirt, and 11 More New Songs

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Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new songs and videos — and anything else that strikes them as intriguing. Just want the music? Listen to the Playlist on Spotify here (or find our profile: nytimes). Like what you hear? Let us know at theplaylist@nytimes.com and sign up for our Louder newsletter, a once-a-week blast of our pop music coverage.

What’s the opposite of a palate cleanser? Currently, Cardi B is featured on the No. 1 song in the country, Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You.” It is not her best, nor most apt work. So here comes the palate roughener? “Money” is effectively a stripped-bare version of BlocBoy JB and Drake’s already-bare “Look Alive,” and a de facto lo-fi rejoinder to Cardi B’s steady pop incursions over the past year. The trash talk here is pure, if a little staid: “I like boarding jets, I like morning sex/But nothing in this world that I like more than checks.” Instead, “Money” — the first solo single Cardi B has released since giving birth in July — is notable for its acknowledgment of new-mom problems: “I got a baby, I need some money, I need cheese for my egg.” JON CARAMANICA

 

5 Hip-Hop Artists That Went Against Industry Norms to Achieve Success

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Hip-hop has never been about following rules. From the genre’s birth in the late ‘70s to today’s explosion of innovative pop-rap superstars, the music has always rewarded audacious creativity and outside-the-box thinking. While hip-hop has gone mainstream and become the world’s preeminent form of popular music, there are still artists working outside of industry boundaries and refusing to let labels, managers, or anyone influence their art. Below, we give props to five uncompromising artists who’ve found their own lanes and chased greatness on their own terms.

Dessa: A Multifaceted Artist with a Singular Voice
Before launching her career as a rapper, singer, spoken-word artist, author, and Doomtree label head, the Minneapolis native born Margaret Wander worked as a technical writer for a medical company. In a sense, she’s come full-circle with Chime, the critically acclaimed album she released in early 2018. It’s Dessa’s fourth collection of smart, soulful alternative hip-hop songs, and it was inspired by a project whereby she collaborated with neuroscientists to pinpoint the exact part of her brain dedicated to romantic love. Chime is just the latest example of how this one-time philosophy major has challenged the idea of what a female hip-hop artist can be. In a 2018 interview with Billboard, Dessa shared her secret for having such a rich and varied career: “I worry a little bit less about trying to forestall people’s opinions and just try to do good work.”

Cardi B: A Personality Too Big to Fail
By the time Cardi B topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 2017 with “Bodak Yellow,” the Bronx native was already on her fourth career. In the years leading up to her musical breakthrough, Cardi went from stripping to making viral videos to stealing scenes on Vh1’s Love & Hip Hop: New York. All of those pursuits showcased the qualities that would make Cardi one of the most exciting new rappers of the ‘10s. Cardi is sexy and funny, outrageous and vulnerable, tough as hell yet instantly loveable. Her excellent 2018 debut album, Invasion of Privacy, reached #1 on the Billboard 200 and silenced critics who thought she’d be a one-hit wonder. Invasion of Privacy has spawned a second chart-topper, the Latin-flavored “I Like It,” which you’ve surely heard blasting from cars all summer. While pregnancy kept Cardi from touring in recent months, motherhood is only going to make this vivacious truth-spitter a more compelling artist in years to come.

Tyler The Creator: More Than Just a Troublemaker
When the Odd Future collective came on the scene in 2010, nobody knew what to make of them. The blog-hyped L.A. rappers became infamous for their offensive lyrics, chaotic life shows, and unwillingness to play by anyone’s rules. Leading the pack was Tyler The Creator, a multifaceted troublemaker who’d spend the next decade revealing his genius. In addition to overseeing numerous Odd Future releases and four solo LPs — including last year’s Grammy-nominated Flower Boy — Tyler has directed music videos, launched his own Golf Wang clothing line, and spearheaded the Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival music festival. Tyler’s extracurriculars make it easy to overlook his rapping, but the fact is that he’s a stellar MC with the power to make you feel all sorts of ways. On Flower Boy, Tyler surprised everyone by serving up his most mature, confessional lyrics to date. Tyler sums up his career perfectly on the song “Who Dat Boy,” asking, “Who dat boy? Who him is?” The world will be chewing on those questions for quite a while.

Curren$y: The Underground Hero Who Never Lets You Down
The New Orleans rapper born Shante Scott Franklin knows how the big boys operate. He signed with Master P’s No Limit label in 2002, then struck a deal with Lil Wayne’s Cash Money Records in 2004. Curren$y appeared on Weezy’s Tha Carter II in 2005 and dropped the minor hit “Where Da Cash At” the following year. Neither of those projects quite made him a star, so in 2007, Curren$y jumped ship to the independent digital-only Amalgam Records and rebranded himself as a niche underground artist with an ear for consistency. In 2011, Curren$y, a.k.a. Spitta, formed Jet Life, the label he’s used to launch some of his many, many, many projects. Free of major-label interference, Curren$y has amassed a massive discography that includes eight studio albums and more than 40 mixtapes. More importantly, he’s built a devoted fan base that comes to see him perform live year after year. Spitta’s not going to break streaming records like Drake, but he’s a dependable artist in an age of disposability.

Chance the Rapper: The Superstar Who Gives His Music Away
When Chance the Rapper picked up the Grammy for Best Rap Album in 2017, it was notable for two reasons. First off, Chance’s Coloring Book is an incredible collection of gospel-inflected hip-hop songs from an artist who speaks on social issues without getting preachy or forgetting that music is supposed to be fun. Second, Coloring Bookwas the first-ever streaming-only album nominated for a Grammy. While the Recording Academy didn’t change its eligibility rules specifically for Chance, the Chicago rapper had long been at the forefront of artists challenging traditional release models. Chance is the king of the free “mixtape” — that’s how he classified Coloring Book and its predecessors Acid Rap (2013) and 10 Day (2012). Fans were able to get their hands on all three totally free of charge, and that’s helped Chance grow a gigantic fan base that includes Barack Obama, who praised the MC in 2017 for “representing the kind of young people who come out of Chicago and change the world.” Although he’s avoided selling his music, Chance has earned so much money off touring and merchandise that he was able to donate $1 million to Chicago schools.

SOURCE: https://www.billboard.com/articles/partner/8467582/5-hip-hop-artists-that-went-against-industry-norms-to-achieve-success

How Joe Budden Became the Howard Stern of Hip-Hop As a rapper, Joe Budden had a hit 15 years ago — and then a string of bad luck and poor choices. Now he has emerged as a podcast star.

Screen Shot 2018-08-23 at 9.57.20 PMThis wasn’t how Joe Budden planned on becoming famous. In fact, he didn’t plan much of anything. Now he’s on the charts, but not for his music.

Instead, as of Thursday, Joe Budden has the No. 1 podcast on the iTunes music podcast chart — five slots ahead of the NPR standard-bearer “All Songs Considered.” The Joe Budden Podcast With Rory and Mal is produced at a friend’s house in Queens.

Mr. Budden had a brief taste of mainstream success as a rapper with a Top 40 hit in 2003 before his career stalled. Now he has become a kind of volatile elder statesman of hip-hop, holding forth on his podcast, social media and YouTube before an audience of millions. His soliloquies and tirades, whether a careful examination of a rap diss or a nuanced defense of XXXTentacion, the controversial young rapper who was murdered in June, lend him a credibility he never quite had as an artist.

Mr. Budden is now banking on a new partnership with Spotify to expand on his success. Starting this fall, his podcast will stream exclusively on that platform. (He plans on still uploading videos of the show on YouTube.) The goal, according to Courtney Holt, head of studios and video at Spotify, is to “develop out not just this show, but other shows in the future.” When asked why he thought Spotify was the best home for his show, Mr. Budden said simply, “They weren’t afraid of me.”

Seated at the dining room table in his Montclair, N.J., home, Mr. Budden is just as he seems as a podcast host: expressive and candid and unembarrassed to recount a series of personal and professional misfortunes and poor decisions, from his battles with addiction, messy physical fights that spilled onto social media to rap beefs and shady recording contracts that left him broke for most of his rap career.

He was also accused of beating an ex-girlfriend, and even though charges were dropped, the allegations continue to dog him. “Even if you’re innocent of those things, therapy teaches you to always pay attention to the part that I played in things,” Mr. Budden said. “I didn’t do any of that stuff, but how did I get here? I frequented strip clubs, I popped pills. My life was in disarray. It made me say, ‘No more.’”

READ MORE: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/22/nyregion/how-joe-budden-became-the-howard-stern-of-hip-hop.html

The Musicians Behind Your Favorite Songs Are Coming for Their Credit

Who made the beat for “Bad and Boujee”? It should be a simple question. Most rap beat-hustlefans (and media outlets) would answer, without hesitation, Metro Boomin. But that’s not the full story. The songwriting credits list a Robert Mandell, better known as G Koop. And that leads us to a not-very-well-known side of how hip-hop works. Koop is a musician who has worked on tracks for the biggest names in the business. 2 Chainz, Future, Migos, DJ Khaled, 21 Savage, Meek Mill, and more have all relied on his tunes. So why don’t you hear his name everywhere? It’s because Koop is part of a new breed of musicians and composers, many of them managed by the same veteran Shady Records exec, who have quietly played a major part in creating the biggest records of recent years—and now they’re coming for their credit.

CONTINUE READING:https://www.complex.com/music/2018/07/musicians-behind-favorite-songs-coming-for-their-credit/

The New Business of Hip-Hop Beats: How One Company Gets Musicians Paid For Creating Samples

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On June 10, manager Mike “Heron” Herard got a mysterious phone call from the Grammy-winning production duo Cool & Dre. Two artists Heron manages, multi-instrumentalist Leon Michels and composer Beat Butcha, had landed placements on a top-secret project that the producers described only as “life-changing.”

They just needed stems of the recordings that Heron had sent them months before, including a four-bar instrumental loop Michels had created in his spare time, and a few tweaks: a new bassline and strings on top.

Days later, Heron got another call: The project was JAY-Z and Beyoncé’s surprise LP as The Carters, Everything Is Love, and the album’s opening track, “Summer,” would feature Michels’ loop. (A bonus track, “Salud!,” featured Butcha’s work.) It was the first time Michels’ music had been sampled since he began working with Heron’s musician management company, BeatHustle, in 2017. Within its first week, “Summer” totaled 9.1 million on-demand streams and 3,000 downloads, according to Nielsen Music, debuting at No. 84 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“It’s Beyoncé and JAY-Z — that’s the top of the mountain,” Michels tells Billboard about the placement, jokingly adding, “It’s all downhill from here, basically.”

The success of Heron’s new music outfit is a window into how the ­business’ top stars are ­churning out music faster than ever, increasingly soliciting pieces of ideas from a wide range of creators in order to make as many beats as they can in real time. With that kind of ­pressure, the old model of producer as crate digger, crafting melodies out of old soul records or on synths or keyboards, is history. The increase in volume has made it more ­difficult for sampled musicians to claim credit — and payment — for their work, ­creating an opportunity for ­businesses like BeatHustle.

“We’re in a climate where people are just trying to get records out really quickly,” says Heron. “I’ve been with guys where they dedicate tons of hours to records just to walk away, and no one credits them. Often there’s nothing malicious in it — it’s just guys trying to hustle.”

In the late 1990s, Heron was part of a community of record-collecting fanatics who would spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars digging through record stores for obscure samples, re-recording them onto LPs and selling the breakbeats to producers like No I.D. and Dr. Dre. Diddy, says Heron, would give one of Heron’s record-collecting friends $10,000 to $15,000 just to go shop for records, many of which wound up on Bad Boy albums like The LOX’s Money, Power, Respect.

“I would go get everything, ­digging hard, and put all the choice cuts on one album and sell them,” says Heron. “I was making a living doing that — must have been 20 volumes, which was 100 percent illegal.” He laughs. “[BeatHustle] is sort of like what I was doing before, but just, like, 100 percent legal.”

Heron began working with Shady Records in 2013, where he remains vp A&R. But he also started managing ­musicians on the side, beginning with Robert “G Koop” Mandell and AntMan Wonder three years ago, helping them place original music with hip-hop producers. It was then that he realized there was a problem in the production line.

“In 2018, there’s not a whole bunch of young guys that can ­actually play instruments,” says Heron. “So I found that those that could were sort of getting taken advantage of. And guys were ­reaching out to me, like, ‘Hey, man, I got a placement with this guy, I didn’t get paid, I didn’t get any ­publishing, I wasn’t credited.’ ”

An overlooked credit can equate to millions in lost revenue for a musician. G Koop, for example, provided the melodic backbone to Migos’ “Bad and Boujee,” which Metro Boomin flipped into a No. 1 single that has racked up 1.1 billion on-demand streams and 1 million downloads sold, according to Nielsen Music. Heron says that in the past, G Koop might have gotten a few hundred dollars for his ­contributions, and no publishing credit. But with BeatHustle, working with people like Metro and his manager Rico Brooks — the two of whom he ­considers to have “led the charge on fair ­treatment of these musicians” — G Koop is credited as a co-producer. Heron declines to comment on ­specific songs but says he’s often able to secure 50-50 splits with producers.

Heron now manages a stable of six composers who, collectively, have contributed to records by Rick Ross, Future, DJ Khaled, Rihanna and others. He has his musicians create original beat packs, which he sends to a tight-knit group of producers he knows and trusts; Cool & Dre, Metro and Murda Beatz, the lattermost producing Drake’s recent No. 1 single, “Nice for What,” are among them. For someone like Michels, who has led several funk bands over the years and worked on records by such artists as Sharon Jones and Lee Fields, the process can be much simpler and more collaborative than just getting sampled.

“I’m not making bridges and choruses and verses, it’s usually just a groove,” he says, noting he’s made around 100 tracks that BeatHustle has sent out. “I’ll do them in a night, just get some weed. They’re not that involved.”

But for producers and artists, particularly in a fast-paced world and in the shadow of high-profile copyright lawsuits like that of Marvin Gaye‘s family against Pharrell and Robin Thicke, the value that BeatHustle provides can make a huge difference.

“The musicians and producers, they’re like a community,” says Heron. “That’s what I like to think of BeatHustle as: just music guys.” This article originally appeared in the June 30 issue of Billboard.

READ MORE: https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/8463320/business-beats-beathustle-help-musicians-paid-hip-hop-sample

Atlanta Rap Keeps Evolving. Quality Control Is Taking It Global.

26QUALITY1-jumboThe nimble record label in the world’s de facto hip-hop capital is working
to build sustainable careers, not viral moments, in the streaming era.

ATLANTA — Unless you catch a glimpse of the eggplant Mercedes-Maybach S600 or the various young men with clusters of diamonds on choker-short chains coming and going at all hours, there is nothing too flashy about the headquarters of Quality Control Music, a record label here in the world’s de facto hip-hop capital.

As the birthplace of the chart-topping, trendsetting careers of Migos and Lil Yachty, this studio and office compound, northwest of downtown, is the latest nondescript landmark to help alter the course of rap music, a near-constant occurrence in Atlanta over the last two decades. But despite its pedigree as a center of luxury and innovation, the space — tucked behind a Goodwill and a full-service dog care facility — is light on bacchanalia and heavy on rules and expectations.

“DO NOT come to the studio UNLESS you are working,” reads a weathered printout taped to a bare wall amid four recording studios. “BE RESPONSIBLE for the company you bring … DO NOT have anyone dropping off or picking up drugs at the studio … This is not your home, this is not a hangout, this is a place of business. PLEASE conduct yourself accordingly and in a professional manner.” (Also: “ANY gambling, all parties involved must pay the house 30%!”)

The artists tend to listen. On a recent weekday afternoon, the promising, singsong street rapper Lil Baby, 21 years old and newly into music after two years in prison, diligently wiped his Chick-fil-A sauce and crumbs from a studio countertop as he played tracks from his next mixtape, “Too Hard.” Expected in early December, the project will be his fourth release of the year despite the fact that he started rapping in February.Taking in the songs were the stewards of Lil Baby’s fledgling career: Quality Control’s chief executive Pierre Thomas, or Pee to everyone in his orbit, who typed notes on his phone; and its chief operating officer Kevin Lee, known as Coach K or Coach, who vibed with his eyes closed.

Both men, veterans of the nexus where Atlanta’s street culture meets its music scene, have known Lil Baby since he was a charismatic teenager who was respected around town for his gambling prowess, and they had long encouraged him to pursue a career in music.

Hardheaded and fast-living, Lil Baby resisted until his sentence for gun and drug charges limited his options. As he raps on one new song: “Last year I was sittin’ in a cage/this year I’m goin’ all the way/takin’ drugs, trying to ease the pain.”

Pee, visibly energized by Lil Baby’s progress as an introspective songwriter, announced that the track would serve as the intro for the mixtape, only to receive a vehement protest from the rapper.

“Listen, you’re getting overruled on this one,” Pee shot back, ending the discussion. “Have I told you anything wrong yet?”

It’s this hands-on engagement with homegrown talent that Quality Control hopes will set it apart. Founded by Pee and Coach in 2013 around the flamboyant, fast-rapping local trio Migos, the company went from a start-up with the growing pains typically associated with a new independent label — exacerbated by their artists’ run-ins with the law — to a joint venture with Capitol Music Group and Motown Records in 2015.

Though prospects like OG Maco, Young Greatness and Rich the Kid didn’t truly take off, Quality Control has avoided the temptations of today’s viral-rap gold rush — in which a meme or one-off video by a rookie can lead to a major-label deal — preferring to stick with its system of developing talent gradually and at home.

This year brought an extended breakthrough amid hip-hop’s domination on streaming services: “Bad and Boujee” by Migos hit No. 1 and led to a smash album, “Culture”; while the human meme Lil Yachty established himself as a ubiquitous brand partner with a loyal youth following.

Now, with two well-oiled moneymakers who have refused to fizzle — Lil Yachty’s “Lil Boat 2” mixtape is scheduled for late December and Migos’s “Culture 2,” featuring the single “MotorSport,” is due out in January — Pee and Coach can shift focus to building sustainable careers for its “farm team” of young Atlanta rappers, including Lil Baby, Marlo and Mak Sauce, while simultaneously expanding its brand into television, film and more. (“Quality Control Presents: Control the Streets, Volume 1,” a compilation album featuring the label’s roster and guests like Nicki Minaj, Kodak Black and Cardi B, is scheduled for release on Dec. 8.)

Coach K and Pee are not your standard record industry players, but more akin to No Limit’s Master P and Cash Money’s Baby and Slim: savvy businessmen who shaped their labels with grass-roots hustling — updated for the internet age.

“Other labels have these A & Rs and C.E.O.s and chairmen, sitting in an office looking on the internet at numbers on SoundCloud and Spotify — they’re just into the analytics,” Pee, 38, said. “That’s part of it. But if I’m being honest — and it might sound ignorant — I don’t own a computer. I’m really out here in it.”

Beyoncé x Aaliyah – All In A Million Nights (Mashup)

Looks like Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau isn’t the only hookup making us dream of an alternate reality. This perfect matchmaking exercise comes courtesy of 19-year-old producer Amorphous, who has masterminded a collaboration 20 years in the making: a duet featuring Aaliyah and Beyoncé. “Remixed Beyoncé’s ‘All Night’ with Aaliyah’s ‘One In A Million,'” the Orlando teen tweeted of his decade-spanning mash-up. “Two friends who I really wish had the chance to work together.” Don’t we all.

It’s not impossible that Baby Girl and Queen Bey would have collided on their own accord at some point. On the 15th anniversary of Aaliyah’s tragic death in 2001, Beyoncé posted a throwback tribute to the R&B icon — a video of her pre-Jay self interviewing Aaliyah (and gushing about D’Angelo) at the 2000 MTV Movie Awards. Bey has also thanked Aaliyah for being an early supporter of Destiny’s Child. Amorphous, meanwhile, wasn’t born when “One in a Million” was released in 1996, but that’s just testament to the Missy Elliott and Timberland-assisted slow jam being well ahead of its time. Happy #TBT.