Tag: Rap

Future: Syrup, Strippers and Heavy Angst With the Superstar MC

“I embraced what I thought people was gonna hate about me. I was gonna turn the hate into love”

future3Outside, it’s rush hour, a still-sunny spring evening in Atlanta, but in here, you’d never know it. This room is windowless and dark, illuminated only by a projector shooting shimmering green stars onto the ceiling, a computer monitor displaying Pro Tools, and the glowing rack of gear beneath it. The air seems composed mostly of high-grade kush smoke, accompanied by just enough oxygen to sustain life. On a shelf in the corner are liter bottles of sugary sodas – Sprite, Pineapple Sunkist, Strawberry Fanta – mixers for a bottle of codeine cough syrup adorned with a picture of Homer Simpson.

This control room and its adjoining vocal booth, in a gated studio complex on an industrial road a couple of miles from downtown, is the workplace of choice for Atlanta’s reigning hip-hop king, Future. Six feet three with long, blond-tipped dreads, top-notch cheekbones and the sleepy swagger of the high school athlete he once was, he looks less like an actual rapper than a movie star cast as one. Even leaked mug shots from his pre-fame hustling days look like outtakes from magazine shoots. He has a big, bright leading-man smile that he holds in reserve, unleashing it most consistently in the presence of attractive women.

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He’s puffing on a blunt, taking a sip or two from a Styrofoam cup of the narcotic beverage mostly known to hip-hop fans as “lean” or “drank” or “sizzurp” before he helped rebrand it as “dirty Sprite.” With his lyrical salutes to Xanax, codeine, Adderall and Oxycontin, he’s one of the first rappers who could conceivably sign a sponsorship deal with Big Pharma: “I just took a piss and I seen codeine coming out,” he rapped not long ago. He considers himself a rock star, and he’s dressed like one: pale jeans, strategically shredded, with a plaid shirt tied at his waist and a crisp white tee. (The following day, he wears a $435 T-shirt by the high-end brand Enfants Riches Déprimés, emblazoned with the words “high risk/children without a conscience.”)

READ MORE:https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/future-syrup-strippers-and-heavy-angst-with-the-superstar-mc-113132/

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.”

Is Rocawear’s Jimi Hendrix Collection Predicting 2013 Rap Fashion?

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In Rocawear’s most interesting — and possibly definitive — move since they had every grown-ass woman clad in velour jumpsuit dresses, the Jay-Z-founded streetwear brand is unleashing a capsule line based on the life and times of Jimi Hendrix. Taking the concept beyond track jackets and Tim-style boots, the Roc has introduced tie-dyed denim jackets and pants, sleek commemorative sweatshirts, and button-downs in a groovy, dandy-paisley print and American flag-inspired star patterns. And, miraculously, they got the “okay” from Hendrix’ notoriously protective estate to use his image, making for at least one nice sweatshirt and a Hendrix dot matrix face tee — and a classier counterpart to the collegiate Hendrix T-shirt collection that launched in Bloomingdale’s in early November.
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Obviously, Rocawear’s love for Hendrix came at an opportune time: the internet’s been abuzz with shots from the forthcoming Hendrix biopic starring André 3000, and though there won’t be any official songs in the film, Three Stacks has been intriguingly coy about the plot. He’s also been seen around New York wearing a kind of 21st Century Hendrix look: not double but triple denim in overalls with a free-love slouch and a rip at the knee. At the same time, the world will be regaled with new Jimi music next year, via outtakes from final album First Rays of the New Rising Sun. (Bonus: Future’s next album is called Future Hendrix)

Since 2012 was all about rappers flossing black leather and mean-mugging in Rick Owens, we’re feeling a brighter, more ebullient, Hendrix-inspired landscape for Spring next year. And there’ve already been allusions to it: both Future and 2 Chainz have been embellishing their particular Hotlanta street vanguard looks with Hendrixian flourishes, like loco prints and top-ish hats, Meanwhile, Danny Brown is like Jimi’s wilder looks incarnate. SO incarnate! And have you seen your boy Trinidad Jame$ lately, taking to Atlanta streets doing shirtless in a vest like it’s nothing? Add in the infallible badassitude of Hendrix’s military jacket and neckscarf look, and we predict hip-hop stars will take their style even further in the coming year, becoming less beholden to rote street looks and more interested in flamboyant Black excellence. Wiz, you were simply slightly ahead of your time.

XXL Presents…30 2012 Rap Songs That Stay on Repeat

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It isn’t easy condensing a year’s worth of rap music. Still, we can safely say there were enough recognizable songs that couldn’t be ignored. Some were regional anthems. Some took off on a national scale. Hip-hop’s go-to producers (Mike Will Made It and Young Chop) and everyone from Future and Big Sean to Chief Keef helped shape a new diverse sonic signature. With only a week and a few days left until the year is up, we reflected on songs that have an undeniable lasting appeal. There are obvious ones such as “Love Sosa” and “No Worries,” but we made sure to highlight the best from rap’s eclectic pool of MCs. It’ll be interesting to see where hip-hop will go since new trends are forming by the minute. Before we set our sights on 2013, here are 30 songs that’ll stay in heavy rotation.—XXL Staff

{CHECK OUT WHO IS ON THE LIST}

Ice Cube Says ‘Last Friday’ Is “Marinating,” Coming After Next Album [Video]

Since revealing in March that a fourth installment of the beloved Friday movie series is in the works, Ice Cube has had fans on the edge of their seats waiting for more information. Now Cube says he has a timetable in place for producing the new film. The West coast OG recently chopped it up with TheWellVersed and 2DopeBoyz and revealed the new Last Friday film will start production after his upcoming album, Everythang’s Corrupt. “Yeah, [Last Friday] is coming,” he said. “We’re marinating on it, putting it together…probably my next album will be done quicker than the Friday movie. We just turned in the script, so it’s going to take a couple of more months to put it together.” On his new album, he added, “[My goal with this album is to] have fun, go in there, look forward to the next song being better than the song you just did. To me, there’s no pressure at this point . it’s all gravy, and it’s all fun.”

Check out the interview, below.

Rap or Rock or Folk-Jazz, They’ve Got Soul: Jon Pareles’s Top 10 Albums of 2012

16PARELES1_SPAN-articleLarge1. FRANK OCEAN “Channel Orange” (Def Jam) The moody introspection of a soul-ballad man fuses with the metaphor-making skills of a rapper in the sparse, aching songs that fill Frank Ocean’s official debut album. Even with some resemblances to Prince and R. Kelly, he’s an unusual character for R&B: estranged but observant, admitting an attraction to a man, finding emptiness where others find material or emotional comfort.

2. FIONA APPLE “The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do” (Epic) Fiona Apple’s fourth studio album teeters, moment to moment, between obsessive confession and dark vaudeville.

3. BOB DYLAN “Tempest” (Columbia) Sure, his voice is a wreck. But nothing any prettier could encompass the bitterness, sorrow, lust, nastiness, longing, vengeance and backhanded humor that course through the songs.

4. KENDRICK LAMAR “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” (TDE/Aftermath/Interscope) Kendrick Lamar wades through contradictions on his second album. He’s from Compton, Calif., gangsta rap’s home turf in the 1980s and ’90s, and in some ways he’s an old-fashioned hip-hop storyteller, chronicling a cityscape still shaped by poverty, gangs, crime and police, over tracks that echo both ’70s soul and vintage gangsta rap.

5. GRIZZLY BEAR “Shields” (Warp) Grizzly Bearclarifies its music without simplifying it on its fourth album. Vocals are less hazed in overdubs, drums are pushier, lyrics are slightly less enigmatic as they ponder intimacy and distance. Yet the new songs are still labyrinths of tension and release; there’s no telling which way they might waft or surge at any given instant.

6. ALABAMA SHAKES “Boys & Girls” (ATO) This isn’t a soul revival. It’s plain old soul, and the only gimmick is that there’s no gimmick. Alabama Shakes are a small-town Southern band with a singer, Brittany Howard, now 24, who earns Janis Joplin comparisons because she’s dynamic, direct, improvisational and raw.

7. NORAH JONES “Little Broken Hearts” (Blue Note)Norah Jones modestly (of course) but thoroughly overhauls her music here. The 100 percent organic, folky-jazzy whisperer has metamorphosed into a deft pop songwriter, with pithy breakup and post-breakup songs — sometimes doleful, sometimes sly — that turn a handful of moving parts into mechanisms of catchiness.

8. METZ It’s just about always clobbering time for Metz, a three-man Canadian band that has reclaimed and distilled post-punk into a galloping, scrabbling, feedback-laced catharsis. The arrangements and production on “Metz” (Sub Pop) focus the music into a bristling, concentrated attack, so fierce that the complaints that fill the lyrics come across as full-blown existential crises.

9. BETTYE LAVETTE “Thankful N’ Thoughtful” (Anti-) Along with a rip-roaring autobiography, “A Woman Like Me” (Blue Rider Press), the soul singer Bettye LaVettemarked her 50th year as a performer with this cannily chosen assortment of songs about alienation: romantic, political, psychological and philosophical. Her voice bites into every one, from Neil Young’s “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” to Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” drawing lessons informed by her unerring sense of drama and by the scarred resilience of the blues.

10. DJ RASHAD “Teklife Vol. 1: Welcome to the Chi” (Lit City Trax) The budget is minimal and the creativity extreme for DJ Rashad, who makes music to accompany footwork, the competitive dance style that has been a local Chicago phenomenon for more than a decade. With the shallow, brittle sounds of cheap drum machines and keyboards, stray vocal snippets and very rarely, out of nowhere, a recognizable instrument or chord, DJ Rashad sets up twitching, spattering rhythms, then splinters and fractures them; it’s ultra-austere music that keeps ambushing itself.