By Hillary Crosley with additional reporting by Mawuse Ziegbe
Looks like Kanye West has been keeping up with Lupe Fiasco's Lasers progress. The Egyptian art enthusiast dropped "Don't Stop," a collaboration with Pharrell and Fiasco who comprise the supergroup the Child Rebel Soldier, for his latest G.O.O.D. Friday joint. The track hit the web not long after Fiasco announced that his long-delayed third LP would hit shelves on March 8, 2011 and he'd squashed his beef with his label Atlantic Records. G.O.O.D. timing, right?
"That song is like a song that we did in the midst of being CRS when we were actually going to put out an album and just really wanted to test records and see if we should do more records like that, or should we do more records like 'Us Placers' or ... more down-low records, up-top records," Lupe said. "We were just trying to figure out what should we do and that was one of the experiments that was bananas."
The bespectacled MC told MTV News that "Don't Stop" is a holdover from the early days of CRS.
"We went on the Glow in the Dark tour and it was just kinda like, maybe, maybe not, let's do a record, let's see ... so, 'Don't Stop' is kinda one of the records from that creative process a couple years ago," Lupe said, adding that West's bars may have been updated. "The song is two years old. I think 'Ye verse might be a little recent but I don't know."
The "Superstar" spitter said that he's not sure what the MCs plan to do with the CRS project next but while the "The Eraser"-sampling "Us Placers" plays up the plaintive vibe of Thom Yorke's song, "Don't Stop" displays the crew's ability to create a club-friendly record. The rumbling beat is powered by flossy, swagger-driven lyrics such as, "Mr. West turn that new child rebel/ Loud as a badass child level," and "Brand new Ferraris, I gotta make the donuts/ CRS is like a hip-hop Christmas bonus."
It's time for the list that makes MCs sweat, relentlessly check their laptops and try to find the good folks of MTV News on the streets to "chat." That's right, it's time for the 2010 Hottest MCs in the Game. Are you ready?
The Brain Trust is and this week we're rolling out a number of MCs stating their reasons why they should be on our Hottest MCs list as well as fans, like you, giving their two cents too. Remember, you can always tweet us at @MTVRapFix and tell us who you think we should consider for hip-hop's most coveted list.
Up top, we've cut together a vintage round up of last year's list, including round table vets that are no longer with us but remain in our hearts. Rappers Soulja Boy, Raekwon, Young Jeezy and Gucci Mane, though he was still incarcerated, made surprising jumps onto 2009's list alongside vets like 50 Cent and Fabolous. Rick Ross reached no. 5, putting the Miami MC in the highly coveted space of the top five rappers of the last 12 months.
Kanye West checked in at no. 4, despite a "self-imposed public pitfall" (Sway's words, and we love that description) also known as "I'ma let you finish"-gate. Drake came in at no. 3, with a few words from Mr. Shaheem Reid.
"I ain't gon' lie, I do a lot of interviews and everybody who I talk to just loves the dude," said Sha.
Naturally, Lil Wayne was no. 2 and Jay-Z weighed in at no. 1 after a stellar year with the hit single "Empire State of Mind."
"The whole time we've been talking, we've haven't been comparing Jay to anyone else, we've been comparing him to himself," said MTV News' Steven Roberts. "That's another testament to who he is, he's the no. 1 of all time and he's the hottest right now."
Who do you think was missing from 2009's Hottest MCs in the Game list? Tweet us at @MTVRapFix or tell us in a comment below!
Usually we wouldn't give The Source a chance, but with Young Money/Cash Money on the cover of their "Power 30" issue and the homie Bonsu Thompson at the helm, we'll reserve our judgment.
Cash Money Co-CEO Bryan "Baby" Williams and Young Money President Mack Maine grace the cover of October/November issue of The Source. The two companies — home to Lil Wayne, Drake, Tyga, Nicki Minaj, Bow Wow, DJ Khaled, producers Cool & Dre and more — are recognized in the magazine's annual "Power 30" list. Source EIC Thompson said the decision was a no brainer.
"When you look at today's hip-hop landscape and consider the most influential artists, it's clear that they are the Young Money front runners with Weezy, Drizzy and Nicki," Bonsu told MTV News. "When you then take into account that Baby's Cash Money label is the umbrella to them all, you see where the true power lies. So who better for The Source's "Power 30" cover?"
On the other hand, Mack Maine was just excited for the opportunity.
"I appreciate it, I'm blessed," Mack Maine told MTV News about the honor. "Hopefully, people love it and respect it and see what we're doing in the game. I represent all of them on that cover, it's not just me. So, hopefully, they respect what Young Money and Cash Money have in store."
The cover was unveiled over the weekend as part of the 2010 BET Hip-Hop Awards festivities. Birdman, Mack Maine, Young Money artist Shanell and more were on hand at an event held at Atlanta's W Hotel as The Source's new editor Bonsu Thompson presented them with an oversize replica of the issue. The book hits newsstands October 19.
The "Power 30" list has long recognized hip-hop heavyweights, from artists to label executives to music insiders who work behind the scenes; the goal is to rank who has wielded the most influence in the industry during the preceding 12 months. Cash Money/ Young Money came in at no. 2, while Diddy and Jay-Z rounded out the top three, with the Brooklyn MC at the top spot.
Who else do you think should make the magazine's "Power 30" list? Tweet us at @MTVRapFix or tell us in a comment below!
Busta Rhymes is a veteran, so it's only right that we asked the MC what new rappers he's checking during "RapFix Live" with Sway this week. North Carolina's golden boy, who's also down with Jay-Z, was the first to receive a name check.
"J.Cole, he's one of my favorite new MCs," said Busta Rhymes. "He's very creative, his spit game is incredible to me. I think he delivers well and he's been exemplifying consistency."
Toronto's MVP also received a nod from the Dungeon Dragon.
"I got to big up Drake," said BusaBusss. "He's one of the first triple threats, the dude sings, [acts and] he rhymes. It's not everyday that you come across one of those dudes that have the ability to do so many different things and still sound extremely thorough in every area. Sometimes, you may try to do more than one thing but you hear where you may lack in those other areas."
"Drake definitely has a great ability to sufficiently deliver on both sides," Busta continued before launching into a fellow charismatic MC of the female variety.
"Nicki Minaj is doing a wonderful job," the LONS veteran said. "Not just as a female artist, but as an MC period. She's displaying an ability that most dudes ain't even been able to deliver consistently. From her speed rap ability to her animation, she exemplifies not just dope ability as an MC but she's bringing character back to the game."
Busta went on to describe why Barbz is so special.
"Most artists, they come out and they just want to rhyme, and that's cool," continued Busta. "But she's not afraid to deliver as a character, so big up to Nicki Minaj as well."
And last but not least—yes, we know he mentions Reek Da Villan, but we're going to one up that nod with the new MC's freestyle, so you can judge his talent for yourself—the Flipmode general acknowledged Pittsburgh's own.
"I'm a fan and I like the Wiz Khalifa dude," the rapper admitted to Sway. "I'm interested in seeing how his thing is coming together, because it seems like it's coming together very organically. He had his movement already before he started to put these records out and get the public notoriety that he's starting to get. I always love a grassroots grind and building your own momentum prior to the world seeing you and thinking that you're just now building it because they're being made aware of what you're doing."
Which of these new rappers are your favorite, tweet us at @MTVRapFix or tell us in a comment below!
With two Billboard records under her belt, Rolling Stone and Out covers and a new album on the way, Nicki Minaj still keeps it hood. The femcee took it back to the people last night (October 7) and answered fans’ burning questions via Twitter.
No stranger to the 140 character world (or responding to her fans directly), Nicki routinely answers questions from her over 1.4 million followers arbitrarily. Last night the questions became a little more personal, and Nicki Minaj gladly obliged.
The semi-formal Q&A announcement arrived on Twitter around 8pm EST, when Nicki tweeted that Young Money affiliate Scaff Beezy needed 27 more followers to break the 13,000 mark. If he reached that number, Minaj promised a tell-all session with her fans and Scaff Beezy actually reached 13,145 followers.
The questions began pretty basic, as @CollegeBarbz asked “When can we expect the ‘Right Thru Me’ video”, to which Minaj replied “Gonna see the rough draft tonight.” The album questions included inquiries about a UK release date (November 23 per her label), along with the album cover being revealed shortly, as the Nickster just chose her album art.
Then fans dug a little bit deeper, as @Nicki_Support asked “Who was your childhood crush?” The response was both personal and sad, as Nicki responded, “Had a boyfriend named Khatif when I was 10, but he died. R.I.P. baby.”
On a happier note, @TeamMinajJapan asked, “Does your mother call you Onika or a family nickname?” Nicki tweeted “My parents have called me Nicki all my life.” The final question answered was @KaitlynMorris’ “Ever had any pets?” Per Nicki, she had a “really cute mutt” named Rocky.
Following the Q&A session, Nicki began retweeting fans’ compliments and well wishes, along with the promise that her true fans won’t be disappointed by the realness of her upcoming LP Pink Friday, particularly the intro. The last time she poured her heart out on wax was on the touching track “Autobiography” from her Sucka Free mixtape.
“It’s funny,” Nicki Minaj tweeted. “To so many people I'm the ‘new’ girl. But there are people who've been a part of my journey for the last three years. That's why I do what I do.”
Lupe Fiasco's much delayed third album, Lasers, finally has a release date. March 8, 2011 is when Fiasco fans will be able to go into stores and purchase their rhyme hero's new album which by then will be more than two plus in the making.
The announcement of a release date for Lasers turned out to be a speedy turn of events, despite the fact that the album has been finished since 2009. Yesterday via his Twitter account, Fiasco posted a picture of himself and Atlantic Records honcho Julie Greenwald smiling like old chums with a simple caption: "Victory!"
Fiasco fans quickly saw this as evidence that their cacophony of concerns were heard by the label and Lasers was one step closer to release. Eighteen hours later Atlantic Records' official twitter account posted that March 8, 2011 is the release date for the long-awaited LP. This date has also been noted on the official Lupe Fiasco blog which also reveals that a single for the project will premiere on October 26.
Obviously, Fiasco fans are ecstatic at this news.
Wrote @LaMz, "YES! @LupeFiasco Album Lasers Drops March 8th 2011 VICTORY! Now We Gotta Go And Buy It And Show The Label What's UP!"
Wrote @MisterSMB "I'm buying 3 copies of #lasers when it finally comes out"
"Today has already been a good day," said @Uptown_Roamer. "Lupe's album finally has a set release date. #Lasers"
However, many have expressed dismay at the album's release being months away, including @Mr_one19twenty.
"March 8 2011 is a victory ?" he asked via Twitter. "I mean I'm glad there's a date (Lupe Fiasco's #Lasers) but that's a while to wait for a album completed long ago."
Guess next week's Fiasco Friday is canceled. Now let's hope that all these "Lasers" (as in Lupe Fiasco advocates) put their money were their mouth is come March 8, 2011.
You just never know about people. Busta Rhymes hit "RapFix Live" yesterday (October 7) and shared that not only did he, Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z attend the same Brooklyn high school, George Westinghouse, he and Jay battled for the lunchroom crown.
The two went head-to-head in rhyme and Jay-Z emerged victorious, handing Busta his first significant loss, the MC admitted.
"One day, somebody came up to me and was like, 'Yo, Hov is in the cafeteria,' " Busta Rhymes told MTV News' Sway during "RapFix Live." "They weren't calling him Hov at the time; they were calling him Jay. 'Do you want to step to him on some rhyme sh--?' So I go. At the time, when we were rhyming, it was speed rap. That was the thing to do. I knew how to freak it, and he knew how to freak it. And at the time, he was so ill, 'cause of the people he was with at the time, Jaz-O and them, it was their thing [that style]. He kind of got the best of the situation. I got to give it up. He was so ill and his arsenal was so long that he had more than what I did. I spit my one rap, and my tank was empty real fast. He came with two or three after that, and I was like, 'Here we go.' But I gave it my best."
The two, along with Biggie, eventually went on to bigger things, scoring platinum album sales, big hits and worldwide adoration. But the defeat clearly stuck with Busta Rhymes. Although his style had traces of hip-hop and dancehall (his reggae MC name was Chirpy, yes, you read that right) and he wasn't primarily an MC at the time, Busta thought Jay-Z's victory was impressive nonetheless.
"That was probably the fist time that I lost a battle that mattered," he said. "[Jay-Z] always exemplified greatness as an MC. He was a scientist with it."
Miss Nicki Minaj, boasting “50k for a verse, no album out,” has made Billboard history for a second time.
The female MC has set a new record on Billboard's Hot 100 chart by having the most singles on the chart at one time, with seven entries including Ludacris’ “My Chick Bad”, Lil Wayne’s “Knockout”, Trey Songz’ “Bottoms Up”, Usher’s “Lil Freak”, Sean Kingston’s “Letting Go (Dutty Love)”, and Jay Sean’s “2012 (It Ain’t The End)."
Per Soundscan, the songs have reached close to $4.3 million in sales. While all but one entry are cameos where Nicki appears on other artists’ songs, the femcee's official debut single “Your Love” has reached a staggering $755k in sales without a video.
Earlier this summer, the Nickster’s “Your Love” became the first single by a female rapper to reach no. 1 on the Billboard Rap Chart in seven years. Minaj dethroned Lil’ Kim, who was the last to hit the top back in June 2003 with her cameo on 50 Cent’s “Magic Stick."
Oh, the irony.
While Kim scored with a cameo, the last female solo artist to achieve that honor by herself was Missy Elliott in November 2002 with her hit energetic single “Work It."
In the second week of August 2010, Nicki Minaj also drew attention for her presence on two of the only four singles that debuted that week: Sean Kingston’s “Letting Go (Dutty Love)” and Jay Sean’s “2012 (It Ain’t the End”).
While Nicki continues to break records and set trends for female MCs, the world still awaits what could be the biggest record of all: her upcoming solo debut Pink Friday, which hits stores November 23.
A million-dollar deal, street love, critical acclaim and collabos with MCs like Jay-Z and Lil Wayne and Drake still feels incomplete. Last month he told MTV News that he gets lonely too, even wrote an R&B song about it for his upcoming mixtape.
"When people call home to check on their girl or they say, 'I'm not going to go out tonight. I'm just going to spend the night with my girl.' That hits me, man,” Drake said of life on the road. “I just don't have that."
Since there are few things more depressing than a lonely MC, we decided to play matchmaker and drum up a list of our top 5 romantic prospects for the 23-year-old Young Money millionaire. We passed over the Malias and the video vixens—Driz says he’s read that chapter already—leaning instead toward the R&B girls, with a couple other looks thrown in.
The "edgier" Knowles, Solange is not only an upstart DJ but she's quickly shaping up to be a fashion powerhouse, regularly making the style blogs for her sartorial swag. Driz would probably appreciate a girl who knows that the "black hearts" on his cardigan are courtesy of Commes des Garcons. And since she’s rumored to have dated Drake’s fellow XXL Freshman 10 alum Wale (not to mention having an iconic MC for a brother-in-law), Solange should be at ease with the rapper’s lifestyle.
A 27-year-old Georgia Peach who lives in the A, Keri would satisfy Drake’s purported taste for women with a few years on him. Not long before his Thank Me Later debut dropped, Driz lamented in a freestyle the dearth of cultured chicks his own age: "Why has every woman never dined here before?/ Am I the only 23-year-old wine connoisseur?" It’s probably safe to assume Hilson can tell the Momofuku Kos from the McDs.
Kim K.’s dating past is checkered with high-profile faces, most of the, um, warmer complexion. The busy, tabloid-baiting “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” star has complained about not being able to find a guy who can keep up with her schedule. Seems like that wouldn’t be an issue for the globe-trotting Toronto MC who’s often away from home. And imagine the ratings when E! inevitably launches “Kourtney and Kim Take Toronto”!
According to the gossip rags, Serena, still smarting from the end of her thing with Common, had her team put out feelers to gauge Drake’s possible interest. Turns out once you go rap, you never go back. Not sure whether he’s a tennis fan but if his “Best I Ever Had” video is any indication, Coach Drake definitely knows his way around a women’s locker room.
We know these two went there once before and Rihanna’s World Series attitude is all about Dodger Matt Kemp now, but for Drake, this is the girl that got away. It’s hard to dismiss the bitterness in his crackling, end-of-the-affair missive “Fireworks.” Since the duo is reportedly in the lab together, we recommend a late-night, post-studio trip to the place where it all started, NYC’s Lucky Strike, this time sans flashing paparazzi lights.
Remember, follow us at @MTVRapFix for up to the minute hip-hop news and conversation!
Why does Kanye do so many cool things outside of NYC? On Wednesday night (October 6), the MC invited a very select group of about 100 journalists and bloggers to a London screening of his 35-minute art film for the song "Runaway." Among them was our own MTV UK reporter Tom Thorogood, who told us yesterday (October 7) about the typically over-the-top audience with the Louis Vuitton Don, including a shout out to Michael Jackson.
"With the passing of Michael Jackson, I feel a responsibility to bring things to our generation that can inspire and bring real culture to pop culture," West told the audience in London about the film shot over four grueling days in Prague last month. "I want to use my power in a proper way."
As for the actual screening... we hear it was bananas.
"It was a mad event," Thorogood said of the screening, which included a rambling two-hour Q&A session during which West took any and all questions about the film and his upcoming albums. Maybe we can ask him to stop by "RapFix Live"?
"Halfway through, an American guy from his label asked for one last question and just as the person asked it, Kanye said, 'Why is this the last question?' and said he was happy to talk as long as people wanted him to," he continued.
Thorogood said there are perhaps only two dozen words spoken in the "ambitious ... great looking" 35-minute art movie, whose narrative he described as "very loose and abstract." If anything, he suspected it could be chopped up into five separate mind-bending music videos, though it only uses heavily altered snippets of West's music that are quite different from the versions of such songs as "Monster," "Runaway" and the Bon Iver-sampling "Lost in the World" that fans have heard so far.
"It opens with shots of Kanye in a sports car and slow motion shots of deer and then you see a huge explosion and you see he's crashed into the Phoenix," said Thorogood of the other star of the film, model Selita Ebanks, who plays the Phoenix and who has been seen on 'Ye's arm at events lately. "He picks her up in his arms and walks away from the car which explodes behind him." The title of the film then flashes on the screen and the first voice you hear is a snippet of Nicki Minaj's English-accented rhyme from "Monster."
In another scene, Thorogood said you hear a brief bit of "Power," which Kanye taps out on the same kind of MPC drum machine he played on both the VMAs and on "Saturday Night Live." The three- to four-minute bit features Ebanks silently dancing around West as the song plays. "It was quite clear that [the movie is about] what he said about this before being about his story ... a representation of his career," Thorogood said.
And in a setup cued to the new song "Lights" that is likely to be the most iconic of the film, Thorogood said Kanye (a.k.a. "Griffin") and the Phoenix watch as a marching band stomps across the screen carrying a giant, somewhat flimsy-looking papier-mâché model of Michael Jackson's head.
In another pivotal scene, West and the Phoenix arrive for a formal dinner at a huge table and are given weird looks by their fellow diners, one of whom asks, "Why didn't you leave the monkey in the zoo?"
Thorogood said the film had French subtitles for the sparse dialogue, which were likely a holdover from Tuesday night's screening in Paris, since West said the version he showed in London was still a rough cut. Among the other new songs featured in the movie is one called "Blame Game," which contains a healthy sample of the melancholy piano groove in cult electronic musician Aphex Twin's 2001 song "Avril 14th," as well as vocals from frequent 'Ye collaborator John Legend, which the rapper said may or may not make the final cut of the album.
West introduced the film to his London audience by saying, " 'Purple Rain,' [Pink Floyd's] 'The Wall,' Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' — I wanted to do a modern version of that." He also said that about "90 percent" of the music featured in the film appears on his upcoming fifth album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, due out on November 22.
RapFix is MTV News’ hub for breaking hip-hop stories, features, exclusive behind-the-scenes content and everything in between. The conversation begins on the blog and continues on our weekly show “RapFix Live,” hosted by Sway Calloway.