“Truffle Butter” is a Nicki Minaj song that was released as a bonus on the iTunes version of The Pinkprint but in this mix, Rbhys decided to make his own remix of the song by eliminating Drake and placing his own version at the top of the song. That may be a bold move, as it makes it sound like a Rbhys song in Nicki’s territory but it’s better than what Lil’ Wayne offered and it’s a chance to not hear Drake, if you’re into that. Check out and see if you like it. Rbhys also says “but how much are you willing to bet someone jacks my style?” so let’s find out in a month or so.
This may be something I wouldn’t even put on my site but it’s a remix and I feel it’s worth giving a shot. It’s a remix by Benja Styles where he gives Trey Songz’s “Touching And Loving” a nice reggae/dancehall treatment. With the addition of Nicki Minaj in there, some of you may feel this is better than the original, so take it and consume with your favorite milk (or milk-like beverage).
While her new album is called Sweet Talker (Lava Music/Republic), British singer Jessie J. could easily be called a sweet singer, for her talents here are strong and dominant for a reason: that’s exactly how she does it. I’m not sure if a lot of today’s pop music sells because they expect for it to connect to some tabloid story or blog meme but I would think people are ignoring artists because they’re doing some very good music. Jessie J. is someone who could easily do songs that are a bit too boastful or are a waste of time but she does a very nice balance on this of songs that show the power, fear, shame, and victory over love and romance, all while playing around with her role being placed on her as “just another female singer”. She’s much more than that and even if she has that title, why not take that and take it somewhere to where she owns it? She does, and I don’t mind saying she is creating songs on the level of a Justin Timberlake, if not Janet Jackson circa Rhythm Nation 1814. In other words, if she were to develop a project that turned into a concept album, she could take her growing legacy to an all new level. Let’s see where she’ll head to next.
Can someone who isn’t much of a Justin Bieber fan do an honest and genuine review of his music? One would say they can only try, right? It’s not that I’m not a fan, it’s just that I don’t listen to him on a regular basis. I did like the remix El-P did of “Baby”, but one can argue that Bieber is not a part of my demographic. However, that’s when you get into target marketing and audience crap that has nothing to do with the music and more about trying to sell the brand known as Bieber. So, I have established that I am not a regular listener of Bieber, and that I am arguably not in his target audience. I’d like to think that he and his people are thinking wiser and more global. While he has a massive pre-teen and teen-following, he is also 18, which means he’s looking for grown-up audiences, those that will hang on to him, his music, and all directions of his career from this point on. The long haul. Bieber also has his share of haters, so people are wondering “what now?” This is that “what not”.
Believe (Raymond Braun/School Boy/Island) is an album that is meant to morph Bieber from a child star to a grown-up star, so naturally everyone looks back at previous success stories of young artists moving into adulthood. With the 30th anniversary of Michael Jackson‘s Thriller later this year, many wondered if this album would be Bieber’s Thriller. For me, not quite. When you have a team of executive producers that includes singer Usher, who also was a teen star before maintaining a career once he became an adult, you know there has to be a bit of thought and planning, and that can all be heard here. Most of the songs sound like they’re on the line of transitition, as you’ll hear sweet and wholesome songs that come off a bit like puppy love, as if Donny Osmond was the greatest pop singer in the world. There are also songs that have him becoming his own person, or at least someone’s idea of what a grown-up Bieber would sound like. He has the attitude and swagger, and that comes off through songs that are more R&B oriented with vocal stylings that touch on him rapping. Is he good? If you’re looking for the next Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, or Eminem, you’re looking at the wrong album but he does enough to get buy to show that he at least cares to do well, and that by doing a bit of rap, he isn’t trying to fake it for the sake of being “down”. He’s young, and he’s ready to let ladies know that he’s out there, even if he does have a girlfriend.
With that said, Jackson’s Off The Wall was one that positioned him as an artist to not mess with, with songs and production that were solid back then, and sound incredible and highly influential today. I don’t quite hear that full power *yet* in most of this album, but I do hear an artist in transition, aiming for the golden ticket. One song that I hope will be considered for a single is called “Catching Feelings”, which has some acoustic guitar going on. It’s pop with a slight soulful feel, think about Robin Thicke with a pinch of Babyface appeal in the background and it’s a song that would do well among pop, R&B, and adult audiences. It may be the one song that doesn’t intimidate older audiences, and will make younger audiences go “ooh Biebs, you are dreamy”. In other words, a multi-purpose lure that could be the key to greater success.
Some of the choices for cameos on this album are unique, and while all of them are successful (i.e. Ludacris, Big Sean, Drake) today, I would have loved for him to take more risks. However, making this album in itself is a risk, to try to make something that will not turn him into Remy Shand so that Bieber could say “Remy, I don’t know where you are, but I’m going to hunt you down and we can get lost in the abyss.” If Bieber is ever open to a remix album, then maybe he will play with his chips and try some interesting things. The cameo that I did like a lot is Nicki Minaj, whose lines in “Beauty And A Beat” shows someone who still knows how to make people go “damn, that woman is hot”. She wants to cater to a pop/wider audience, and people will bitch at her for that, that’s her thing. Yet when she commits herself to a project, she will be ruthless. In the song, she basically states that she is now in Bieber land, and now that he is of legal age, she will show him what it means to be in Nickiville, with the great line “buns out: wiener, but I gotta keep an eye out for Selener”, a reference to Bieber’s current girlfriend, actress/singer Selena Gomez. Nicki is basically saying “hi Bieb, thank you for bringing me onto the album young man. See my ass? It’s hanging out, and I see you’re excited. You better watch out, Justin, I may be able to work you over.” It’s lyrical flirting that works on both sides, because there are some young ladies who would love to be the one to do exactly what Nicki is saying, but that will also piss off those who wish for nothing more than harmony in Bieber’s life. At every angle, Nicki’s verse works and she moves out of the song and the rest of the album continues. You may not like Nicki’s pop side, don’t listen, but this is probably the best track she has done in 2012 thus far.
Is Believe the equivalent of New Edition‘s Heartbreak, the album that moved New Edition out from the ashes of “Candy Girl” and into being men? No. I feel that with this album, Bieber is proving that he wants to make music, loves to play, write and sing, and is fully capable of doing anything he wants within reason. He can and most likely will obtain the power where the world will be in his hands, and thus understands that when he is truly ready, he will create the next Off The Wall, Heartbreak, or a modern equivalent of George Michael‘s Faith. Fans will know it because the critical response will be “I was not ready for that”. Believe is not a bad album by any means, all of the songs do what they intend to do, and the brighter spots are a sign of what may lie ahead for him. Don’t rush him to do it, let Bieber take his time, for he has all the time in the world.
People seem to love and flock to David Guetta as if he is the messiah, when people hear his tracks, the dance floor gets moist. Now you have Nicki Minaj in the track, and people will have sonic boners.
The song is from Guetta’s Nothing But The Beat album, and you can now see Nicki turn from something plastic to something (somewhat) real. I personally would prefer if she rapped and did some dancehall toasting throughout the track, but to be honest, her singing voice is not bad. I’d prefer it without all of the auto-tune, but maybe a new mix is in order. She remains sexy as always.
Prie continues to make a name for himself with some great songs and a style that I enjoy listening to, and now he’s trying something that hasn’t been done: a cover version of a Nicki Minaj song. You’re probably thinking “wait, I can go to YouTube and find tons” but can you find a cover done by a guy, and one that’s serious and not a parody? You may be able to (and I’m sure there are), but you’re not going to find one this good.
If you like Prie’s approach, let him know by contacting him via Twitter: @PRIE808. I’m sure he’d be up to doing collaborations, and maybe some of you may have enough faith in him to want to do some shows outside of Hawai’i. Make it happen.
Let me tell you what My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Roc-A-Fella) is not. It is not another pop album from Kanye West, in that it doesn’t cater to generic pop music standards. With that said, pop music at its best has never been generic, but the artist who chooses not to take risks with what they are given, be it a song, the music, or their own talents. Hip-hop and pop music: we like to think that they should never be bed mates, but hip-hop has been one of the more popular forms of mainstream music for decades. That means longer than a few years, shorter than a century. It’s as if there’s still a fear that hip-hop will be bigger than life, when the music itself is meant to make you feel that way, or as if life didn’t matter and all is good and great in the world. A lot of artists who choose to call themselves hip-hop create music with fear, with hesitation, and that’s why there’s that non-existent community of naysayers called haters. Despite everything you know, understand, and/or believe about Kanye West as a persona, it’s not his music. At his best, West is someone who takes risks, is willing to try new or previously-at-rest techniques and present them in a fashion that makes him look and sound bigger than thou, and that’s cool. It benefits him as an artist, producer, and entertainer. Put the jazz hands in your pockets, that’s not what I mean. What exactly is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. It’s his fifth album with a five-word album title. It’s a metaphor for his music, his outlook in his career, the ultimate glory in what any artist wants from his fans. He’s living his fantasy, he’s bathing in the glory, and most of all, we’re all in it for the ride.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is an accumulation of everything West has experienced in his life following the release of an album that has fans as it has enemies, 808’s & Heartbreak. It was an album that had him singing and creating pop songs, by someone who really doesn’t have a singing voice. Was he trying to say that hip-hop broke his heart, as so many have tried to do but failed? After the grief he went through following the passing of his mother, and some of the peaks and valleys of his music and life in the media, he shut everyone out and create a unique tale that became his mock fantasy, told in album form. It’s an album made to be listened to as an album, which may seem old and outdated by the general populace, but for West it is always about the show. He is a showman, and without the show, he is nothing. Albums are meant to be experienced as a sonic show, a sound play, something that jazz artists and classical composers understood for years. As music became profitable as popular music, the emphasis was on one song, as it was believed one song could change your life. The album was not a big deal in the pop realm until the late 1960’s, when rock’n’roll would take cues from jazz and classical and explore the idea of making unique worlds in 40 minutes or less. Other genres would follow. Hip-hop has always been about the power of that one banging song, but hip-hop at its best was when hip-hop became a generation’s CNN and “the new rock’n’roll”. As hip-hop became more mainstream and found its audience growing, it lost touch with the idea of long-distance and exploring and chose to have a stay-cation in the clubs. Meanwhile,those who chose to explore found themselves with small packs of associates who were willing to go on the trip.
In the last year, West has talked about this album being a return to a time when hip-hop meant the world to all of us. Some bloggers said it was the return of the boom bap in 2010, the idea that almost every new single, album, and artist coming out was celebrated for good and bad, not for how many jail terms they had or who was the mother of their child. The first cue of what this album could be like was the release of “Power”, a song co-produced with Symbolyc One. S1, as he is known, has a great style of production that dips back to the glory days of sample-based production, and I became a deeper fan when he produced a track for Portland rapper Braille called “It’s Nineteen”. I’ve been a fan of Braille for awhile, and while I am not religious by any means, I always got into the positivity he shared in his music. So here’s a track where he’s talking about understanding the limits of life, but why not go one higher? S1 pulled a much-used beat and placed it in the track, and along with vocalist Ragen Fykes, they both said “in my meditation I saw a manifestation of elevation.” I was sold: Braille’s positive lyrics mixed in with an incredibly funky track from S1, mixed in with beautiful vocal accents from Fykes, and I wanted to hear more. He did other tracks, but then it became known that he was collaborating with Kanye West. WHAT? How did that happen? Then the song leaked, and that King Crimson sample did it for me. As someone who has sampled King Crimson in my own works but failed to be heard, it was great to hear someone pull this off, use a progressive rock classic and make it work within the context of what West was doing, what West has become for some people. Was he describing himself as the schizoid man, or are we as crazy as he wants us to be, and he’s laughing at us? The lyrics have West getting into a very dark place, and then wishes for a beautiful death. Was this him talking about a suicide, or is he thinking in metaphors of pleasure? The term “instant death” is an old school phrase for “orgasm”, something Eddie Harris and Beastie Boys knew all too well when they used it. If it’s meant to say that life could begin and end in an instant like the feeling of orgasm, then West was going to see his death, his career, as something that comes and goes like a shooting star. Was he describing himself as the shooting star, or was he shooting something else across the universe? One version of the song surfaced, and then other versions would have added lines, so it seemed even as fans became aware he was about to release new music, he was changing and evolving his song in real time. Then the title of the album became known, which was also changed slightly in the last minute. The album cover was revealed, said to have been banned but may have been nothing more than attention grabber to get people to talk. I felt the cover may have been one of a number of images meant to represent the music. Very few in hip-hop have ever explored the idea of alternate/multiple covers, the exception being The Roots for their 1999 album Things Fall Apart. It is something that has been done in rock’n’roll by everyone from Led Zeppelin to The Police, and now it seems with a King Crimson sample and Cold Grits break as the key, and an album title as the red carpet, it was now time to walk into the castle and kingdom that is Kanye, Willy Wonka style.
“me drown sorrows in that Diablo
me found bravery in my bravado
DJ’s need to listen to the models
You ain’t got no fuckin’ Yeezy in your Serato?”
It sounds like he’s building, but simplifies in a way that is so humble, it might be overlooked when he says all he is is “just a Chitown nigga with a nice flow” (not “a Nas flow” as other websites have translated it as.). For a brief moment, he pops his own bubble and plants his feet back to Earth, and that’s when that vulnerability comes in. Critics and fans were too quick to say that his last album was nothing but weak-hearted “emo rap”, as if showing your emotion was a sign of being a fake, fraud, or a weak, not worthy of creating rap music. Yet saying he is nothing more than a man from Chicago who loves to rap, I dare you to find someone with his popularity drop his guard and say “yes, this is me.” Now that you know who he is (a re-affirmation of the popular hip-hop idiom “you know what I’m sayin’?”, he’s hoping you have your seatbelt on, because it’s a ride unlike any other you have experienced in a hip-hop setting.
“I got the power, making life so excited”, and when the words “so excited” is echoed, it sounds like the word “suicide” repeating itself, leading to him saying “Now it’sll be a beautiful death”, complimented with Dwele singing “I’m jumpin’ out the window, I’m letting everything go”. West then says, in closing, “you got the power to let the power go?” Interpret that as you will.
“Pull up in a monster automobile gangsta
with a bad bitch that came from Sri Lanka
Yeah I’m in a Tonka, color of Willy Wonka
You can be the king, but watch the queen conquer
Okay, first things first, I’ll eat your brains
Then I’mma start rockin’ gold teeth and fangs
Cause that’s what a motherfuckin monster do
Hair dressed up from Milan as the monster ‘do
Monster Guiseppe heel as the monster shoe
Young Money is the roster and the monster crew
And I’m all up in the bank with a funny face
And if I am fake, I ain’t notice ’cause my money ain’t”
Then she validates the kill she just committed by placing the lyrical knife deeper into the body. If you have yet to become a believer of the words and wisdom of Nicki Minaj, her verse here will change your mind.
If you are to believe the hype, then Nicki Minaj is “the baddest bitch in hip-hop since” forever. The hype has been high, the boasts have been bold, and let’s cut to the chase. Female MC’s have had many to look up to and admire, but most have not been in the mainstream in the last 15 years. Okay, you had Lauryn Hill,who was the MC’s MC, male or female, and then she went down an avenue that she has not yet returned to. There has been somewhat of a void in the mainstream, either that or the mainstream never wanted an aggressive, confident, and lyrically wicked woman to stand up and, in the words of Tairrie B., become someone who is a B.I.T.C.H. (being in total control of herself). Female MC’s have sexed it up to the point where that’s all you see, and that has overshadowed their lyrics and music. Then you had Missy Elliott, who mixed up rapping, singing, and producing and turned it into a triple threat and her into a superstar. In the mainstream there has been a void, and now comes Nicki Minaj, whom I feel has the total package, in the same way Elliott did. Nicki messes, seduces, and fondles her own image, using them as a lure for her vocal and writing skills. With an array of wigs and a twisted fashion sense, she could easily be hip-hop’s Lady Gaga. All this hype has lead to the build-up of her debut mainstream album, Black Friday, and unfortunately it fizzles before she even gets a chance to shine in full.
Okay, let me rewind that last statement a bit. What I like about Nicki is how she twists up different vocal techniques, lyrical schemes, and accents in a way that doesn’t sound like a traditional rapper, it sounds eccentric as if she’s morphing back and forth between characters and personas. I love this, and on Pink Friday (Cash Money/Motown) she does songs about female pride, love of having the skills to pay the bills, and simply warning people that she’s the wrong cunt to fuck with (and yes, she does use the word “cunt”, and with power at that). She does all of these things throughout the album, and it is obvious she is someone who knows very well how to write and how to steer her way into the heart’s of every hip-hop fan. “Roman’s Revenge” is a track that has been getting a lot of attention, as it is a duet with Eminem, where they cut each other verbally where one (Nicki) tells him why Eminem is the true bitch, while Em gets into his nasty Slim Shady ways and rips her ass up, the way he used to before he was signed. It’s classic Eminem, the self-proclaimed prick of hip-hop and together it works beautifully.
Lyrically, Nicki is not to be messed with. I love her wit and her love of wordplay, and a sense of humor that is bitter and sarcastic but always playful. The problem I have with this album is that it sounds too bright, as if someone felt that since she’s a woman, it can’t be as powerful as a man’s album. This is complete bullshit. There are a lot of bright moments that, had they been replaced with more effective samples or musicianship, people would have had to do a dick check. Okay, with respect to her, perhaps not, but it’s my way of saying that it’s almost as if someone had said that Nicki could not be this heavy of an artist if it sounded like “one of the boys”. Yet had she worked with Andre 3000 on a track or two, it would have sounded incredible. Or if she worked with Madlib, Slug, The Angel, Eternia, and so many others… well, if Nicki herself read this review, she would say “it wouldn’t be my album if I did it your way, now would it?” No, but Pink Friday still sounds like an album that isn’t 100 percent hers either. I prefer hearing her verse in Kanye West‘s “Monster” than this album.
Short version: the lyrics and means of expression on Pink Friday are top notch. I had hoped she would bust out of the Barbie doll positioning on the album cover and come out with a song which explains why so many only view women as nothing more than plastic, but she doesn’t. I’m hopeful she’ll do that the next time. As for the production, it’s not garbage, in fact it’s really good tracks, but not for these songs. The placement of Rihanna and “butterbean’s sister”, a/k/a Natasha Bettingfield seems too deliberate of a tactic, and seems misplaced in the end (but at least she can sing, unlike Rihanna). If you need to hear quality Nicki Minaj, hunt down her street albums and mixtapes. Until then, her mainstream debut album falls short of displaying her true skills as an artist, which she fortunately displays elsewhere. If she ever does the album she and everyone else knows she can do, watch it.
will.i.am, apl.de.ap, Fergie, and the other one have released a new track from their forthcoming album due out on November 30th, called The Beginning. The album comes a week after the release of new music by Kanye West and Nicki Minaj, but it’s safe to say much of BEP’s fans have no interest in Kanye or Nicki. Either that, or it will be one of the biggest holiday seasons for music in awhile.
There’s a sense amongst some hip-hop fans that the sense of power has diminished, or is being manipulated by those who have nothing to do with hip-hop. A perfect example is the female MC. There was a time when there was a new lady stepping up to the microphone on a weekly, if not daily basis, trying not so much to be the queen, but to become an addition to the exclusive community. Yet there was always a view, particularly from men, that a woman does not belong on the stage that Roxanne Shante and Ms. Melodie once spoke of, but is preferred masturbatory eye candy.
Spoken word artist Jasmine Mans touches on this topic in a spoken word piece called “Nicki Minaj”, as it focuses on a woman who has brought back the discussion of female MC’s, but in a context that is very different from the era of “Ladies First”, “Monie In The Middle”, and “Paper Thin”. Many of the cherished women in hip-hop came from the golden era, a time when it was about self-awareness, Afrocentricity, honor and price for the music and self. Yet take a look at what’s happening today, and soon sensuality became more important than sexuality, because let’s face it, most mainstream female rappers are rarely about being sexual. It can be argued that regardless of how blunt dancehall reggae artists can be, artists such as Lady Saw and Tanya Stephens have taken over in spots that some female rappers have forgotten.
But back to this video. Mans looks at Nicki Minaj and while proud that a woman has taken the hip-hop spotlight once again, she also asks at what cost? Mans basically states in her piece that Minaj may represent the “same as it ever was” mentality, and that as a message from one woman to another, Mans is basically telling her to look in the mirror and understand what she’s doing before she helps influence a generation of disposable Barbie dolls.