Bio: Mackenzie is an Alabama native attending NYU and studying Journalism and Dramatic Literature. She hopes to one day live in London and write for the BBC.
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K. Michelle’s first album has been long awaited ever since she signed her first record deal in 2008. Five years and a new record deal later, she has finally made her debut with Rebellious Soul and it appears to be worth the wait by offering and honest, soulful account of a woman finding her own way in life.
The opening track “My Life” is a solid tune. She boasts a gorgeous voice, but holds back on the raw emotions. While I was initially disappointed by the restrained beginning, she quickly pours her soul in the next track “Damn“. The song is brutally honest and has a bit of that K. Michelle that we grew to love-hate in Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta. “Pay My Bills” is another solid track. While it’s crude and vulgar, every bit of her unlady-like lyrics are sang flawlessly, showcasing that long-awaited talent.
She also brings a few, lovely tender moments to the album with her songs “I Don’t Like Me” and “A Mother’s Prayer”. “I Don’t Like Me” isn’t like any K. Michelle song you’ve ever heard. It’s reserved, certainly a strong turn from her other bold tracks. The song expresses her issues with self-esteem. It’s depressing and dark while remaining delicate. “A Mother’s Prayer” is the sweet closing track almost certainly dedicated to her son, Chase. The song is a mother’s plea for nothing but happiness for her child.
But K. Michelle’s debut album isn’t without flaws. “Sometimes” features a bizarre operatic interlude that doesn’t quite fit with her style. She redeems herself in “Ride Out” but the album would have been nearly flawless with out the interlude.
We’ve waited years for K. Michelle’s album and it was worth nearly every moment. She has proven that she belongs in the world of soul among the greats and she will certainly be here to stay much longer.
Hip-hop has made great gains in its relationship with the LGBT community thanks to artists like Macklemore and Frank Ocean. Along with its homophobic past, hip-hop has always been criticized for being incredibly misogynistic. But like its progress with homosexuality, feminism in hip-hop may have been around longer than we’ve realized. Here are 5 artists who have challenged hip-hop’s attitude towards women.
1. Queen Latifah
Queen Latifah is one of the first artist to make waves in the world of feminism. By writing feminist anthems like “U.N.I.T.Y” that criticize the use of sexist terms (ie b*tch), Queen Latifah paved the way for future critiques of gender roles.
2. Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj’s lyrics are full of messages about gender equality, but it’s her attitude that truly sets her apart. Everything she does is for herself, not what a man wants or says she has to be.
Salt-N-Pepa’s debut in the late 80s turned societal roles on their head. They sang about sex and were politically aware, things that women weren’t supposed to be discussing.
Tupac was one of the most feminist rappers to grace the music scene. His song “Keep Ya Head Up” is particularly notable for this lyric “And since we all came from a woman/
Got our name from a woman and our game from a woman/
I wonder why we take from our women/
Why we rape our women, do we hate our women?”
Canadian rapper Shad is notorious for his lyrics and stance on feminism. His song “Keep Shining” is a manifesto on women and what needs to change about gender relations.
While these artists have made a stance on how society should treat women, they are but a few in the many misogynistic artists out there. We live in a society that glorifies a rape culture, but we can’t blame hip-hop for that. Art is merely a reflection of our society’s ideals and beliefs. But if things are to ever change, hip-hop should be the first to make a significant move.
Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta’s K. Michelle is set to release her first album this week. But aside from her appearance on LAHH, not much is known about the rising singer. Here are 10 facts you need to know.
1. She attended Florida A&M University and was nominated Miss FAM-U during her time there.
2. Before she moved to Atlanta, she lived in Memphis, Tennessee.
She also originally had dreams of being a country star.
3. Her affinity for country music earned her a scholarship to Florida A&M.
Her scholarship was for yodeling.
4. She has one son.
Seven-year old Chase is currently being raised by K. Michelle’s mother.
5. R. Kelly is one of her mentors.
She is also the only artist featured on his album Love Letters.
6. She’s a fierce advocate against domestic violence.
She became a public advocate after admitting her violent relationship with her former boyfriend, Memphitz.
7. She cites Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston, and Tammi Terrell as her musical influences.
8. Apart from being a talented lyricist and singer, she’s a pianist.
She’s been playing piano since before she was nine years old and can proficiently read sheet music.
9. She signed a record deal with Jive Records in 2008.
Her career never jumpstarted though and she signed with Warner Bros in 2012.
10. She believes she’s a mermaid in an alternate universe.
She cites this as a reason why she doesn’t feel pressure by being compared to other artists.
The MTV VMAs are only a few short weeks away and rumors about performances are starting to flow in. Here are the confirmed performances so far for this year’s 2013 MTV Video Music Awards.
Katy Perry hasn’t performed at the VMAs since 2009 and is set to perform her song Roar live for the first time on August 25th.
At this year’s VMAx, Lady Gaga will debut her new single. This will be one of the first times Lady Gaga has performed since she underwent surgery for a labrel tear on her hip this past February.
This will mark Kanye’s seventh performance at the Video Music Awards, tying him with Madonna. He’s set to perform BLKKK SKKKN HEAD. Honestly, what kind of award ceremony would it be without Kanye?
The Daft Punk performance announcement was made when Stephen Colbert made the announcement that the group had cancelled their appearance on the show because of a contractual obligation with the awards show. The hilarious bit on The Colbert Report instead featured Colbert dancing with various celebrities to the hit summer song Get Lucky, which is what they will be performing at the awards show.
NBC Community‘s Donald Glover, also known by his stage name Childish Gambino, is set to release a new, music comedy on FX. Whether you know him as Troy at Greendale Community College or musically in a portion of the underground hip-hop movement, here are some things you may not know about Childish Gambino.
1. He chose his stage name by playing around with a Wu-Tang Clan name generator.
He started writing shortly after graduating with a degree in dramatic writing from New York University before moving on to work on Community.
3. When he’s not acting, writing, rapping, or doing comedy, he’s also a DJ.
Under the name mc DJ, he’s produced a variety of remixes making him one of the most versatile men of Hollywood.
4. He’s also quite the cook.
His personal best dish is Osso Bucco. For those who aren’t culinary experts, the dish is veal shanks and vegetables. And he seems to know what he’s talking about. ‘The slower you roast it, the better. I really like the marrow – that’s my favorite part – so you can’t let it get too dried out. If it’s too dry, it’s awful. You’ve got to keep the lid on and the moisture in.”
5. He was raised as a Jehovah’s witness.
He’s long since renounced the religion, but it was only one of the many things that set him apart from his other kids.
6. He also stood out because of his race and California accent.
Before moving to Georgia, Childish Gambino and his foster parents lived in California. His lack of a southern accent and being the only black kid in school made him the “different” kid.
7. He sees the misogyny in his first album Camp as a potential for failure.
He says about the album “I just wanted to do what everybody was telling me I shouldn’t do—if there’s no voice for that kid in rap music, where is it? I wanted the opportunity to fall flat on my face if necessary. Its like Chris Rock said: as black people we don’t really need opportunities to succeed at this point—we need opportunities to fail.”
8. He helped to indirectly create the look of the new Spider-man.
Miles Morales, the new half-hispanic, half-black Spider-man was created as a result of the campaign Glover launched on Twitter #donald4spiderman.
9. While he had been playing guitar and rapping since elementary school, it wasn’t until college that he began producing.
After a friend randomly gave him an illegal copy of a production software, he spent weeks in his room tinkering with it and the rest was history.
10. He was originally part of a five-man sketch comedy team.
The team DERRICK comedy premiered their first movie Mystery Team in 2009.
Jay Z has taken his last album Magna Carta Holy Grail and made some unique marketing decisions. His album was released exclusively to Samsung users via an app and his music video for Picasso Baby was aired on HBO. But are all these “exclusive releases” alienating some of Jay Z’s fans?
Jay Z is renowned for being both an innovator and businessman on top of his musical prowess, which is probably precisely why he chose to release Magna Carta Holy Grail early via Samsung. The deal Jay Z had with Samsung resulted in Samsung buying 1 million copies of his album at $5 each to be released for free via the app, meaning Jay Z had made $5 million before the album was even released. While this also may be the future for album releases, it still wasn’t without flaws. The app had several bugs and file sharing was still a possibility. The biggest complaint, however, was the information that the app requested users share, including GPS location and access to social media sites. With the NSA’s surveillance scandal taking over the airwaves, its no surprise that many people were hesitant about giving all this information out.
But the real question lies not in the success of the app or the artistic value of the music video, but in whether or not this is nothing more than a way to bring in more money. The deal with Samsung bypasses the record label and Jay Z already made a hefty earning on the pre-release alone. A pairing with HBO functions in a similar, but less effective way. Has Jay Z become less concerned with the music he makes, a criticism of many fellow artists, and more concerned about bringing in the dough? His new releases seem to suggest that just may be the case.
The release of Jay Z’s newest album Magna Carta Holy Grail spurred a flurry of criticism from other artists. The conversation that Jay Z’s album created has left us with one question: what has hip-hop become?
While hip-hop has always been defined as the culture of black America and rap a by-product of hip-hop, artists today are claiming that hip-hop isn’t the same place it once was. Flavor Flav, former member of Public Enemy and self-proclaimed music critic, has been one of the most vocal protesters of the new direction the hip-hop genre has taken.
“”I think the element of hip-hop left when rap music started being created on a slow tempo. It’s just stayed there for years. Right now, a lot of Rap music today is being created at very low tempos.” he said in a recent interview. While he doesn’t contest that the artists these days are excellent, he claims they are no longer hip-hop. “Lil Wayne is making some great Rap records – everybody is making great rap records, but it’s not hip-hop.” Even Lil Wayne doesn’t know where the genre is. “I don’t know where hip-hop is at,” he said. “I just listen to the old stuff, and my television stay on SportsCenter.”
But what truly makes something hip-hop? Is it the tempo as Flavor Flav suggests? Or is it the rising commercialization thanks to artist like Jay Z who know how to market themselves? Is it the fact that a genre notorious for being underground has taken over the radio stations? Perhaps the shift in hip-hop mirrors the shift in our culture and society. Even hip-hop isn’t immune to change.
Several weeks after the shocking verdict was announced for the George Zimmerman trial, America is still in an uproar. Silent protesters closed down Times Square, rioters took over LA, and a family even refused to be associated with Zimmerman after he saved them from a car accident. The hip-hop industry, much like the rest of America, has spoken up about their displeasure with the final verdict and here’s what they had to say.
Singer/songwriter, Akon, felt that the trial all members of the African American community should pack up and move back to Africa. “Every African American in the United States need to move their money, family, knowledge back to Africa were you will be treated like the royalty you are. You don’t deserve this treatment. This is not your country!” he said on his Instagram account. Of course, Akon’s statement was met with anger from other American citizens who felt that despite the apparent flaw in the justice system, America was still the greatest place to live.
Jose James, renowned as an American jazz and hip-hop artist, picked up his pen and encouraged other artists to protest Florida’s Stand Your Ground Laws. Many musicians did just that. Jay Z, Kanye, Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Rod Stewart, and Madonna are just a few of those refusing to perform in Florida until things change. Rick Ross, even weeks later, is still angry. “I’m upset and really, really enraged. I’ve just been trying to keep from putting too much negative energy out there. So, you know, we’re just doing our thing behind our closed doors. But most definitely, that’s a big problem and something has to happen and it will.” Questlove has a similar opinion on the Zimmerman verdict and wrote an incredibly poignant open letter entitled Trayvon Martin and I ain’t sh*t. While what these artists are doing may not yet be out in the open, hopefully the change will come about soon.
However, while some artists are merely protesting or working behind the scenes to make America a safer place for black teens, others have taken a more violent route. In an interview, T.I. stated that Mr. Martin was a strong, clear-headed man because he would have killed Zimmerman had Trayvon been his son. But despite the outcome of the trial, America has come together to unite in a cause and hopefully change the justice system for the better. The streets may not be safe for our children as this moment in our history, but thee day they will is on the horizon.
Rolling Stone recently released their list of the Top 50 Live Acts of 2013. While their list is pretty on point, here is our list of top 10 best live artists.
The boys of Fun. know how to put on a show. Their performance at the 2013 Grammys was enough evidence.
9. Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar likes to claim that his live performances aren’t concerts; they’re events. And Lamar knows how to play a crowd and turn up the beats. His live shows bring a much more earnest vibe than his studio performances and its an excellent way to take a fresh look at the rising rapper.
8. Charles Bradley
Charles Bradley knows how to bring passion to his live performances unlike anyone else. He pours every ounce of his soul into his music making any concert of his an unforgettable experience.
Deadmau5 is renowned for being a little strange and a little quirky, but his live gigs are an out of this world experience. He’s not a DJ, like many people seem to believe, but an artist of creating and combining sounds.
6. Kanye West
Years of doing bizarre and strange things in his every day live seems to have been a trial run for his heavily theatrical stage performances. For every time that Kanye drives me a little bit insane, his live performances are there to remind me why I respect him as an artist.
5. Bruno Mars
Bruno Mars has a little bit of something for all ages. He has that classic crooning voice, the sexy lyrics, and the pure musical talent. He’s one of the best live singers these days.
4. Arcade Fire
Arcade Fire‘s performances are a lovely combination of emotional intensity and pure chaos. And for an indie rock band, they still know how to get their audience up on their feet and dancing.
3. Paul McCartney
From his time with the Beatles all the way to his solo career, Paul McCartney has an incredible amount of experience performing live and he still nails it every time.
There’s a reason Beyonce was everyone’s favorite from Destiny’s Child. Her live performances are fierce and beautiful. She knows how to own a stage.
The beauty in Adele’s performances lie not in theatrics, but in the pure power of her voice. While many artists these days rely on flashy gimmicks, Adele will always be able to stand in a simple black dress and out-sing everyone.
Dreamy, soul-singer, Robin Thicke, has taken the music world by storm these past few weeks with his hit song from his new album “Blurred Lines“. The song broke records and caused controversy shooting Thicke quickly into the spotlight. As the singer shines these next few months, here are a few things you may not know.
1. He has no formal training.
Despite having no vocal training, his smooth vocals and stellar falsetto has led him to nearly fifteen years of success and 3.5 million records sold.
2. His parents are actors.
Alan Thicke, of How I Met Your Mother and Growing Pains, and Gloria Loring, of Days of Our Lives, came together to produce the soul singer. Coincidentally, he’s also married to actress Paula Patton and his brother is an actor. His parents also have a musical background, composing theme songs for sitcoms like Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life.
3. He met his wife, Paula Patton, when they were in high school.
They met at a teen nightclub, and the rest was history.
4. He was the first white artist since 1988 to reach the top 20s of the R&B chart.
The last person to do so was George Michael.
5. He started performing at a young age.
By the age of 12, he had taught himself to play piano and had a record label by age 16.
6. He used only his surname until 2005.
He recorded songs like “When I Get You Alone” when he was going by Thicke and sporting a long mane of hair. The name changed occurred around the time of his wedding.
7. His first foray into the music industry was songwriting for other hit artists.
He wrote and co-wrote with artists such as Brandy, Christina Aguilera, Mary J. Blige, and Usher. By the time he was 20, he had penned songs on over 20 gold and platinum records.
8. He has dual citizenship.
His father’s Canadian status gives Robin Thicke citizenship in both Canada and America.
9. He appears to be a little clumsy.
When speaking on one of his most humiliating experiences, he described a time when he fell off the stage. I literally walked right off a ten-foot stage and landed on my feet like a cat. My band couldn’t see me, so they didn’t know where I went. One second they’re looking up and I’m there, and the next second I’ve just disappeared! I had to climb up a speaker box like Spider-Man, just to get back on the stage.”
10. The song “Oh, Shooter” was inspired after Robin Thicke witnessed a bank robbery.
The song was later featured on Lil Wayne’s album Tha Carter II.