• J Cole Compares 'Crooked Smile' to Tupac's 'Keep Ya Head Up'

    June 6, 2013 11:03 AM ET
     |  Billy Johnson, Jr.

    Mean-spirited online commenters, negative people and unsolicited advice givers, J. Cole has a song for you. Actually, the North Carolina MC’s new record “Crooked Smile” is actually a word of support to the recipients of your unconstructive criticisms. On the funky bass groove driven track highlighted with piano keys and violin effects, Jermaine Cole dismisses those who have made insulting comments about his crooked teeth. J. Cole cuts to the chase on the song’s open...  | More »

  • Gangsta Boo, 8 Ball and Maino Offer Advice on How to Avoid a Setup on ‘Pillow Talk’

    May 27, 2013 2:20 PM ET
     |  Billy Johnson, Jr.

    It’s been said that a woman can’t teach a boy how to be a man, but Memphis legend Gangsta Boo refutes that claim with her song “Pillow Talk” from her new mixtape, “It’s Game Involved.” Gangsta Boo, 8 Ball and Maino school rookies on the basics of Thuggin’ 101. Rule No. 1 is to keep your mouth shut, especially when dealing with the women you date. According to this ill lyrical trio, sharing info about your money and your enemies to the wrong pe...  | More »

  • Video: 'The Smalls Family' Web Sensation

    May 22, 2013 11:05 AM ET

    It's too bad Notorious B.I.G. isn't alive to watch the web series "The Smalls Family" that is based on lyrics from his songs. On Tuesday, the late rapper's 41st birthday, show creator David Catalano released two new episodes, "Unbelievable" and "Party & Bullsh-t." In March, Catalano, an assistant director with an extensive list of credits in music videos, film and television, debuted the first three episodes of "The Smalls Family," "Warning," "Big Poppa" and "Going Back T...  | More »

  • Tyga Revisits 2009′s ‘Dad’s Letter’ After Birth of His Son

    May 16, 2013 5:15 PM ET
     |  Billy Johnson, Jr.

    When Tyga was a teenager, he vowed to be a better father to his unborn children than his absentee father was to him. The Compton rapper on Lil Wayne’s Young Money, Cash Money label penned his frustrations about the impact of his dad not being in his life in his 2009 song, “Dad’s Letter,” from his “The Potential” mixtape. The song had new meaning to the hip hop artist last October when he celebrated the birth of King Cairo Stevenson, his son with his girlf...  | More »

  • Ms. Lauryn Hill Goes H.A.M. on ‘Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix)’

    May 10, 2013 11:05 AM ET
     |  Billy Johnson Jr.

    I never thought I’d say this, but, Thank You IRS. While Lauryn Hill has downplayed the role her recent tax debt has in her grudged decision to release new music, her fans couldn’t be happier to welcome her return. The angst behind her new song, “Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix),” is its much-needed fuel. In a letter posted on her MsLaurynHill Tumblr page over the weekend, the former Fugees front woman cited today’s unchecked unhealthy paradigms – in addi...  | More »

  • Rihanna 777 Tour Documentary: 5 Moments Missed

    May 8, 2013 5:10 PM ET
     |  Billy Johnson, Jr.

    I enjoyed watching Rihanna’s 777 Tour documentary on Fox Monday. But it could not have been an easy feat cramming footage from her travels to seven countries in seven days with 250 passengers into a one hour special. [Related: My 777 Tour Flickr gallery] It’s not surprising that 777 Tour alumni like myself would have their own list of moments that were not captured in the film. Below, I’ve compiled five of my 777 Tour highlights that were not chronicled in the movie: 1) ...  | More »

  • Lyric Michelle Complains About Blah, Blah, Blah Raps on ‘This and That’

    April 25, 2013 9:45 AM ET
     |  Billy Johnson Jr.

    Don’t let Lyric Michelle’s cute face and thin waist fool you. She’s not the type to dedicate all of her rhymes to Christian Louboutin shoes and Hermes bags. Her message is so important that she slams meaningless raps on her new single “This & That.” On the song, the poet and MC complains about hip-hop’s current status quo that prioritizes a dope track and chorus over substance. She raps, “Blah, blah, blah. This and that. Nobody gives a damn ...  | More »

  • Demrick Asks Fans to ‘Pray for Me,’ Doesn’t Take Success for Granted

    April 19, 2013 4:26 PM ET
     |  Billy Johnson Jr.

    Demrick describes the state of mind behind his song “Pray for Me” as the halfway house for success. He’s accomplished many of the things on his wish list, but he is keeping his ego in check. “Pray for Me” sets Demrick apart from his contemporaries for chronicling his plight in real time. So in the song’s first verse, he explains that just because he’s friends with Cypress Hill and has “rapped with Dr. Dre” and “shut down the whole ...  | More »

  • Dizzy Wright Manages To ‘Killem Wit Kindness’ In New Video

    April 10, 2013 5:35 PM ET
     |  Billy Johnson Jr.

    Dizzy Wright is going through something and he puts it all on display on "Killem Wit Kindness." He recently released the music video. On the song that rides over that easy, Judy Clay and William Bell soul sample Rappin 4 Tay used on “Player’s Club,” the 22-year-old Las Vegas MC rhymes about the pressures of newfound fatherhood, maturing, pondering the future with his girl, giving back to his mother, and trying to be there for his homies. "Killem Wit Kindness," produced by ...  | More »

  • Tyler, The Creator Imagines Phone Call With Deadbeat Dad On ‘Answer’

    April 5, 2013 10:01 AM ET
     |  Billy Johnson Jr.

    Tyler, The Creator breaks out the eerie, gospel organ, simple electric guitar scales, and comforting, moody bass for “Answer,” his latest ode to his absentee father. The song from his recently released Wolf album mixes disappointment, anger and anguish as the Odd Future front man imagines having a telephone conversation with his deadbeat dad. Though he sings, “When I call, I hope you pick up the phone. I’d like to talk to you,” on the chorus, he awkwardly fumbl...  | More »

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