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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
March 27, 2013 9:20 AM ET| Billy Johnson, Jr.
Few MCs have earned the elite distinction of the legendary Big Daddy Kane, who receives props whether he's spewing fire lyricism on classics like "Raw" or laid-back R&B offerings including "Smooth Operator." Add spoken word to his repertoire. As a member of the new group Las Supper, a 1970's styled soul group blessed with the Brooklyn rapper's gift of gab, Kane takes a break from his usual raps to provide the poetic introduction on the song "I Can't Believe." The son... | More »
March 25, 2013 10:35 AM ET| Billy Johnson, Jr.
In many ways, Snoop Lion is the antithesis to Snoop Dogg. The Reincarnated rapper’s new song “No Guns Allowed” featuring his daughter Cori B and Drake counters his 1992 debut on Dr. Dre’s “Deep Cover” where he boasts, “I got the gauge, a uzi and the motherf—king 22.” The release from his forthcoming reggae album offers a message of non violence. Snoop Lion raps, “We don’t want to see no more innocent blood shed. Me don’... | More »
March 8, 2013 10:21 AM ET| Billy Johnson, Jr.
Mali Music could have given his new song “Ready Aim” a happy ending. But he seemed to feel a sense of urgency to emphasize the struggle that sometimes comes with transition. On the soulful, rock-tinged song co-produced by Jerry 'Wonda' Duplessis, Mali appears to be singing about a hijacking. He’s on a flight. There are machine guns, and a shooting. But he’s not scared. He welcomes the challenge, boldly singing, “Ready, aim, fire. You can’t shoot ... | More »
March 1, 2013 10:35 AM ET| Billy Johnson, Jr.
Rappers are so fixated on the cars, the strip clubs and the clothes that they sometimes forget about their pre-fame days. Mike Stud, an up-and-coming MC from Rhode Island, remembers the hard times on “Dreamin’,” a track from his forthcoming RELIEF mixtape. The song tells the stories of two individuals fighting against the odds - the kid who aspired to be a basketball player despite his below average height and a neglected, molested girl-turned-stripper blessed with the gift... | More »