Producer J. Reid Says Nicki Minaj ‘Went Crazy’ Freestyling “Barbie Tingz”

As we now know, Nicki Minaj's deleted countdown was indeed a setup for the release of her singles “Chun-Li” and “Barbie Tingz.” And helping her stealthily create and drop those singles was up-and-coming Atlanta producer J. Reid.

Reid, whose resume is sure to get a big boost, did an interview with XXL where he shared details about what went on behind the scenes. He first managed to link up with Nicki when a partner of his, Brinx Billions, was working on a song with her. When Nicki asked who made the beat, it was J. Reid, and she made short work of flying him out to Miami.

“She was just like, 'I love your music. You're talented, I'm just trying to put some stuff together.' So I was like, 'I'm ready.' From that, it's just been ballgame. Coming back and forth, going in and out of town, working at home and showing out,” Reid said, revealing he made 15 different beats for “Barbie Tingz” but it only took hearing two of them for Nicki's inspiration to kick in.

“I played one beat, [then] I played the second beat and she was like, 'Stop, pull it up, I'm about to go in.' I'm like, 'This is crazy. Is she really finna go rap on my beat, like, freestyle?!' And went crazy,” said Reid. He described feeling “enlightened” watching Minaj's creative process. 

Reid was also grateful the rap vet was able to explain what kind of beat she was looking for, something many artists can't do, he says. He attributes her level-headed approach to having some time to herself, not churning out albums. The whole process, Reid said, happened in an instant. “So it just came together like that. Two days later, I flew back home. She was like, 'Yo, this song is so hard. I'm about to shoot the video.'”

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When it came to producing “Chun-Li,” the process was pretty similar. Reid flew to California to finish mixing and mastering “Barbie Tingz,” and Nicki asked to hear some more beats. She gave Reid a little taste of some bars so he could get a sense of the vibe, and the two went back in to shuffle through about 13 beats before making the final selection. “The format is the exact same. She went in [the recording booth], started rapping, came out, arranged it, went back in, finished it,” Reid said.

It looks like Miss Minaj is finally back on her grind, and ready to defend her throne. Read the full interview with J. Reid over at XXL.

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‘Black Panther’ About to Pass ‘Titanic’ to Become No. 3 Highest-Earning Movie in the U.S.

Marvel and Disney's Black Panther continues its reign as a box office superhero. The film is high on a record-breaking streak, and it’s just made history again. Its $652.5 million domestic box office total reported on Tuesday officially beats out Jurassic World's $652.3 million earned in 2015. That makes Black Panther the No. 4 movie ever in the U.S. 

And in a mere $6.8 million, Ryan Coogler's MCU-redefining film will pass 1997's Titanic to give us a new No. 3. (It could happen as early as Thursday or Friday, although Forbes' estimate isweekend's end if not very early next week.)

Once Black Panther passes James Cameron's nautical 11-time Oscar-winner, it will need to rally another $100 million to hit Avatar's $760.5 mill. At the top of the heap is Star Wars: The Force Awakens, dropped in December 2015 and outperformed all of American movie history to the tune of $936.6 million.

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Globally, Black Panther lapped Frozen’s $1.276 billion, entering the top 10 movies of all time with a total gross of $1.279 billion to date. The top five international markets for the Wakanda-set flick have been China, the U.K., South Korea, Brazil, and France.

It's already been a couple weeks, though, since Black Panther became the highest grossing solo superhero movie.

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Joe Jackson Says Quincy Jones ‘Knows Better’ Than to Accuse Michael Jackson of Stealing Music

In case you somehow missed last week's juicy Vulture interview with Quincy Jones, the famous producer made some pretty wild allegations. According to Jones,  he once dated Ivanka Trump, who apparently has “the most beautiful legs” but “the wrong father,” Richard Pryor and Marlon Brando had sex once (which Pryor's widow confirmed), and Michael Jackson “stole a lot of stuff.” Specifically, Jones said Michael stole “Billie Jean” and “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough.” 

TMZ started to ask Joe Jackson on Saturday at the restaurant Toscanova in Calabasas, CA if his son did, in fact, steal the hook of “Billie Jean” from Donna Summer's song “State of Independence.” Joe immediately chimed in and said, “I raised Michael, he's my son. Quincy Jones, he knows better. I don't want to talk about it.” When asked if he thinks Michael wrote “Billie Jean,” he said, “Yes, correct.”

Jones had a seemingly tight relationship with Michael as a co-producer for the late musician's best-selling albums. The producer did not hold back on his MJ gossip during this interview: he also addressed Michael's famous plastic surgery. “[Jackson] has a problem with his looks because his father told him he was ugly and abused him,” Jones said. “What do you expect?” The 84-year-old also addressed the state of music today, which, unsurprising given the tone of the interview, he is not at all impressed with. Pop music is “just loops, beats, rhymes, and hooks,” rap music is “the same phrase over and over and over again, and U2 sucks now, too. And this was just the PG-13 version of the interview.

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Twin Sister Rap Duo Cam & China Team With Barclay Crenshaw for “The Baddest”

23-year-old twins Cam & China are making some of the best rap music in Los Angeles. Coming from Inglewood, they released a self-titled EP last year, packed with beats that slap and lyrics that don't hold back on anything, whether its their disdain for the fakes or their own self-confidence They have more music, videos, and shows in the works for 2018, but first comes this booming collaboration with Barclay Crenshaw, which is the alter ego of successful dance music producer/label head Claude VonStroke. Watch the video for “The Baddest,” featuring a vintage Rolls Royce and some wild tattoos, above. Learn more about how the track came together below.

“Last year I released an album under Barclay Crenshaw of all alternative hip-hop futuristic type stuff,” Crenshaw tells us. “This is the next step in that project. I want to continue on this path and see where it takes me. My first love is hip-hop. Even though I got really into house and techno I always knew I would come back to old school hip-hop and weird beat music.”

He adds, “I really like the energy of Cam and China. They were amazing to work with. They are fun and they have great skill on the mic. The whole session in the studio was easy going and very creative. It really was a collaboration of ideas to make this track.”

Cam adds, “We want women to feel confident when they hear this, despite any negativity thrown your way on a day to day basis whether it’s being compared, bashed, talked about, bullied, unappreciated, disrespected, slept on, or looked down on. Always walk with dignity and move with grace. I hope this motivates women from all ages to work hard, never settle, and more importantly never remove your crown for no one. Show them who’s the baddest. What this track symbolizes to us is that women are powerful when we stick together.”

“I also think it’s a great time for black women, women in general are making history and setting trends,” she continues. “For example Cardi B, Issa Rae, Rihanna, Gabby Douglas, Tiffany Haddish, Michelle Obama, Viola Davis, Loretta Lynch to name a few. I think the time is now and time is up.”

Barclay Crenshaw Tour Dates:

4/12 The Majestic Theater, Detroit, MI
4/13 Elsewhere, Brooklyn, NY 
4/15 Coachella Weekend
4/18 Cervantes Masterpiece, Denver Co 
4/22 Coachella Weekend
4/24 The Independent, San Francisco CA

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How Ty Dolla $ign Fell in Love with J Dilla’s Music

You might know Ty Dolla $ign for his pop hits and his platinum records, but he's a real artist's artist with a deep love of funk, soul, R&B, and hip-hop. When we talked to Ty for our Music Life profile, he broke down in detail how he first discovered legendary hip-hop producer J Dilla and why he loves his music so much.

From hearing Dilla's production for Slum Village, A Tribe Called Quest, and Janet Jackson to eventually meeting him, Ty had a lot to say about one of his “favorite producers of all time.” Ty also revealed that Knxwledge, who collaborated with Anderson .Paak on the NxWorries project, had recently sent him some beats too. Hopefully we'll hear the results of that in 2018.

In the meantime, watch Ty Dolla $ign talk about J Dilla above and watch the full Music Life profile below. See where his album Beach House 3 landed on our Best Albums of 2017 list here.

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That Time Kobe Bryant Helped a Childhood Friend Record With Jay Z

Back in the late 1990s, Kobe Bryant tried hard—very hard—to get his rap career off the ground. Even though Kobe was still just a few years into his NBA career and even though he should have, in theory, been spending more time on the basketball court than in the studio, he spent a ridiculous amount of time, energy, and money recording his debut album, Visions. It was an album that went through many different iterations with Kobe creating an underground-sounding project first before his label Sony Entertainment made him switch things up and make something more commercial. And it was also an album that eventually got shelved, meaning Kobe essentially put forth a ton of effort for, well, nothing.

There was at least one good thing that came out of Kobe’s rap career, though (and no, it wasn’t this). Kobe’s childhood friend Russell “Russ” Howard, who served as one of the main producers on Kobe’s ill-fated project, spoke with Bleacher Report recently and talked about what it was like to work with Kobe. He documented how hard Kobe worked on the album, the serious approach he took to honing his craft, and the disappointment they all felt when Sony pulled the plug on the project. But he also pointed out that, on a personal level, Kobe played an instrumental role in helping him land the biggest beat placement of his entire career.

It seems Kobe loved what Russ came up with for his album and thought he should be working with other rappers, too. So one day, while Kobe was on the set of the music video for Mariah Carey’s “Heartbreaker,” he stepped to Jay Z and told him about the producer. And even though Kobe wasn’t exactly an established voice when it came to dishing out music recommendations, Hov listened to what he had to say and ended up working with Russ.

From the B/R piece:

Howard and Bryant were in constant communication about what direction they wanted to pursue. Bryant, so happy with his friend's work, approached Jay Z on the set of the “Heartbreaker” music video and recommended the legendary rapper to check out his friend. Not long after, Howard was working with Brooklyn's own on Vol. 3 Life and Times of S. Carter, producing the beats of “S. Carter” and “There's Been a Murder.”

And Russ wasn’t the only one of Kobe's producers who ended up on Jay Z’s Vol. 3. Back in 2013, Grantland ran a lengthy story about the “secret history” of Kobe’s rap career, and it included a small nugget buried deep in the footnotes about how another producer Kobe was working with at the time also ended up doing some work for Jay Z before working with other Roc-A-Fella artists. Sean “S-Dot” Francis, a producer from Philadelphia, worked alongside Russ on the same two Vol. 3 tracks after a chance meeting with Jay Z during a studio session with Kobe.

From the Grantland piece:

“Kobe is in the booth rapping,” Francis says. “All of a sudden, I look in the reflection of the booth and I see this diamond chain—all diamonds—with a Rocawear shirt. Then I heard someone say, 'It sounds like you know what you’re doing in there.' And it was Jay Z. [Sony A&R] Lenny Nicholson told Kobe to come out of the booth. Kobe was like, 'What’s up?' Jay said, 'I heard you’re doing big things.' He’s like, 'Yeah, I’m getting it together.' Jay’s like, 'Let me hear what you got.' So we played him some things and he asked us if we produced…Next thing you know, [Russell and I] did two beats [“S. Carter” and “There’s Been a Murder”] on Vol. 3…The Life and Times of S. Carter.”

After working with Jay Z, Howard went on to work with DMX, Lupe Fiasco, Paul Wall, and more. Francis, meanwhile, landed beats on projects from Beanie Sigel, State Property, and others. So hey, at least Kobe’s debut album wasn’t a total waste, right?

Oh, and if you’re wondering where the songs from that album ended up after it got shelved, Howard provided B/R with the answer. “They’re out there,” he said. “Ray Donovan has them.”

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Drake Requested Jay Z’s ‘4:44’ at a Restaurant Because He’s All of Us

You don't live under a rock, and are therefore aware that Jay Z's 4:44 has generated a buttload of buzz in the 18 or so hours that it's been available on Tidal so far. Hov's 13th studio album has generated plenty of positive reactions from fans and public figures, a well as his peers

Speaking of peers, Drake walked into a Baltimore restaurant on Thursday night/Friday morning and requested that the business pump it out on their speakers, which certainly beats listening to it on the train or in a cubicle while pretending to get some work done.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the public listening party went down at Azumi at Harbor East (so if you're an area resident who decided to cancel your plans there at the last second you can now quietly say “Fuck, dude,” to yourself).

The Sun further reports that Drake was sitting out on the patio with five friends when at (or around) midnight he asked whoever runs the music to put Jay Z's newest album on. The restaurant, understandably, obliged.

“While we normally have our own DJ's music playing through the speakers, we were able to accommodate him and they listened to Jay Z's 4:44 album in its entirety,” restaurant group spokesman Joe Sweeney said to the Sun. “Several people walking along the Harbor East promenade approached him for photos and he was more than happy to take pictures with them.”

Sweeney also added that bartenders, servers and management made comments praising how nice Drake was. That would appear to include Twitter user @XOXOCandice, a Drake fan who put together an extensive Twitter thread about her chance encounter with him (we're talking nearly 40 tweets here):

Anyway, one can only wonder if he caught any subliminal shots or not.

 

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Rihanna Spotted Making Out With Mystery Man in Swimming Pool

One thing that undoubtedly sucks about being an A-list celebrity is that when you make out with some unknown guy in a swimming pool at a “posh villa” in Spain, paparazzi might snap several shots of it. That's exactly what happened to Rihanna on Monday when she was spotted with her tongue down the throat of some mystery man.

According to TMZ, the yet to be identified man “might be her new boyfriend.” Take that hedged statement for what it's worth.

Also here's some things some people on Twitter had to say about it:

Good for this dude, I guess.

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Lil Uzi Vert Says He Got a ‘Beating’ to Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones Pt. II”

Just a few days after collaborating in the studio for the first time, Pharrell and Lil Uzi Vert spoke with Scott Vener about what they worked on together on OTHERtone on Beats 1 Radio. “My first time meeting him was the other day in the studio,” Pharrell admits. “I've been sort of seeing him just do shit on the scene, and he struck me as a guy that's just not thinking about any kind of rules. Just doing what he likes, good, bad, or ugly. He don't care, and that I can relate to.”

As for what to expect out of their studio session together, Pharrell says the beats reflect “the newer zones that I'm in.” “He's kinda getting, like, that super fresh iteration of where I am, and where some of our stuff is right now,” Pharrell said. Uzi responded to P's description of this new sound with one word: “Nuts.”  

Lil Uzi Vert also went into being a fan of Marilyn Manson, as well as divulging what purchases he has made since amassing his fortune. 

The group also opened up about the passing of Prodigy of Mobb Depp at the age of 42. While Pharrell recalls seeing plenty of fights to “Shook Ones, Pt. II,” Lil Uzi Vert has a completely different memory associated to that song. “I got a beating to that song before, I can remember that,” he confessed.  

You can listen to the entire episode here.

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