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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Here’s DJ Khaled’s New Album ‘Grateful’

DJ Khaled’s Grateful album has officially rolled out on streaming services, just an hour after the 41-year-old artist presented the project on We the Best Radio. 

The early premiere was a nice surprise for fans who’ve been waiting on the 23-track album since Khaled announced it back in February. Since then, we’ve received a handful of singles off the star-studded project, such as “Shining” with Beyoncé and Jay Z, “I'm the One” featuring Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper, and Lil Wayne, as well as “Wild Thoughts” with Rihanna and Bryson Tiller.

The rest of the album will include guest appearances by everyone from Alicia Keys and Nicki Minaj to Nas and Travis Scott to Drake and Calvin Harris. Khaled’s infant son Asahd also landed a credit as executive producer.

“He is credited as executive producer, and his attorney has his points and royalties, everything,” Khaled explained during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! “Listening to the songs, going over the business part of it, [deciding] if the vocals are right, if the beats are right, if the energy’s right. When he [rocks and grins], those are smash hit records, when he [looks deep in thought], that’s the real serious records but hits with substance.”

Grateful is now available to stream on Apple Music and can be purchased on iTunes. To celebrate the project's release, Khaled also dropped a video for the album's intro, “I'm So Grateful.”

You can also stream Grateful below via Spotify.

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Trending Topics: Ryan Hemsworth on Katy Perry, Travis Scott, and Male Rompers

We love Ryan Hemsworth. The Canadian producer and mastermind behind the Secret Songs label is always dropping new music, whether it's his own beats or production for vocalists, and his latest move was an exclusive packed mix for Episode 43 of OVO Sound Radio.

Ryan's gearing up for a big year, and he stopped by for another edition of Trending Topics, giving his take on Katy Perry, Travis Scott, the great male romper debate of 2017, Chris Cornell, and our previous guest, Rich Chigga. Watch Ryan Hemsworth's Trending Topics above.

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Everything We Know About Lil Uzi Vert’s ‘Luv Is Rage 2’ (So Far)

During this weekend's Billboard Music Awards, it was Sway who point-blank asked Lil Uzi Vert what was up with Luv Is Rage 2. Uzi's response was a simple… and confusing: “It'll be out soon. Like, really soon. Like sooner than soon.” 

What does soon mean in rapper time? That's hard to say. Travis Scott recently said he'd be dropping new music “in a few days,” which turned into three songs being posted on his SoundCloud… 10 days later. With his insane tour schedule (and some legal trouble), we can understand Travis not being able to make it to SoundCloud-dot-com to bless the masses with new material. Uzi? Uzi's been teasing Luv Is Rage 2, the sequel to 2015's Luv Is Rage, since late 2016, though.

For true Uzi fans, how soon is “soon”?

And while we're on the subject, what do we really know about Luv Is Rage 2? If you've followed Lil Uzi Vert on Instagram, you've probably heard a grip of tracks from this project, and the anticipation is high as hell right now, especially for diehard Uzi fans (including those of the “shoot up my school because I don't have your project” variety). Let's cut the bullshit and figure out everything we know about Luv Is Rage 2.

Release Date

Again, let Lil Uzi Vert tell it, Luv Is Rage 2 is going to be out “soon.” His Twitter bio says “coming Soon,” he told Sway that it'd be dropping “sooner than soon,” and while I don't know what it means to tweet your project title next to a sleepy face emoji and a fire emoji, something tells me that too might just mean “soon.”

Let DJ Don Cannon (who co-founded the Generation Now label that Uzi calls home), though, the project isn't coming out “no time soon.” At least, that's what he said in April of 2017. “If you didn’t hear, Luv Is Rage [2] is not dropping no time soon. It’s not going to be a long time from now, but not within this month. We still working on the album. It’s a process. You got to make the album, mix the album, master the album. Put it out. That takes time when you’re perfecting it.”

Features

During his livestream, Don Cannon also spoke on how Uzi's massive hit “XO Tour Llif3” would be getting a special guest when it hits Luv Is Rage 2, but as of right now, there's no word on WHO this guest will be. Judging by his recent output, Uzi could have everyone from Migos to ASAP Rocky to Iggy Azalea to Travis Scott and Gucci Mane on Luv Is Rage 2. Hell, he might get on his EDM shit and do something new with Steve Aoki. Both Young Thug and Wiz Khalifa were on the first Luv Is Rage release as well, so it'd be safe to assume that one of them would be on this.

In terms of producers, we'd assume that Don Cannon would be all over it, as well as Sonny Digital, TM88, FKi, and the other producers from the first Luv Is Rage. Uzi's Lil Uzi Vert vs. the World also featured beats from Metro Boomin and WondaGurl, and beatsmiths like Zaytoven and Nard & B were on The Perfect Luv Tape. We feel like somewhere in the middle of these producers (plus some surprises) will make up how Luv Is Rage 2 will sound.

Songs

This is the area we know least about. The only confirmed track on Luv Is Rage 2 is “XO Tour Llif3,” but it was also a part of the four-track Luv Is Rage 1.5 EP that dropped on Feb. 26, 2017. During the last few months, Uzi has spent time previewing track after track on Instagram. Of course, none of these have had track titles, but there's some heat in these snippets.

 

Love your girl more den I love myself 😌❤️® LUV IS RAGE 2

A post shared by @liluzivert on Dec 9, 2016 at 5:42pm PST

 

🤘🏾😉🔥®

A post shared by @liluzivert on Jan 11, 2017 at 8:35pm PST

 

Forreal ? 🙄 LuvIsRage2🔥 coming soon® OldFlow

A post shared by @liluzivert on Dec 21, 2016 at 2:15pm PST

 

🔜 2.®

A post shared by @liluzivert on Nov 27, 2016 at 6:45pm PST

Hopefully most of these are on Luv Is Rage 2… or drop at some point.

Expectations

This is an important moment for Uzi. After making a name for himself via his 2016 grind, this is truly the year he should be shining in. “XO Tour Llif3” proved without a shadow of a doubt that he has widely-appealing tracks at his disposal. Problem is, he's going to have to raise the bar in terms of his hit-making ability. “XO Tour Llif3” can't be the only gem on this project.

Uzi will also have to prove that he's bigger than the hype surrounding him, which usually has to do with what he has on and how he acts on stage than for his actual tracks. Uzi's feeling like the next rap superstar, and a strong showing with Luv Is Rage 2 could bode well for those claims.

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The Road to Travis Scott Dominating 2017

As far as consistency, you can't do much better than Travis Scott right now. The 25-year-old artist has grown to be one of the biggest acts in rap, and he's done it with a tireless campaign of solo material, collaborations, and a live show that makes headlines on a nightly basis.

Ever since Travis dropped Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight in September, 2016, he's been on a war path of outdoing his previous achievements, which includes two tours and two projects this year. To get a sense of just how active he's been, we've put together a list of his biggest moments over the last nine months.

Travis says he's executive producing Cruel Winter

Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight wasn't even out a week when Travis visited Hot 97 and revealed on the airwaves that he would be executive producing G.O.O.D. Music's Cruel Winter. The timeline for its release has been derailed (Travis said it would come this February), but clearly Kanye put enough stock into the Houston representative to let him helm this highly anticipated project. That's definitely a confidence booster.

Success of BITTSM and huge publishing deal

We can't move forward in the storyline without acknowledging the success of Travis' sophomore album. He leveled up with the release of Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, which opened at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and moved 88,000 equivalent album units in its first week. That same week, he locked in a worldwide publishing deal with Universal. 

ComplexCon performance

​Not to toot our own horn, but Travis did debut the set design currently used for his Birds Eye View Tour at ComplexCon, where he lit up Long Beach Arena for a performance that sets the bar for future ComplexCon events to come. He also got to share the stage with one of his biggest influences in Kid Cudi. A major night, to say the least.

Travis appears on Kid Cudi's Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin'

Those who have followed Travis' career know how much Kid Cudi means to him (“Kid Cudi was my guy,” he told Complex, “if I had no weed, he was my drug”). It was monumental then when he joined Cudi on “Baptized in Fire” off Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin'. Another item to check off the bucket list.

​Shut out of 2017 Grammy nominations

Count this as a humbling experience for Travis, who up until this point was cruising off some major Ws. “So hurt man,” he said in December when the 2017 Grammy nominations came out and he was nowhere to be found. It would be fair to say that Travis used this as motivation, who later in the month promised more beats, a tour, and his third studio release Astroworld in 2017.

Studio session with DJ Khaled, Mariah Carey, and Migos

Leave it to DJ Khaled to bring Travis, Migos and Mariah together under one roof. Whatever they worked on will presumably be for Khaled's upcoming album Grateful, and if it does drop, expect La Flame's stock to rise even more.

Joining Drake and Quavo on “Portland”

Five months into 2017 and Drake's More Life is (obviously) still one of the biggest drops of the year. And while “Portland” hasn't been released as an official single, the song has reached No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. You can credit its success to Travis and Quavo, who laid down the energy for Drake to feed off of on the Murda Beatz-produced track. If you've seen “Portland” performed live, you know it rings off.

“Portland” caps off some notable guest appearances from Travis this year, who's also worked with Migos (“Kelly Price”), Wale (“Fish n Grits”), and his Fate of the Furious collaboration alongside Lil Uzi Vert and Quavo.

Travis previews new music with Quavo

​Speaking of Quavo, Travis finally previewed a few tracks from their upcoming collaborative album in early April. More recently, Travis teased it could be a surprise drop. Though it's more likely to come later than sooner, don't expect much warning when he and Quavo decide to hit us with it.

Cozying up to Kylie Jenner

This may not be music-related, but let's keep it real: being linked to a Kardashian or Jenner is emblematic of your status in the game. Sorry, Tyga.

Arrested for “inciting a riot” in Arkansas

This incident may have a negative connotation attached to it, but after speaking to fans who attended Travis' concert in Rogers, Arkansas, it sounds like the venue and security weren't aware of just how wild his shows get. It wouldn't be far off in saying Travis' live show is a must-attend for the ragers out there.

Late-night SoundCloud drop

Travis may have been a little late on the release of his new music, but he certainly delivered this week with three cuts to add to the catalog. It's unclear if any of these tracks will appear on Astroworld, but we wouldn't rule any of them out either. In 2015, Travis dropped “Antidote” as a loosie on SoundCloud; that song would later appear on his debut album Rodeo. Also in late 2015, Travis shared “Wonderful,” his collaboration with the Weeknd. Nine months later, it was the album closer for Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight.

If there's anything we've learned over the last nine months, it's that Travis has no plans of slowing down. Astroworld, a Quavo collab project, Birds Eye View Tour and Kendrick Lamar's Damn Tour, and possibly Cruel Winter? Travis is on pace to have his biggest year yet. 

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5 Classic Rap Songs That Sample Prince

It's been one year since the world lost Prince, but his legacy lives on in the countless musicians he influenced. And one of the beautiful things about hip-hop is that producers and rappers wear their influences on their sleeves. You can tell what a beatmaker is listening to by the artists they choose to sample, and looking at the many occasions that Prince's work has found its way into hip-hop tracks, it's clear that many of your favorite rappers and producers fucked with The Purple One heavy.

Today, in remembering what Prince meant to the world, we take a glance at some of the classic rap tracks that sample him. From a signature guitar wail to one sung word, his material has been a treasure trove of funk, hits, and style that helped ignite some of the illest rappers to show up and show out. Rest in beats, Prince.

2Pac – “To Live And Die In L.A.”

Prince Song Used: “Do Me, Baby”

'Pac is said to have been a huge Prince fan; E.D.I. told XXL that “A lot of people don't know that 'Pac was a big Prince fan. He fucked with Prince. If you listened to a lot of 'Pac's shit, he sampled Prince in different ways.” “To Live And Die In L.A.,” from Pac's Makaveli album The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, contains an interpolation of Prince's “Do Me, Baby,” from his fourth album Controversy, sped up and replayed with live guitar and drums. Prince is the perfect funky backdrop for a true Los Angeles anthem.

Arrested Development – “Tennessee”

Prince Song Used: “Alphabet St.”

Arrested Development's smash hit “Tennessee” features a tiny sample of Prince singing “Tennessee” on Lovesexy's “Alphabet St.” It's small, but it's used throughout the song, and was reportedly not cleared at the time. As the story goes, Prince decided to charge Arrested Development a one-time payment of $100,000 for the use of his voice after “Tennessee” blew up, instead of getting a songwriting credit. Speech, the lead rhymer of Arrested Development, told Atlanta that Prince essentially cut them a huge break. “In those days, when you had a [hit] throughout the nation, we made way more than that, so we paid it. But he waited for the very moment it went down the charts, and only once it went down, did we get the call. I think that was a testimony to his savvy and how he thought. Nonetheless, when we did meet up, he was a fan, and had respected what we had done.”

MC Lyte – “Paper Thin”

Prince Song Used: “17 Days”

If you listen to these two songs back to back carefully, you can hear that the distorted guitar loop in the beginning of “17 Days” is slowed down and roughed up for Lyte's classic single “Paper Thin.” It's also a testament to how hip-hop tracks were spliced together back in the day, as the Prince loop was used along with samples of Al Green, Earth, Wind & Fire, and even a hint of Ray Charles. The Prince sample adds a level of aggression that's perfect for the venom Lyte spit on the mic, though.

Public Enemy – “Brothers Gonna Work It Out”

Prince Song Used: “Let's Go Crazy”

Public Enemy and their production team The Bomb Squad were known for creating a chaotic wall of sound that borrowed from a number of samples and sources. On Fear of a Black Planet's iconic single “Brothers Gonna Work It Out,” mixed in with a litany of samples from Roy Ayers, Sly & The Family Stone, James Brown, and George Clinton (among many others), is a snippet of Prince's iconic guitar solo from Purple Rain's “Let's Go Crazy.” Prince's intense guitar workout adds to the overall mania of the track.

Jay Z ft. Pharrell – “Excuse Me Miss”

Prince Song Used: “Walk Don't Walk”

With Hov talking about wanting to get grown and sexy on the Pharrell-assisted “Excuse Me Miss,” it made sense that they borrowed a percussive drum loop from Prince's “Walk Don't Walk,” taken from the vainglorious Diamonds & Pearls album. It was a Neptunes production, and the duo didn't just let that foundation linger on its own: There are all kinds of signature Chad & Pharrell keyboards over it. But when you play the intros to the two tracks side-by-side? The similarities are there, and so is the magic.

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