How do you end an incredible year for rap music? By talking about beef.
Rap beefs in 2017 ran the gamut from hilarity to curiosity. Remy Ma came out of nowhere with “ShETHER,” challenging Nicki Minaj and her status in the game. Young Dolph and Yo Gotti, two Memphis heavyweights, have moved past their beef and thankfully so; it escalated to Dolph getting shot earlier this year. And for East Coast rap heads, the idea of Cam’ron and Mase exchanging diss tracks in 2017 is a dream match-up come true.
More recently, there have been tensions brewing between former friends XXXTentacion and Ski Mask the Slump God. Azealia Banks is always out here doing the most on social media and reigniting beefs. Then there’s Drake and Meek Mill, but the 6 God decided to officially end their feud in a freestyle over Jay-Z’s “Family Feud.” Just when you think the year will start off calm and friendly, rappers always seem to have something to settle.
So, which one was your favorite? We asked New Yorkers to tell us theirs and you’ll be surprised to hear some of their answers.
Longevity is the enemy of the internet. We are living in a whirlwind, a news cycle constantly destroying itself in the search for new material. It's as true in music as it is anywhere else, and to stay relevant, you have to bring something new.
ASAP Mob understood this from the beginning. They first started making noise in New York in 2006, welcoming a steady stream of new members who brought their own sauce to the group. ASAP Twelvyy joined shortly thereafter, and by the time ASAP Rocky signed a multimillion dollar deal in 2011, the plan was in motion—year after year, the group has targeted and dominated a new corner of the music market. By 2017, Twelvyy had cemented himself as one of the Mob's most reliable members. But due to some scrapped plans and Yams' untimely death in 2015, he had yet to release a solo project.
That all changed this past August with the arrival of 12. In 2014, ASAP Yams called it “the best NY rap album in years,” and he wasn't far off. It's a dense, fiery collection of songs that simultaneously embraces the past and future in true ASAP fashion, especially on the Phantogram-sampling “Diamonds” and the murky aggression of “A Glorious Death.” Features from Ferg, Rocky, Joey Badass, Flatbush Zombies, and the rest of the Mob ensure 12 as a decidedly East Coast family affair, but the production is often as modern and forward-thinking as anything else out.
Through it all, Twelvyy plays the ringmaster—it would be easy to get lost in so many big names, but now Twevlyy is one of them. We caught up with the Harlem-born rapper to take it back to the start, and hear how he plans to give back to the neighborhood that raised him. “There were days I didn't have anything but music to listen to,” Twelvyy says. “Right now, I'm still trying to figure out what success is… I still have a long way to go. I wanna help. I wanna help for real, because a lot of people get, but they don't give… Or they give, but they give in the wrong way.”
Watch our Who Is? with Twelvyy above, and listen to 12 below.
By now, you’ve probably heard someone mention the upcoming solar eclipse. While many of us don't pay much attention to the astronomical developments of our time, this one, my friends, is the eclipse of the century.
If you’re looking for a quick catch-up or a last-minute refresher, here’s everything you need to know.
What in the world is a solar eclipse?
It’s when the moon passes between the sun and earth, thus blocking part or all of the sun for a time.
How rare is this?
We haven’t been able to see one from the States since Feb. 1979. It’s even rarer for one to be visible from coast to coast. The last time that happened was June 1918. So, yeah—it’s a big deal.
How long will it last?
It will take approximately 90 minutes for the eclipse to cross through the country. No one will see the totality of the eclipse for longer than three minutes.
When is this thing going down?
Monday, beginning at approximately 10:15 a.m. on the West Coast, and ending at approximately 2:50 p.m. on the East Coast.
Will it look the same for all states?
Nope. Most states will experience a partial eclipse. Fourteen states will experience a total eclipse, where the entire sun is blocked by the moon for a time. These states are: Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
How do I know what it will look like and what time it will come through my area?
Some have cautioned drivers to stay off the roads during the eclipse. At the very least, make sure you have your headlights on and, if you are going to be on the roads, follow this advice to be prepared. Don’t look at the sun during the eclipse, even if the moon is partially blocking it, as this can seriously damage your eyes. If you want to watch it, you need to buy some fancy eclipse sunglasses.
Can I watch it online?
Yes you can, my Millennial friend. NASA will have a livestream and even an eclipse pre-show, which begins at noon EST Monday. Follow the stream here.
For the first time, R. Kelly has personally addressed last week’s allegations that claim he is holding women in an “abusive cult” in his homes. In a short video posted to TMZ on Friday, the R&B singer speaks directly to the camera, ensuring fans that his three upcoming East Coast shows in Virginia Beach, VA, Baltimore, MD, and White Plains, NY are still on.
“I just want to let my fans know, despite all of the crap y'all hearing, I will be coming to the East Coast to do my show,” Kelly said. “And believe me y’all, it’s a bunch of crap.”
The allegations came as a result of a BuzzFeed News investigation published on July 17 that claimed R. Kelly is keeping multiple women in his home and controlling their every move, including their sex lives. R. Kelly’s lawyer released a statement on behalf of her client, which said “Mr. Robert Kelly is both alarmed and disturbed by the recent revelations attributed to him,” adding that he “will work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name.”
More fuel was added to the fire when one of the women allegedly held against her will spoke to TMZ: Jocelyn Savage, 21, denied the accusations. “I’m not being brainwashed or anything like that,” Savage said. “I just want everybody to know—my parents and everybody in the world—that I am totally fine. I’m happy where I’m at, and everything is okay with me.” She also pleaded with her father, who was one of the main sources in the original BuzzFeed News report, to “stop embarrassing” her. But her father, Timothy, released a video of his own in response. He likened R. Kelly’s relationship to the women to slavery, and suggested that the FBI has been investigating the situation. He also claimed that some of the relationships in question began when the women were under the age of 18.
As of now, R. Kelly seems to be more worried about ticket sales than going to jail. But considering how serious the claims against him are, there's no doubt we haven’t seen the last of this case.
In the episode, Diddy reminisces on the Air Force 1s he wore in the famous “Mo Money Mo Problems” music video and says that he picked out the sneakers to give East Coast hip-hop a definitive look. He also talked about him and the Notorious B.I.G. buying 20 pairs of sneakers at a time to look fresh on tour. Diddy goes on to reveal in the episode that he's been approached by Jordan Brand and Gucci to make sneakers for Biggie and hints that there might be projects on the way. In the end, Diddy spends over $4,000 on Jordans, Nike SB Dunks, and Chuck Taylors.
The rapper's publicist released a statement on his death, citing complications stemming from his lifelong battle with sickle cell anemia.
It is with extreme sadness and disbelief that we confirm the death of our dear friend Albert Johnson, better known to millions of fans as Prodigy of legendary NY rap duo Mobb Deep. Prodigy was hospitalized a few days ago in Vegas after a Mobb Deep performance for complications caused by a sickle cell anemia crisis. As most of his fans know, Prodigy battled the disease since birth. The exact causes of death have yet to be determined. We would like to thank everyone for respecting the family's privacy at this time.
Several prominent members of the Queens hip-hop community took to social media to share the news—and their condolences—on Tuesday afternoon, with Nas and his younger brother Jungle sharing posts on Instagram within minutes of one another.
A post shared by Jungleqb (@jungleqb) on Jun 20, 2017 at 10:42am PDT
Best known by the average fan as one half of the group responsible for the classic rap record, “Shook Ones Pt. II,” Prodigy was part of countless New York posse cuts and a key figure in the “golden age” of rap in the mid-90s. Thanks to the strength of beloved albums like The Infamous and Hell on Earth, Mobb Deep was at the forefront of New York hip-hop during its most prominent era, standing alongside giants like Nas, the Notorious B.I.G., Wu Tang Clan, and others.
As part of the city's vanguard, Prodigy was a key figure in the East Coast vs. West Coast battle that overtook hip-hop for the better part of a decade. Along with his partner Havoc, he joined Capone-N-Noreaga and Tragedy Khadafi in the West Coast diss track, “L.A. L.A.,” released just shortly before 2Pac was released from prison. Prodigy's battle with sickle cell anemia later became public knowledge after it was brought up by 2Pac multiple times during their war of words, most notably on “Hit 'Em Up.”
The rapper was forced into a brief hiatus from music due to a stint in prison relating to a gun-possession charge. He would go on to release an autobiography, My Infamous Life: The Autobiography of Mobb Deep's Prodigy, before immersing himself in hip-hop once again. More recently, he was responsible for writing a prison cookbook titled Commissary Kitchen, in which he shared his path to staying healthy while being behind bars. The book has since been banned in all prisons within the state of California.
On Monday night, the 18-year-old actor/musician/K-Pop star wannabe showed up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art rocking an all-black look accessorized with Louis Vuitton jewelry, boots, grills, and his old hair.
Yup, Jaden’s dreads are back. Just weeks after his dad, Will, cut off his hair, the multi-hyphenate stepped on to the Met Gala red carpet clutching the blond locks. It was definitely one of the most talked-about looks of the night, attracting a wide range of reactions.
I think Jaden Smith carrying his cut-off hair in his hands as an accessory wins the avant-garde prize of the #metgala night so far.
“I feel like people are kind of confused about gender norms. I feel like people don’t really get it,” he told British GQ in 2016. “I’m not saying that I get it, I’m just saying that I’ve never seen any distinction. I don’t see man clothes and woman clothes, I just see scared people and comfortable people.”
Late last week Florida rapper XXXTentacion—whose real name is Jahseh Onfroy—was released from jail in his home state after pleading no contest to charges of home invasion and aggravated battery with a firearm. These charges stem from a November 2015 incident in which he allegedly entered the home of Che Thomas and robbed him at gunpoint. The deal to withhold adjudication of the charges essentially means that the disposition of the crimes he is charged with committing will be suspended, provided he successfully completes a six-year probationary period under court mandated conditions. Among a series of requirements, the probation order states that Onfroy will not violate any law, possess a firearm or weapon, associate with any persons engaged in criminal activity, or visit places where drugs are used. If he manages to complete this strict probation, the charges will effectively disappear and Onfroy’s record will be clear.
This status is what many judges view as a logical compromise to keep young, sometimes first-time defendants out of jail and give them an opportunity to restore their behavior. At 19, however, Onfroy’s future may already have been decided on another set of pending charges that will land him back in court in just a few weeks. He’s set to begin trial on May 1 for charges stemming from an October 6, 2016 incident in which Onfroy allegedly strangled and battered his pregnant ex-girlfriend to the point where “both eyes became shut and the victim could not see.”
The prosecution appears to have ample evidence, including multiple affidavits of witnesses, 51 pages of medical records which presumably support the victim’s claims, and incriminating audio recordings of the defendant.
In an interview from prison with XXL earlier this year, Onfroy stated there was “no evidence in both cases,” and that the victim is “lying and scamming the fuck out of everybody.” The prosecution, however, appears to have ample evidence, including multiple affidavits of witnesses, 51 pages of medical records which presumably support the victim’s claims, and incriminating audio recordings of the defendant. Pitchfork reported in February that the records also include images of injuries allegedly perpetrated by Onfroy. In a recording of a phone call he made from jail, Onfroy claims that the girl was “jumped,” and that she she was never pregnant.
Nevertheless, the detail of her disputed pregnancy is not germane to the case and the evidence appears to suggest a pattern of abuse beyond the October incident. Moreover, the mere fact that this case has gotten this far is likely a testament to the strength of the evidence in that regard. Many, if not most, domestic violence charges dissipate before trial. Factors such as the sensitive relationship between the perpetrator and the victim and/or witnesses, and sometimes lack of nonverbal evidence often hamstring prosecutors. Even some of the cases with detailed evidence fail to reach trial, as plea bargains are an overwhelmingly preferred compromise in the face of a high risk trial.
At trial, Onfroy faces a minimum of 21 months and a max of 15 years in prison if convicted of aggravated battery. If he is found guilty of all other charges, he faces up to 30 years in total. Although it is unlikely that he will serve all of this time, given the breadth of evidence at play and his fairly well-documented reputation for violence, he will have a tough time convincing a jury he is not guilty. And even if he does, he still faces six years in which he will have to keep his record exceptionally clean; truly a tough bar for any 19 year old.
Among the most striking features of Onfroy’s public approach to the ordeal is his casual approach to violence and his constant denigration of his ex-girlfriend on social media. This has incited aggression within his followers; she continues to be publicly harassed on Twitter by fans and his Reddit community harbors discussions highlighting the misogynistic undertones of this case. Women victims in domestic violence situations face an excruciating uphill battle in being believed and protected from further consequences. Regardless of the details of any case, domestic violence allegations, particularly ones like these, should be taken incredibly seriously. A victim has little to gain by following through with the harrowing judicial process; she obtains no monetary damages and the process risks unmasking of intimate personal details and forces her to relive her trauma regularly. Fans are often willing to excuse behavior by their idols—but the costs of doing so in this case and in similar domestic violence cases are indisputable.
While awaiting trial, Onfroy may already already be feeling some of the fallout of his reputation. Last week, rumors circulated that Onfroy had signed to Atlantic, but they were quickly shot down by his management. It wouldn’t be surprising if he was receiving major label interest at this stage; with over 665,000 followers on SoundCloud, he already has surpassed the attention that many major label acts drum up in the first few months. Atlantic is already home to Kodak Black, another young Florida rapper who, with Atlantic’s legal and moral support was initially offered a deal to “withhold adjudication” and is now awaiting trial on domestic violence charges. Perhaps labels are waiting to see how his trial plays out, or perhaps they aren’t yet truly interested. As Migos’ Offset put it earlier this week, commenting on XXXTentacion’s allegations that Drake bit his flow, “We ain’t even heard of you, shorty. Get your ass out of jail.”
Over the last 15 years or so, there have been dozens and dozens of rappers who have compared themselves to 2Pac in various ways in their songs. This roundup from 2015 illustrates how everyone from Chief Keef and Eminem to Lil B and Lil Wayne have found a way to work one of the most influential rappers of all time into their lyrics.
But there have also been a handful of rappers in recent years who have taken things a step further. Rather than simply name-dropping 2Pac on a song as a way to compare themselves to him, they’ve actually gone on the record during interviews and concerts and told the world that they believe they are spitting images of Pac. Most recently, Troy Ave called his career the “second coming” of 2Pac during an interview with The Breakfast Club.
A post shared by The Breakfast Club (@breakfastclubam) on Apr 5, 2017 at 6:06am PDT
“I go in the motherf*cking clubs and n*ggas going crazy,” he said. “In the clubs, in the streets, where they’re playing all the f*cking trap music and all type of sh*t, n*ggas go crazy. 'Oh sh*t, that’s Troy Ave.' N*gga, it’s the second coming of 2Pac. It’s NewPac.”
NewPac? Most people on social media panned that comparison immediately and told Troy that he is not in any way, shape, or form like 2Pac.
I can't remember the last time Troy Ave made a hit… on any radio station for that matter to say he's the next Tupac. That's disrespectful
You would think that, at this point, rappers would realize that comparing themselves to a rap legend like 2Pac is going to be met with ridicule. But that hasn’t stopped some of them from doing the same thing Troy just did. Here are several other rappers who have compared themselves to Pac in recent years.
What He Said: “It is the most significant return from incarceration that the game has had since [2Pac's All Eyez on Me]. Just given the enormous success of that project, everyone’s expecting the same results. I just want to meet the expectations, if not surpass them.” Where He Said It:Rolling Stone(2010)
When’s the last time you sat down and listened to No Mercy, the album T.I. was referencing in the quote above? It wasn’t his worst album, but it was no All Eyez on Me.
What He Said: “I ain’t 2Pac. I’m the new Pac.” Where He Said It:Concert (2013) Does Troy Ave know “New Pac” already exists?
What He Said: “When we’re standing face to face, you know who you’re talking to. You know you see me as a Gemini creator of 2014. You know you’re looking in the face of Miles Davis. You know you’re looking in the face of Lauryn Hill. You know you’re looking in the face of Pac. You know you’re looking in the face of Biggie. You know you’re looking in the face of Prince. You know you’re looking in the face of every Gemini creator.” Where He Said It:Concert (2014)
In fairness to Kanye, he was trying to make a point about SNL creator and producer Lorne Michaels and some jokes that were made at his expense. We think he made that point loud and clear.
What He Said: “Nobody in this game got my credentials. Just me and Pac. As far as Hov, Hov is a businessman. Me and Pac is more so on revolutionary leadership. Hov, that’s my G. I respect anything he do. But he’s a boss. He makes boss moves. Me and Pac, we always on the ground level, trying to motivate and inspire.” Where He Said It:Hot 97 (2014)
If you’re going to compare yourself to 2Pac, this is probably the way to do it. Jeezy hasn’t had quite the impact 2Pac did, but we can see what he was going for here.
What He Said: “I don’t think they’ll replace me now. Already my face is in the hearts of people who really love hip-hop music, and the culture’s growing to the point where you have people from all walks of life choosing it for their personal pleasure. So it’s already there. I don’t think it’s going to take me being killed to compare me to Biggie or 2Pac. I am immortal.” Where He Said It:The Guardian (2014)
50’s recent output doesn’t put him in the same category as B.I.G. and Pac. But he will likely go down as one of the more important figures in rap when it’s all said and done.
What He Said: “I only like people to know what I want them to know. People didn’t know what Tupac was doing. That’s why he was so iconic. Before [the internet], it was real superstars…I don’t engage with people that much. You can’t base your life off waking up every morning like, 'What are people saying about me now?' Then I’d never stay in my creative headspace.” Where He Said It:DuJour (2016)
Reminder: Tyga also once referred to 2Pac as “Dad” on Twitter.
What He Said: “I already know I’m a better rapper than 2Pac is. That’s just facts. One on one battle, I’ll flame Pac.” Where He Said It:Genius (2017) Joey Badass didn’t just compare himself to 2Pac once. He also doubled down on his comparison on Twitter later and said he was “referring to rap skill.”
Just one week after listing the 1996 BMW 750iL that carried Tupac Shakur on the night he was fatally shot on the Las Vegas strip, an auction house has announced the sale of the GMC Suburban carrying Notorious B.I.G. the night he was fatally shot. The timing of the dueling auctions does not appear to be a coincidence, as the Moments In Time auction house provided a letter written by the former owner of the now infamous Sports Utility Vehicle.
“I read you were selling Tupac’s BMW and wondered if you would be interested in selling our car,” wrote the former vehicle owners.
According to the owners, the 1997 GMC Suburban carries over 100,000 miles and has been restored after being riddled with bullets March 9, 1997. The owners of the vehicle explained learning the truck was involved in B.I.G.’s murder only after being contacted by LAPD detectives to use the vehicle as evidence.
Former friends Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac were linked in both life and death. What would later be deemed an “East Coast versus West Coast” feud by some media outlets peaked when Tupac took several verbal jabs at Notorious B.I.G. and Sean Combsduring the 1995 Source Awards. Things continued with allegations of Tupac sleeping with B.I.G.’s estranged wife Faith Evans and diss songs such as “Hit ’Em Up” and “Toss It Up.”
Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur died less than six months apart in murders that remain unsolved. The simultaneous auction of the two vehicles involved in both murders could likely raise questions about profiting from what is widely believed to be a feud that turned deadly.