Chance the Rapper Wants to Be the ‘Mariah Carey of Thanksgiving’ in ‘SNL’ Monologue

Chance the Rapper makes his debut as a host on ‘SNL.’

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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Mariah Carey’s Ex-Choreographer Explains Why She’s Fresh Out of F*cks to Give

What can really be said about the legend, the diva, the high-note-hitting extraordinaire Mariah Carey? She’s got the voice of an angel and has been holding it down in the music industry since 1990—do you hear me? 1990. That’s 27 years. She’s had countless fine moments, and she's made history along the way; in 2008, the classic anthem of promiscuity “Touch My Body” became Carey's 18th No. 1 single on the Hot 100, making her the solo artist with the most number ones in the chart's history. Between her forever-relevant hip-hop collaborations (“Me and Mariiiiiah, go back like babies with pacifiers“), powerful ballads and monstrous pop hits, Carey's success and impact are undeniable. She also has adorable kids, whom she brought up onstage to help her sing during a recent date from her All the Hits tour with Lionel Richie.

But something ain't right these days. To keep it a buck, I'm starting to get concerned. It all started back in late December, when Mariah was tasked with performing on ABC's annual New Year's Rockin' Eve showcase. Production issues made things go horribly awry, with Mariah claiming she couldn't hear and “didn't have a sound check” for certain songs. Instead of going along with it, asking to start over, or even singing a line or two, Mariah just walked around the stage, awkwardly, until the performance finally came to an end. The last thing she said was, “It just don't get any better,” before walking off stage unceremoniously.

Technical glitches were reported on set, so most fans took the botched show with a grain of salt, with some of them even getting a few jokes off in the process. But as of late, Mariah's been a little… off. And she doesn't seem to give a shit. A few videos have surfaced on social media recently, showing the singer doing the absolute least onstage during her performances.

Someone else out there in the internet world is apparently as concerned as I am, because they took the time to make a video comparison of Mariah performing in the late '90s versus today.

Nobody is saying Mariah was serving up intricate choreography back in the day—she’s got those fucking pipes, so she technically doesn’t have to do anything but stand there and sing. (Adele does it on the regular, and you don’t hear anyone complaining.) But Mariah at least had a little shimmy in her back then. During her Vegas residency at Caesars Palace, which ran from 2015 to this summer, she was a little less fluid—which, duh, it's been more than 15 years—but she was still willing to generally move her limbs. Here she is in 2015.

So what happened? As it turns out, there might be a pretty simple reason for the change in Mariah’s recent shows. In January, almost immediately after the New Year’s Eve fiasco, Mariah fired Anthony Burrell, her now-former choreographer and creative director. In a phone conversation, Burrell said he’s been busy since then with Breaking Barriers Dance Intensive, a program in its fourth year that provides professional dance education and world-class training to youth and adult dancers in inner-city environments. (He's also been quite occupied with his role as a dancer and choreographer for Parkwood Entertainment—you know, Beyoncé's camp.) But he’s had a couple of free moments to view the recent videos of Mariah’s performances, and he’s not surprised by the dip in… we’ll call it quality of show. 

“It's just typical Mariah,” Burrell said. “Mariah is clear: when she doesn’t wanna do something, she doesn’t do it. She’s performing with lackluster and no fucks given, and it’s taking away her star.”​

As her choreographer, Burrell said he was focused on making sure Mariah was comfortable onstage as not just a singer, but an all-around performer.

 

A post shared by anthonyburrell (@anthonyburrell) on Jan 29, 2017 at 5:37pm PST

“Working with an artist like Mariah, who’s not a mover first, it’s always a challenge to get them to think physically and not just vocally,” he said. “You always have to keep in mind that they’re a singer first. The priority is not teaching them 100 counts of 8, or endless routines. I wanted to give Mariah a modern push to revamp her, give her a fresher, more modern feel, make her more aware of her body and her lines, and not look like her feet hurt when she’s walking.”

Burrell had been working alongside Mariah for four years before they parted ways in January. Throughout that time, he says, Mariah had come to trust and depend on him heavily for show design and physical awareness while performing. Now, Burrell says, there's no one guiding her, and it's showing.

“You're a legend,” Burrell said. “But you don’t care, your team doesn’t care. They’re not guiding and directing her. She’s back to where she was before. It's not like she's never looked this bad before; I just stepped her game up.”

 

A post shared by anthonyburrell (@anthonyburrell) on Dec 6, 2016 at 6:59pm PST

Burrell said that during his time in Mariah's camp, he got the sense that her team was flat-out inexperienced. “It felt like they were so new at their jobs, and had no direction,” he said. “When you’re green, you’re playing things by trial and error, and there were a lot of errors. I was very vocal about things that weren’t right. When you try to take a shortcut and you don’t know the clues, you’re bound to get fucked up or screwed, because you don’t have the experience of running a tour or a billion-dollar empire. Some of the dancers her team hired are great dancers, but they’re not choreographers or creative directors.”

Overall, though, Burrell said Mariah is a “world-class artist” and “a great person to work with.” But his experience—and his departure—definitely puts things into perspective. 

Let’s not get it twisted: I’m here for Mariah, until the day she decides to retire that crystalline voice of hers. (Well, 99% crystalline. Hey, nobody's perfect.) So are many, many of her dedicated fans, who refer to themselves as her “lambs” or “lambily.”

But as much love as there is out there for Mariah, there's no denying the fact that she's scaled back on the amount of effort she puts in onstage. Then again, Mariah's longstanding status is that of a queen. And when you're a queen, you do as you damn well please. Just don't do it at the expense of your loyal subjects, Mimi—that's all I ask.

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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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They Had A Dream: 15 Black Icons Who Paved the Way for Electronic Music

Every February, the United States celebrates Black History Month to honor black history, culture, figures and more. Black culture’s influence upon the mass culture of the United States is undeniable, especially upon the history of American music. From Muddy Waters to Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin to Mariah Carey, Marvin Gaye to Kanye West, the greatest music of the world is imbued with black culture. And, electronic music is no exception.

To honor Black History Month, Your EDM has picked 15 black icons who paved the way for electronic music. From the techno pioneers of Detroit to the house legends of Chicago, electronic music wouldn’t be where it is today without the black legends that gave it soul, rhythm and infectious beats. View our picks for 15 of the most influential black electronic musicians below:

1. Frankie Knuckles

 

Known as the Godfather of house music, Frankie Knuckles is gone but definitely not forgotten. Knuckles got his start after moving to Chicago and regularly playing at The Warehouse venue, from which the house genre earns its namesake. Knuckles’ went on to collaborate with legendary vocalist Jamie Principle, another influential black artist, for the track “Your Love,” which became one of the first-ever house tracks to be put on a physical release. Knuckles held residencies in Chicago, New York City and even in the United Kingdom. Knuckles died of complications from Type II diabetes in 2014, leaving behind an unforgettable legacy. To this day, Knuckles is regarded as one of the most important producers and DJs of all-time.

2. Juan Atkins

This list wouldn’t be a list celebrating black artists if it didn’t include The Belleville Three, the legendary trio comprising Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson. The three attended school together in Belleville, Michigan, fell in love with synthesizers and the rest is history. Atkins carved out his own special brand of techno, being a member of Cybotron, Infiniti and Channel One, as well as releasing music under the Model 500 and Model 600 pseudonyms. Atkins even taught May how to mix, and to this day lucky fans can catch Atkins spinning eclectic DJ sets. Without Atkins and his two close friends, techno wouldn’t be where it is today.

3. Carl Cox

Carl Cox is the face of many hallmarks of electronic music: tech house, techno, the art of DJing, Space Ibiza, “Oh yes, oh yes!” and so much more. His expansive career began in the 80s when he played hardcore tunes, but his style refined as he grew to prominence in the London scene and produced his own tracks. Carl Cox has gone on to accomplish so much in his career, including a whopping 15-year residency at Space Ibiza, a long-running partnership with Ultra Music Festival that just promoted him as the official ambassador to their Resistance brand, an honor as the first-ever #1 DJ for the DJ Mag top 100 poll, a gig as the resident DJ of the Essential Mix and so much more. To this day, Carl Cox continues to innovate and impact dance music as a whole.

4. DJ Pierre

The next artist on our list may be recognizable to some Daft Punk fans, as the robots chant his name during their track “Teachers” to pay their respects for his influence upon their music. But, DJ Pierre‘s influence runs much deeper; the man invented acid house. While using a Roland 303, DJ Pierre discovered a new type of sound. After playing the sounds during his live sets, he committed them to the first-ever acid house release: “Acid Tracks.” Everyone from Boys Noize to Nina Kraviz pays homage to DJ Pierre, who has gone on to release a plethora of tracks, perform countless shows and hold up a strong fist for his hometown of Chicago.

5. J Dilla

Without J Dilla, there may not have been Kaytranada, Ta-Ku, Flume, Disclosure and many others. Born in Detroit as James Dewitt Yancey, J Dilla had an early passion for music and producing. His early career accomplishments found him producing and remixing for the likes of Janet Jackson, Busta Rhymes, A Tribe Called Quest and many others. While his early releases were on major labels, his later releases targeted independent record labels, an early example of the indie releases seen in music today. While the majority of J Dilla’s productions were hip-hop oriented, his impact on dance music is huge. From Disclosure dedicating the first bit of their Essential Mix to him to Kaytranada’s remixes of his material, many dance music figures found inspiration in Dilla’s music. J Dilla died of cardiac arrest from complications of a rare blood disease at the age of 32 in 2006, but despite his death being over a decade ago,  his legacy continues to impact music as a whole.

6. Robert Hood

What happens when techno, house and gospel all come together? You get the legendary Robert Hood, a Detroit-born producer with one of the most consistent discographies of any electronic artist. Aside from his own productions, Hood was one of the founding members of the Underground Resistance group, which included Jeff Mills and Mad Mike Banks. Hood also releases music under many aliases, including FLOORPLAN— for which he DJs with his daughterr during life shows — H&M with Jeff Mills, Monobox, The Vision and much more. Hood also helped popularize minimal techno, a still powerful subgenre of underground dance music.

7. Derrick May

One of the members of the aforementioned The Belleville Three, Derrick May helped expand techno early in its development. His hit track “Strings of Life” helped not only put techno on the map, but the Detroit music scene as a whole as well. Along with releasing a steady stream of hit originals and remixes and playing multiple shows, May also tutored Detroit artists Carl Craig and Stacey Pullen, two other very influential black artists. May also produced the Detroit Electronic Music Festival in 2003 and 2004, renaming it Movement, which it is still named today.

8. Jeff Mills

One of the most enigmatic, mysterious figures in dance music, Jeff Mills is also one of the most consistent producers and performers in all electronic music history. Mills hails from Detroit and initially went by the alias The Wizard, gaining recognition after helping found the Underground Resistance group. Electronic music’s answer to Public Enemy, Underground Resistance members dressed only in ski masks and combat suits, creating protest tracks and distancing from the commercialization of techno. Mills went on to hold residencies at such clubs as the legendary Tresor nightclub in Berlin, start the Axis record label with Robert Hood and even participate in art exhibits and film projects like the documentary Man from Tomorrow. To this day, Mills headlines events, wielding a drum machine and mixers to create one-in-a-lifetime live experiences. When someone like Eminem positively references you in one of his songs, you might just go down in the history books.

9. Green Velvet/Cajmere

Curtis Jones, known by many as Green Velvet and Cajmere among his numerous aliases, is one of those rare artists that continues to remain relevant among newcomers to electronic music despite his long-running career. Examples? Such tracks as “Coffee Pot (It’s Time for the Percolator),” “Flash,” La La Land, “Lazer Beams” and many more have been played, sampled and remixed time and time again. Jones represented one of Chicago’s greatest success stories, and today his collaboration with Claude VonStroke as the duo Get Real has earned him many few fans, a rare comeback story in music. Despite going back and forth between Cajmere and Green Velvet, Jones now uses both aliases to his full advantage: Cajmere for his techno, harder-hitting tracks and sets and Green Velvet for his more radio-friendly, house inclinations. If you’re lucky to catch one of his live sets, Jones will recite some of his most famous lyrics live, a real treat for fans and listeners who may only slightly recognize those universal samples.

10. Smokin Jo

While many black males helped shape electronic music, several female producers and DJs also helped the genre grow. One of those women was Smokin Jo, a British producer and DJ who is in fact the only female to ever top the DJ Mag top 100 DJ poll. She released tracks as early as 1997, going on to host BBC Radio 1‘s weekly Essential Ibiza series from 2002 to 2006. While Smokin Joe hasn’t remained in the limelight the past few years, she did reemerge to collaborate with Nicole Moudaber in 2014, release a new track in 2015 and hold residencies in Ibiza. With the rise of female producers and DJs in house, techno and even EDM, we hope to see Smokin Joe make more of a comeback in the future.

11. Moodymann

When it comes to quality electronic music, Detroit is the gift that keeps on giving. Moodymann is one of Detroit’s greatest exports, rising to prominence in the early 2000s with a steady of stream of singles, remixes and albums. His soul, gospel-inspired sound showcased how other genres of black music could be integrated into electronic music, inspiring the likes of Claptone and other producers today. Moodymann continues to push boundaries, navigating everything from future garage to orchestra melodies in his entry to the DJ Kicks album series. His live shows themselves are near religious experiences, full of flawless mixing and choir breakdowns. When it comes to style, no one beats Moodymann.

12. Kevin Saunderson

The last but not certainly the least member of The Belleville Three, Kevin Saunderson started out as the more DJ-focused of the trio. After watching May and Atkins produce “Let’s Go,” Saunderson took to the studio, resulting in such tracks as “E-Dancer” under his E-Dancer alias, “Big Fun,” under his Inner City alias with vocalist Paris Grey, “Tranzister” and others. The Inner City group in particular found huge success in the U.S. and the U.K., with two charting albums in the U.K. and numerous charting singles in both countries that both solidified the Detroit sound in America and brought it across the pond. Saunderson’s bassline to the track “Just Want Another Chance” under his Reese alias also went on to become huge in jungle and drum and bass. Saunderson is a true innovator who is still pushing the limits today.

13. Grandmaster Flash

There may not be as huge of an innovator as Grandmaster Flash when it comes to the DJing. While more of a hip-hop figure, Grandmaster Flash’s innovation affected DJs of all types: he pioneered record scratching (used by A-Trak, DJ EZ, Craze and more), punch phrasing (heard today in numerous EDM and bass mixes), the backspin technique (the art of mixing drum breaks, a universal tool of DJing) and more. Flash went to DJ at countless parties in New York, pushing the envelope of DJing and hip-hop and directly impacting both their spikes in popularity in the 80s and onward. No DJ today can argue with Flash’s vital impact to developing the artform.

14. Carl Craig

Following the first wave of Detroit’s techno DJs and producers that included The Belleville Three and others, the second generation of the city’s techno artists revolutionized the genre even further. Carl Craig arguably best embodies the second generation of those artists, incorporating other genres such as jazz into his productions and sets. Derrick May gave him his big break as he was growing up, and much like his contemporaries he produced under several aliases. His drum and bass alias, Innerzone Orchestra, was responsible for “Bug in the Bassbin,” a hugely influential D&B track. Craig was also the co-creator of the Detroit Electronic Music Festival (now Movement) and is still involved in its organization today.

15. Larry Heard

Without Larry Heard, deep house would’ve likely never been revitalized. As house was taking off in the 80s, Heard was inspired to infuse the genre with more soul, adding in samples that gave the genre more of a human flavor. Under his most popular alias Mr. Fingers, Heard released “Can You Feel It,” one of the first deep house tracks and widely regarded as one of the best dance singles of all time. Another pioneer from Chicago, Heard, much like other legendary artists, continues to produce and perform today, showing no signs of slowing down.

This article was first published on Your EDM.
Source: They Had A Dream: 15 Black Icons Who Paved the Way for Electronic Music

Mariah Carey, Janelle Monae, Jennifer Hudson to Perform at BET Honors

Mariah Carey Janelle Monae and Jennifer Hudson will take the stage at this year’s BET Honors set to air on the network February 24th at 9 pm Billboard reports This year’s honorees include Aretha Franklin Ice Cube Motown founder Berry Gordy American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault and visual artist Carrie Mae…