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Jaden Smith has arrived: How the son of a Prince earned hip-hop’s respect

Gold chain. Gold teeth. Gold scalp. Just as the slow-motion figure begins to gain focus, the lens snaps to a man sitting in a Tesla Model X, falcon doors ajar, casually talking on a phone one can only assume is not available to everyday people like you and me.

The word ICON flashes across the screen, heavy subwoofers and intricate hi-hats flood your ears complimented by the cry of a soul sample.

At this point, you have no choice, he has your attention.

“Icon” was the single picked to drop alongside Jaden Smith’s debut studio album, SYRE released November 16th and it’s clear why.

Much like the title of the song, the video is a proclamation. Calling yourself a living icon stems from a confidence that doesn’t develop overnight. It’s unapologetic, raw, and self-aggrandizing.

The person you see in the video — decked out in gold, sporting his own clothing line, and rapping his ass off — is not who we were introduced to in the Pursuit of Happiness, The Karate Kid or who rapped alongside Justin Bieber. This may explain why Smith elected to go with his middle name Sryre as the album title instead of Jaden.

When you watch the video for “Icon” you’re looking at someone who has come into their own. While I’m nose-to-the-screen in awe at the development, he’s delivering bars in a manner that suggests I shouldn’t be surprised at all.

As if we should have known this was coming. It’s that confidence, even more so than his rapping ability, that stands out.

Being the son of Will and Jada Smith, a child actor, and coming from money can get you almost anywhere in life, except hip-hop. Privilege doesn’t bode over well in rap. Drake still catches heat for being on a television show in his adolescence. This is why props must be given to Jaden and his freshman effort.

The 17-track, 70 minute-long offering, which took him three years to complete, has already received high praise. Besides cosigns from A$AP Rocky, Logic, Kendrick, and others in the industry, as of yesterday it debuted at number one on iTunes.

What’s dope about Jaden Smith and what can be taken away from the release and early success of SYRE is that he never stops working.

From dropping his first mixtape at the age of 14 to his joint-mixtape with Daniel D’artist back in 2015, Smith has never compromised his passion in music.

Even his contributions on other artist’s work like Post Malone’s “Lonely” and Rich the Kid’s “Like This” helped lay groundwork to cementing his place in the industry.

From top to bottom the album leaves no stone unturned, Jaden enlists his sister for harmonizations and even inserts spoken word poetry to help convey his emotions.

While he’s till figuring it out — conceptually this body of work was a bit all over the place — what Jaden has done was demand the attention of the hip-hop community. Jaden could easily be dismissed.

While his dad is beloved and has even won a Grammy, Will was never seen as a lyricist enough to be looking for it in Jaden.

There are no certainties in life. Will Smith’s money can only go so far. There are only so many strings to be pulled, eventually you’re going to have to show and prove. Jaden did more than that with SYRE. He’s achieved success not because of his parents, but in spite of them.

At only 19 years old, Jaden Smith has a campaign to reduce the amount of plastic bottles on earth, has his own record label and clothing line, and, despite the risk of completely striking out, dropped an album that is actually pretty fire. Maybe the only limits are in our heads.

People are tuning in to see what Jaden has to say simply because he’s a completely unique figure in modern art.

Jaden Smith earned his spot in hip-hop by taking his chance.

Listen to Syre below.

Peep the black culture artists doing the Obamas’ White House portraits

Barack Obama will officially go down in history as the most swagged out president to ever touch the Oval Office. To prove it, he’s having his portrait done by hip-hop portrait artist Kehinde Wiley.

President Obama really stepped out the box for this one. He and wife Michelle Obama have selected the first ever Black painters to do the presidential portrait. Michelle Obama will have her profile done by Baltimore-based painter Amy Sherald.

Normally, ex-presidents and their First Ladies have their portraits painted by artists commissioned by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

According to tradition, the last eight US presidents have employed 90-year old portrait artist Everett Raymond Kinstler.

But, the Obamas said FOH, Wiley and Sherald are too fire.

Wiley draws inspiration from classical European paintings and adds a touch of African American street culture. His style is unparalleled. The NY-based artist takes oil on canvas to another level.

 Peep Wiley’s version of “The Virgin Martyr Saint Cecilia…”

“The Virgin Martyr Saint Cecilia” 2010 oil on canvas

A post shared by Kehinde Wiley (@kehindewiley) on

This Swizz Beatz portrait he did for his Modern Kings Series

And Carmelo Anthony looking like he’s about to conquer a kingdom

Amy Sherald, 44, has a unique style. Her depictions of African American women have won her prestigious awards.

Sherald became the first African American and first woman to ever win the National Portrait Gallery’s Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.

She was chosen for the $25,000 award from among 2,500 entrants.

Sherald uses grey skin tones to depict the complexion of African Americans

New work @ Monique Meloche LES March 3 -5, 2017 #armoryweek 2 Rivington St. New York, New York

A post shared by Amy Sherald (@asherald) on

Her work speaks to you, it’s like every portrait tells a story

New works @ Monique Meloche LES March 3-5 2017 #armoryweek 2 Rivington St. NY, NY

A post shared by Amy Sherald (@asherald) on

Peep this oil and canvas

[Work in progress] #studio #art #goaldigger #oiloncanvas #painter #color #summer #beautiful #babes

A post shared by Amy Sherald (@asherald) on

The Obamas’ portraits are definitely going to bring a lot of well-deserved attention for both artists. They will be unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC next year.

Shoutouts to Michelle and Barack for going against the grain. Your individuality will forever be imprinted in the minds of people everywhere.

joey bada$$

How Joey Bada$$ and Pro Era took over underground hip-hop in five years

It’s not often that a group of kids can take over the rap game and establish themselves as one of the best crews in just five years, but that’s exactly what Pro Era has done.

Combining 90s-inspired flows, clever punch lines, and speaking on real topics, people all around the world have gravitated towards Pro Era and, like me, have been listening since 2012.

Joey Bada$$ is obviously the most known rapper in the group and blew up when he was just 15. Since then, he has been putting his whole squad on, helping his squad show their own singular talents. When Pro Era first started, it had only four people but now they have grown to over 15 members.

Drawing inspiration from greats like Biggie, who, like Pro Era, is from Brooklyn, they were also influenced by icons like Tupac. Pro Era followed current artists like J Cole and Kendrick Lamar’s rise to fame to help sculpt their own careers and follow their footsteps. These are all students of the game.

Pro Era always promotes messages of peace in their music and with the 47 symbol. The 47 symbol comes from Buddhism, signifying peace and balance. They are a very spiritual group, so you really have to listen to their lyrics to feel what they’re talking about. This is why listeners feel deeply connected with them.

In the past few years alone, they’ve really blown up. Malia Obama was even caught wearing a Pro Era shirt while Barack was still president and Secret Service was alerted. But with all the fame and recognition they don’t let any of it get to their head, constantly making quality music with more to come.

It’s crazy to think of how popular Pro Era already is and their group hasn’t even reached their peak yet. The video above shows how far they’ve come.

Sonny Digital calls for more love for producers, drops new solo track

Sonny Digital is not fuckin’ with you if you don’t give him the recognition he deserves.

He doesn’t want to just put it on for himself either. The Atlanta-based producer is looking to put it on for music mixing masters worldwide.

Late last month, Sonny took to social media and called for producers to band together everywhere and form unions.

In an Instagram post, Digital asked that rappers to respect the people behind the boards and that the industry should give them more recognition.

Peep what he had to say:

Sonny wasn’t alone, producers everywhere showed support. Flying Lotus even showed some love via Twitter.

Producers not getting any love for their work is a shame. Even though making a hit takes both the rapper and the producer working together, a rapper putting out a song with no beat would be whack as fuck.

Can you imagine Future with no Metro or Drake with no 40? Fuckin’ trash.

So what does a disgruntled producer do when his collaborators aren’t giving him the respect he deserves? He makes the fire ass beat and spits his own bars and creates his own track. Fuck a feature!

Digital got the gas. Homie dropped a fully independent single, “Look At Me Now,” on Merica’s birthday.

We’ve been waiting all month for this track to drop.

“Look At Me Now” is available everywhere. Happy Fourth! Check out the track below.

NYC announces $150 million Hip-Hop Hall of Fame Museum coming in 2018

Hip-hop has been around for almost half of a century and it is finally getting the appreciation it deserves.

Yesterday, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio dubbed June 8th Global Hip-Hop Day where true rap enthusiasts from all over helped reveal Hip-Hop Blvd at 1520 Sedgwick Ave. in the Bronx, where the genre is said to have originated.

It’s about time

The homies Ebro, Joey Bada$$, and Ryan Leslie came through for a quick panel, something light for the kids

Remy Ma was also honored at the event

June is starting out to be a great month for hip-hop.

A global day to commemorate the world-changing genre as well as the announcement of a $150M Capital Fundraising Campaign to complete acquisition of a building and development site for a Hip-Hop Hall of Fame.

The Hip-Hop Television Channel released a press release proudly announcing that the Official Hip-Hop Hall of Fame and Museum won its bid to acquire a major Harlem building and development site.

The project is expected to go through two phases. According to the press release the project is expected to open in February 2018, already has a bunch of key investors, and will enable 25,000 NYC public school students to visit per year.

JT Thompson, the creator of the first ever Hip-Hop Hall of Fame Awards TV show and Founder of the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame Museum said,

‘The preliminary plan includes a ground floor themed HHHOF café, gallery, visitors bureau, and retail gift store with a second floor HHHOF museum, event space, offices, and multi-media studio for film and television content production in partnership with the HHHOF Arts & Media Youth Academy students that will be training for careers in tech and media, while producing real-life content for the museum, and the hip hop television channel network’

Peep the sketch for this Hip Hop Hall of Fame… 2018 finna be lit