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Tee Grizzley

Who is Tee Grizzley? The Detroit rapper whose life changed on his ‘First Day Out’

Tee Grizzley is a 23-year-old rapper out the West Side of Detroit who exploded overnight in 2017 with his breakout hit “First Day Out”.

The song was literally recorded and released the day the rapper was released from prison. “First Day Out” took off and was able to garner two million views within a couple of weeks and currently has 43 million plays on YouTube.

It didn’t hurt that LeBron uploaded an Instagram video of him singing all the words to Tee’s hit song while working out (the day after the Cavs lost to the Warriors in last year’s NBA Finals), which tripled the song’s sales. So how did a kid who had everything going against him rise from the bottom and become a success?

Tee Grizzley grew up in the Joy Road area of Detroit. Mainly raised by his grandmother, when Tee Grizzley was coming up as a youngin’, he was exposed to the street life — drugs addicts, alcoholics, drug dealers, and constant violence.

He was never really involved in gang life as a kid and stayed on the right path for the most of his life. However, Tee’s mother and father were in and out of the prison a lot when he was young.

Grizz started getting into music in elementary school after being inspired by his uncles who put him on to hip-hop and rappers from his city. In middle school he even started his own group called the All Stars Ball Hard with three of his homies.

He went by the name ASBH Tee and the group frequently posted songs on YouTube.

In 2011, Tee’s mother was sentenced to 15 years in prison for drug trafficking and his father was was murdered one year later.

Despite all of these trials and tribulations Tee was able to become the first person in his family to attend college at Michigan State University, where he studied accounting and finance. However, after running into some money problems during his freshman year, he decided he had to make some extra cash.

Tee Grizzley was arrested for an attempted robbery at a jewelry store in Lexington, Kentucky. A customer in the store ended up pulling a gun on the Detroit rapper and held them there until the cops came.

He was also sentenced to 18 months to 15 years for a series of robberies at Hubbard Mall at Michigan State University that occurred in February 2014. He is permanently banned from Michigan State University campus in Lansing, although he did make amends with some of his victims by paying them their cash back on IG.

It was in prison that the Detroit rapper was given the name Tee Grizzley while he was imprisoned. He explained,

“That’s what people was calling me in there because I let my beard grow out, my dreads was wild, I was in there acting crazy. Working out, getting real big, just acting a grizzly in there.”  

Tee Grizzley’s imprisonment left him with a lot of spare time, which he spent reading and enlightening himself about the world. He talked to people in prison who had life sentences and learned valuable lessons from them. It was here the Tee Grizzley was able to write the lyrics for the song “First Day Out”.

On October 16, 2016, he was released from Michigan prison and he released “First Day Out” that day. The song details the struggles Grizzley faced throughout his life, especially being in and out of the prison system and finally making it out for good.

Dreams Don’t Have Deadlines 🐻🙏🏾

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He talks about how people switched up on him once got locked up and how they are hitting him up now that he has become famous. The song definitely has a similar vibe to Meek Mill’s hit song “Dreams and Nightmares”.

“First Day Out” has been well received by the public and celebrities alike. From one song alone, Grizz received cosigns from Chris Brown, Trey Songz, LeBron James, and Jay-Z.

Chris Brown and Trey Songz brought out Tee Grizzley to perform at the Joe Louis Arena last year and the crowd went absolutely crazy. There’s no doubt the dude is a star.

He can also thank LeBron for getting his song to the next level. Once people heard him singing over the lyrics, they had to find out what that track was and sure enough that’s the boy Tee Grizzley. He told TMZ during the height of his glo up,

“LeBron James has tripled my song sales after his gym session.”

LeBron’s cosign was exactly what Grizzley needed to catapult his song to the top of the charts.

Tee Grizzley also received a cosign from a true legend in the rap game, Jay-Z.

Hov tweeted about the Detroit artist saying that Tee Grizzley inspired the creation of 4:44.  

Jay even talked about Grizz in an interview saying,

“I hear his music and I believe his story, people don’t realize how difficult that is, you can put words together and that’s fine but there a million zillion words out there you can make up any story but when someone story resonates with you that’s hard to do. You can’t just rap about this fantastic tale of like foreigns and I jump on a plane.”

To get a cosign from any established artist in the industry today is an achievement in itself but to get the respect of Hov speaks volumes of Tee Grizzley’s talent and promise for the future.

Tee Grizzley has already released an album called My Moment and others singles “From the D to the A” and “Second Day Out”, which all go hard. If you haven’t listened to them go check them out on any music streaming service.

Pretty much all of his tracks bang and he even has a collab tape with Lil Durk, called Bloodas, that’s straight fire. We can’t wait to hear what Tee drops in 2018.

Kevin Gates is a free man: Why he’s one of hip-hop’s most essential artists

On Wednesday, Baton Rouge rapper Kevin Gates was released from an Illinois state prison where he’s been incarcerated since April on weapons charges.

Kevin Gates has been one of the most intriguing and enigmatic talents in hip-hop since he emerged out of Louisiana in the mid-2000s. Gates’ music is a compelling mix of trappy Southern hip-hop, rap rock riffs, massive peaking choruses, and emotive bittersweet ballads.

Much has been made of the blurring of the lines between rock, rap, and emo in the last year or so. This trend has been felt mostly in hip-hop, where countless artists like Lil Peep, Lil Uzi Vert, Trippie Redd, even Post Malone, are making music that doesn’t just blend genres, but shatters them entirely.

Kevin Gates, 31, is older than these other artists, there’s less Good Charlotte and more Limp Bizkit in his music. While that statement could seem like a critique not long ago, the new wave of genre-defying hip-hop has refined the super corny era of late 1990s rap rock into something much more fascinating.

Gates’ discography is a wild, diverse collection, including ballads like “Hard For” from 2016’s extremely impressive Islah.

Kevin Gates sings gently to his partner in his syrupy drawl that “You the only one that my dick can get hard for” and it’s somehow not ridiculous… it’s even kind of romantic.

“Really Really”, also off Islah is a triumphant tour de force of rap maximalism. Gates is a master of the hook, his voice thunders above the blaring organs, and “Really Really” is as perfect a chorus that you’ll hear.

Another Gates classic is “2 Phones”, I mean how can you not wil’ out to that chorus?

Or the exultant “I Don’t Get Tired” from 2014’s Luca Brasi 2: Gangsta Grillz.

His latest project, By Any Means 2, released in September while Gates was behind bars and compiled by his wife and manager, was a clear indication that nothing can really stop Gates from leaving his imprint on the game.

By Any Means 2 is vintage Gates. Going from the grimy as fuck “No Love” and “McGyver”, which are Gates’ version of contemporary Bayou-infused Southern rap to R&B ballads like “Beautiful Scars” and “D U Down”.

“Had To” is another of Gates’ massive choruses, sounding like he’s singing from some higher level, his voice has this sense of levitation, bringing the listener up to his level.

For as hard as some of Gates’ more street oriented tracks, like “Had To”, are, his trap ballads make him a truly special and individual artist.

“Fuckin Right” and “D U Down” are pretty explicit, but when Gates sings “That ass is from Houston but that mouth from Chicago” it’s somehow endearingly tender.

And “D U Down” ist some top class buttery R&B.

Gates has a variety of styles, but his lyrical content has massive range as well. From pugnacious bars about serving to sappy, if not ultra-explicit, love songs to rapping about his demons, Gates can do it all.

On “Beautiful Scars” with PnB Rock, Gates raps about his complex interiority:

“In the game going hard, I been misused
Fucked up in the brain, got some issues”

The track is so enjoyable and Gates’ flow so confident that you almost miss the fact that he’s writing about his mental health, a subject he’s been open about before.

In a 2013 interview with HipHopDX, Gates spoke about his battles with depression and using music as an outlet:

“I really deal with depression. I really, really deal with depression. And my only release is making music and getting tattoos. So, I’m not the type of artist that the label has to say, ‘Hey Kevin, you need to be in the studio.’ Nah, you don’t have to tell me that, I’m gonna be there. And I don’t approach things like I’m working on a project.”

It’s clear that Kevin Gates is an artist with unlimited depth, he’s got some issues to work on, both mental and legal, but he’s an invaluable part of modern hip-hop.

Here’s hoping to his long-lasting freedom and some more boundless music.

Are record labels calling projects ‘mixtapes’ to avoid paying producers?

The streaming age of music has turned the industry on top of its head. Because retail is digital and artists can deliver music directly to the consumer’s ears, we’re starting to see albums classified differently.

Though a studio albums, Drake and Future’s W.A.T.T.B.A  and Drake’s If Your Reading Thus It’s Too Late were considered a “mixtapes”. Similarly, Drizzy’s very next compilation of songs, More Life, was not your traditional album either, but a “playlist”.

Well, Wiz Khalifa’s producer E. Dan, in an interview with BeatStars, expounded on why label heads are not opposed to this trend.

According to the the long-time producer, Atlantic Records didn’t compensate him fairly for his six production credits on the Pittsburgh rapper’s 2016 “compilation album” Khalifa.

“They came up with some really clever name that essentially meant… Everyone involved, you’re going to get paid half what you normally do… I’ve seen it happen often over the last few years.”

As Twitter caught wind of the interview, more producers began recounting similar stories.

DJ Burn One wrote that RCA employed similar tactics with A$AP Rocky’s Live. Love. A$AP mixtape. And Metro Boomin, who’s been vocal about Atlantics’s misdealings, tuned added that it’s been happening with labels across the industry and suggested a union be formed in their stead.

If 2017 has taught us anything it’s in the importance of the producer in hip-hop.

Metro Boomin released four joint studio albums with artist from Big Sean to Gucci Mane last year alone as a DJ/producer — the first feat I’ve seen by a producer ever — which will only open doors for more like him.

This kind of transparency from artist — or producers for that matter — are able to get this kind of recognition due to the digital age’s fast flow of information, and one can only hope that it puts the pressure of labels to do the right thing.

At 7 years old, ‘MBDTF’ shows Kanye at his most defiant and most masterful

On November 22, 2017 Kanye West released My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, a perfect album of maximalist production, ridiculous brags, and a rolodex of the biggest artists in contemporary music.

It is perhaps Kanye’s greatest work to date. Kanye aesthetes disagree over what is Kanye’s best album, ranking West’s albums has become the subject of debate in and of itself. Some may appreciate the naïveté of College Dropout, the ‘real hip-hop’ artistry of Late Registration, the seminal sadboy record 808’s and Heartbreaks, or the dystopian Yeezus. But Twisted Fantasy is quite simply a flawless record.

It is Kanye’s magnum opus, crafted during a self-imposed exile in Hawaii, working alongside artists and producers inspiring his work and creative process. Kanye is a true post-modern artist, jamming together different aesthetics and styles in collage. His vision is always unified and concrete, but the way he achieves that vision is through a tour of different forms of art.

Only Kanye West could sample The Turles, King Crimson, Gil Scott-Heron, James Brown, and Aphex Twin on one album.

Kanye West GIF by David - Find & Share on GIPHY

Pusha T said of Kanye’s work in the studio,

“We could easily be working on one song, thinking we’re in a mode, and he’ll hear a sound from someone like [producer] Jeff Bhasker and immediately turn his whole attention to that sound and go through his mental Rolodex to where that sound belongs on his album, and then it goes straight to that song, immediately. Now, mind you, his album is a collage of sounds. It has one consistent theme, but you really have to be some type of weirdo to be able to do that. It’s like turning on the drop of a dime, in a car. A Maybach on a two-lane highway making a fucking U-turn.”

Kanye is indeed some type of weirdo and Twisted Fantasy is the ultimate representation of one of the most fascinating and mercurial artists in modern music.

From the outset of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye weaves his story of contemptuous celebrity, simultaneously anomic and boastful. He’s pissed off by fame and power, but he also wants you to know how that he’s also the greatest, but there’s discontents in being the best.

Kanye raps some of his most poignant bars of his career on “Gorgeous”,

“And what’s a black Beatle anyway, a fucking roach?
I guess that’s why they got me sitting in fucking coach”

This is Kanye at his most Kanye. He’s eloquent, sentimental, and petty all at the same time.

MBDTF is the album that most explains Kanye’s art and his goals with his art. Everything about the album rollout, the production, the features, the accompanying album artwork and short film is meticulously crafted, revealing Ye’s obsessive focus on his work.

There’s the “Runaway” film that Kanye directed with writing help from music video titan Hype Williams.

For the album artwork, Kanye enlisted visual artist George Condo. The pair listened to MBDTF together and Condo came up with a series of five designs. They settled upon the drawing of a Black man (Kanye) being straddled by a white sphinx without arms and a monstrous face as the final artwork for the album.

Condo told Vulture about the sphinx straddling West:

“She’s a kind of fragment, between a sphinx, a phoenix, a haunting ghost, a harpy. And then Kanye is also in some sort of strange 1970s burned-out back room of a Chicago blues club having a beer — so far away from the real Kanye West that it’s just a scream… I was challenging him with the imagery as well. He said, ‘I’m shocked, but I like it, and I gotta go with my gut feeling.'”

Perhaps Kanye’s greatest skill is not his own musical ability, but what he’s able to draw out of the artists he works with. This is the case with Williams and Condo, each artist doing some of the most evocative work of their careers alongside West.

It is also true of the musicians that appear on MBDTF. Never has Pusha T sounded so furious, so spurious, and raw as when he raps over the metronomic keys of “Runaway”.

“Monster” shows Nicki Minaj rapping like she’s never rapped before, or since. This was 2010, Nicki Minaj hadn’t reached the soaring heights of her now illustrious career.

Her verse on “Monster” became a sort of certification, from both Kanye and hip-hop as a whole. (We don’t need to talk about Jay-Z’s verse on “Monster”.)

Has Chris Rock ever been funnier than his monologue at the end of “Blame Game”?

Rick Ross on “Devil In A New Dress” briefly left his own rotund body and became rap royalty in his verse. It is one of the greatest verses in contemporary rap music.

Just recently, Ross spoke at ComplexCon and described going to Kanye with his initial verse for “Devil In A New Dress”, but Ye encouraged him to keep working on it:

“When I recorded that verse for the first time, he came in, heard it and he told me he thought I could do better and he walked out. And then I wrote another one and the second verse I wrote is the one you hear on the album which a lot of people consider one of Rozay best verses. Shout out to Yeezy.”

This is a testament to Kanye’s perfectionism. The fact that he’s able to get so much out of the artists he surrounds himself with, the fact that they’re willing to bend and manipulate their own processes for Kanye, trusting in his vision.

But the ultimate gift of MBDTF is the production. This record sounds like no other hip-hop record ever made.

There’s the apocalyptic maximalism of “POWER”.

The growling production of “Monster”.

The twinkling, haunting keys of “Runaway”.

The throbbing synths of “Hell Of A Life”.

The sprawling “Lost In The World”.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy may not be your favorite Kanye album, but it is unequivocally his best. It is the ultimate representation of post-modern hip-hop, and it displays an artist in full control of his abilities and able to guide those he works alongside to elevate their own art.

Yeezy taught us well.

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

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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.


Key! is your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper, so why hasn’t he blown up?

Key! is the rapper that perhaps best embodies the “New Atlanta” era of minimalism and weirdness.

With stripped down production and a nontraditional delivery, Key! is one of the most recognizable rappers in the game… and I have no idea why he hasn’t blown up yet.

Most of this may be due to his own actions.

In 2009 Key! started the collective Two-9 along with Curtis Williams. But when new management came in and things started to become more business oriented, Key! dipped on Two-9 to do his own thing.

He told Creative Loafing back in 2014 that he saw how Two-9 was changing and wanted to break out,

“The more organized and the more known we got other people started coming in and trying to control it. To me, that’s what it looked like… I have thing about old people coming in and trying to buy something new to keep their money going. Initially, it’s for the older person to get back where they was when they were booming.”

But it’s not a personal thing, Key! is still “Two-9 forever” and he was as happy as anyone when Two-9 signed to Mike Will Made-It’s Eardrummer Records.

This seems like somewhat of a theme with Key!, he’s constantly put himself in interesting situations seemingly on the verge of stardom, only to sort of hijack the situation if it’s not up to his standards.

Watch me come to life

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There’s a lot of honor in that, but it’s possible that it’s hampered his rise slightly.

Take his beef with OG Maco. The pair of post-modern rappers teamed up for the bonkers Give Em Hell EP in 2014. Key! refused to take part in the video for “U Guessed It” because as he told Alex Russell for Complex in 2014, “Man I don’t even like that song… well I like my verse.”

The Key!-less “U Guessed It” video now has over 57 million views on YouTube.

Maco and Key! started throwing shots back and forth, and Key! told Russell that his relationship with a co-worker doesn’t have to be friendly,

“I called him I was like, ‘Ay bruh, everything cool, let’s do what we got to do for this tape. But personally, I can’t rock with you.’ He was like, ‘What don’t you like, bro?’ You know, it’s just like if we work at McDonald’s and I don’t like my co-worker.”

On the surface that makes sense. OG Maco would release a diss track aimed at Key! called “Fat F-ck” but then they made “Street Fighter” together so who knows. And while that video and EP earned OG Maco a record deal, it’s been a minute since we heard anything from Maco.

The “U Guessed It” video is perhaps a microcosm of Key!’s career thus far. He seems to know everyone in the Atlanta hip-hop scene. He’s a good friend of former OVO signee iLovemakkonen, he’s collaborated with Awful Records but never signed to them.

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Key! was of the first artists to feature Playboi Carti and Key! has now popped up all over the new A$AP Mob album, but he’s not officially signed to the Mob.

It’s like he refuses to ride anyone else’s wave even if it would benefit him.

It’s clear that there’s a lot of rappers riding Key!’s wave and biting his style.

His laidback, almost stream of consciousness flow, full of random adlibs (“HELLO?”) has been copied repeatedly.

A$AP Twelvyy told XXL about Key!’s influence on his own music and how Yams told him about Key! years ago,

“Fatman Key is a part of the A$AP Mob. He is one of the illest musicians ever and when I started really listening to him I started getting the confidence to make any kind of music I want so shout out to Key. He’s a leader. He had his own wave in Atlanta years ago. Yams was telling me about Key! years ago.

Twelvyy went on to say that Key! is A$AP Mob’s version of Kevin Durant,

“He’s kind of like our KD, you feel me? Key be in the studio like, ‘What y’all doing, stop playing!’ I love Key. Key that’s the battery in my back… Everybody else on [the Vol. 2] is just A$AP Mob.”

This kind of praise from Twelvyy is not rare. It’s a sentiment shared by many in the game, A$AP Ant declared Key! “the hardest out.”

There’s something about Key!’s delivery and general presentation that’s just sort of magnetic.

Take, for instance, the “Look At Wrist” video. It’s a one-take video shot in a bedroom with Father and iLovemakonnen and when the shot pans to Key! for the third verse he just looks at the camera smoking a cigarette playing with two phones.

He doesn’t lip sync along to his verse because apparently, as he told Russell, “we didn’t know the words to that shit!”

Key! just doesn’t really seem to give a fuck about anyone else’s opinion, he’s going to do whatever he wants and what he thinks is best for him.

It’s cool to see A$AP Mob fucking with him and putting him on multiple tracks off Cozy Tapes Vol. 2 alongside artists like Gucci Mane and Rocky. Surely this will get some new recognition for Key! within more mainstream circles.

Maybe Key! is just too weird for the super-mainstream. But one way or another this dude is gonna blow up, lord knows your favorite rapper is already biting him.

metro boomin

How Metro Boomin became the most trusted hitmaker in hip-hop

If you’ve listened to hip-hop in the last three years, you’ve heard Metro Boomin’s beats ringing from your speakers.

He’s produced for Gucci Mane, Future, Migos, Kanye West, Drake, The Weeknd, Yo Gotti, and more.

You’ve heard the beats, you’ve heard the hits, and you’ve heard his tag, “If young Metro don’t trust you I’m gon’ shoot you.”

This (slightly threatening) producer tag has become more than just another beatmaker marking their territory; it’s entered the pop culture lexicon, become a meme, and a stamp of guaranteed quality.

The St. Louis native explained the origin of the now famous producer tag (provided by Future) to DJ Drama:

“I’ve been using that as a tag in beats since about August [2015]. ‘Jumpman,’ before the song was recorded, that beat already said that. We had did this one with Uncle Murda one time, and one of the lines that Future said in there was, ‘If young Metro don’t trust you, I’m gon’ shoot you.’ When he said that, it had a different tone, but I remember when we were in the studio he had another tone, which is the one that’s the tag that was just like muted. I just made sure to go back on the session and just get it and just go HAM with it.”

Future and Metro really shaping the culture.

These last couple years have proved that if Metro supplied the beat, basically anyone could rap over it and it’d still be a hit.

Now he’s launching his own record label, Boominati Records, before his 25th birthday.

At 23 years old, the sky is the limit for Metro Boomin. We’ll be watching his moves closely over the next couple years.

tyler, the creator

The Transformation of Tyler, The Creator: From Bastard to Flower Boy

The yellows sing “Hello” and the burnt oranges invite you in with a hug.

Layering over the moody sky — whose color gradient drips from the honey oat heavens to the Mountains’ indigo tips — are larger-than-life bees, accenting the sunflowers and conveniently covering the face of the scum fuck himself.

From the intricate detailing of the pin-dot sized Maclaren to whatever the hell Tyler is looking at, there is a stark difference in the cover art of Tyler, the Creator’s Scum Fuck Flower Boy. But there is more than what meets the eye.

Tracking back to 2009, it seems as if Tyler has intentionally used his two year per release method to give himself time to grow.

The blood-red album cover and creepy class picture that his debut mixtape, Bastard, gave us a forever classic and how can we forget Goblin? The only thing darker than his pitch black eyes and title of the album is the upside down cross on his forehead.

Image result for tyler bastard                        Goblin-1-

But then we saw a shift.

Right on time, two years following Goblin, Tyler released Wolf. Not only was it softer than the two previous album titles, for the first time, the album cover was visually palatable for ages under eight years old. Two years later and you have Cherry Bomb (arguably Tyler’s most experimental project).

Again, not intimidating at all. You have soft blues and an animated head for what seems to be a healing Tyler.

Related image                      Image result for tyler cherry bomb album cover

From reds to blues and slightly less triggering title names, it wouldn’t be farfetched by any stretch of the imagination to guess that the 19-year-old’s life went through a metamorphosis almost a decade later, now leading to Flower Boy. 

He said it best himself on the opening track of Bastard: “I’m not a fucking role model I’m a 19-year-old fucking emotional coaster with pipe dreams.” And when you listened to his music you could tell he wasn’t lying.

From his flippant use of the word f****t, to lyrics denouncing his father, it’s almost as if Tyler was following an Eminem rap how-to with a lot of his earlier stuff. Take Yonkers, for example.

The video, which brought Tyler to the forefront of hip-hop’s consciousness, besides dissing Bruno Mars, Haley Williams, B.o.B., and even Jesus Christ, features him hanging himself and eating a cockroach. 90 million views and a Kanye co-sign later, a star was born.

Between the Pharrell-inspired production, brash, diary-spilling lyrics and intentionally offensive bravado, the OFWGKTA sound was cemented in all Tyler knew and felt. I don’t think shock value was his intention. Rather, the aggressive and hate-filled bars were his way of letting out the pain.

The California native, son of an American mother and absent Nigerian father, went through emotionally difficult times, like all of us, discovering who we are. Only, Tyler has the creativity to paint it with his words. No matter how deep the snarl.

“Love? I don’t get none, that’s why I’m so hostile to the kids that get some
My father called me to tell me he loved me
I’d have a better chance of getting Taylor Swift to fuck me”

Although still battling demons (the newest being the death of his Grandmother), Wolf really was the first time you could tell, through his music, that Tyler began accepting who he was. Tracks like “Answer”, “Treehome95”, “Lone” and “Slater”, while still showcasing his patented high-energy sound and jaw-dropping lyrics, offered much softer tones and mellowed out cuts.

I mean, at this point Tyler was creeping on his mid-twenties and was also successful in establishing himself outside of music. His fashion brand Golf Wang, his music festival Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival, and his television show Loiter Squad just scratch the surface of Tyler’s creative ambitions and he was actually living them out.

You get to Cherry Bomb and you can almost feel the liberation. It’s the first time you hear Tyler use rock elements musically and you even catch him talking his shit. Joints like “Find Your Wings” and “2Seater” are almost like final products of the jazz/instrumental feel that he’s been toying with since Bastard and displays a composing side that is far beyond any his peers. He even goes bar for bar with both Lil Wayne and Kanye West and references his dad once the entire album —  a personal best for him.

Image result for scum fuck flower child

Leading up to Flower Boy, his fifth studio album, you get the sense that Tyler is in a different headspace. While the single “Who Dat Boy” is vintage Tyler, counter culture anti-trap, “Boredom”, “911”, and “Garden Boy” have an openness that purity that you only found in spurts in the past efforts.

When you listen to the album, it’s as the cover implies: radiant, purposeful, and cohesive. It seems like all the therapy sessions that took place on the Bastard and Goblin paid off. Here Tyler is spilling his guts in a way that makes you want to sit down and hear it all.

Peep “Garden Shed”:

“Truth is, since you, kid, I thought it was a phase
Thought it would be like the Frank ‘poof, gone’
But it’s still going on”

Is Tyler toying with the idea of his sexuality? Is this a confession? Artistically crafted, Tyler brilliantly shows that, among an being entrepreneur, provocateur, and actor, he is a musician first, showing songwriting skills and production touches that already put the project in the upper tier of work put out this year.

Now 26, Tyler isn’t the same kid who eats cockroaches. He’s becoming more confident in his vocals, he’s becoming more comfortable wearing his loud colors — he’s becoming more himself.

As tempting as it can be, we can’t really deem this effort a classic or not. What we can do, though, is appreciate growth. The growth we as fans rarely allow artists to have.

jimmy iovine (left), dre (right)

How Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine built the biggest empire in music

Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre are now best known as executives that completely changed the landscape of the music business, but that wasn’t always the case.

Music was Dr. Dre’s first love growing up in Compton and he used his massive record collection as a creative outlet to avoid falling into the violence around him.

Dre’s mother Verna would host house parties and Dr. Dre, who was still a toddler, would be in charge of the music.

Verna introduced Dre to soul and funk music, laying the groundwork for a full musical education that would expand across all genres.

As a teenager, Dre became known in his neighborhood as a DJ. He would mix the old school hits he used to play at his mother’s parties with the new school hip-hop that was just starting to become popular.

That combination of genres and styles would become a Dr. Dre trademark. He’s known as the godfather of G-Funk, a subgenre of hip-hop that uses funk-inspired guitars with hip-hop percussion.

After changing hip-hop in the studio, Dre would try his hand as an executive, spotting young talent and giving them the opportunity to take off.

Jimmy Iovine went from studio janitor to engineer to rock super-producer in ridiculously quick fashion.

After his cousin Ellie Greenwich, a singer-songwriter on the NYC rock scene in the ’60s, got him a job at a local record company, Jimmy got a call on Easter Sunday asking him to come in.

There was an artist trying to work on a record and the studio needed an extra pair of hands. But in an Italian-American family, Easter Sunday isn’t just another day and Jimmy’s mother was having none of it.

Somehow Iovine escaped his house and went to the studio. The artist waiting for him? John Lennon.

Yes, Jimmy Iovine’s first work as a music engineer was with John Lennon.

After that, Jimmy worked on Bruce Springsteen’s legendary album Born to Run. Bruce would spend hours on end in the studio working to find that perfect sound. It became an obsession.

Initially, Jimmy thought Springsteen was crazy and almost quit, but after staying on and seeing the masterpiece they had created together, Iovine adopted Bruce’s single-minded mentality.

From there, Jimmy Iovine would produce for Patti Smith, U2, Stevie Nix, and some of the biggest names in rock music before moving to the boardroom.

Dre and Iovine first connected in 1992 when Dre and Suge Knight came to show Iovine The Chronic.

Iovine was floored. He and Dre had an immediate connection.

When Dre left Death Row, Iovine gave him his own company Aftermath. When the other executives at Interscope told Iovine to drop Dre because of outrage over the ‘gangsta rap’ label, Jimmy refused.

As business partners, Dre and Iovine forged the perfect partnership.

The unlikely duo of Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre went from creatives behind the scenes to executives that changed the way business and music interacted forever.