Interview: Westside Gunn Talks Foresight, Sacrifice & Legacy: "Give Me My Roses"

Buffalo, NY – Much like fashion, music comes in waves — and often goes full circle. While the genre’s history is full of iconic figures that made an impact, there is only a handful that shifted culture, and even fewer that have managed to do so on the level of Buffalo Caesar, Westside Gunn.

Turning his back on mainstream politics, the Griselda mastermind rejuvenated the raw Hip Hop sound of yesteryear — simultaneously shattering the culture’s invisible age border —and created a music empire without the support of television or radio. Not to mention the impact he’s had on modern-day vinyl culture, creating digital sales demand likened most closely to the more alluring sneaker drops of the past decade.

With a deep catalog that can be held up amongst the most consistent in Hip Hop’s timeline, and entering his last year as a rapper, he is only weeks away from the release of Griselda’s official major-label debut, What Would Chine Gun Do? (seven years removed from his first project, Hitler Wears Hermès).

While he plans to go out with a blast in 2020, hanging up his mic is poised to only accentuate the pure brilliance of West: his over the top business acumen.

In conversation with HipHopDX, it becomes clear how intensely methodical his success to date has been.

“It was my duty to change the whole landscape of this shit,” West says. “That’s what people don’t understand.”

As he explains the change, he points to the symbolism he embedded into the artwork of his seminal cult-classic, Flygod — which depicts an animated, younger WSG wearing a crown of thorns (an allusion to Christ).

“It’s deeper than people think,” he says. “Flygod is like the second coming of Hip Hop. I’m making sacrifices and bringing it back to where it needs to be … I’m putting everything on my back so that it can be smoother for people coming after me.

“Check the blueprint,” he adds. “This was all planned.”

Much like the stories of Christ, he notes, people didn’t immediately see the vision, which was incredibly vivid in his mind. “I already knew it was going to be the same as the story of Jesus … nobody’s going to believe it,” he says with a laugh. “Next thing you know, I gotta turn the water to champagne to make these niggas believe me.”

To hear him recount his thought process off the rip is quite similar to uncovering vintage videos of Steve Jobs describing what would become Google.

Still, being signed to both Shady Records and Roc Nation, it’s harder than ever to deny him. It’s not far off to make allusions to the career paths of JAY-Z and fellow Eminem signee 50 Cent in terms of the grandeur of their movements.

West, in contrast, isn’t flipping platinum success into other avenues of revenue. Every move is in tandem, organically fitting into each other like Balenciaga patterned LEGO blocks. More impressively, everything up to this point has been Griselda — and done under his watchful eye.

“I had to rap on DJ Premier and drive a Maybach … I rhymed with MF DOOM while driving a Lamborghini,” he says. “I had to rap on a fucking Pete Rock beat and go shop at TV Johnny. I don’t have a song on the radio or a song in the club. I don’t have a video on TV. I’m showing you it can be done.

“Every legend you can think of has co-signed,” he adds, noting that he doesn’t have any dream features left on his list.

“I’m in the middle of Times Square. I brought you Conway. I brought you Benny … I brought you a whole new fucking wave of music,” he adds. “I sold out vinyl when motherfuckers weren’t even thinking about selling vinyl — selling $2,000 records man . I’ve done it all. I’ve got nothing else to prove. Nothing.”

It’s a unique position to be in, considering he’s (in many ways) just getting started. He describes Hitler Wears Hermès 7 as the beginning of the next phase of his career — a stage that’s set to see him make his mark outside of music. Though it’s something he’s been doing since Griselda’s inception, it will ultimately become his legacy.

With the continued growth of his merch lines — including 4th Rope — and most recently his involvement with House Of Glory, he’s more than sowed the seeds for diversified generational wealth.

But the most significant accomplishment, he says, is Westside Gunn Day in his hometown of Buffalo. Though it’s early and there’s a lot of upcoming milestones ahead of it, he says it’s going to be something the residents of the city will never forget.

“It’s going to be a legendary day,” he says. “Something that the city has never seen before. Something fun for everybody. I don’t even have to think about it yet … but I could already guarantee out my mouth that it’s going to be a day that people will always remember.

“People will look forward to it every single year. We’ll get started with a bang … the city man, they need to see it. So you know, I’m going to give them that.”

West’s aura and confidence are infectious; if he were to tell you he was going to build a spaceship, there’s little reason not to believe him.

The number of artists able to sustain themselves and provide better for their families based on the trail Westside Gunn has blazed is multiplying continually. Given the trajectory of the industry, it’s likely that he’ll be remembered (in hindsight) as one of this generation’s more significant figures.

But hindsight isn’t West’s style.

With his team’s Shady debut finally set to drop, Flygod is letting it be known that he (humbleness aside) he wants his presence to be appreciated while he’s able to bask in the glory.

“I gotta make these fools give me my roses while I can smell them,” he says with a chuckle. “They don’t want to … but I’m going to make them.”

This interview is part one of a two-part series.

Vivica A. Fox Disses The Thought Of A ‘Set It Off’ Remake

Vivica A. Fox is not a fan of Issa Rae’s forthcoming remake of the 1996 cult classic film Set It Off

When asked about her thoughts on Rae’s reimagining on Entertainment Tonight Fox spurned the idea. “Leave it alone, there’s absolutely no reason to try to re-do it,” she said. “It’s been done and we did it so well that people are absolutely going to compare it to that and I think that’s her taking on a tremendous chore because that film has become a cult classic and some things are just better left.” 

The original Set It Off, directed by F. Gary Gray, took in a hefty $41 million gross on a $9 million budget at the box office. In the film, Vivica A. Fox, Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, and Kimberly Elise star as four best friends who embark on a journey robbing banks successfully around the Los Angeles area.

Fox continued with her thoughts of remaking the film, and reboots in general, advising the actress to tap into the creative juices she’s shown on her hit show Insecure. “If you want to do a new film of girls robbing banks, create your own thing,” Fox says in the clip. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it if they do something that goes into the next chapter of the story. It’s when they try to recreate it and it’s already been done and that magic’s been captured in a bottle. It’s very hard to capture that.”   

Check out the interview in full above. 

Lauryn Hill Returns With 1st Solo Song In 5 Years ‘Guarding The Gates’

While Lauryn Hill has stayed busy touring for the 20th anniversary of The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill, she hasn’t released a proper solo album since, well, The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill. 

But on Friday (November 15), the ex-Fugees member dropped ” Guarding The Gates,” her first solo single since 2014’s “Black Rage,” which she dedicated to the people of Ferguson, Missouri after Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer.

“Guarding The Gates” comes from the soundtrack for the Lena Waithe-scripted film Queen & Slim, which features the breakout star from Get Out Daniel Kaluuya and newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith.

The trailer for the film featured music from The Pharcyde and the soundtrack itself boasts music from Vince Staples, Megan Thee Stallion and Blood Orange, among others.

Queen & Slim hit theaters nationwide on November 27.

Revisit the trailer below and check out Hill’s song above.

 

Clockenflap Hong Kong Music Festival Canceled as Violence Escalates

Organizers of the Clockenflap music festival, which is Hong Kong’s largest, announced that they are cancelling the event, citing the increase in the violence in the city because of the ongoing political protests.

The festival was to take place on November 22-24.

In conjunction with the announcement, the festival organizers issued the following statement: “Due to the escalation of the crisis this week, and therefore the uncertainty this creates for the coming weeks, Clockenflap 2019 will be cancelled. Until this week we were fully committed to delivering the festival. Unfortunately the situation has now made this impossible.”

Established in 2005, Clockenflap has grown to be not only the largest music festival in Hong Kong but also one of the biggest throughout Asia. In addition to over 50 local acts, this year’s festival was to include the following performers:

  • Mumford and Sons
  • Halsey
  • Lil Pump
  • Bombay Bicycle Club
  • David Boring
  • Kevin Kaho Tsui

Clockenflap is not the first music festival in Hong Kong to be canceled because of the protests.

Last month, Rolling Loud Hong Kong also for the very same reason. Other event cancellations have included the CineAsia film industry conference and trade show, the Asia Video Summit and the Hong Kong Tennis Open. The tennis event was scheduled to take place in Victoria Park, which has been one of the meeting points of the protests.

The protests began about 5 months ago, in response to a new law that would have given the mainland Chinese government the ability to extradite criminal suspects from the enclave, which has enjoyed great autonomy since being returned to China from the British a few decades earlier.

While the law was eventually withdrawn, the protests and ensuing violence have only risen. Recently, all schools in the city, including universities, have closed, and clashes between protesters and police have gotten even more intense.

Teyana Taylor’s Lap Dance Has Tammy Rivera Questioning Her Sexuality: Watch

Teyana Taylor is known for whipping out her lap dance moves during her performances making the crowd and any given individual in the chair go wild. The latest lap dance Teyana showcased for her fans was for Tammy Rivera during her Atlanta show and needless to say, Waka Flocka‘s wife enjoyed every moment it. 

Teyana Taylor's Lap Dance Has Tammy Rivera Questioning Her Sexuality: Watch
Bennett Raglin/Getty s

In the clip below, you can see Tammy laid out on a bed while Teyana does the damn thing on top her body. “@teyanataylor show was amazing! y’all don’t wanna miss her next one! She make me wanna #PlayWithaBitchToo,” Tammy captioned an image to Instagram, prompting Waka to comment: “O fucking really.”

Teyana previously opened up about her beloved show trick, making it clear that it’s all apart her job. “I’m very pressional, and after every lapdance anybody I’ve ever given a lapdance to, it’s never been anything more than that,” she said. “I’m very like, ‘Lapdance. Alright, on to the next song.’ It ain’t no kiki-ing. Next record. This s**t is a job. It’s a job and I think that people don’t understand that. But when you’re passionate about your job, and you’re passionate about entertaining people and this is your show, it is what it is.”

Tinashe Leaves Little To The Imagination In Latest "Songs About You" Album Teaser

Last night Tinashe came through for her adoring fans when she shared the album cover and full tracklist for her upcoming album called Songs For You. The 15-track fering boasts features from 6LACK, Ms Banks and G-Eazy and will arrive in full on November 21st as an independent artist, not confined to certain restraints a label.

Tinashe has popped up again with yet another visual teaser for her album that sees a close-up image from her project’s photoshoot. The “2 On” singer is posed in a black bralette that leaves little to the imagination. “NASHE,” she captioned the image. 

Another share on Tinashe’s feed is accompanied by a caption that makes it very clear that this album is about someone in particular. “All these Songs For You, baby… (You know who you are),” she wrote. 

Before the release Tinshe’s album info, she shared an intimate video that showcased some behind the scenes moments the album’s creation with a personal voiceover her thoughts. “All the time I feel so authentic with my life and somehow people still don’t understand me. They don’t understand what I’m about. They don’t understand how I move…..They say, ‘Who are you? Who are you? Who are you?’ Which is f*cking weird to me because I know exactly who I am.”

Who’s ready?

Antonio Brown Hits Colin Kaepernick With An Offer He Can’t Refuse

Colin Kaepernick will be embarking on a huge opportunity Saturday as he heads to Atlanta for a private workout in front NFL teams. Kaepernick is trying to get himself back into the NFL and this will be a huge event that could give him the opportunity to do just that. It remains to be seen if anyone actually signs him but considering how many teams are in need a quarterback, you really never know. 

Antonio Brown is currently in a similar situation to Kaepernick although for entirely different reasons. Kap will be in need some receivers for his workout and Brown is now throwing his hat into the ring. In a recent post to Instagram, Brown asked Kaepernick if he would be interested in having Brown be at the workout.

Kaepernick didn’t reply to the post, at least not publically. This private workout is already eliciting a ton publicity and having AB there would probably turn it into a bit circus that the league just isn’t ready to go through with yet. As NFL fans, we can only hope that this actually happens because it would truly be an interesting sight to behold.

Who knows, maybe these two will both be back in the league next season.

Wu-Tang Clan Show Love & Celebrate Ol Dirty Bastard’s Birthday

People really do need to understand that Wu-Tang Forever is more than a slogan. Since venturing onto the scene in the early nineties, the New York collective have cemented themselves as cultural staples well beyond the world music. And while many have come to revere their discography, the bond between the group extends beyond the booth. When they lost Ol’ Dirty Bastard in 2004, the Clan moved to preserve his memory in a timeless fashion, a tradition that carries on to this day. 

Wu-Tang Clan Show Love & Celebrate Ol Dirty Bastard's Birthday

Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty s

On what would have been Dirty’s fifty-first birthday, The Clan took to Instagram to show some love to the fallen warrior. “Happy physical king ASON ! Love you,” writes Raekwon, alongside a vintage ODB pic. “Happy Physical Lord … I’m sure Your Causing a Ruckus In The Heavens… MISS YOU TREMENDOUSLY,” writes Ghostface, calling back to the Wu’s habit bringing the motherfuc*ing ruckus. RZA shared a classy pic the loveable Dirty Bastard, repurposing the Clan’s mantra: “ODB forever!!!”

Happy birthday to ODB! Be sure to show some love to Dirt McGirt, raising your Wu-Tang banners accordingly. 

Jerry Jones: Dallas Cowboys Not Interested In Colin Kaepernick’s Workout

Colin Kaepernick will hold a private workout for NFL teams in Atlanta on Saturday as he look to finally get back into the NFL for the first time since 2017. On Thursday, the NFL announced 11 teams had already committed to attend the event, which will include on-field drills conducted by former Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson, as well an interview session.

The Dallas Cowboys were not one those 11 teams and although some reports suggested that they would be sending someone to attend the workout, team owner Jerry Jones says there’s no truth to that.

During an appearance on 105.3 FM The Fan on Friday morning, Jones was informed reports that the Cowboys would be in attendance.

“That’s not correct, we’re not going to have anybody there,” said Jones. “Those are taped, and we’ll look at the tape if we need information there.”

“We really like where we are with our quarterbacks,” he added. “We’ve got some very young quarterbacks, and that’s the way we think to bring anything up behind Dak is to do it with the young ones like we’re doing.”

The 11 teams that have already confirmed their attendance include Arizona, Atlanta, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Miami, New England, New York Giants, New York Jets, Tampa Bay and Washington. Kaepernick has not yet spoken about the forthcoming workout but he did take to twitter to say that he’s been ready and waiting for this moment for the last three years.

“I’m just getting word from my representatives that the NFL league fice reached out to them about a workout in Atlanta on Saturday. I’ve been in shape and ready for this for 3 years, can’t wait to see the head coaches and GMs on Saturday.”

Suge Knight "Arranged" For Tupac & Biggie To Be Killed, Actor Told FBI: Report

It’s been over two decades and the murders Tupac and Biggie are still unsolved. Each year, new information comes out on who murdered the rappers while conspiracy theories waft through the Internet. Suge Knight’s son even suggested that Tupac was alive before retracting his statement.

Suge Knight "Arranged" For Tupac & Biggie To Be Killed, Actor Told FBI: Report
Actor Tom Sizemore. (Ethan Miller/Getty s)

The latest revelation, according to The Sun, comes from a statement made by Black Hawk Down actor Tom Sizemore who told the FBI that he would wear a wire to prove Suge Knight, who he recounted meeting Knight once before at an AA meeting, arranged to have Tupac and Biggie killed. Apparently, Tom Sizemore told the FBI he had met with a gang member who tipped him f about Suge’s involvement in the rap stars’ murders. Sizemore reportedly had connections to another gang member who had more information on Suge’s involvement and said that he’d pass their number to the FBI. 

“Sizemore will wear a wire or provide any information to help solve the Biggie Smalls murder,” the paperwork reads. It was retrieved by producer Don Sikorski who used the files for research on the film City Of Lies that revolves around the deaths both Biggie and Tupac. 

“There is a lot information out there about this case but I think these documents really tell a huge story,” Sikorski said. “When I was researching this case I found it very disenchanting because at the end the day someone is dead – which is Biggie – and these documents exist but no one has seemed to care enough to look into them or put them out there into the public.”

Young Money’s Mack Maine Responds To Omarion’s Former "Business" Problems

Yesterday we posted about Omarion’s VladTV interview where the B2K singer opened up about his short time with Young Money records. Omarion cut ties with the label after Lil Wayne simply wouldn’t cash his check and give him his signing advance. “Basically, long story short, what happened was when I signed my deal I was supposed to get my advance. And the lawyers were talking, and basically, upon signing you’re supposed to get the advance in a specific time. Within that time, my check didn’t come,” Omarion explained.  

The “Ice Box” singer said he chatted with Lil Wayne and Young Money president Mack Maine but still didn’t get his cut forcing him to leave. Mack has since responded to the interview on Twitter, shedding light on the whole situation and kind- confirming that the story is true.

“10 years since “Bedrock” dropped? Wowwwww Crazy story I don’t think has ever been told the original version was a song called “Way She Walk” with Omarion on the hook. We signed Omarion to YM for like a week and that’s another story,” he wrote. 

Mack even revealed more about the creation “Bedrock” and how Neyo submitted and verse but Lloyd‘s won the placement. 

Even Omarion put his name in the hat and submitted a verse that Mack still remembers to this day. “Omarion version? His version was dope would’ve still been a hit! I still remember it word for word… 10 years later!” he wrote.

Ms. Lauryn Hill Returns with New Song ‘Guarding the Gates’

The Queen & Slim soundtrack arrives today featuring a new song from Ms. Lauryn Hill.

The Fugees icon contributes the soulful standout “Guarding the Gates,” which plays during the closing credits of the Melina Matsoukas-directed film. Hill has been performing the song for years during her live shows, but this is the first time it has been available on streaming services.

“Don’t you wish you had real love? / I know you do / Yes, I’m in love,” she sings on the 6-minute track. “What a tragedy / You can laugh at me, but I’m in love.”

Queen & Slim: The Soundtrack also features new music from Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Baby, Vince Staples, The-Dream, and Burna Boy, among others. The film, which was written and co-produced by Lena Waithe and scored by Devonté Hynes, stars Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith as a young couple who flees the law after Kaluuya’s character kills a police officer. It hits theaters Nov. 27.

Ms. Hill hasn’t released a proper studio album since her groundbreaking 1998 debut The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. In August, she was featured on Pusha-T’s single “Coming Home.”

Stream the Queen & Slim soundtrack below.


Kanye West’s Sunday Service At Joel Osteen’s Church Expected To Pack The House

Houston, TX – It’s not uncommon for church services to feature a guest speaker, but Kanye West is bringing more than a few friends along for his guest appearance at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas this weekend.

Celebrity pastor and leader of the megachurch Joel Osteen invited Kanye to speak with him at the pulpit about his renewed faith on Sunday morning (November 17). The 11 a.m. CST service is expected to draw a large crowd, but it’s the evening concert featuring Kanye’s gospel choir that has church staff on high alert.

According to TMZ, Lakewood Church is taking precautions to avoid all-out chaos in anticipation of the enormous crowds expected to show up for Kanye’s Sunday Service, which is being hosted at the megachurch later that evening.

The staff at Osteen’s church have reached out to Ticketmaster to help manage the number of expected attendees for the nighttime service. On Friday (November 15), 45,000 tickets will be made available at TicketMaster.com for anyone who wants to come to see Kanye’s gospel choir perform in person.

There’s no cost to get a blessed seat at the event, but the tickets are strictly first come, first serve.

Although Kanye is speaking with Osteen at Lakewood’s 11 a.m. service, only the evening service is ticketed. Ye’s choir isn’t booked for the morning service, but the church is still taking precautions to make sure the audience is manageable.

Lakewood will seat the first 45,000 people to arrive on Sunday morning and is also preparing to make use of their overflow rooms — just in case.

For fans who can’t make it to Houston to see Ye and his Sunday Service Choir, both services will be streamed live on SiriusXM’s Joel Osteen Radio Channel 128.

Big Sean’s XXX-Rated Verse On Jhené Aiko’s “None Of Your Concern” Makes Twitter Explode

Jhené Aiko enlisted her ex-boyfriend Big Sean for her new single “None Of Your Concern” — but that’s not even the most surprising part. Sean Don’s verse features graphic details about the former couple’s life, which evidently Aiko didn’t seem to mind.

“But every time I lay down I think about you naked,” he raps. “And if you find my replacement, how could you?/I made you cum nine times in one day/Your two lips should come in a vase, you rode my face.

“I realize you look as good as you taste, hmm (Yeah)/Fingers all in your mouth, I’m grabbin’ you up and dickin’ you down/I’m grabbin’ your waist, your room is my only escape, I guess that’s none of you concern.” 

Aiko and Sean dated for roughly two years but called it quits in 2018. Last November, Aiko appeared at an event wearing a sleeveless dress and the massive Big Sean tattoo she once paraded on the back of her arm was noticeably missing.

However, in the wake of Nipsey Hussle’s death, Aiko insisted she still loved Sean “beyond measure.” Apparently, she loves him enough to allow him to grace her track and discuss such intimate moments — and Twitter naturally took notice.

On Friday (November 15), Big Sean became a trending topic after fans couldn’t believe what they were hearing. Many also wondered if a new Twenty88 album could be in the works.

Check out some of the reactions below.

NGHTMRE & Gunna Team Up For Slow-Burner Banger ‘CASH COW’ Video

Coming fresh from a buzzworthy collaboration with Young Thug and Travis Scott, Gunna has linked up with electronic dance music producer NGHTMRE for the enthralling new single and video for “CASH COW.”

NGHTMRE has a history of venturing into Hip Hop. This past year, he’s teamed up with high profile rappers such as Lil Jon and A$AP Ferg. He tells HipHopDX since he grew up in the South, he has always felt highly influenced by the Atlanta scene. In regards to joining forces with Gunna, he stated, “Working with someone as dope as Gunna in the studio was a dream come true for me. Working to create something he really loved was a fun process.”

After listening to the beat, Gunna wrote all of his verses during a single flash of creativity.

This single caps off a momentous year for the Atlanta rapper. Back in February, Gunna released the well-received Drip or Down 2 and he’s recently worked with chart-topping artists such as Chris Brown, Jacquees, French Montana and Moneybagg Yo.

Watch the “CASH COW” video above and follow @nghtmre on Instagram.