Tupac’s Estate Drops "Me Against The World" 25th Anniversary Merch

Tupac Shakur’s estate is celebrating the 25th anniversary his third studio album, Me Against The World, by releasing an exclusive range merchandise. It’s been a quarter a century since the legendary late rapper dropped MATW, which he recorded and released in prison in 1995. The line includes items like vinyl copies  the critically acclaimed project, as well as three different graphic T-shirt designs and a pullover hoodie, all with the album’s tracklist emblazoned on the back. The products range from $30-$96, the latter price applying to a bundle fer for an “exclusive and limited” tan-coloured 2LP the album along with the hoodie. Everything is available for pre-order on Pac’s online store, and is expected to ship next month.

Tupac's Estate Drops "Me Against The World" 25th Anniversary MerchMichael Ochs Archives/Getty s

Me Against The World has been praised by fans and critics alike ever since it was released. The album famously marked his return to music after declaring his “retirement” due to his incarceration for a first-degree ual assault charge. Tupac on to become the first artist at the time to record and release a #1 album while imprisoned. “Me Against the World was really to show people that this is an art to me,” Pac said in an interview during his time in prison. “That I do take it like that. And whatever mistakes I make, I make out ignorance, not out disrespect to music or the art. So Me Against the World was deep, reflective. It was like a blues record. It was down-home. It was all my fears, all the things I just couldn’t sleep about. Everybody thought that I was living so well and doing so good that I wanted to explain it. And it took a whole album to get it all out. It’s explaining my lifestyle, who I am, my upbringing and everything. It talks about the streets but talks about it in a different light. There’s a song on there dedicated to mothers, just a song I wrote just for my mother. And it digs deeper like that. I just wanted to do something for all mothers. I’m proud that song. It affected a lot people.”

Migos Ad-Libs Are An Eccentric Work Of Art

With eyes pinned shut and an imaginary sub-woer in each ear, think about your favorite rap song. Now summon the words. Chances are if it’s REALLY your jam, you didn’t stop at the lyrics. I would guess that ad-libs were a big part the impromptu recital as well. This unique second layer sound serves as part sonic measure emphasis, part medallion stylistic independence. It’s ten the most enjoyable part our beloved tracks to emulate. Using their voices as an additional instrument to the production, rappers have found a host ways to put a stamp on their definitive tunes. The long-running catchphrases can even take on a body their own, penetrating the pop culture lexicon. It’s honestly crazy how the simplest words or phrases can become so synonymous with an artist.

Let’s play a game. I’ll say an ad-lib, you name the artist: 

“Okayyy!” 
“Cheeeaaa!”
“Bow!” 
“Ugh!”
“Skrt, Skrt!”

Even if you aren’t the biggest hip-hop fan, those sounds likely registered and the artist responsible immediately popped into your head. I personally have a habit sitting by myself and randomly yelling “Offset,” “Mama,” or Ice!” These are some the ad-libs we couple with the Atlanta rap group Migos. A trio who, in my opinion, took the craft to a new level beautiful obnoxiousness. Even though they’re sometimes weird and make absolutely no sense, the swagger these short outbursts is infectious. Dare I say brilliant. As a matter fact, when I’m struggling to get my point across at work, I sometimes wish the Migos ad-libs were their own dialect. I’d opt to communicate exclusively in that fashion. In modern rap, ad-libbing has become its own art form – and if you believe that to be true, Migos are the Bach, Chopin, and Beethoven the game.

Migos Ad-Libs Are An Eccentric Work Of Art

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Few groups in the last decade have influenced the rap game like Migos. From the way they dress, their over-the-top jewelry to the aforementioned ad-libs. Breaking out in 2013, the cast partially changed the style rap. Their signature flow has even been mimicked by the likes J Cole, Drake, and Kendrick Lamar. Before the meteoric rise, the three Atliens connected in 2009. All family members, they first went by the moniker Polo Club. From 2009-2012 they had several small releases but nothing that captured a national audience. It wasn’t until 2013 when they released “Versace” that the three would skyrocket up the charts and capture the hearts hip-hop enthusiasts. Here is where the “triplet flow” got famous. For those unaware, a triplet happens when three notes occur over one beat. In the Migos case, instead notes its three syllables in a given word or phrase. Baked into the triplet flow are the even more illustrious ad-libs.    

After the release Culture II, someone launched an entire interactive site dedicated to their ad-libs. On the same album, Migos managed to stuff 1,967 total ad-libs into one hour and 45 minutes. It’s an enormous part what makes them who they are. And it’s fair to say that few have perfected ad-libbing like Offset, Takef, and Quavo, who already declare their influence in rap and fashion to be legendary. 

Migos Ad-Libs Are An Eccentric Work Of Art

Shareif Ziyadat/Getty s 

Rappers are always looking for a way to distinguish themselves. Emcees have long sought to do this in a number different but equally effective ways – both on and f the microphone. Where some place their focus on lyrical content others put a premium on style, delivery, and cadence. Ad-libs have become a measured way branding and marketing the overall persona an artist. Over the past decade, there seems to have been a shift in hip-hop where artists are focusing more on style than substance. How you’re saying it is as important as what you’re saying nowadays. Ad-libbing is essentially extemporaneous improvisation. Rappers from the northeast like Jadakiss may have pioneered modern ad-libbing but the south perfected it. Just reference artists like Baby, Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane, and course Young Jeezy.

It is important to note that rap’s infancy is littered with artists that utilized ad-libbing. The Zulu Nation and Kurtis Blow were a few trailblazers worth mentioning. But digging even deeper than that, James Brown incorporated ad-libbing into his music way back in the 1970s. It could even be argued that the practice birthed from jazz, blues, and funk, genres that heavily featured elements improvisation. The early 2000s, however, saw a new era ad-libbing emerge with artists like Lil Jon at the forefront. This is the foundation Migos used to build on, carving out their own place in hip-hop history. Together, these three Atlanta rappers built on the legacy an obscure art form as no one has — or maybe ever will.

Migos Ad-Libs Are An Eccentric Work Of Art

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Why Do Rap Crews Always Fall Apart?

The modern hip-hop landscape feels like fertile ground for lone wanderers. Though it wasn’t always. There was once an era in which rap crews reigned supreme, gangs roving the game waving their own respective flags. Especially at the turn the century. Every superstar seemed to have their own loyal band. Interesting dynamics and standout members proved inevitable — all part the fun. Any hip-hop head in their late twenties can likely rattle f names like D12, G-Unit, State Property, The Lox, Bravehearts, Disturbing Tha Peace, Tha Eastsidaz, and the St. Lunatics. Some have delivered hip-hop classics; others have faded from memory.

The rap crew has been a mainstay in the game since the late eighties, since Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, MC Ren, and DJ Yella united to form NWA. Years later came Wu-Tang Clan, arguably the greatest band to ever bless the culture. The product ten emcees, disparate in styles though united in vision, the Shaolin warriors achieved commercial and critical dominance. Likewise did legendary groups like Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Three 6 Mafia have untold impact on the culture, their influence on production trends and flow-schemes evident now more than ever. Cam’ron, Mase, and Big L fought record label attention as Children Of The Corn, their movement shattered by Big L’s untimely murder. The Hot Boys, a New Orleans based collective helmed by the notorious Birdman, brought a new bounce to the table. Nas, AZ, Foxy Brown, and Nature joined Dr. Dre for The Firm, a mafioso clique that ultimately floundered under the weight expectation.

Why Do Rap Crews Always Fall Apart?

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The list goes on. To shine a spotlight on all deserving parties would require far more than a single article. But there is one interesting pattern worthy exploration, one that really came to manifest in the early millennium. The idea that a commercially successful rapper had a band little homies waiting in the wings, ready to be put on. Was it a label-fuelled movement? Perhaps; you can bet the Interscope powers that be were salivating at the thought a D12 album, especially if it didn’t impact Em’s contract as a solo artist. Business aside, the arrival a crew ten introduced new dynamics, undoubtedly fueled by a good-natured sense healthy competition. Upon listening to D12’s Devil’s Night and St Lunatics’ Free City, there’s a certain edge to both Eminem and Nelly, culminating in some their rawest and most effortlessly confident work.

Such results wouldn’t be possible without capable colleagues and standout members. For D12, it was Pro, the architect behind the Dirty Dozen’s vision; and course the gruesome Bizarre, but he’s a standout for reasons beyond technical prowess. For St-Lunatics it was the original schoolboy, Murphy Lee, the high-school prodigy who had a decent solo career in his own right. Those familiar with the group might be quick to vouch for Ali’s prowess, but Murph’s marketability gave him leverage once the crew hype faded. And in most cases, such a fate is not a matter if, but when. Sadly, rap crews ten benefit most from one illustrious centerpiece; if one the supporting players can find solo success, it’s akin to a late-game Hail Mary catch. Sometimes the buzz is so ridiculous it impacts everyone in the vicinity. It happened to Lloyd Banks, who carved his way from G-Unit’s punchline king to a respectable solo artist with a classic to his name. Young Buck found similar success in his own right, with Straight Outta Cashville serving as a respectable look for the Nashville emcee. 

Why Do Rap Crews Always Fall Apart?

 Hiroyuki Ito/Getty s

Circumstances matter. When a group arises on equal footing, as was the case when Jadakiss, Styles P, and Sheek formed The Lox in the mid-nineties, the established dynamic allowed for a smooth transition into solo waters. Especially for Kiss and Styles, who explored new artistic depths on their debut albums Kiss Tha Game Goodbye and A Gangster And A Gentleman. Such cases skew closer to the Wu-Tang model, in which no discernible skill-based leader is selected by default. It’s the reason The Lox has been able to thrive for as long as they have, despite boasting only three crew albums to their name. Same goes for the Diplomats, who formed in 1997 after the dismantling Cam’ron’s Children Of The Corn. With Cam, Jim Jones, Freekey Zeekey and later addition Juelz Santana operating on more or less equal footing, the healthy competition from within allowed each member to forge solo careers on their own merit. Sadly, tension ultimately destroyed the group from within, an inherent risk when four capable emcees move forward with no authoritative leader calling the shots. 

The rise and fall the Diplomats echoes that a newer group, the lyrical powerhouse that is Slaughterhouse. At the time their formation, Royce Da 5’9”, Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz, and Crooked I were all accomplished lyricists, despite having never sustained long term success in the mainstream. Benefitting from the combined attention their already established solo fanbases, the group was all but unburdened by the pressure breaking an artist into the mainstream. The raison d’etre was simple: strive for lyrical excellence in the spirit hip-hop tradition. Pure in theory, albeit naive: rather than pursuing the mixtape route, the group signed with Shady Records and attempted to reinvent themselves as commercially ble. In this case, it could be said that a case “too many cooks” brought upon their downfall; others might argue that ego and creative differences played a role. As this moment, their lost sophomore album Glass House remains an urban myth, forgotten until that one fateful day it leaks from the bluest ether.

Why Do Rap Crews Always Fall Apart?

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Such sharp demises are the risk when no clear group hierarchy exists. In some ways, the “little homie” model is the more sustainable option, though the ceiling is significantly lower. Look no further than Ludacris’ short-lived Disturbing Tha Peace family, though it ultimately gave us Tity Boi. Or Nas’ Bravehearts, whose main contribution to the game was “Oochie Wally” — do with that what thou wilt. In hindsight, it’s rare for a group (not to be confused with a duo) to sustain a lengthy and creatively fulfilling career. Even a modern-day quartet like Black Hippy, comparable in many ways to Slaughterhouse, never found the time nor motivation to link up for an album. Heavyweight stars seldom do — does anybody remember the short-lived promise CRS, the Thom Yorke sampling trifecta Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, and Pharrell Williams?

Yet today’s era has brought several exciting movements into the fold. Borne vision-chasing principles previously seen in the likes Wu-Tang Clan and The Diplomats yet instilled with a contemporary desire to shift culture, SpaceGhostPurpp’s Raider Klan was among the most impactful early movements to benefit from the internet. In 2008, the hazy and eclectic producer united with artists like Kadafi, Dough Dough Da Don, the late Jitt, and eventually Denzel Curry and Yung Simmie. Drawing influence from their environment Carol City, Raider Klan’s impact went on to stretch beyond music, encompassing the community and providing like-minded artists with a means expression. Though with massive collectives this nature comes another risk, that varying degrees both talent and motivation will lead to varying degrees success and sustainability. 

Why Do Rap Crews Always Fall Apart?

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When that does end up happening it need not tear a crew apart. Even as clear standout members begin to thrive as solo artists, some groups remain tethered by a sense familial loyalty and mutual artistic respect. The A$AP Mob comes to mind, as brought to life by visionary creative Yams in 2006.  Inspired by a shared desire to push several facets artistic culture ranging from music to fashion, the Mob united several like-minded New Yorkers under one banner. Though A$APs Rocky, Ferg, Twelvvy, Nast, Ant, and producer Ty Beats have all experienced different career trajectories, the Mob and by extension Yams’ memory represents a shared ideology above any well-defined creative goals. A similar vibe was felt during the rise Odd Future, the primary creative outlet for a young Tyler, The Creator. Originally formed in 2007, Odd Future’s formative lineup consisted Tyler, Hodgy Beats, Jasper, and Left Brain, who quickly found their music gaining steam. As the band outcasts gained notoriety, Earl Sweatshirt, Domo Genesis, and Frank Ocean added their minds to the creative brain trust. Unlike the Mob, however, Odd Future is more or less inactive, fondly remembered for the spirit they once represented. 

And so it goes. Though the rap crew all too ten meets an untimely and unamicable end, few go out without leaving a pround impact on the fans. Sometimes, if luck would have it, the dust might even settle to reveal a classic album or two. It’s hard not to look back on all the movements come and gone and not feel a pang nostalgia. Past, present, or future, what’s your favorite hip-hop crew? 

Why Do Rap Crews Always Fall Apart?

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Rage Against The Machine Tap Run The Jewels For Reunion Tour

Prayers have been heard and it looks like Rage Against The Machine will ficially be touching road for a reunion tour. Following the announcement that they’d be headlining Coachella this spring, they have ficially revealed a global tour with opening act Run The Jewels. The tour kicks f on March 26th in El Paso, TX followed by two shows in Las Cruces, NM, and Glendale, AZ on March 28th and 30th, respectively. The prits from the first three shows will go towards immigration rights organizations.

Following their back-to-back weekends at Coachella this April, they’ll continue to perform across America and Canada from the end April until mid-August when they close out the North American leg with two shows at Madison Square Garden. They’ll head to Europe for a few festival dates before concluding the entire tour in Krakow, Poland on September 10th.

Zach De La Rocha and Run The Jewels previously collaborated on Run The Jewels II cut, “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck).” He later joined the duo on stage at Coachella in 2015 to perform the single. If this tour is an indication that a new Rage Against The Machine album is coming, maybe we’ll hear a new collaboration on there or perhaps, we can expect a full Rage Against The Machine x Run The Jewels collab on RTJ4.

Watch the set below. 

March 26 – El Paso, TX – Don Haskins Center
March 28 – Las Cruces, NM – Pan American Center
March 30 – Glendale, AZ – Gila River Arena
April 10 – Indio, CA – Coachella
April 17 – Indio, CA – Coachella
April 21 – Oakland, CA – Oakland Arena
April 25 – Portland, OR – Moda Center
April 28 – Tacoma, WA – Tacoma Dome
May 1 – Vancouver, BC – Pacific Coliseum at the PNE
May 3 – Edmonton, AB – Rogers Place
May 5 – Calgary, AB – Scotiabank Saddledome
May 7 – Winnipeg, MB – Bell MTS Place
May 9 – Sioux Falls, SD – Denny Sanford Premier Center
May 11 – Minneapolis, MN – Target Center
May 14 – Kansas City, MO – Sprint Center
May 16 – St. Louis, MO – Enterprise Center
May 19 – Chicago, IL – United Center
May 23 – Boston, MA – Boston Calling
June 19 – Dover, DE – Firefly
July 10 – East Troy, WI – Alpine Valley Music Theatre
July 13 – Detroit, MI – Little Caesars Arena
July 17 – Ottawa, ON – Ottawa Bluesfest
July 18 – Festival d’Été de Québec – Festival d’Été de Québec
July 21 – Hamilton, ON – FirstOntario Centre
July 23 – Toronto, ON – Scotiabank Arena
July 27 – Buffalo, NY – KeyBank Center
July 29 – Cleveland, OH – Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
July 31 – Pittsburgh, PA – PPG Paints Arena
August 2 – Raleigh, NC – PNC Arena
August 4 – Washington DC – Capital One Arena
August 7 – Camden, NJ – BB&T Pavilion
August 10 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden
August 11 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden
August 28 – Leeds, UK – Leeds Festival
August 30 – Reading, UK – Reading Festival
September 1 – Paris, France – Rock En Seine Festival
September 4 – Stradbally Laois, Ireland – Electric Picnic Festival
September 6 – Berlin, Germany – Lollapalooza Berlin Festival
September 8 – Prague, Czech Republic – O2 Arena
September 10 – Krakow, Poland – Tauron Arena

Usher & Girlfriend Jenn Goicoechea Get Close At Oscars After Party

Late last year, Usher was spotted at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl receiving a kiss from an unnamed woman, leading many to assume that the “My Boo” singer had embarked on a new relationship. Weeks later he was spotted again with the same woman who was revealed to be Epic Record’s A&R head, Jenn Goicoechea. 

Usher & Girlfriend Jenn Goicoechea Get Close At Oscars After Party
Frazer Harrison/Getty s

Now a few weeks into the new year, Usher and Jenn look to still be going strong since they both attended the Vanity Fair Oscar’s party and were dancing, smiling and holding each other affectionately. Usher’s Instagram story shows photos him running into Billie Eilish, Martin Lawrence and Paula Abdul before having sweet moments with Jenn.  

The A&R head even posted a photo her and Usher to her Instagram feed with the caption, “Ace ♠️ … #vanityfair.”

“This decade has represented growth for me. For the most part, the design the past two] decades have continued to really work for me to expand my reach through music,” Usher recently stated the new year and new music. “Also, too, just as a human being that wants to make music that connects the world, and expand R&B, and all the rhythm and blues that has come through my own personal experiences that I chose to write about. Or the places that I’ve gone that kind introduced other genres — and even though they were other genres music, I still had the soul in it. Just really happy to continue to knock down these decades and start a new one.”

Summer Walker Shaves Her Head

Summer Walker is on her “no hair, don’t care” energy. The rising R&B songstress has been having a moment over the last twelve months, breaking out and becoming a favorite for many because her unorthodox approach to the genre. She represents a different ideal than what we’ve become used to from women in rhythm & blues, flexing a more rugged look with her face tattoos and being open and honest about her struggle with social anxiety. Summer Walker is anti-fame, but yet she’s extremely famous. She ten does things to challenge our idea celebrity and, while it would be a stretch to say that’s what she’s doing here, some may consider it as such.

Summer Walker Shaves Her Head
Leon Bennett/Getty s

Her biggest critics will compare this moment to Britney Spears’ infamous head-shaving incident from more than a decade ago but, in reality, Summer Walker is likely just trying to start f her hair journey from scratch. After Hair Love‘s celebrated win at last night’s Academy Awards, the singer decided to take out the buzzer, shaving her head for the eleventh time and opting for a very short look. Of course, wigs exist so there’s a good chance we won’t see her out in public sporting this look as she grows out her locks but, for now, Summer Walker is going the Amber Rose route.

Take a look at the Instagram story that she uploaded over the weekend, showing f her newly shaved head.

Tinashe Stuns In Skintight Leopard-Print Bodysuit

Tinashe has evolved into one the game’s premier thirst-trappers. Ever since departing from RCA Records and pursuing the independent route to release her excellent new album, Songs For You, Tinashe has been glowing up. She continues to stunt on us with her latest series Instagram posts. 

The pictures show f the killer outfit she wore to Laquan Smith’s New York Fashion Week show on Saturday (Feb. 8). She poses in a skintight leopard-print bodysuit with a red transparent raincoat draped on top. Sporting long braids, the singer appears to have really been feeling herself. She even captioned one her posts with a boastful lyric from her song “Link Up”: “Head coach, I might put you on the team.”

Last week, Tinashe announced the dates for her upcoming North American tour, “Tour For You”. 

Tinashe’s Tour For You Dates
April 20 – Detroit, Mich. @ Saint Andrew’s Hall
April 21 – Chicago Ill. @ House Blues
April 22 – Pittsburgh, Pa. @ Spirit
April 23 – Silver Spring, Md. @ The Fillmore
April 24 – Boston, Mass. @ Big Night Live
April 25 – Philadelphia Pa. @ TLA
April 27 – New York, N.Y. @ Gramercy Theatre
April 29 – Toronto, O.N. @ Danforth Music Hall
May 9 – Denver Co. @ Summit
May 11 – Houston, Tx. @ House Blues
May 12 – Dallas Tx. @ House Blues
May 15 – Phoeniz, Az. @ Crescent Ballroom
May 16 – Los Angeles, Calif. @ The Belasco
May 17 – San Diego, Calif. @ The Observatory North Park
May 18 – Santa Ana, Calif. @ The Observatory
May 19 – San Francisco, Calif. @ August Hall
May 22 – Vancouver, B.C. @ Commodore Ballroom
May 23 – Seattle, Wash. @ Neptune Theatre

Fetty Wap Announces "The King Zoo" Tour Dates

Fetty Wap has announced that he will be embarking on a 20-date tour around the U.S. later this year. The King Zoo tour will kick f in New Haven, Connecticut on April 7th, 2020, and wrap just over a month later in New York City on May 15th. Tickets are available here or on his ficial website.

Fetty Wap Announces "The King Zoo" Tour DatesAstrid Stawiarz/Getty s for MTV

In December, Fetty put his spin on the Outkast classic, “So Fresh So Clean,” with his own track, “Fresh N Clean.” Fetty dropped the single a few days after taking to social media to address the tumultuous year he’d had and explain where he went wrong. After dealing with various legal troubles and sorting through relationship drama, Fetty had a very chaotic 2019, but he vowed to turn things around. “I didn’t have the right guidance… but my path is gettin better and more clear,” Fetty wrote on his Instagram story. “I’m working on myself and for myself … It’s Wap Szn …. I don’t know nobody know more.” It looks like “Wap Szn” is indeed upon us with this new tour, and it’s a sure sign that Fetty is staying true to his word. Who’s copping a ticket to The King Zoo tour?

Fetty Wap’s The King Zoo Tour Dates:

Tuesday, April 7th – New Haven, Connecticut @ Toad’s Place
Wednesday, April 8th – Huntington, New York @ The Paramount 
Thursday, April 9th – Montclair, New Jersey @ The Wellmont Theatre
Saturday, April 11th – Raleigh, North Carolina @ The Ritz 
Sunday, April 12th – Charlotte, North Carolina @ The Fillmore 
Wednesday, April 15 – Atlanta, Georgia @ Buckhead Theatre 
Sunday, April 19th – Houston Texas @ House Blues 
Monday, April 20th – Dallas, Texas @ House Blues 
Thursday, April 23rd – Los Angeles, California @ Belasco Theatre 
Saturday, April 25th – San Francisco, California @ The Fillmore 
Sunday, April 26th – Santa Ana, California @ Observatory 
Monday, April 27th – Sacramento, California @ Ace Spades 
Wednesday, May 6th – Minneapolis, Minnesota @ Varsity Theatre 
Thursday, May 7th – Chicago, Illinois @ House Blues 
Friday, May 8th – Indianapolis, Indiana @ Deluxe 
Monday, May 11th – Detroit, Michigan @ St. Andrew’s Hall 
Tuesday, May 12th – Cleveland, Ohio @ House Blues 
Wednesday, May 13th – Washington, D.C. @ The Fillmore
Thursday, May 14th – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania @ TLA 
Monday, May 18th – New York City, New York @ Gramercy Theatre

Tinashe Announces ‘Tour for You’ Dates

Tinashe is launching a “Tour for You.”

The R&B singer has announced dates for a spring tour. Presented by Live Nation, the 19-date trek kicks off April 20 in Detroit and travels across the U.S. and Canada, with stops in Chicago, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, before wrapping May 23 in Seattle.

The tour comes in support of Tinashe’s latest album Songs for You, which she released independently in November featuring appearances from 6LACK, Ms Banks, and G-Eazy.

Tickets go on sale Friday while fan club and VIP packages are available starting Wednesday at 10 a.m. local time. See dates below.

Tinashe Tour for You Dates

April 20 – Detroit, MI – Saint Andrews Hall
April 21 – Chicago, IL – House of Blues Chicago
April 22 – Pittsburgh, PA – Spirit Hall
April 23 – Silver Spring, MD – The Fillmore Silver Spring
April 24 – Boston, MA – Big Night Live
April 25 – Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts
April 26 – Brooklyn, NY – Warsaw
April 27 – New York, NY – Gramercy Theatre
April 29 – Toronto, ON – The Danforth Music Hall
May 9 – Denver, CO – Summit
May 11 – Houston, TX – House of Blues Houston
May 12 – Dallas, TX – House of Blues Dallas
May 15 – Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom
May 16 – Los Angeles, CA – The Belasco
May 17 – San Diego, CA – The Observatory North Park
May 18 – Santa Ana, CA – The Observatory
May 19 – San Francisco, CA – August Hall
May 22 – Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom
May 23 – Seattle, WA – Neptune Theatre

Sa-Roc Joins Rapsody’s ‘A Black Woman Created This Tour’ & Drops ‘Hand Of God’ Video

Sa-Roc, one of the newer additions to the Rhymesayers Entertainment roster, is back with a new visual for “Hand Of God.”

Directed by Tommy Nova, the video stars Sa-Roc as the human subject of an art exhibit. As she’s posed for the entertainment of her observers, she flexes her wordplay prowess over the Sol Messiah-produced beat.

The Washington D.C. native is only the second woman to sign with the Minneapolis-based imprint. On Thursday (January 30), the 38-year-old announced she’ll be joining Rapsody on her forthcoming A Black Woman Created This Tour where she’ll serve as direct support for the EVE architect.

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I will have the pleasure of going on tour with @rapsody’s A Black Woman Created this Tour! I will be rocking with my producer @solmessiah and my sister @heather__victoria! The Goddess Gang will be in Philadelphia next Tuesday! 02/04/20 Philadelphia, PA Fillmore Philadelphia 02/05/20 Washington, DC Fillmore DC 02/06/20 Brooklyn, NY Elsewhere Hall 02/07/20 Boston, MA The Sinclair 02/09/20 New Haven, CT Toad’s Place 02/11/20 Burlington, VT Club Metronome 02/12/20 Montreal, CANADA Belmont 02/13/20 Toronto, CANADA Toybox 02/14/20 Detroit, MI Magic Stick 02/16/20 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop 02/17/20 Columbus, OH Skully’s Music Diner 02/19/20 Chicago, IL Bottom Lounge 02/20/20 Lawrence, KS Granada Theater 02/22/20 Denver, CO Marquis Theater 02/23/20 Boulder, CO The Fox Theatre 02/25/20 Vancouver, CANADA Fortune 02/26/20 Seattle, WA The Crocodile Back Bar 02/27/20 Portland, OR Star Theatre 03/02/20 Oakland, CA The New Parish 03/03/20 Los Angeles, CA El Rey Theatre 03/07/20 Dallas, TX Trees 03/09/20 Houston, TX Bronze Peacock- House of Blues 03/11/20 Atlanta, GA Masquerade Hell 03/12/20 Charlotte, NC Amos’ Southend 03/13/20 Raleigh, NC Lincoln Theatre Tickets in my BIO⬆️

A post shared by Sa-Roc (@sarocthemc) on

The run kicks off on February 4 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and wraps up on March 13 in Raleigh, North Carolina. After that, Sa-Roc is set to head out on her own headlining Mother Tongue Tour in Europe, which begins on March 20 in Münster, Germany.

During an interview with HipHopDX last January, Sa-Roc opened up about her early struggles with self-esteem and how she triumphed — but it took a lot of hard work. Now, she’s able to share messages of hope on songs such as “Forever.”

“Be exactly who you are,” she said. “Strive to be the best version of yourself but define that on your own terms. Sometimes we feel like our scars — physical or otherwise — make us less than worthy or that they mar us somehow, so we turn inward on ourselves.

“This tends to keep us within the confines of our own pain and hurt and continually defined by people’s perception of us. The overarching message of ‘Forever’ is that all of us are worthy and deserving of being loved, respected, having a voice and safe spaces in which we can thrive.”

Watch the “Hand Of God” video above.

Jaleel White Recalls Prince Booting Him Out Of His Table At A Keyshia Cole Concert

The name Jaleel White may not ring memories for a younger generation, but there are millions people who tuned in every week once upon a time to watch him portray his iconic character Steve Urkel. The world’s favorite 1990s nerd became a cultural phenomenon during those Family Matters days, but now the child actor is a grown man with a family his own.

Jaleel White Recalls Prince Booting Him Out Of His Table At A Keyshia Cole Concert
Jon Kopalf / Stringer / Getty s

Jaleel recently sat down with Fox Soul for their series One on One with Keyshia Cole, and during their chat, Jaleel shared a few memories he had with his longtime friend. While complimenting Keyshia on her “street-savvy” and knowing how to read a person’s character better than others, Jaleel recounted a story when Prince “punked” him for his V.I.P. table at one Keyshia’s concerts.

“Keyshia performed at the House Blues and I came to see her and I was a guest at her table,” Jaleel said. “This was… House Blues doesn’t even exist no more, right? This was the second level, that was the V.I.P. level and it was dead center and you know the artist can see you. This woman came and tapped me on my shoulder and was just like, ‘Um, yes, um, can I have a favor out you, um, Prince would like your table.”

Jaleel was confused because there was “plenty space at our table” so the actor didn’t know why he had to move. He asked where he would have to relocate to and it was the next table over just a foot away. When Jaleel asked if Prince could sit at that table, he was told Prince “has a preference for your table.” Eventually, Jaleel decided to give up his seat and let the Purple Rain icon “punk” him out his section because he didn’t want to disrupt a potential opportunity for Keyshia.

It didn’t go unnoticed because as soon as Jaleel saw her backstage she said, “Ay, Prince was up there? What he want?” Check out his full episode below.

Erick ‘Jesus’ Coomes Says Career Highlight Involves Eminem, Dr. Dre & A Private Jet

Laguna Beach, CA – As the gifted bassist for funk band Lettuce, Erick “Jesus” Coomes is used to being in the spotlight. But behind the scenes, he’s a savage session musician who’s crafted songs with some of the most illustrious figures in Hip Hop – from Dr. Dre and The Game to Kanye West and Eminem.

Ahead of the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards, where Lettuce is nominated in the Best Contemporary Instrumental Album category for 2019’s Elevate, Coomes is posted up somewhere in Laguna Beach, California, basking in the sun and looking back on his storied career.

His wild tales involve everything from DJ Quik giving him his nickname in front of sold-out crowd at the House Of Blues to spending his birthday performing alongside Ghostface Killah and Solange during a 2013 Bonnaroo Superjam — and he keeps adding more chapters.

During an interview with HipHopDX, Coomes recalled going to a famous New York deli with The Game and Hi-Tek where he was faced with the biggest cheese sandwich he’d ever seen.

“Most of us are not from New York,” he tells DX. “Game is from Cali and Hi-Tek’s from Cincinnati and I’m from Cali. So we’re like, ‘We’re in New York. Let’s go to a dope New York delicatessen, a real delicatessen. I didn’t know shit about what that meant. I just was going because that’s something you do. I’m a big deli person now. I’ve come a long way from when I was a child. I didn’t know shit about deli stuff.

“You either know it or you don’t. I’ve been to a million delis now, but at the time I had no fucking idea what I was doing and I was vegetarian at the time. I’m not vegan yet obviously, but I was like, ‘Oh cool, I’ll just get a cheese sandwich because I love cheese sandwiches.’ Usually it has a couple of slices of cheddar or something and some mustard and bread and maybe a pickle. That’s what I expected but no, it was one of those towering sandwiches with like 60 or 70 slices of cheese on it.”

Instead of tossing it in the trash — because there was no way it would even fit in his mouth — Coomes bought a loaf of bread.

“I was like, ‘What the fuck is this?’” he continues. “There’s markets everywhere, so I got a loaf of bread and I took it to the hotel. I basically didn’t have to buy food because I had cheese sandwiches every day. The Game just laughed at me all the time. Well, not at me. They laugh with me. We laugh together. We all just laugh. We still laugh about that right now. It’s still funny.”

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More recently, The Game dubbed Coomes and his equally talented brother Tyler “Tycoon” Coomes the “wine brothers” due to their preference for a finer beverage.

“The Game and I are really good friends, so we did a few sessions together,” he explains. “But he’ll go in for a few months. He’ll say, ‘Come back every day.’ And my brother and I went and he started calling us the ‘wine brothers’ because he brought our own wine every night. We were just kind of snobbishly drinking wine and everybody else was drinking red cups of Tequila. We brought our own wineglasses too. Game is like, ‘You guys are the wine brothers.’ I’m like, ‘No, don’t call us that.’”

But during one of those late night studio sessions with The Game, he knew Wiz Khalifa was supposed to stop by.

“I was sitting there, smoking a blunt on the front steps of the studio and the cutest little French bulldog rolls up,” he says. “The dog is wearing $50,000, maybe even $100,000 worth of diamonds. I’m like, ‘Oh, I think Wiz Khalifa is here.’ But his dog walked in before him, and I was like, ‘Damn this cute little dog is balling out of control.’ Wiz walked up right at two seconds later. It was cool.”

Over the course of his career, Coomes has developed several trusted friendships with a laundry list of artists. But that doesn’t mean he’s too good to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). In fact, he’s had to sign a few.

“Kanye’s got a crazy one,” he says. “You have to pay $10 million if you fuck anything up. They’ll come get it from you. They’ll be like, ‘If you tell a soul, they’re going to … Basically, you’ll just never ever have any money at all. Just give us everything.’”

Even with his stacked résumé, Coomes says nothing tops working with Eminem on 2009’s Relapse album.

“Working on Relapse was very much the height of really just successful, good vibes,” he says. “Flying with Dr. Dre on his private jet to work on Relapse in an undisclosed location with Eminem was just amazing. It was great to be accepted as a peer by the likes of people like Dr. Dre and Snoop.”

He adds, “The little tiny moments that make my life is when I’m at Dr. Dre’s house and it’s somebody that I don’t know and doesn’t know me. Dre introduces me and says, ‘Hey, if you ever need bass, this guy’s a really good bass player.’ Just to hear that simple shit come out of his mouth … I’m still trying to become a great bass player.

“In my mind, I’m not a great bass player. In my mind, I’m a little kid trying to figure this shit out. But then you hear someone that’s really well established say, ‘Here, he’s great at bass.’ I go, ‘Oh, shit. am I good? Am I getting good at this thing?’ You never want to think you’re good. You want to stay focused on the work ahead of you.”

At the end of the day, Coomes wants to make sure he always respects Hip Hop culture and is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it.

“You’ve got to give back to the culture,” he ways. “That’s really the most important thing. If you’re going to be a part of Hip Hop, you better care about issues that concern the culture. I mean, I just heard this guy talking about this shit yesterday. You should care about the culture if you’re going to be a part of Hip Hop and if not, you should get out of there.”

The 62nd Annual Grammy Awards take place on Sunday (January 27) at The Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Interview: Sean2 Miles Talks His Blues-Branded ‘Farmhaven’ R&B & Working With Snoop Dogg

Los Angeles, CA – The blues has long been a measuring stick for the depths of an artist’s soul.

In the case of Sean2 Miles, the blues is his soul as he was born within its harmonic energy. Hailing from Mississippi, his down-home funk drenched in bluesy hymns makes him unique and without limitations.

Having shared studio time with the likes of Snoop Dogg and Juicy J, getting placements on Bravo’s hit show Vanderpump Rules and releasing his debut album Heartaches & Turn Ups in 2018 has made the Los Angeles transplant a versatile weapon in the studio.

While talking to HipHopDX, Sean2 Miles breaks down his bluesy artistic process, working with the legendary Snoop Dogg and which albums he deems to be classic.

HipHopDX: There are a zillion artists right now on Instagram, YouTube, SoundCloud, but you’re a thriving artist and you’ve actually been having your stuff validated by legends in the game. How does one believe in their musical talent so much or how does one get their musical talent validated by legends?

Sean2 Miles: I think it’s a great feeling, man. I’m real honored to have those validations. That’s another reason to keep pushing forward. You know what I’m saying?

HipHopDX: How did you hook up with Snoop Dogg for “Girls, Girls, Girls?” I mean there’s rappers who are popping who don’t have a song with Snoop Dogg. How do you stumble onto something like that? That’s lit.

Sean2 Miles: Well, shout out to Papa. Papa is Snoop’s main bodyguard. So he’s the one who came into my studio and had Kurupt and Triggs and Crooked I all come into my studio downtown L.A. It’s a bank vault that I created into a studio. He came in, started to vibe and ended up hearing some music and was like, “Yo, I think you should drop on this song.” I didn’t think nothing of it. Triggs already had the song with Snoop. I just threw my verse at the end of it and I ended up getting a call from Snoop. Snoop was just like, “Yo, that was real sick what you did. I like the melody. I like your approach. Put that second verse!”

So I mean I get that call, I mean I just sent it off like here you go (laughs). He called me back and was like, “That shit was tight.” I was just like damn.

HipHopDX: That’s dope, man. That’s really good. And the song came out really good and everything. It’s Triggs’ song?

Sean2 Miles: Yeah. It’s Triggs’ song.

HipHopDX: Yeah. It came out really good.

Sean2 Miles: Triggs is an artist of Doggy Style South, yeah.

HipHopDX: Doggy Style South! That’s a headline.

Sean2 Miles: Yeah. Exactly. Then, since I’m being from Mississippi, it was just a perfect combination. I did the video and started touring a little bit. It was supposed to go back on tour soon.

HipHopDX: Nice. Nice. Yeah. Being from Mississippi, off the top of my head I have David Banner, Big K.R.I.T. and Rae Sremmurd. That’s a pretty short list of guys who breakthrough from the area. I know you moved to L.A. Is there not a big Hip Hop movement even underground in Mississippi?

Sean2 Miles: Yeah. It’s definitely there. Shout out to Dear Silas; an artist named Dear Silas that’s really dope and David and Big K.R.I.T. have paid their homage to him. There’s definitely some talent, definitely some talent.

HipHopDX: And you’re planning on bringing, slicing your Mississippi roots with a bit of 2020 drip with this Farmhaven album?

Sean2 Miles: Yes, sir. So Mississippi is known as the homeplace of American music when it comes to blues, country, soul. So I grew up on blues. That’s what I know. That’s what got me in the door and just loving music from the gate, listening to B.B. King and that whole Malaco [Records] sound. This album is to pay homage to where I come from and also it was like an understanding of who I am, too. You know I was trying to fish for what’s my sound going to be. By the time I did the verse with Snoop that was my sound: blues. I have a blues influence with my voice. So I’m just pushing that out, putting that forward.

HipHopDX: Who do you hope gravitates to a blues sound? I mean every now and then Hip Hop has a left-field sound, a left-field hit that just transcends the generation. Who do you hope takes to your Hip Hop blues movement?

Sean2 Miles: I hope everybody, especially the youth. You know, blues is a conversation. People talk about music now but blues is something that people don’t even mention. To me, that’s real important even when it comes to R&B. It’s the root of all these genres. So I’m trying to make sure they mention blues again.

HipHopDX: For someone who’s never heard Sean2 Miles, how would you describe your sound? You’re a pretty prominent producer, you’re a studio rat, but how do you come across to people upon their first introduction to you?

Sean2 Miles: First impression, first introduction? I mean to me it’s whatever serves you. I’m real versatile when it comes to music in its entirety. I’m a musician as well so I just feel like they will probably hear the musicianship and also hear the realness. I’m here to have fun, too. It ain’t all so serious. I want the smile on people’s faces and I also want to make them think.

HipHopDX: Makes sense. And are you going … Did you go on tour, too? I’m looking at your Instagram. You were on the Snoop Dogg I Want to Thank Me tour?

Sean2 Miles: Yeah. I was on the last five dates on his I Want to Thank Me tour and performed the song.

HipHopDX:So not only do you have experience working with big-name artists, you have big-name tour artist experience. For someone who’s never been on that side of things, was it everything that you dreamed it would be? Was it a learning experience?

Sean2 Miles: It was definitely a learning experience, first. It was a learning experience first and also being on stage as he’s performing, watching him and seeing dude is a legend and seeing how his crowd response is and how patient he is. I mean I feel like I got the best person to learn from in the game. Longevity, that’s how I see myself. 25, 30 years plus, that’s what I’m getting in it for.

HipHopDX: Are you planning on signing with Doggy Style South or are you staying independent? What’s your label situation like?

Sean2 Miles: I’m still independent, but I’m also affiliated with Doggy Style South, so I think that conversation will come soon. With me locking in Doggy Style South because I’m all about having my own as well.

HipHopDX: In your opinion, what’s the definition of a classic album? I know you are taking your time with Farmhaven to make sure it has the right amount of blues sprinkled in it and everything. So how do you give people a classic album in the streaming era?

Sean2 Miles: To me, a classic album is something that’s just timeless. You know, something that you know can be played 10 years, 20 years plus. It has no gimmick to it. It’s real. To me, that’s a classic album. Something that’s just real from the artist coming from the heart.

HipHopDX: Give me some examples of albums that you consider classics.

Sean2 Miles: Classic album? For sure to me Anderson. Paak’s Malibu album. To me, that’s going to be a classic album. Of course Dr. Dre’s 2001, that’s a classic album. Michael Jackson’s Bad and Thriller album is a classic album. My son, he’s almost 10 years old and he’s bumping Michael Jackson like he just came on yesterday. For real.

Interview: Sean2 Miles Talks His Blues-Branded 'Farmhaven' R&B & Working With Snoop Dogg

Photo: 2 Miles Ahead LLC

HipHopDX: That’s lit. And you pick from the obvious classic albums, albums that are real strong on the production side. Would you say you’re a producer first and an artist second or are you a mix of both?

Sean2 Miles: Yeah, production. That’s my approach on everything first and then I just say this is the type of artist. I just tune into the character I need to go into.

HipHopDX: What’s your opinion on the trap music right now? It’s going on multiple consecutive year runs now.

Sean2 Miles: Yeah. I’m not a big trap fan. I can appreciate the movement, but I’m not really a trap fan like that but I appreciate trap. I still appreciate it because there’s a lot of people that come from the gutter and this what they have. This is their ministry. I can even do the sound but it’s a balance. It depends who we’re talking about it in the trap. Young Jeezy, I’m with that.

HipHopDX: The “real” trap music.

Sean2 Miles: Real trap, yeah, yeah (laughs).

HipHopDX: Lastly, my G, going into 2020, any artist that you look forward to working with? Maybe even having some guests on Farmhaven?

Sean2 Miles: Yeah. I know I have Willie Clayton. He’s like a blues legend. Willie Clayton, he’s on my album. Who I would like to work with mostly is Anderson .Paak. I like Anderson .Paak’s whole vibe. The whole soul approach and musicianship that he brings to the table. That reminds me of Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, people like that who are musicians and producers that have pop sound and can win Grammys with it. I really want to work with him. And also Post Malone.

HipHopDX: You think you can make one of those songs that get a billion streams with Post?

Sean2 Miles: I wish I did. Soon!

HipHopDX: All right.

Sean2 Miles:I feel like I’m going to hit a gem right now. So as soon as I’m out there I already know it’s going to happen. It has to.

HipHopDX: Putting it out in the universe in this interview.

Sean2 Miles: You got to manifest it, man.

Stream Sean2 Miles’ Farmhaven down below and check him out on Instagram @sean2miles.

Kendrick Lamar’s "Alright" Is Our Generation’s Triumph

“Alls my life I had to fight, nigga!”

During a peaceful 1963 demonstration against segregation laws in the city Birmingham, Alabama activists were met with violent attacks from high-pressure fire hoses and police dogs producing some the most disturbing and iconic images the civil rights movement.

Kendrick Lamar's "Alright" Is Our Generation's Triumph

Fire fighters use fire hoses to subdue the protestors during the Birmingham Campaign in Birmingham, Alabama, May 1963 – Frank Rockstroh/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty s

“Alls my life I had to fight”

In 1921 the Greenwood district Tulsa, Oklahoma – an almost exclusively black neighborhood filled with thriving businesses was attacked by a mob angry white residents. Dozens were killed. It’s christened the single most violent act racial violence in American history. 

Kendrick Lamar's "Alright" Is Our Generation's Triumph

Tulsa, Oklahoma after the race riots. Injured and wounded prisoners are being taken to hospital by National guardsmen – Hulton Archive/Getty s

“Alls my life I had to fight, nigga!” 

August 2014, police ficer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri, sparking national outrage and weeks protests to follow. 

Kendrick Lamar's "Alright" Is Our Generation's Triumph

A demonstrator protesting Darren Wilson’s shooting death Michael Brown is arrested by police ficers in St. Louis, Missouri – Joshua Lott/Getty s

“Alls my life I had to fight”

August 2005, impoverished residents New Orleans, many them black, waited on government assistance after Hurricane Katrina ravaged Southeast Louisiana. Due to slow federal action, many would lack basic necessities like water, housing, and health care.    

“When you know, we been hurt. Been down before. When our pride was low, looking at the world like where do we go. And we hate po-po, want to kill us dead in the street for sure. I’m at the preacher’s door. My knees getting weak and my gun might blow but we gone be alright.”

It was author and activist James Baldwin who said, in his 1956 book Sunny Blues: “All I know about music is that not many people ever really hear it. And even then, on the rare occasions when something opens within, and the music enters, what we mainly hear, or hear corroborated, are personal, private, vanishing evocations. But the man who creates the music is hearing something else, is dealing with the roar rising from the void and imposing order on it as it hits the air. What is evoked in him, then, is another order, more terrible because it has no words, and triumphant, too, for that same reason. And his triumph, when he triumphs, is ours.”

Kendrick’s triumph is indeed our triumph on “Alright.” His decree imminent victory in the face terror pierces through our inter-mutual spirits even if for a moment. The song forces you to hear the volumes tidings he arranged in less than 800 words. A dynamic message. The 2015 song which became an anthem for the Black Lives Matter movement will forever live on and exuberantly embody the power hip-hop.  

Kendrick Lamar's "Alright" Is Our Generation's Triumph

Five years after Eric Garner’s death, people gather in protest, July 17, 2019 in New York City – Spencer Platt/Getty s

Chuck D and Public Enemy dubbed hip-hop the “black CNN.” This will always be the truest legacy the culture. On To Pimp A Butterly, Lamar boldly and impenitently charges the menaces capitalism, racism, and discrimination. A radical exposition blackness in the current social context. A tale our plight towards unblemished equality. Like Public Enemy and NWA did with “It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back” and “Straight Outta Compton” Kendrick Lamar fashioned the way we view the world with his third studio album. 

Pitchfork named Kendrick Lamar’s thought-proving single “Alright” from his black power manifesto To Pimp A Butterfly, song the decade. In my opinion, TPAB is the most important rap album this generation. So much hip-hop is criticizing an analyzing systems oppression – police brutality, poverty and social injustice in all forms. 

In the same article, Pitchfork said, “It’s not every day, or even every decade, that a song will become platinum-certified, Grammy recognized, street ratified, activist endorsed, and a new nominee for Black National Anthem; that it’ll be just as effective performed before a massive festival audience or chanted on the front lines at protests; that it’ll serve as a war cry against police brutality, against Trump, for the survival the disenfranchised. Inspired by a trip to South Africa, Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” bears a message unbreakable optimism in the face hardship.”

Hundreds years ago as slaves we sang joyful songs to get us through the daily brutalities chattel subjugation. During the civil rights era, we marched as an independent army demanding the civil liberties that America continued to disallow. Now, years later, we still need this variety music to heal from the dreary tangibilities the time. It’s a feel-good record that reminds you struggle’s beauty while inciting a resolve altruism. Lamar boxes with hopelessness and optimism on an unforgettable beat. It is a beautifully conducted waltz in a ring controversy. 

Black people have been rebelling against the power structure through music for generations. The songs we sang during slavery had to be partially euphemistic; the messages hidden in the complexity the linguistic gymnastics we still do. It was the bedrock for the ways we speak today. It was our own little undetectable, daily uprising in passing. In many ways, this is hip-hop’s precursors. Ta-nehisi Coates described how rap gave him the earliest sense what writing should mean. This stated in his New York Times best-selling book Between The World and Me. I feel the same as Coates. Listening to these street journalists reporting from and for the unrepresented voices in America shaped my social consciousness. This too was my earliest inkling literature’s true power and purpose. Rakim was my Shakespeare. Ice Cube my Allan Poe.

I was about 10 years old when I first experienced a protest. In the city St. Petersburg two white police ficers had killed an unarmed, teenage black motorist. After the police department refused to shared information the community became furious. I remember ducking down in the car as projectiles flew threw the air and the muffled rumble chants filled the cool Florida air. Right after that experience was when I first heard “The Point No Return” by Ghetto Boys. I found refuge in the song’s lyrics given the anger I felt – not fully understanding the gravitas this situation but knowing that I always saw other black men dying on the news at the hands police. 

“Alright” was chanted during protests and rallies in the years since its release. As songs my early youth gave me a form solace in times unrest so did this composition. Due to its social timing and indignation black America, the song quickly grew into the soundtrack to calls for justice. The track grew popular in the shadow several high-prile police killings which involved unarmed black men.  

“I’m fucked up, homie, you fucked up but if God got us then we gone be alright.”

Part avouchment, part affirmation. The song’s hook proxies its brilliance. Under Kendrick’s commanding voice we all collectively wrapped our arms around each other in a show unity and asserted that – even if it does not feel like it right now – we will be okay. And further, we are in this fight together. We symbolically linked arms across the nation in a season new awakening driven by feelings cheated social impartiality.  

A cocktail hope, anger, depression, “Alright” harvests some deep-rooted theoretical analogies long tied to the black psyche in terms the false perception America’s dream. Kendrick’s disposition expresses a glimmer hope shrouded in equal resignation. He’s torn. Back and forth Lamar goes, a display internal struggle. Pleased with the progress yet contending nothing has ever changed. Wrestling with the idea that given oppression’s stronghold, will things ever truly change?

The balancing act between hopefulness and sadness. The weight on his shoulders. He speaks for a group people. He’s trying to tell people to rise up: you have the talent, you have the talent and ability and promise. The other side is accepting the realities the world we live in. Even though he’s Kendrick Lamar, a celebrity, when everything boils down he can just as easily be another statistic. A powerful message. Giving yourself a chance to believe. 

Several other artists have made songs that speak to the same conviction as those articulated in “Alright.” Each era hip-hop has had a commensurate anthem. The 80s had “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy and “Fuck the Police” by NWA. The 90s had “Changes” by 2 Pac. The 2000s have “Be Free” by J. Cole and these songs hang in the rap section black history’s esteemed gallery art.  

Hip-hop artists haven’t just written songs about change, they’ve been consistently linked to activism. Beyonce’s halftime performance at the Super Bowl, with an outfit honoring the Black Panthers, was an unforgettable moment. Diddy’s “Vote or Die” campaign during the 2004 Presidential election. J. Cole and Talib Kweli joining demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri after Mike Brown’s shooting.

The messages conveyed in “Alright” by way To Pimp A Butterfly are reinforced through Kendrick’s performances and the song’s visual artistry. Lamar stood on top a cop car during most his 2015 BET Awards performance. Here he directly accosts the power structure not law enforcement but injustice. In his set, the police car works as a physical embodiment the inadequacies in criminal justice. Demonstrations like the Watts riots 1965 produced images reminiscent Kendrick’s show. 

During his 2016 Grammy performance, Kendrick came out with faceless soldiers who represented the disenfranchised and exploited people upon which the American dream is built. This is further highlighted by the initial soundbite “America, God bless you if it’s good to you.” Turning the ideological motif “God Bless America” on its head. This acts as a perfect precursor to his performance the song “XXX” which references both gun violence and police brutality against blacks.

Kendrick Lamar's "Alright" Is Our Generation's Triumph

Kendrick Lamar performs in shackles at the 2016 Grammys – Kevork Djansezian/Getty s

Dave Chapelle came out during an interlude the same performance to remind the audience that “the only thing more frightening than watching a black man be honest in America, is being an honest black man in America.” 

Kendrick was interviewed during Austin City Limits. The moderator asked him, “When you write a song or make a record do you think about how it’s going to affect people. The impact that it could have?” K-Dot responded, “Prior to this album, prior to a lot my new music – a lot the records were just for me. It was more a selfish type thing. Until I seen that people out here actually connect with it just as deep or even more than me writing it. So, now I go into the aspect how can I make something that’s personal for me but also personal for that’s listening to it. So, when I go in to make a record like that. To Pimp A Butterfly. I go in with the mind state that it has to connect. Not only for me and my culture but for people from other walks life. People around the world.”  

One the most lasting and polarizing images involving the song came in Cleveland, Ohio. In unity and solidarity, protesters began chanting “we gone be alright” after being pepper-sprayed by police. A viral moment that echoed across the digital sphere. This song was that rare moment James Baldwin spoke – when we truly hear the music and its message. When the undeniable connection happens between artist and consumer. With “Alright” Kendrick’s triumph was our triumph.

Surviving Doors, Nirvana Members To Perform Together

The two surviving members of the Doors are planning a charity concert that will feature, among others, former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic.

According to Rolling Stone, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore — who are the only surviving members of the ’60 rock band — will appear at the Homeward Bound concert, which is scheduled to take place on January 23 at the Wiltern in Los Angeles.

The proceeds of the show will go to fighting homelessness in California. Other artists that will perform there include:

  • Jason Mraz
  • Fitz and the Tantrums
  • Ingrid Michaelson
  • Maddie Poppe

It will be a rare performance for the two former Doors members. Joining them on stage for their 30-minute semi-acoustic set will be Novoselic on bass. Singing will be others who will be performing on the show that night.

Densmore says that the only requirement for those singing the songs originally made famous by the late Jim Morrison is the following: “We need a singer with leather pants — that’s the crux.”

Reportedly, Densome and Krieger have yet to come up with a full set list, nor have they even rehearsed together. But, according to Densmore, this should not be a problem.

He says, “I’m used to it! I was the one who did the setlists in the Doors, because nobody would, and just before going on stage, I’d sit down and go, ‘OK, guys, c’mon! What are we opening with?’ And I could get them into three or four songs, and then we’d wing it! Corralling musicians is like corralling cats.”

Some songs, though, have been agreed upon. Micah Nelson, who is the son of Willie Nelson, will sing “Roadhouse Blues.” Also, Haley Reinheart will sing “People Are Strange” and Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics is scheduled to sing “Hello, I Love You.”