Many Nipsey Hussle‘s peers have spoken out about his social impact since his death. Some the most vocal rappers have been YG and The Game, who have made it their personal mission to keep Nip’s legacy alive. T.I. also appreciates all that the Los Angeles rapper did for his community, recognizing him as a fellow Black investor during his recent visit to Capitol Hill with Charlamagne Tha God.
“It was an incredible loss,” said T.I. his peer’s murder. “We’re like the Avengers investment.” The comparison is strange but considering just how vital Iron Man is to the Avengers, it’s seriously validating all that Nipsey did to invest in Black communities. Tip went on to fer the Nipsey/Iron Man analogy before stating the following: “Everybody knows that Nipsey was pretty much the founder the idea to bring everyone together who, you know, may individually be able to do great things and make a significant impact on their own in their communities. But for us to come together, we can impact so, so many more communities and spread our efforts so much wider.”
Two days ago, news broke out that Adult entertainment company, Naughty America, was using augmented reality to get the word out about its paid services. The company began making Snapchat filters featuring 3D holograms some its models, as well as teaching their audience how to do the same.
They proceeded to share three these lenses for free on their site (one including adult performer Stephanie West in lingerie, and the other two, decidedly more x-rated, featuring full-frontal nudity). Paying members the site are given access to a number additional lenses, as well as holographic source files necessary to make AR filters.
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Snapchat quickly removed the lenses – which allowed Snapchat users to super-impose porn stars in various states undress into their pictures – upon discovery on Tuesday, however, the porn studio doesn’t seem to be quite done with Snapchat just yet, as it is still distributing the source data that allows Snapchat users to build their own naughty lenses – complete with a manual on how to do so.
Naughty America CEO Andreas Hronopoulos told Variety this week that he understood these lenses to be in compliance with Snapchat’s policies, arguing that he wasn’t making them publicly available, and paralleling it to sharing personal photos with friends on Snapchat. “We are just privately sharing these,” he said, defending their actions.
Snapchat did not agree though, and took down the lenses, citing them as a violation their terms service and community guidelines, as well as the company’s lens studio submission guidelines (which prohibit the use content that includes “obscene language or imagery, depictions nudity, sex acts, or pranity.”) This could prove to be the start a cat-and-mouse game, with Naughty America users creating lenses and Snapchat taking them down.
Nearly two years since his last album, Common is set to return this summer with Let Love Have the Last Word.
During a private listening session at Gold Diggers in Los Angeles on Tuesday (May 21), which Rap-Up attended, the Chicago MC previewed several tracks off the unfinished project, which inspired his new memoir of the same name. The soulful, instrument-driven set was mostly produced by Karriem Riggins, with contributions from J Dilla, Jill Scott, Daniel Caesar, Leon Bridges, Swizz Beatz, and BJ the Chicago Kid.
The album kicks off with “Good Morning Love,” followed by “Her Love,” which serves as a sequel to 1994’s classic “I Used to Love H.E.R.” Over a previously unreleased J Dilla beat, with vocals from Daniel Caesar, Common cleverly name checks today’s rappers including A$AP Rocky, Cardi B, Lil Uzi Vert, and Kendrick Lamar.
It was followed by “Hercules,” an aggressive hip-hop track with a boom-bap beat and a hook from Swizz Beatz. Common joked that the song came about after he noticed that no one works out to his music in the gym.
On the Leikeli47-assisted “Fifth Story,” which recalls 2005’s “Testify,” Common narrates a suspenseful tale of a man who cheats on his girlfriend, while questioning his performance as a father on the Jill Scott-assisted “Show Me That You Care,” inspired by a late-night phone call he received from his daughter.
On the personal “Memories From Home” featuring BJ the Chicago Kid, Common opens up about issues that are rarely discussed in the black community, including mental health, and reveals that he was molested as a child, something he also discusses in his book.
The album caps off with “God Is Love,” a gospel-inspired track featuring Leon Bridges that nearly brought some of the people in the room to tears.
Let Love Have the Last Word is due in August Loma Vista Recordings, while the first single, “Love Her,” is set to drop June 14.
May 23, 2000 – Not too many MCs have made as massive of an impact on Hip Hop and pop culture as Eminem. Love him or hate him, Em’s album sales don’t lie — he sold more units than any other artist just last year.
On May 23, 2000, the Detroit-bred rap titan released his third studio album, The Marshall Mathers LP. It served as the follow-up to The Slim Shady LP, which had won a Grammy Award in the Best Rap Album category the year prior.
Produced by Dr. Dre, the 18-track project was created in a two-month “creative binge” and often included 20-hour studio sessions. In an old interview with VH1, Dre explained, “We don’t wake up at two in the morning, call each other, and say, ‘I have an idea. We gotta get to the studio.’ We just wait and see what happens when we get there.”
The result was a Billboard 200 chart-topping album that cemented Slim Shady’s international rap star status. It sold roughly 1.76 million copies in its first week, making it the fastest-selling rap album in history.
The MMLP would go on to be certified diamond by the RIAA, meaning it has sold over 10 million copies since its release.
It would also spawn a new word that is now included in both the Oxford Dictionary and Merriam-Webster thanks to “Stan” featuring singer Dido.
The song finds Em wrestling with his newfound celebrity status through the eyes of an obsessed fan named Stan. The powerful video has racked up over 241 million YouTube views over the years.
Other highlights included “The Way I Am,” which was actually a last minute addition to the album. Feeling pressure from Interscope Records to make another “My Name Is,” he pumped out “The Way I Am” in an attempt to shut them up.
He also penned “The Real Slim Shady” toward the end of the sessions. Both tracks ended up being singles with the latter winning a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance in 2001.
But Eminem wouldn’t be Eminem without some controversy. Several politicians slammed Shady’s often violent, misogynistic and homophobic content. During a United States Senate hearing, Dick Cheney’s wife Lynne blasted the song “Kill You.”
“[He’s] a rap singer who advocates murder and rape,” she said. “He talks about murdering and raping his mother. He talks about choking women slowly so he can hear their screams for a long time. He talks about using O.J.’s machete on women, and this is a man who is honored by the recording industry.”
Ontario Attorney General Jim Flaherty also tried to have Em stopped at the Canadian border. “I personally don’t want anyone coming to Canada who will come here and advocate violence against women,” Flaherty said in a 2000 interview with The Globe and Mail newspaper.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) organization also protested Em’s work.
Here’s Eminem’s Discography Ranked From Bottom To Top
Despite the pushback – even from peers such as pop singer Christina Aguilera who he dissed on “The Real Slim Shady” — the album still took home the gilded trophy for Best Rap Album.
Revisit The Marshall Mathers LP in its entirety below.
Crime doesn’t pay, and Kevin Foster is learning that the hard way. The former accountant and business manager to Ne-Yo and Brian McKnight was recently convicted in Columbus, Ohio a slew crimes including wire fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion. The 43-year-old was reportedly also accused convincing Ne-Yo to invest $2 million into a sports drink company called OXYwater without alerting the singer that Foster was both the CEO and the CFO. He also allegedly took $1.5 million from Ne-Yo’s bank account without permission and forged the singer’s signature to open a line credit worth $1.4 million.
The U.S. Department Justice wrote that Foster used the cash to fund his luxury lifestyle. He reportedly purchased a Mercedes, a Bentley, a Jaguar, a Rolls-Royce, expensive jewelry, and extensive wardrobe, lavish vacations, and season tickets to NFL and NBA games. Foster was sentenced to 89 months (over seven years) in prison and now both Ne-Yo and McKnight can celebrate being awarded restitution. Ne-Yo will receive $6,456,250 and McKnight will be paid $151,675.
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“Foster deceived his victims into believing they were investing in a pritable sports beverage company when, in reality, he was using their money as a personal slush fund for his lavish lifestyle,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman said in a statement, according to justice.gov. “His ongoing and systematic deception also included stealing millions dollars in additional funds. Not only did Foster betray the trust his clients who believed he would act in their best interest, but he also used his accounting expertise to fraudulently report his income and live a virtually tax-free life.”
Los Angeles, CA – A now retired boxer is suing JAY-Z, Roc Nation Sports and Live Nation for negligence, claiming he was forced to fight when he was not ready and suffered a near-fatal brain injury as a result.
However, Franco claims problems arose when he contracted the flu and was not able to train properly for his fight against super lightweight Francisco Agustin Suarez, which took place on March 23, 2017. When he and his father told Roc Nation Sports they needed to cancel or postpone the fight, he alleges the company forced him to go forward with the bout.
He went on to lose by TKO.
He took on two more bouts in 2017, one on Friday, (May 12) and the final on Saturday, (June 12) which ended up being his last professional fight ever. He claims he was recovering from two skull fractures and a brain bleed going into the event in June and also asserts he had not received medical clearance before entering the ring.
Franco lost in the eighth round after being knocked out by Jose Haro, which he claims caused him to suffer “a devastating brain hemorrhage.”
The brutal knockout sent him into a coma and prompted for a surgery to remove a portion of his skull. As a result of his injuires, he now has been confined to wearing protective headgear.
Franco is now personally suing, seeking unspecified damages, declaring Roc Nation Sports should have known he was not ready to fight. He also told the celebrity news outlet in a video that JAY-Z’s company instructed him to take down a GoFund me page his family set up for donations to cover medical bills, saying Roc Nation Sports told him they, “would figure it out.”
“They told me to take my post down, which was about Roc Nation, about fighting at Roc Nation, and they called me, they actually reached out, it was the first time I heard from them, and they said, ‘hey, you know, take your post down and we’ll call you within 72 hours and everything will be fine, you know just take it down right now and we’ll call you back,” Franco explains in part.
“They just never called us. They had me take my post down, and so, I put my post back up, and that’s how it has been with Roc Nation. They haven’t been true to their word and they haven’t been great people, they left me out to dry and I have over $200,000 dollars in medical bills.”
No official statement from Roc Nation Sports on the matter has been made available to date.
The Dallas-raised rapper/singer is known for his eccentric style music, blending together different genres to create a unique sound which stays true to his own personal, unconventional style. His sense fashion may be deemed too confusing or outlandish by some, however, no one can doubt that the musician certainly has a distinctive stylistic approach to everything he does, and hey, people really do love his croc collabs.
The most recent news sees California-based eyewear label Arnette, announcing Post Malone as its latest brand ambassador. To celebrate the declaration, the brand put together a range sunglasses inspired by the cross-genre superstar’s signature style.
The new eyewear options center around sustainability, and feature a street-style leaning crafted eco-friendly BRT600LS bio-based plastic. Additionally, each pair will come with a recycled elastane pouch and special packaging. The new styles aim to reach youth culture status and include gender-fluid, 90’s inspired frames – available in bold color combinations. Shot on Arizona ground against the unfiltered haze the desert, the campaign images highlight Malone’s unapologetic odd-ball style and the ‘young and wild’ attitude the brand.
The Post Malone-inspired eyewear collection will be priced between $100 and $110 USD, and will be available May 23 on Amazon, and very soon on Sunglass Hut; a preview the collection can be seen here.
We’re all waiting to find out how the YNW Melly saga continues — will he be sentenced to death in his double murder case or will he be set free? — but for now, the only news about the young Florida rapper pertains to the success one his hit songs. When he was arrested for the murders his two friends YNW Sakchaser and YNW Juvy, Melly was in the process building a pretty impressive career for himself. Weeks prior, he had collaborated with Kanye West for the first time, releasing his new album and earning himself another hit song with “Mixed Personalities.” His original smash “Murder On My Mind” is still earning tons airplay with streaming numbers rising each day. As reported by XXL, the song is ficially considered double-platinum, with the status being confirmed by the RIAA last week.
Houston, TX – Before strutting out to meet her Houston audience at the Red Bull BC One Camp USA, Dreezy toasted a full bottle of Hennessy to her team in her dressing room. She’d finished up a recording session that morning at 3 a.m., gotten on a plane at 5 a.m., was performing at midnight and would get back to traveling that morning at 6 a.m.
“Girl, what’s sleep!?” she jokes.
Besides the Red Bull BC One weekend, Dreezy’s been cooking up a busy year, too. The Chicago-bred artist dropped her album Big Dreez in January and is already looking to follow it up with a new full-length project later this year. She’s also making her film debut in the upcoming Netflix movie, Beats, starring Anthony Anderson and Dave East.
Dreezy says she’s been focusing on diversifying her brand and getting creative with her promo. For example, becoming a multi-talent by acting and fashion designing and printing up “Dreezy Dollars” to throw out at her audience during “Where Them $ @.”
“I learned, like, how to be more creative with the music,” she tells HipHopDX.
Here, Dreezy opens up about her work ethic, getting back into her vulnerable bag in her upcoming project and her love for Kash Doll.
HipHopDX: You’re about to perform at BC One, how are you feeling?
Dreezy: I’m so excited because every time I’m in the studio I drink Red Bulls and to actually be invited to the event it’s like, ok, my shit coming to life! It’s cool. I know this is a big brand and I know if [the audience is] off the Red Bull I bet they turnt up right now!
HipHopDX: Do you have a connection to breakdancing?
Dreezy: That’s a real sport, that’s something that I don’t think I would ever be able to do. It takes a lot of strength—head strength. They be balancing on their head!
HipHopDX: Congrats on your movie coming out! Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Dreezy: Thank you! The movie’s coming out June 19th. My first movie, I’m so excited. I got to work with Anthony Anderson, y’all know he’s funny as hell, but in the movie he played a very serious role but behind the scenes he was just so fun and so cool and teaching me how to do this stuff. I’m excited to see it. I haven’t seen it yet, so when y’all see it, I’ll see it.
HipHopDX: Did you feel a personal connection to the movie since it takes place in Chicago?
Dreezy: I felt real appreciated ’cause even with the role they didn’t go through an agency. I didn’t do like an acting audition or nothing. Well I did end up doing an audition, but they specifically wanted me for the role. I get to be the girl repping for my city, like this is my life story.
HipHopDX: You’re working on a new album and you’ve said you’re going to get back into your emotional bag. Why didn’t you do that with Big Dreez?
Dreezy: I think when I was making Big Dreez I was at a point in my life where I really just didn’t give a fuck. Like I was single, I had my money, I was traveling–I just really stopped caring about the little things. I was just feeling myself– Big Dreez! –you know? So it wasn’t personal for me and I felt like as the year was going on real shit started happening to me. I lost my friend, like my work and my career, I had to figure out my management situation, I was just going through a lot of stuff and wanted to express it and I felt like, damn, maybe I should put this on the next album.
HipHopDX: Is it coming out this year?
Dreezy: For sure this year. I just thought of a name for it today, but I’m not gonna tell you [laughing]. It’s kinda—it’s pre-named. You know how you start coming up with ideas? Like this might be it.
HipHopDX: Who do you want to be featured on it?
Dreezy: I want Meek Mill on it and Rihanna. That’s what I’m trying my best for. We gon’ get it.
HipHopDX: Do you think it’s possible to be on top of both the sexy and lyrical food chain as a female rapper?
Dreezy: Yes. You definitely gotta have both. Well, you don’t have to have both, [but] when you do it’s like, ok, she’s a double threat. Sometimes a triple threat, because I sing too. It just gives you a one-up on everything and it makes you more of an artist than just a rapper. I don’t like being called just a rapper. I like music, I like melodies, I like singing, I like these beats, I’m into the whole thing.
HipHopDX: You’ve said 2019 is going to be a big year for you. You’ve got two albums, a movie, what else is in store?
Dreezy: We’ve got a lot of merch on the way, making product. I can’t really tell you what it is but it’s gonna be a big thing for me. I’m customizing my merch to where it’s not like t-shirts and just hats, it’s like real cute and stylish and like what girls would want to wear and it’s stuff that I haven’t seen designed before, so I’m coming up with new designs. Fashion Week coming, BET Awards coming, my album is coming, it’s gonna be a No. 1 album, [Jacquees’] album coming, we’ve got a new song on the way, I got videos on the way. I’m shooting this month, so I’m trying to stay busy.
HipHopDX: Are you still going to go out on tour?
Dreezy: I was planning on a solo tour, but I’m thinking about canceling it because I wanna work on my next album. There’s videos that I haven’t shot yet from my last project that I would wanna shoot first before I go out on the road. Like we dropped Big Dreez but we didn’t shoot no videos for it, except for “Channel Slides,” which is doing real good. But I just want to put out more content before I go on tour.
HipHopDX: Will Kash Doll and you make another song together?
Dreezy: She wants to be on the next album, so we definitely will. That’s my bitch! Kash Doll is one of the realest female rappers. I love her, we act like sisters when we’re together.
HipHopDX: BC One is here bringing out the Hip Hop culture of Houston, your movie focuses on the Hip Hop culture in Chicago, how important is it to you to represent the culture?
Dreezy: Not just the culture, but even myself as a brand. Like, last year I went through a time where I was in a bad contract and I couldn’t get out of it for like almost two years, so I couldn’t make no music. I was like, wow, what’re you gonna do Dreez? Two years with no music, how are you gonna pay the bills? Then I started thinking of myself as a brand, like, oh, you can act, you can do fashion, you can do merch, you can do real estate, you know what I’m saying? That’s when I started thinking of myself bigger than a musician. I feel like once you’ve got a platform or a fanbase, period, you can do whatever you want to.
HipHopDX: What did you learn from Big Dreez?
Dreezy: Creativity comes first–always–which I already knew that anyway. But nowadays like the internet is driven off the internet, so you can’t just put out music no more, you gotta think of ways to present it and bring it to life with your graphics, videos, that’s something I experimented with in this project that I didn’t do with my last project and it worked real good for me. Like it kept my Instagram and followers going, just having content to push your music. The attention span for the generation right now is real short, so you just gotta entertain people. Like I think Big Dreez taught me that I’m more of an entertainer.
HipHopDX: Final thoughts?
Dreezy: Big Dreez is out right now, album number two, movie coming June 19th on Netflix everywhere, new single with me and Jacquees coming, new videos coming with me and Jeremih and me and Jacquees, “Ecstasy” and “Love Someone.”
In the latest news concerned with Amber Heard and Johnny Depp’s messy divorce, Johnny Depp shared what he claims was his final text from Amber Heard. In court papers filed in Fairfax County, Virginia and obtained by Daily Mail, Depp also claims to have spoken with a number Heard’s former partners about her alleged history abuse (even detailing an incident between Heard and her ex-wife which resulted in the actress having to spend a night in jail).
Heard said in her text to Depp that the two could “do this or undue sic] this as we see fit. You and I have the control. And love each other.” Another text read: ‘I thought you filed for divorce]. You said you were going to and said goodbye.· I’m sorry if I’ve hurt you. I have nothing but love for you.’
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However, as Depp pointed out, that sentiment didn’t last long. “When I did not accede to her demand for money, Ms. Heard publicly accused me domestic violence, seeking and receiving a temporary restraining order against me when appearing in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday, May 27, 2016 with a first-ever-seen prominent bruise and cut on her face that she claimed resulted from being hit in the face by a cell phone thrown by me and further facial battering from “some appendage” mine on the evening May 21, 2016,” wrote Depp in his declaration. Depp insisted that the “domestic violence allegation was untrue, and Ms. Heard’s purported injury was staged.’
Depp also spoke an incident that happened ten years ago, which involved Heard and her then-wife. “Ms. Heard was arrested in Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in 2009 after police ficers observed her committing domestic violence against her then-wife Tasya Van Ree,” wrote Depp. He continued to detail how Van Ree had asked police to arrest Heard, but that the prosecutor declined to charge her “only because neither she nor her victim were residents King County, Washington, but not before Ms. Heard spent a night in jail and appeared before a judge in court.”
Heard and her then-wife Tasya Van Ree, Donna Ward/Getty s
The actor went on to admit that he had spoken to others who were involved in similar situations with Heard. “Several women who have been in a relationship with Ms. Heard have come forward to share their personal experiences brutal violence and other abuse at the hands Ms. Heard,” revealed Depp. “My advisors have and continue to interview these victims, who remain deeply fearful Ms. Heard, and to collect evidence from these victims.”
The declaration also detailed why he believed Heard was acting this way, placing the blame on pills. “While mixing prescription amphetamines and non-prescription drugs with alcohol, Ms. Heard committed innumerable acts domestic violence against me, ten in the presence third-party witnesses, which in some instances caused me serious bodily injury,’ stated Depp. “Multiple these commissions violence against me she has even admitted to under oath.”
The way things are going now, it’s looking like this he-said-she-said situation is going to be dragged on a little longer, with both parties continuing to make opposing claims. Who do you guys believe?
According to the Associated Press, Michael Avenatti was charged on Wednesday for ripping f Daniels in her legal battle against Trump. Federal prosecutors accused Avenatti using a forged document to rip f $300K from Daniels that was meant to help the adult film star land a book deal. They claim that he used the funds for personal and business expenses and at this point, he’s only paid back half the amount.
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Avenatti claimed his innocence on Twitter. “No monies relating to Ms. Daniels were ever misappropriated or mishandled. She received millions dollars worth legal services and we spent huge sums in expenses. She directly paid only $100.00 for all that she received. I look forward to a jury hearing the evidence,” he wrote.
“For months I’ve asked Michael Avenatti to give me accounting information about the fund my supporters so generously donated to for my safety and legal defense,” she told The Daily Beast. “He has repeatedly ignored those requests. Days ago I demanded again, repeatedly, that he tell me how the money was being spent and how much was left. Instead answering me, without my permission or even my knowledge Michael launched another crowdfunding campaign to raise money on my behalf. I learned about it on Twitter.”
Jersey City, NJ – Social media star Fatboy SSE is known for making headlines for his comedic skits but his latest situation is no laughing matter.
The viral comedic actor was arrested on Monday night (May 20) in his home state of New Jersey for possession of marijuana and bail jumping two outstanding bench warrants as well as being ticketed for failure to observe a signal and driving with a suspended license.
After pulling the Instagram sensation over for a traffic violation, police discovered Fatboy SSE was driving with the aforementioned suspended license and two outstanding bench warrants. Authorities proceeded to search the vehicle, also occupied by his manager and security guard, discovering the stash of weed.
In true Fatboy SSE fashion every moment after the arrest was documented for his five million-strong Instagram following, captioning a video of his release, “THEY CANT HOLD US BACK #FATBOYGANG.”
The now free entertainment personality, continued to upload videos to his IG condemning the treatment he received while in custody, “y’all treated me like shit man, no respect was given to me my nigga, so no respect given to ya’ll” he continued, “fuck ya’ll and the cop that said he know me a’int show me no love… I’m still smoking, bitch.”
Philadelphia, PA – The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has reportedly filed new documents with the Pennsylvania Superior Court to request a new trial for Meek Mill.
According to documents obtained by HipHopDX, the D.A. believes Judge Genece Brinkley’s appearance of bias has been evident throughout his case, which should yield a new trial with a different judge.
In the docs, D.A. Larry Krasner cites a surprise visit Brinkley made to a homeless shelter where Meek was doing court-ordered community service and explains that’s a probation officer’s job. The docs assert Brinkley also “abused her discretion” when she sentenced him to two to four years in prison for “technical violations” of his probation.”
Krasner also states, “The court abused its discretion when it imposed a two to four year state prison sentence based on the technical violations of probation in issue here.
“For the above stated reasons, [Meek Mil] should be awarded a post-conviction relief in the form of a new trial. In the alternative, his recusal motion should be granted and this matter should be remanded for a violation of probation hearing before a new judge.”
Despite the controversy surrounding Meek’s case, Brinkley has repeatedly refused to recuse herself from it, leading many to believe she has some kind of personal vendetta against the 32-year-old rapper.
Meek walked out of Chester State Prison in April 2018. Last June, Meek appealed and asked for a new trial, but Brinkley refused.
Since his release, Meek has dropped a No. 1 album, Championships, and co-founded the REFORM Alliance with JAY-Z. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to “reform the criminal justice system by lobbying for change in its laws and policies, beginning with probation and parole.”
Patriots owner Robert Kraft, 76ers owner Michael G. Rubin and other prominent leaders have contributed over $50 million to the organization.
Following Wednesday’s hearing, Meek’s lawyer Jordan Siev concluded in a statement sent to DX, “We are very pleased that the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office has confirmed to the Superior Court that Meek is entitled to have his conviction vacated.
“The brief is also significant in that it marks the first time the DA has publicly outlined in writing that it supports Judge Brinkley’s recusal based on her ‘appearance of partiality’ and ‘public perception of unfairness and bias.’”
Kanye West is an undeniably enduring artist. His continued relevance, while undoubtedly partially fueled by controversy, is remarkable in its longevity as compared to most pop artists. While the general crowing usually amounts to “I like the old Kanye,” (a criticism West has poked fun at himself on later records) in reference, more ten than not, to his critically lauded and culturally ubiquitous debut The College Dropout and its follow up Late Registration, as West’s career developed he became more experimental and arguably more influential. Rather than ranking his albums from best to worst, as is the general practice music blogs internet-wide, we’re here to answer a question less specific but perhaps more qualifiable; What is the best Kanye era?
Kanye West performing in 2003 in New York City – Mark Mainz/Getty s
For the consideration “best,” rather than a subjective take on this writer’s favorite era, we will take into consideration a number factors. These factors are: critical acclaim, influence, social relevance, and the era’s importance relative to West’s career as a whole.
The eras will be defined as such-
-2004-2006,The College Dropout through Late Registration
-2007-2009,Graduation through 808’s and Heartbreak
-2010-2014,My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy through Yeezus
-2015-current day,The Life Pablo through Ye
The College Dropout and Late Registration, released in successive years, purified the production work Kanye had been doing for artists like Jay-Z before releasing his debut. They featured sped up soul samples, gospel elements, string sections and a keen-if controversial (and correct)-eye turned toward social and racial injustice. George Bush does not care about black people. These records ushered in an onslaught copycats and hangers-on mimicking Kanye’s backpack-toting, polo-wearing style. They were critical successes, though this would prove to be a consistent theme throughout West’s career.
Graduation and 808s and Heartbreak were West’s (mostly successful) attempts to reconfigure the pop landscape as a whole. Where Graduation is all exuberant pop production under raps both boastful and hopeful, 808s is a mournful album bordering on electronic music, a nearly rap free exploration Kanye’s introspection and sorrow following the death his mother and the dissolution his engagement to Alexis Phifer. Despite producing a massive first single in “Love Lockdown,” it was Kanye’s first record to receive mixed reviews. It has gone on to become a beloved piece work, and a signal what was about to come in the musical landscape.
Kanye West and then-girlfriend Alexis attend the Jeremy Scott Spring 2007 Fashion show – Mat Szwajkos/Getty s
After a weeks long stint releasing one-f collaborative singles that Kanye termed GOOD Fridays (after his label GOOD Music), Kanye released what many consider his masterwork. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a massive, paradigm-exploding piece pop maximalism and prog-rap. On it Kanye sounds tortured and reflective, maintaining his signature braggadocio while paradoxically poking holes in it at every turn. It was his most critically successful album, earning the coveted and elusive rating 10 from Pitchfork, and perfect marks almost across the board. He followed that album with Watch the Throne, a collaborative album with long time mentor Jay-Z. It was well-liked critically, and several the songs, not least all “N****s in Paris,” became cultural touchstones for years to come. Following Watch the Throne, he released an album songs featuring all the GOOD Music artists he’d signed. It was mostly ignored, with the exception the smash summer jam “Mercy.” To bookend this era, Kanye released the jarring, violent Yeezus. It confounded listeners but was beloved by critics. It produced a devoted following amongst Kanye fans, garnered very little radio success, and changed rap music for the foreseeable future.
Kanye took some time f after Yeezus, releasing a few singles like the brash “All Day” and the sweet, Paul Mccartney featuring “Only One,” an ode to both his mother and his newly born daughter. His long promised follow up to Yeezus seemed like it would never come. Then, with little fanfare, Kanye dropped lead single “Real Friends.” It enticed die hards and West classicists alike, as it sounded like a new take on old Kanye. A slightly belabored rollout his next album The Life Pablo followed, an album West termed a “living album” due to his insistence on constantly tweaking the songs on their digital and streaming platforms, the only mediums through which it was released. It played as a quality but scattershot tour through West’s oeuvre. Its most lasting song, opener “Ultralight Beams,” is notable mostly for the verse contributed by Chance the Rapper, though the song was an undeniably important moment Christ-like repentance for Kanye. For the time being. “Saint Pablo,” the tour that followed TLOP, was unceremoniously cut short as Kanye suffered a mental breakdown that slowly played out on(floating)stage. He proselytized about the greatness Donald Trump, threatened violence against the estranged Jay-Z, and generally fell apart. Shortly after the tour, he was hospitalized and diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Donald Trump and Kanye West in the lobby the Trump Tower, 2016 – Drew Angerer/Getty s
After a nearly two year fallow period, Kanye reappeared on Twitter invigorated and ready to spout nonsense. He big-upped the idiotic pseudo-intellectual and twitter provocateur Candace Owens, a noted black conservative who dabbled in dangerous topics racism denial and respectability politics. He continued his love affair with Trump. He went on TMZ and declared that slavery was a choice. He then dialed it back and admitted that much it was due to bipolar episodes. He released the short and confessional Ye shortly thereafter. It is a touching and problematic exploration Kanye’s experience with the disease, and is his least well-reviewed album to date. It produced no singles– though it wasn’t designed to do so– and was followed by the similarly low-key Kids See Ghosts, a collaboration with longtime cohort Kid Cudi. Both albums were accepted by Kanye devotees, though the general public seemed not to take much notice.
Considering the qualifying factors previously established and the subsequent analysis, it is clear (to this writer) that the best Kanye West era is the 2009-2014 era. It produced Kanye’s most compelling work, the peak his notoriety, and his critical apex. The beautiful and expansive MBDTF pulses with revolutionary ideas and explodes into brilliant supernovae never explored in music-let alone rap music-before. It is somehow both experimental and accessible, Kanye remaking the form before our eyes. He infuriated the public for years prior to its release (hello Taylor Swift), then holed up in Hawaii with a team collaborators including Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and longtime producer Mike Dean, and came back with a more than sufficient fering; an all out classic that served as a look to the future and a map Kanye’s soul.
Watch the Throne was massive, world beating and, most importantly, fun as hell. The subsequent tour was a huge success, a bacchanalian celebration Kanye and Jay’s not yet soured relationship, as well as their successes, both solo and as creative partners. It’s still one Kanye’s most celebratory listens.
Kanye West and Jay-Z throw up the Roc at GQ Magazine’s 50th Year Celebration party, 2007 – Photo by Rob Loud/Getty s
Yeezus is, arguably, Kanye’s most important album. After years success and public approval, he zigged. He assembled a flawlessly dark and confrontational album with production that sounded like deranged lumberjacks ripping apart steel drums with a rusty chainsaw while dirty synths soundtrack their destruction alongside songs like “Hold My Liquor,” which sound so mired in primordial sludge that Kanye seems to rap from the thick it, covered in ooze and gasping for air. It is thrilling, self destructive, endlessly inventive and crushingly unique. At the end this evocation personal hell, Kanye closes the album with “Bound 2,” a soulful and sunny track that serves as a winking assurance to the audience. “Don’t worry,” he seems to say, “I can still pull this shit f too.”
The 2009-2014 era produced three memorable albums, one collaborative clunker, endless critical praise and furious public speculation. Most notably, it operates as a microcosm Kanye’s psyche and career as a whole. It is bookended by his two extremes, the two poles he would later come to embrace and, admirably, seek help to control. MBDTF changed the world, but Yeezus changed Yeezy forever.
What’s your favorite Kanye era in our breakdown above? Sound f in the comments.
For the first time ever, District Attorney Larry Krasner has called out Judge Genece Brinkley for being biased when sentencing Meek Mill. In a lengthy set court documents, Brinkley’s court has been accused “abusing its discretion” when they sentenced Meek to 2-4 years in prison for violating his probation. Krasner agrees with Meek’s critiques Brinkley and her bias, saying, “The public perception unfairness and bias is exactly what the court’s behavior has engendered here.”
Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty s
The D.A. points out a specific moment when Brinkley “checked up” on the rapper while he was doing community service at a homeless shelter. The Judge reportedly criticized him for bagging clothes for the homeless instead serving them food. The D.A. states about that situation: “Here, instead asking a probation ficer to visit the shelter to assess Williams’ compliance with the court’s community service requirement, Judge Brinkley personally assumed the role investigator. No evidence suggests that the judge routinely made this type unannounced personal visit to monitor her other probationers.”
Finally, it was determined that Meek should be granted a new trial. The D.A. wrote, “For the above stated reasons, Appellant Robert] Williams should be awarded a post-conviction relief in the form a new trial. In the alternative, his recusal motion should be granted and this matter should be remanded for a violation probation hearing before a new judge.”
Meek has ficially received some good news! Hopefully, he’s able to put this all behind him soon.