New Video: Lana Del Rey “National Anthem” (Featuring A$AP Rocky)

Flashbacks: Throughout the promo it switches to colour as Lana sports different glamorous and feminine looks

With so much emphasis on live shows, music video just aren’t what they used to be. Rihanna‘s visuals for “We Found Love” was the first video in a long time, which made me say, ‘WOW! This is a pretty damn good video’.

Now Lana Del Rey‘s latest offering  from her chart topping Born To Die LP, has me echoing the same thoughts. The 25-year-old songstress has released the video for her new single “National Anthem”, which sees Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky play  former US President John F. Kennedy, while Miss Del Rey channels his wife Jacqueline Kennedy.

An unusual but amazingly intriguing concept. Check out the video below, it’s pretty damn cool.

 

Vanessa Laker Meets Ruby Goe: The Interview (MTV)

You may recognise the name Ruby Goe; the quirky singer has been making a name for herself on the underground scene, gaining a legion of fans. Her alternative style and experimental electro sounds have many comparing the rising star to fellow Brit singer M.I.A. With her new single ‘Badman’ out on July 16, MTV’s The Wrap Up’s Vanessa Laker caught up with Miss Goe to talk new music, the lack of creativity in today’s industry, standing out from her competition and much more…

Vanessa: Hi Ruby! Your new single ‘Badman’ is out next month. Can you tell us a bit about it?

Ruby Goe: Hey! The song is about a past relationship of mine – which I am now out of. It’s just an honest account about the breakdown of a relationship and that final moment when you decide to give up. You know when you get to the final straw and stop fighting for him and chasing him; you just give up and realise it is never going to work.

Vanessa: There’s a lot of thought and creativity in your music videos. Do you feel that these days some artists lack creativity?

Ruby Goe: Yep, I definitely do! [Laughs] but I think different artists are different artists. I mean, some people choose to use clay to create what they want, some people choose to use melodies and some people choose to just use music. I choose to use lyrics, melodies, music and visuals to express myself.

Vanessa: Do you think some artists get caught up in image and visuals instead of focusing more on the actual music itself? 

Ruby Goe: Yes, totally! I think a lot of pop girls just focus on looking hot and what they’re wearing, which is an area of pop that’s in demand. People are out there buying The Saturdays’ music – not that I don’t like The Saturdays, they’re great. Every artist is different, but I think it’s good to find a balance.

You’ve got artists like Tyler, The Creator, Kanye West and Jay-Z, who are all incredibly creative, yet the focus is still primarily on their music. Then there are many artists who focus on their looks, instead of their vocals. For me personally, I like to focus on vocals, melodies and lyrics. But then again I also love visuals. Every time I write a song, I always get excited visualising creating the video. As an artist I like to focus on the whole aspect.

Vanessa: Your music is a mash up of so many different sounds. How would you describe your musical sound?

Ruby Goe: Errmm… Pop! [Laughs] I love pop music and I’m not ashamed of it. I listen to many different types of music and I think lots of artists that are coming through now are products of diversity. I listened to jazz when I first got into music, but then I got into drum and bass and hip-hop. I also like funk and early nineties’ dance as well. My musical taste is a complete mash up, you know?

TWU: We have so many new female artists coming out of the UK at the minute. How do you stand out and differ from your peers?

Ruby Goe: Well, they are all signed! [Laughs] Basically they’ve got cash in the bank. Lianne La Havas is brilliant. I know her – she’s a really lovely girl. I think my stuff is slightly more eclectic than hers and much more aggressive, but I love what she’s doing and her career is definitely on the up. Rita Ora is very pop; she’s in the kind of situation where I’m sure she’d want to have more control over her music. I think that control is something I’d never give up myself. Being independent, I support myself – which isn’t always easy – but it gives me creative freedom and full control over my music. However, we’re all different and there’s room for all of us. I hate the assumption that just because you’re a female, there’s only room for one. Personally, I think all of us, united, should hate that assumption instead of each other.

Vanessa: You’ve been compared to the likes of M.I.A and Santigold  two incredible artists. What’s your take on those comparisons? 

Ruby Goe: I love M.I.A and I love Santigold. They’re both amazing artists and I really do respect what they stand for. I think because I am a female who has dark skin and I’m doing something different, comparisons are made, which is really sad. They’re both brilliant! They’re amazing writers, they’re unique, they stand out and they are really strong women. So I love that comparison, it’s a huge compliment.

Vanessa: Growing up, which musicians inspired you?

Ruby Goe: Prince. He’s such an amazing performer and the fact he’s written so many amazing songs is incredible. I love Nina Simone and Whitney Houston too. Of course, I love MJ and Salt and Pepper too. The list could go on and on…

Vanessa: I hear you’re a jewellery designer as well?

Ruby Goe: Knuckle dusters, yeah! My jewellery line is called ‘By Rogue’ – which is an anagram of my stage name.  I just started off designing pieces for myself and friends and then someone suggested I take it to the next level. Now ‘By Rogue’ is stocked in Selfridges and a number of other outlets; we’re about to re-launch our website, so it’s all pretty exciting.

Vanessa: And what does the rest of 2012 hold for Ruby Goe?

Ruby Goe: Many more songs. The second single from my EP will be out in August or September; so expect lots more music. The new EP should be out in September.

Keep up to date with Ruby by following her on Twitter.

Words: Vanessa Laker (@VanessaLaker)

 

D’Angelo Performs at Bonnaroo Festival, First U.S. Show in 12 Years (Full Audio Stream)!

I was fortunate enough to see D’Angelo live earlier this year when he played his comeback gig at Brixton Academy back in March. And it’s fair to say the ‘R&B Jesus’ is officially back.  Those European shows were the perfect warm up for what’s to come. The 38-year-old soul legend took to the stage in the US for the first time in 12 years this weekend to perform at the  Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee.

D’Angelo took to the stage for the first time in 12 years in the United States and chose the fields of Manchester, Tennessee to perform alongside Questlove to a throng of Bonnaroo Festival revelers in the early hours of Sunday morning. The R&B icon joined The Roots drummer, as well as James Poyser and a nine-piece band for over an hour playing cover tracks from legendary acts including the Jimi Hendrix classic “Have You Ever Been (to Electric Ladyland),” The Beatles’s “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” and “What is and What Should Never Be” by Led Zeppelin. Listen in on the full audio stream from the show below to see how the Virginia singer’s return to live performances shaped up.

Click here to hear the live concert in full.

New Video: G.O.O.D. Music – “Mercy” (Feat. Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz)

Kanye West is slowly building a rock solid team under his G.O.O.D Music label and  they’re coming for Young Money in more ways than one. The visuals for “Mercy”, which features Ye, Big Sean, Pusha T &  2 Chainz, is finally here and although rather simple, the black and white vid is artistically entertaining. And even features some crazy dancing from Mr West himself. What more could you want?!

I’m an old skool rap fan, so I’m glad to see the return of the ‘crew phenomenon’. Check out the official video below.

Don’t Be Mad At Gwyneth Paltrow, Be Mad At Jay-Z & Kanye West For Calling Their Song “N***as In Paris”!

Over the last few days I’ve read numerous blogs and publications bashing Gwyneth Paltrow for using the ‘N’ word on Twitter during a “Watch The Throne” gig in France. And by no means do I support the usage of such language, but I think the backlash is aimed at the wrong person.

The Hollywood actress – who’s BFF’s with Jay-Z and his wife Beyonce – got onstage with Jigga and Kanye West during the show and later tweeted a photo of herself standing near the rappers, with the caption “Ni**as in paris for real.”

And that’s when the outrage began. “How dare she use the N word?” Many gasped. “She should know better” a lot people said. Erm, shouldn’t Jay-Z and Kanye know better? If you’re going to name your song “N***as In Paris”, then what do you expect? She obviously didn’t mean it in an offensive way, but it’s clearly an offensive word.

I totally understand why people will say she shouldn’t have tweeted that, but what I don’t understand is that why is nobody criticizing the rappers? They’re the ones who are promoting the word like it’s ‘cool’. Let’s deal with the root of the problem. Let’s be mad at the ones who ignorantly promote the word, not just the fans who naively (and ignorantly) imitate them. I LOVE hip hop music – and Jay-Z & Kanye are two of my favourite artists – but I think it’s about time we heard less of the ‘N’ word in rap songs (especially in the songs title).

Here’s British rapper AKALA talking about why he’s decided to stop using the ‘N’ word in his lyrics.

Mac Miller – Live At The HMV Forum, London: Review!

Defying Tradition.

If there’s ever an artist to defy the traditional route of making it to the top of the charts, then Mac Miller’s your man – proving you don’t need a big label in order to reach the dizzy heights of success. While the twenty-year-old Pittsburgh native may be considered a newbie in the rap world, having only one official album under his belt, Malcolm McCormick gained legions of fans worldwide, after releasing seven mixtapes over the last five years. And the hard graft paid off, because the young wordsmith’s debut LP ‘Blue Slide Park’ became the first independently released record to top the Billboard charts in over fifteen years. So when the rising hip hop star brings his ‘Blue Slide Park’ tour to the UK, it’s no surprise Miller’s Brit fans turn up in their droves for the occasion.

It’s one of the hottest days in the year and just one glance at the audience outside the HMV Forum and you can feel the jubilance and excitement in the young crowd. Once inside the insanely hot North West London venue, the atmosphere is electric – even before the main man’s hit the stage. So when Miller arrives, there’s no surprise pandemonium erupts as ecstatic fans fist pump and go crazy for their idol.

Dressed in a white “I LOVE LDN” T-shirt, jeans and hat, Miller keeps it simple, with no gimmicks. Taking rap back to its essence, the US star is simply joined on stage by his DJ and hype man – the show is purely about the music. “Yo London, make more muthf*ckin’ noise,” he confidently declares, before spitting verses from his debut LP and numerous mixtapes – showcasing an impressive catalogue of material for such a young artist (Miller released his first mixtape at the tender age of fifteen).

Songs such as ‘Loud’, ‘Party On Fifth Av’ and ‘My Team’ has sweat-drenched revellers energetically shape-throwing, whilst rapping along to every word. Miller’s live delivery is precisely sharp and stage presence incredibly strong. Current radio smash ‘Frick Park Market’ raises the temperature, but it’s tracks from the K.I.D.S. mixtape that are the highlight of the night, with the likes of ‘Knock Knock’ and ‘Nikes On My Feet’ causing frenzied applause.

Feeding off the crowd’s infectious energy, Miller even provides some dance moves – showcasing his humorous side. The hour long set also includes tributes to Michael Jackson and the late Beastie Boy, MCA. And saving the best for last, Miller closes the impressive hyperactive show with his smash and fan favourite ‘Donald Trump’.

The name Mac Miller may still be unfamiliar to many, but it’s only a matter of time before this young contender starts to really rival some of hip hops heavy players.

Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch The Throne, 02 Arena, London, Live Review!

Six months after completing the US leg, rap royalty Jay-Z and Kanye West finally bring their highly anticipated Watch The Throne Tour to UK soil. And it’s undoubtedly worth the wait.

It’s not hard to see why Yeezy and HOV refer to themselves as “The Throne”, as cocky as it may be. Jay-Z, an emerging billionaire, has more US number one albums than Elvis Presley, with a successful career spanning over fifteen years. And his protégée Kanye West is close on his heels. While at times it’s easy to dislike Mr West, the flamboyant rapper’s musical genius often overrides his ego-fuelled gaffes. So it’s no surprise the rap juggernauts joint show is the hottest ticket in town, with celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessie J in attendance.

The 20,000-strong crowd patiently waits as the reigning monarchs of hip-hop are fashionably late to hit the stage at London’s O2 (as part of five consecutive shows at the Greenwich venue). But fans are unfazed by the 45 minute wait, as the anticipation only fuels excitement. Suddenly, the music dips and the venue erupts into frenzied applause, as the superstar rappers emerge. Sticking to their “all black everything” motto, both are decked out in black clothing from head to toe – with West donning what appears to be a skirt over his leather trousers. And in an intriguingly unique entrance, West, 34, and 42-year-old Jigga enter the stage on boxes from opposite sides of the venue, spitting back and forth with one another, opening the historic night with ‘H.A.M’.

Both stages slowly rise, with images of barking dogs and wildlife projecting from each, as the duo performs tracks from their smash hit joint album. As the intro to Otis Redding’s ‘Try A Little Tenderness’ plays, Jay sprints to the main stage to join his collaborator, and the pair break into the LP’s leading single ‘Otis’. Accompanied with a giant American flag draped at the back, it’s at this point the show really gets underway.

The tour may be called Watch The Throne, but both MCs – to the delight of fans – play numerous tracks from their impressive back catalogue of hits. Jay-Z’s ‘Jigga What, Jigga Who’ and ‘Big Pimpin’’ takes older fans back to the Roc-A-Fella heyday, while West’s ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’ and ‘All Falls Down’ garners rapturous screams and excited shape-throwing gestures.

Showcasing their natural stage chemistry, Yeezy assists Jay during a rendition of ‘99 Problems’, while HOV returns the favour on West’s ‘Gold Digger’. A personal highlight comes when the pair takes it down a notch, grabbing a seat, whilst casually conversing, reminiscing about earlier days –which proves a great intro to Jigga’s breakthrough 1997 single ‘Hard Knock Life’.

Despite its wide success, some critics have questioned the ‘Watch The Throne’ album, claiming the record’s over-the-top boasting of wealth, designer garments and private jet lifestyle, in a time where most are feeling the pinch of the credit crunch, suggests the rap icons are slowly losing touch with their original hip hop fanbase. And while elements of that cannot be disputed, the albums triumph (both commercially and within the hip hop scene) proves rap fans (and pop fans alike) are very much so onboard with the duo’s “luxury rap”. And The O2 gig is a testament to that.

The US stars close their breathtaking two-hour set with an extended version of ‘N****s In Paris’ – which is reloaded an astonishing FOUR times, providing a perfect encore to what is quite frankly an EPIC show. Jay and Kanye are well and truly sitting on top of the hip hop throne, with no contenders remotely insight of knocking them off anytime soon.

Words by Vanessa Laker

New Music | Rita Ora | Party And Bullsh*t!

She’s currently number one in the UK charts featuring on DJ Fresh‘s smash hit single “Hot Right Now” and now Rita Ora has finally revealed her new solo single over in the States.

Jay-Z accompanied his protege to Z100 radio station yesterday, where he introduced the west London singer to US audiences, unveiling her first solo record “Party And Bullsh*t”. The uptempo track has a somewhat Katy Perry esk sound to it and is ideal for the upcoming spring/summer.

It’s not quite what I expected from Miss Ora, but she’s a very talented girl and I strongly  believe 2012 will be a big year for 21-year-old rising star. I look forward to hearing the album.

Don’t Get Caught Up In No Throne | Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) “N****s in Poorest”

Like a lot you, I was happy when I got the news that Jay-Z and Kanye West would finally be bringing their Watch The Throne Tour to the UK. I’ve been a Jigga fan since I can remember. OK that’s a lie, more like since 1997 – which is a damn long time. And Yeezy has been doing his thing for quite some time now, so the chance of catching these two rap Juggernauts live at the same time, is something most  rap fans won’t wanna miss (including myself).

But while I’m excitedly anticipating the show – which will hit London’s 02 Arena on May 20th – I have to admit I was very slightly disappointed with the lyrical content of the Watch The Throne album . This may sound hypocritical as I casually blast “Otis” loud on my iPod, but as much as I love HOV and ‘Ye, the lyrical content for this record is very questionable. But like a lot of today’s hip-hop music, we tend to over look lyrical content in favour of a nice flow or heavy bass.

This is why I was so happy when Yasiin Bey (formally known as Mos Def) dropped his version of the pairs widley poppular “N–ggas In Paris”, titled “N-ggas In Poorest”, where the Brooklyn native ‘keeps it real’ in a candid, raw, politically charged and some-what controvesial video/song about what’s happening in many parts of society.

I say controversial beacause he constantly echoes the lines “Don’t get caught up in no throne” – which is a clear reference to Jay and Kanye. And even more interesting is the fact that Mos Def Yasiin is signed to Kanye’s G.O.O.D record label. Awkward!

Not that I’m knocking Mr Carter and West, because I’m genuinly a HUGE fan of them both (HUGE I tell you, Huge), but a lot of mainstream hip-hop lacks purpose with regards to lyrical content. I’m not saying MC’s should become all political on us and start preaching (we damn sure don’t need that), but some of their songs should have more substance. Hip-hop used to be able to really talk to people. Yes we all like those club bangers that can get us on the dance floor, but there’s got to be more.  There has to be a limit to how many times you can talk about your new Rolex or that “other other Bentley” you just purchased. Especially in these hard economic times when most of the world is feeling the true brunt of the repercussions of the recession.

To be honest I don”t expect much change in mainstream hip-hop anytime soon – especially if  many people (including myself), happily purchase such records reguardles of what we really feel about the lyrical content. Like I said at the beginning, I’m happily waiting for the Watch The Throne show to come across the pond.  This is why we have to Salute artists like Yasiin Bey for being bold enough to put out something so real in a genre where ‘really keeping it real’, doesn’t get you the type of recognition and accolades you deserve. “N*ggas in Poorest” may be a little bit too real for some people, but hey, more power to you Yasiin. Hip-hop needs people like you to keep the balance in a very unbalanced genre. And on that note I’m gonna stop my rambling and let you listen to the song. It’s a very powerful message.

RIP Malcolm X

President Obama sings the blues with Mick Jagger & BB King!

Obama’s seriously eyeing up a recording contract…

After singing some sweet notes of Al Green at a recent fundraiser in Harlem, President Barack Obama showed the world that he has a rather good voice.  So last night during a concert at the White House in honor of Black History Month – which featured musicians Mick Jagger and B.B. King – the smooth taking Commander In Chief took to the mic once again, this time to sing the blues.

During a performance of ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ Buddy Guy pointed to President Obama and said ‘I heard you singing Al Green, so you done started something, you gotta keep it up now.”  Although he was hesitant, The Prez grabbed the mic and got his swagger right before singing “Baby don’t you wanna go? Baby don’t you wanna go?”

How sexy is Obama? He’s so much cooler than David Cameron.