The beatbox needs a little work but Tiara Thomas rips this freestyle!
Singer, songwriter, and lyricist Tiara Thomas is making her return to music on a higher level, all puns intended. Her official break in the industry started when MMG artist Wale teamed up with the college graduate for the platinum selling record “Bad”. It came to no surprise when Tiara’s career skyrocketed after the release of the hit single, and soon after signed to industry power house Rico Love. Currently Thomas has separated from her contract with Rico’s Division One label and is releasing her a project next month solo. Tiara tells us about the progression of her music career, the EP Up In Smoke that is set to be released August 12th, and spills who she would F, Marry, or Kill out of Mack Wilds, Fetty Wap, and Kendrick Lamar.
Watch the full exclusive interview above and her new video to single “On Me” below!
Just 5 days ago, Meek Mill announced the release date of his hotly coveted sophomore album, Dreams Worth More Than Money, sending fans everywhere into a frenzy. As promised, DWMTM, Meek’s first LP since his debut, Dreams & Nightmares, dropped in 2012, is officially out on iTunes, and you can purchase it here,or stream below. Off the strength of “Check” and the newly released “All Eyes On You,” which features Nicki Minaj and Chris Brown, Meek’s sophomore effort features Drake, Diddy and more.
Features aside, everyone’s wanted to know how Meek was going to top his debut album’s intro, which is now, three years later, a certified classic record. Now, you get to find out.
1. Lord Knows
2. Classic (Featuring Swizz Beatz)
3. Jump Out The Face (Featuring Future)
4. All Eyes On You (Featuring Chris Brown)
5. The Trillest
6. R.I.C.O. (Featuring Drake)
7. I Got The Juice
9. Pullin Up (Featuring The Weeknd)
11. Been That (Featuring Rick Ross)
12. Bad For You (Featuring Nicki Minaj)
13. Stand Up
14. Cold Hearted (Featuring Diddy)
Leave it to Meek Mill to bring the heat every time. Following the hit records “Monster”, the tribute to Chinx with “I Miss My Dawgs”, he returns for the new summer track “Check”. “Check” was premiered by Funk Flex tonight and social media lit up as soon as it dropped.
Produced by none other than Metro Boomin’ & Southside, the MMG rapper is flexin’ on the highly anticipated record. The Philly rapper is just warming up with this one. Take your first listen here!
The British pop star brings his red-head, darling persona to New York City
Ed Sheeran is still riding high off the success of his sophomore album, x, or Multiply, which is platinum in both the UK and the US, and has spawned a handful of hits, most recently “Photograph,” which is quickly heading for Billboard’s Top 40 (it currently sits at #58 after two weeks).
Early this morning, Sheeran headed over to The Breakfast Club, where he, Charlamagne, DJ Envy and Angela Yee talked about everything from Sheeran’s buzzed about joint album with Game, which he was summoned to Compton to complete, and his run-in with Rick Ross at Atlantic Records, which resulted in the official remix of Sheeran’s “Don’t” from last summer.
All in all, you’ll crack up watching this on more than one occasion. Watch it above.
#MeekSeason begins with a vintage clip for Meek’s buzzing single
“Monster” was originally a freestyle, a reminder that jail hadn’t slowed Philly’s hottest emcee, Meek Mill, but it has since become his biggest release of the year. The MMG capo is currently prepping his sophomore album, Dreams Worth More Than Money, for what everyone hopes is a summer release date, but as of now, nothing is confirmed.
If Meek’s Instagram is any indication, the wait will be well worth it. Over the weekend he previewed bangers feauring everyone from Travis Scott to Future, and that doesn’t include the intro he teased at the end of 2014. The moral of the story: Meek Season is real, and it’s upon us. The “Monster” video is just the beginning, and you can watch it above.
Wale The Album About Nothing
Features: Usher, SZA, J. Cole, Jeremih
Production: DJ Dahi, JGrammBeats, Jake One, Best Kept Secret, No Credit, Osinachi
The concept in itself is almost nonsensical. To postulate the idea of crafting an entire LP around his famed “nothing” concept–from which he’s 5 years removed–while scores of pre-MMG Wale fans on Twitter and Instagram accuse the DMV native of sacrificing his artistic integrity for commercial success, is a daring idea. Some would say misguided. Regardless, coming off his first #1 album and a well-received December mixtape—the DJ A-Trak-helmed Festivus–the pressure was on Wale to deliver, and considering his friend and inspiration, Jerry Seinfeld, would be joining him for the third installment of his About Nothing trilogy, the stakes were even higher.
When it’s all said and done, Wale will probably have one of the higher rated mixtape catalogs in rap history. From his early work–100 Miles & Running, Paint A Picture–to the tape that landed him national attention and a deal with Interscope, The Mixtape About Nothing, on to his post-Interscope tapes–More About Nothing, Eleven One Eleven, Folarin–Wale has consistently delivered when there’s no barcode involved. Often, his biggest records are merely re-mastered versions of mixtape standouts (“Nike Boots”, “That Way”, “Bad”, “Girls On Drugs” all first appeared on mixtapes). However, that same consistency can’t always be found in his LP lineup. Attention Deficit was a suitable debut whose biggest criticism was Wale’s inability to provide an anchor hit, a ship he aimed to right on his sophomore, Ambition, in excess. “Lotus Flower Bomb” provided Wale his first true hit–a much needed one, in hindsight–but the rest of the album was littered with obvious attempts at radio prowess, which limited the impact of its non-R&B driven records, “Legendary,” “Chain Music.”
The Gifted netted Folarin his first #1 album, but only half of it felt like his. Early cuts like “LoveHate Thing,” “Sunshine,” “Heaven’s Afternoon” and “Golden Salvation” proved that when he took a little risk, and strayed from the formula he’d followed for most of his previous album, Wale could dodge the sonic ubiquity that’s left critics unable to label him elite without a trailing “but…”. However, the second half of Gifted felt like Wale had betrayed his own instincts and fallen once again for his own guilty pleasure: the big-name collab, radio-ready banger. 2 Chainz, Wiz Khalifa, Ne-Yo, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, Juicy J and Rihanna packed out a short stretch of Wale’s 3rd LP, turning what began as an intriguing voyage into a “best guest feature” pissing contest.
The most frustrating part of Wale’s album missteps is probably the fact that, unlike most, he’s more often than not better off on his own. He’s proved over the years that his talents, bar-for-bar, are matched by few, and his most flawlessly executed song concepts come without help, be it an album (“Legendary”) or a mixtape (“Friends ‘N’ Strangers”). To his credit, it was a tragic start to his major label career that set Wale down this path. Attention Deficit was overwhelmingly undershipped by Interscope, and just months after its release, Wale had nothing but an embarrassing sales mark and an aborted tenure at the house Jimmy Iovine built to show for his efforts. During a 2013 interview with Dallas Penn and Combat Jack on The Combat Jack Show, Penn suggested that Wale was “left for dead” by the industry, and Wale responded with a narrative that sounded very much like he wrote several records to prove his worth, not necessarily because they were what he wanted to make. It’s an aspect of his career that he’s acutely aware of. On the second song of this new album, “The Helium Balloon,” he spends much of the second verse justifying some of his more pandering work. “Came through with Ross writing bangers for y’all/but I ain’t lose my content.” It’s that very notion–that he had to make those songs in order to be accepted by his commercial fanbase–that’s developed a set of habits some of today’s highest selling artists (J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West) are working to break. He was programmed to beat the system, and understandably so, but Folarin knew as much as anybody that The Album About Nothing had to be the project to interrupt that cycle.
The singles released prior to the album did little to dispel the notion that things would be different this time around. “The Body” and “The Matrimony,” as clever as they were, didn’t differ sonically from past album lead-ins, except Miguel and Tiara Thomas had been substituted with Jeremih and Usher. Original material concocted in-studio with Wale from Jerry Seinfeld certainly gave TAAN a unique advantage, but it was hardly a guarantee of quality. To put it bluntly, aside from all the frills this defining LP came with, Wale was still going to have to deliver.
As a good friend of mine put it, “it’s the most Wale thing Wale has done, I think,” and though that has the scent of a backhanded compliment, it bodes extremely well for Folarin. His personal experiences have always provided the bulk of the inspiration for his material, and TAAN is no different, aside from the fact that personal experience provided all of its inspiration. He’s sacrificed the repetitive R&B records that have cluttered past Wale LPs for more adventurous forays of similar content that come with greater risks, but reward both the artist and the listener. There are two glowing examples of this: the ominous “Girls On Drugs”–thanks, Janet–and the SZA-assisted “The Need To Know,” both of which are two of the better album cuts Wale’s ever done. On the latter, Wale scales his sometimes over-aggressive flow back in favor of a tranquil approach, treading lightly over a JGrammBeats bassline so as not to lessen the impact of a barely-there guitar strum–necessary to avoid cacophony. His tale of a strained platonic relationship, one he wishes were so much more, are accentuated by one of the best performances of SZA’s career. TDE’s 1st lady leads a quiet storm of a chorus, borrowing Musiq Soulchild’s “Just Friends (Sunny),” and turning it into a mellifluous break from Wale’s verses, her voice much sharper and less eerie than we’re used to.
For all the debate of the songs Wale constructs and why, seldom do those arguments fall to open criticism of his rhymes. In a day where even the proven greats get their lyrics picked apart and turned into fodder for Twitter jokes–there’s a whole Twitter account dedicated to Things Lil Wayne Would Say–Wale has, for the most part, escaped such scrutiny–and for good reason. Whether he’s lamenting the effects of intra-racial prejudice with Chrisette Michele, or the concept of marriage with Usher, his pen has remained sharp. In fact, he’d be higher on most critics’ lists if he were judged solely on the technical aspect of putting rhymes together, which is rarely the case for an artist openly yearning for Top 40 success. If nothing else, “The God Smile” is a friendly reminder. “My God n*gga life like a dice roll/and it’s twice hard throwing it with mics on/I hit em with the rap, everybody slept/then I came back killin’ everybody’s nap like a hot comb.”
Though both the peaks and valleys of Wale’s fourth LP are both higher than those of his previous albums, he hasn’t quite, 100% found his Nirvana. At a private listening party in February at Tom’s Restaurant–the iconic Seinfeld diner–Wale boasted of a tracklist with very minimal features, in an attempt to force listeners to focus on his ability as a solo artist, which is a noble mission, but not always a fruitful one. At times, Wale sounds as if he’s singing from his heart, but at others, his attempts to score his own mini movies comes off as vain. If anything, for the 5th LP, understanding that part of remaining true to one’s self as an artist is admitting when help is needed, will bode well.
One thing is for sure: this is absolutely Wale’s best album. Moving forward, his mission may be to not only expound on the things he did well here, but also to find a way to revamp his radio formula. The album’s first two singles were the least successful pair of lead singles from any of Wale’s four major albums, but the end result of the LP was by far his most desirable. If anything, even to the most pretentious of the DMV native’s detractors, TAAN is easily reason to stay tuned in to see what happens the 5th time around, which, in the internet and information age, is not a bad thing.
Khari is The Source‘s Music Editor, and lives in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter.
The last time Wale took the stage at SOBs in New York City, it was 2009. He was 1-year removed from the release of his breakthrough mixtape, The Mixtape About Nothing, which played host to the song that earned him his first national underground hit, “Nike Boots.” For those in the crowd 6 years ago, with that “Where Legends Are Made” slogan plastered in the background, the feeling had to be unanimous: ‘in a year’s time, this guy was gonna be out of here, so it’s a good thing I caught this show,’ which wasn’t entirely true.
A wealth of perceptibly good things–Interscope deal, Lady Gaga and Pharrell features, Roc Nation backing and the open support of hit producer Mark Ronson–did little to slow the freight train headed Wale’s way. Less than a year after Attention Deficit, Wale was label-less, had a commercial flop on his resume, and was searching for a way back.
Fast forward to last night, just a few hours before midnight, when Wale was expected to take the stage, a Bilboard article began making it’s rounds on the internet. “I want Katy Perry to not tell her security to move me out the fuckin way,” read one person’s pull-quote. It appeared on the surface to be one of Wale’s counterproductive Twitter rants, re-imagined in prose form, but the actual article was an interesting peephole into the complex persona that accompanies the DMV native, from his troubles with confidence to excessive drug use. If anything, those that took the time to read the story would see past the man notorious for having a foul attitude, and see a guy with real f*****g problems and no road map detailing how to deal with them–in other words, a human being. I kept waiting for Wale to “kirk out”–as they say in the DMV–on his Twitter account about the article, but he chose to channel his feelings about it in a different way.
When the lights dimmed at SOBs last night, and “Legendary” cued up, and Wale took the stage, there was a noticeable difference in his energy. I’d seen Wale once before, at Hunter College shortly after the release of Ambition, and I remember what my chief criticism of his performance was. He didn’t appear to believe in his own music. He was tentative on several occasions, and at one point I remember turning to a friend of mine and joking that he maybe wished he was anywhere but on center stage at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, he tore the house down, but I could tell there was an overbearing feeling that he just couldn’t shake.
3 years later, after he performed “Legendary,” and went into several other records, “Slight Work,” “Pretty Girls,” “The Deep End,” and “Girls On Drugs” among them, Wale seemed to be sure. About what? Well, only he’d know the answer to that. But as he transitioned into each record, telling brief anecdotes as to why and how he crafted each record–even the sappy ones some wish he’d never touched–there was an air of indifference. Not as if he didn’t care about the story he was telling, but as if he didn’t particularly care about how people felt about the fact that he chose to tell them. When J. Cole joined him on stage and reminded the crowd that his story–left “for dead” by a major after one album, re-signed a year later, Grammy-nominated and topping Billboard just a year after that–is one that happens once in a generation, Wale lifted up his right arm and flexed it as hard as he could, and let a smirk-smile creep onto his face as he nodded his head. Whatever he was sure about, it wasn’t something that he was going to let anyone discredit last night, or in the future for that matter.
Khari Nixon is The Source’s Music Editor, and he lives in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter.
Philadelphia was strangely warm on Saturday. The greater New York area had been sprinkled with scattered snowfall Friday evening, which quickly gave way to clear, sunny skies and near 50 degree temperatures just 12 hours later, but in Philadelphia, there was no snow to melt. The sun was out, the cheesesteaks were on the grill, and the energy was unmistakable.
For the first time in quite some time, Meek Mill was set to take the stage in his hometown of Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, at approximately 9:30 pm ET. It was a one off show–his tenure on his girlfriend Nicki Minaj‘s Pinkprint Tour begins in July–which, for a city that starved for a decade for a new star to call its own, was already a huge deal. But on this night, there was a heightened level of significance.
In the middle of last summer–a summer that was quickly shaping up to be one Meek could dominate–his freight train of an album rollout came to a screeching halt. During an otherwise routine probationary hearing, Meek had been cited for booking out-of-town engagements without proper permission, and posing for less-than-safe photographs–including one that allegedly involved a handgun–on Instagram. The judge, who may or may not have felt slighted by the lawsuit Meek slapped the city of Philadelphia with earlier in the year, threw the book at the MMG rapper. 3-6 months in jail. Just like that, 2014 was over for Meek Mill. His sophomore album, Dreams Worth More Than Money, would no longer be released on September 9, and a considerable amount of momentum would all but evaporate just a few weeks later.
After several social media campaigns, updates from Rick Ross, and leaked pictures, Meek was sprung from behind bars just a few days before Christmas. Though he’d been inside less than a year, his return was one of folklore. There were Instagram videos of his neighborhood dancing around bonfires in the street, and even Drake–who sometimes doesn’t even use social media when his own music is released–tweeted about how great Meek’s release was. A hungry rapper, already notorious for his frenzied energy, was ready to continue his onslaught
But there was one thing left to do before that could properly begin.
When the lights dimmed at Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday night, no one quite knew what they were about to witness. A short video clip of “welcome home” messages from a few Philadelphia legends–Questlove,Julius Erving, Allen Iverson–was followed by Meek’s entrance to the stage, and his current club banger, “Monster,” queued up. From then on, one thing was clear. Meek is not only Philadelphia’s newest star, he may be Hip-Hop’s supreme street rapper. In an era where rappers like Jeezy, T.I., and The Game have passed the torch to the “backpack” generation, Meek’s early 2000’s formula has proved to be somewhat of a nostalgic refreshment, reminiscent of the mind-state Jay Z was in shortly after signing his major label deal with Def Jam: a gritty emcee with his heart in the streets but his mind on corporate success. It’s a juxtaposition expressed just by Meek’s attire: he took the stage sporting a plethora of gold chains, and his “Dreamchaser” shoe, a collaboration with Puma that a local Foot Locker introduced to all accompanying members of press and media just hours before the show.
The concert itself was an impressive spectacle, with a bountiful guest list. Jeezy, French Montana, Yazz The Greatest (Hakeem, Empire), Fabolous, Young Gunz, Lil Durk, Yo Gotti, Allen Iverson, Rick Ross, Jadakiss, and a shocking appearance by Beanie Sigel, who performed his verse on Jay Z’s “Do It Again” to a crowd screaming so loud for the return of a hometown legend he was barely audible. However, Meek was most impressive when he took center stage alone. Songs like “Levels,” “Monster,” “House Party,” and “Flexin” were some of the night’s biggest performances, but even those paled in comparison to the grand finale.
Meek Mill’s intro to his debut album, Dreams & Nightmares, has long been regarded as one of the greatest of its kind since its release in 2012. However, unlike most records of the internet era, it has only grown greater with time. Those that weren’t completely sold on the Beat Billionaire-produced record initially, have undoubtedly witnessed the raucous it causes at concerts, showcases, parties, brunches and the like, and many have had a change of heart. Today, nearly 3 years later, it’s discussed as one of the greatest intros of all time, alongside Jay Z’s The Dynasty intro, Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Fantasy opener, and others from Nas and 50 Cent.
It’s impact will be infinitely felt, much like his label boss’ first hit, “Hustlin.” Though it may not be his best song, achieved little mainstream success, and lacks even an accompanying music video, it will forever be remembered as the career-defining Meek Mill record. It will forever be marked as his official arrival, and respected as Philadelphia’s first true theme song since Freeway’s “What We Do.”
On this night, when Meek Mill performed the “Intro,” pausing to give the crowd time to go crazy before Beat Billionaire’s pensive major chords gave way to a violent set of 808’s over which Meek Mill screamed maybe his most famous lyrics ever, the “Intro,” and Meek Mill, were number one.
The Annual Hustlepalooza event became a chaotic mess after Bleu Davinci’s entourage jumped industry insider Hustle Simmons at his own event at SXSW
When the gangsters are in the building, don’t be surprised when it pops off.
Hustle Simmons annual Hustlepalooza event became a violent spectacle on stage when he denied MMG rapper Tracy T stage time with Black Mafia Family rapper Bleu Davinci during this year’s SXSW event. Bleu’s crew began pounding on the Chi-Town native industry vet, but he held his own against dread pulling and all. See the footage above.
For those who are unfamiliar with BMF(Black Mafia Family), their leader, Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory, received 30 years in federal prison for running a Continuing Criminal Enterprise. Even Bleu Davinci himself was handed down 5 years for conspiring with Meech and his brother Terry in their international drug operation.