Long before Belly became a Roc Nation signee and award-winning songwriter — credited with co-writing on Beyoncé's lauded Lemonade — he was a young Muslim immigrant navigating life on foreign turf. The Palestinian-born rapper, born Ahmad Balshe, was just a boy when his family emigrated from the West Bank. Yet the poverty they'd hoped to escape greeted them upon their arrival in Ottawa, Canada.
In times like these, smothered by so much cultural discord, the United States often resembles a tragic oxymoron. That irony isn't lost on Oddisee, whose keen observational eye fuels his latest LP, The Iceberg. In his latest video from the album, he distills America's ills by critiquing how society socializes all of us into darker versions of ourselves.
Sex, drugs, rap and roll. Vic Mensa's transparency about his dysfunctional lifestyle is sobering throughout his confessional Autobiography, released this summer. But on his latest video, "Rollin' Like a Stoner," he gazes back at his real-life battle with addiction through rock-star-colored lenses.
Master P and his New Orleans-bred No Limit Soldiers proved to the music industry that Southern hip-hop was "Bout It, Bout It" in the '90s. But beyond the records that flooded the Billboard charts, it was the guerrilla street marketing he brought to rap — as the founder of one of the biggest independent record labels of all time — that changed the game.
In the age of SoundCloud rap, 19-year-old Demo Taped's rise from unknown Atlanta-bred music prodigy to 300 Entertainment signee isn't all that unusual. That he's ascended from hip-hop's bedrock city to the house that Lyor Cohen built while making something other than hip-hop? That's totally out of the ordinary.
Only Young Thug could fail to show up for his own video, unknowingly have that video win an award at the MTV VMAs, then make a post on Twitter the next day that encapsulates how oblivious he was to it all.
"Introduce the melancholy / I've felt since last I saw you." — P.M. Dawn, "The Ways of the Wind"
The year was 1993 and Prince Be was everything rap was not supposed to be. While Snoop and Dre were indoctrinating Middle America in the chronic fundamentals of a "G Thang," the P.M. Dawn lead represented a much softer strain. He rhymed about unrequited love with a delicate lilt. He wore silky flowing garments and his dreads in an updo.
Hip-hop turns 44 today, and Google is giving mad props with a Doodle that drops science on the birth of the breakbeat. In addition to detailing the legendary 1973 party at 1520 Sedgewick Avenue in the Bronx, where DJ Kool Herc originated the style of playing two versions of the same record on different turntables to extend the break, users get an interactive tutorial in the art of crossfading and scratching.