Earlier this week, XXL announced the 12 artists in its 2014 Freshman Class. Rap-Up TV caught up with 2012 Freshman Class alum Kid Ink, who weighed in on this year’s “Dirty Dozen,” which includes Chance the Rapper, Lil Durk, Vic Mensa, Isaiah Rashad, Rich Homie Quan, and R&B hitmakers August Alsina and Ty Dolla $ign.
The “Show Me” rapper was happy to see some of his friends including Durk and Rich Homie Quan make the list, but did feel like there were some omissions including Casey Veggies and his tourmates Bizzy Crook and King Los.
So what does the future hold for this year’s freshmen? It’s what you make of it, says Kid Ink, who shared his 2012 cover with Macklemore, Iggy Azalea, Future, French Montana, MGK, and Danny Brown.
“I think a lot of people that were on my cover made good decisions of where they were gonna take it,” he said. “These are all people who took their lanes and really didn’t let the cover speak for them.”
It’s a new day for JoJo. After exiting her deal with Blackground Records late last year, the singer has signed with Atlantic and is back in the studio working on her long-awaited third album.
“It’s so refreshing to be at a new home and have a different experience. It’s so exciting!” she told Rap-Up TV after headlining L.A.’s Broccoli Festival on Saturday. “I wake up every day having energy in places that I thought I didn’t anymore. I just feel so encouraged and optimistic, and I haven’t felt that way in so long.”
Earlier this year, she began recording the follow-up to 2006′s The High Road. “The goal is just to come up with the strongest body of work and really represent everything that has been culminating within me for the last however many years.”
She is bringing her vision to life with help from Da Internz, Gino Barletta (“Disaster”), and Noisecastle III, as well as some up-and-coming producers.
“It’s just been so long since I’ve released an album that really what I wanna bring is just quality,” said JoJo. “I wanna bring big songs. I want them to touch a wide range of people and I really want it to represent my very best work. I’m really not thinking about what other people are doing. I’m thinking about representing my personal best, delivering powerful vocals, and being honest and as raw as possible.”
She also plans to get in the studio with Pharrell Williams, who enlisted her for “Freq” off his album G I R L. “I’m such a fan of that album and the fact that my little vocals are on it, I’m super happy,” she said.
But for now, she’s enjoying her freedom. “I just wanna work harder than ever and not sleep at all. This is what I’ve been waiting for and I just wanna seize the friggin’ moment.”
If you don’t know who Pia Mia is yet, you soon will. The 17-year-old singer-songwriter, who was born and raised in Guam, became a viral sensation with her YouTube covers of Rihanna and Bruno Mars and her a capella rendition of “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” which she performed in front of Drake, Kanye West, and the Kardashians.
Rap-Up TV caught up with the budding blonde star on the L.A. set of her viral video for “Mr. President,” one of the six tracks off her EP The Gift.
“This video was inspired by a photo that we saw of a girl laying across an old car,” she explained. “I thought it would be dope to make the video a cool, underground party.”
The leader of the Wolfpack (her label and the nickname she gave her fans) has also covered Drake’s “Hold On” for her EP.
“Drake’s a huge inspiration for me,” said Pia, who also admires Bruno Mars, Eminem, and Jay Z. “I love all his music and I really just wanted to do it and see how it came out.”
She is currently working on her Interscope Records debut and plans to release the first single in the next month or two. “It’s gonna be rhythmic pop,” she revealed. “I really like to do that because I’m able to lean more towards the urban side, I’m able to do more pop, and I’m able to do ballads also, so I’m kinda able to touch everywhere.”
In the meantime, she has collaborated with Chance the Rapper on “Fight for You” for the Divergent soundtrack.
Mila J is quickly making a name for herself. Following the release of her 2012 mixtape, the L.A.-bred singer/dancer inked a deal with Motown Records and showed off her impressive moves in the ’90s-inspired video for “Smoke, Drink, Break-Up” co-starring Ty Dolla $ign. Now the 30-year-old sister of Jhené Aiko is readying her full-length debut M.I.L.A. (Made in Los Angeles).
Rap-Up TV caught up with the budding star to discuss her album, musical family, and influences, which include TLC, Prince (she appeared in his 1992 video for “Diamonds and Pearls”), and Janet Jackson, whose “Rhythm Nation” tour was one of the first concerts she attended.
“I just love how she entertains,” said Mila of the pop icon. “You go to her shows, she’s gon’ have a million dancers—lights, camera, action. It was just cool to see a female dancing and singing.”
M.I.L.A. will feature a collaboration with Problem (“Pain in My Heart”) and a song called “Times Like These.” “It’s another love song, relationship-based song, but it’s really about me being there for my dude and going through the hard times,” said Mila, who comes from a musical family.
“My father was a musician and we got into [music] through him, like my brother raps, and even my older sister, she sings too,” she said.
But when it comes to family time, the sisters don’t talk about music. “If someone was to come in the house, they probably wouldn’t even know that anyone does music. We’re just about family when we’re together.”
On April 29, Mila will join Ty Dolla $ign on select dates of his “Beach House Tour,” which kicks off in Fresno, Calif.
It’s been nearly four years since Mike Posner released his debut 31 Minutes to Takeoff. The Detroit singer has been working on the follow-up Pages, and recently caught up with Rap-Up TV to discuss everything from his love for André 3000 to his upcoming collaboration with Justin Bieber to his struggle with depression.
The 26-year-old, who attended Duke University, thought that getting a record deal would make him happy. “And of course, when I got these things, in a lot of ways it made my problems worse,” he said. “I felt very disillusioned. I had success, I had money, a lot of my dreams had come true, but I didn’t feel any happier.”
So one day while eating a “nasty sandwich” on an airplane, he was inspired to give back. “The idea was to make an album and for every album I sold, give a meal to a kid, one for one,” he explained.
He has collaborated with Big Sean on the album’s first single “Top of the World” as well as 2 Chainz, Labrinth, and Justin Bieber, who he worked with on a song called “Get Down.”
“It’s very stripped. It’s like the most minimal song on the record. One guitar, drums, and a bass, and that’s it,” said Posner, who co-wrote Bieber’s hit “Boyfriend.” “It’s all unquantized too, J Dilla style, so that’s really cool.”
One person he dreams of collaborating with is OutKast’s André 3000, whose concert he attended when he was 11.
Prior to the release of Pages, he plans to drop a new collection called …Featuring Me. “It’s a bunch of songs featuring me that I wrote and produced, but all collabs with other people,” said Posner. “For me as a writer and producer, I do a ton of different shit, so this project is kinda like me bragging in a way, like look at what I can do.”
Will T-Wayne live again? After forming their duo in 2008, T-Pain and Lil Wayne dropped several collaborations and announced plans for a full album. But following Wayne’s release from jail in 2010, the project was scrapped.
Four years later, T-Pain remains optimistic that T-Wayne will finally see the light of day.
“I’m getting back on my music shit, so I’m pretty sure Wayne will be like, ‘I’m glad you’re back. Let’s make this happen,’” T-Pain told Rap-Up TV. “I think it’ll happen again. I think it will.”
They have a vault full of unreleased songs that still sound current. “We got a lot of songs. I always listen to them. I got them on my iPod,” he added. “We got a lot of shit that we can still drop that’ll sound like it just happened today.”
He feels that now is the right time to release it. “Everything was ahead of its time anyways. It probably wasn’t meant to happen back then,” he explained. “It probably is meant to happen now ’cause the songs were so now. The kind of music that people are dropping now, we was making that so long ago. I guess it was ahead of its time. It wasn’t supposed to happen.”
While they don’t speak often due to their busy schedules, he’s hopeful that he and Weezy will reconnect. “I’m ready to do that again, so I’m pretty sure he’ll get back on track with it.”
August Alsina is keeping it real. Known for his gritty singles “Make It Home” and “Ghetto,” the New Orleans crooner is not sugar coating anything, including his relationships in the industry.
While promoting his debut Testimony, due April 15, he revealed his beef with Trey Songz. The R&B singers, who collaborated on the remix to August’s hit “I Luv This Sh*t,” recently had a falling out.
“I don’t really fuck with Trey right now. We don’t get along right now,” he exclusively told Rap-Up TV. “We ain’t on the same page. He did some other shit and we just don’t rock.”
He explained what led to the demise of their friendship. “Like I tell people all the time, show me that you’re this person on day one… You should always be that person,” said August. “We were supposed to have a show together and it just went left ’cause I can’t deal with ni**as’ egos and attitudes ’cause I’m just a real ni**a comin’ through and I’m rockin’.”
He continued, “Once ni**as go to talkin’ a certain type of way, that shit ain’t gon’ fly with me and that’s all that was and I just had to not do the show ’cause I can’t stand on side of a ni**a if I really got something that I feel in my heart. It just ain’t gon’ work, so I just had to dip and we didn’t do it, but it is what it is.”
While he and Trey may have their differences, he still rocks with Chris Brown. “As far as Chris, that my ni**a. That’s love. I spoke to him a while ago, he goin’ through what he goin’ through, his situation, and I just always try to uplift him with positivity and love.”