Fresh off the premiere of the music video for “Beware” featuring Lil Wayne and Jhené Aiko, Big Sean shared the vision behind his latest work of art. The trippy clip, which he describes as “virtual craziness,” was directed by Matthew Williams for Kanye West’s creative company DONDA.
“It’s been great working with DONDA because they’re somebody who is really trying to elevate artistry, elevate artists, put them on a new level of creativity,” the G.O.O.D. Music MC told Rap-Up TV. “I think they’ve done that for me, from the ‘Beware’ video to the ‘Fire’ video.”
The visuals all go together, from the album art to the single covers to the videos. “It’s cool to have something that cohesive,” added Sean. “You don’t see that much in rap music, in music in general, to really rolling out a project and it feeling like a movement or a moment in time.”
He was pleased with the final product. “I’m proud of the video. It took a while to get done, but the end result is good. It’s cool to put out great videos that I can really be proud of.”
In addition to “Beware” and the Miley Cyrus-assisted “Fire,” Sean has also shot videos for “Ashley” featuring Miguel and “10 2 10” off his upcoming album Hall of Fame, due Aug. 27.
Everyone was buzzing about Kendrick Lamar’s “Control” verse at the Moët Rosé Lounge in L.A. earlier this week. In addition to speaking with Big Sean, Rap-Up TV asked some of the evening’s guests include Jhené Aiko, Gilbere Forte, Melody Thornton, and Chanel West Coast what they thought of the explosive bars.
“I feel like he is one of the best in the world right now, so why not?” said Kendrick’s fellow L.A. native Jhené, who worked with the Compton MC on her upcoming EP Sail Out. “I think that it’s really dope that he wasn’t afraid to say their names and everybody is trying to be so nice in rap right now… At the end of the day, it’s a competition and that makes it exciting.”
Gilbere Forte also weighed in. “I think this is Kendrick’s call and response. He wants to see who’s really about hip-hop at the end of the day,” said the Philly MC, who may be planning a response of his own.
Young Money rapstress Chanel West Coast applauded Kendrick for repping for the West Coast, while former Pussycat Doll Melody Thornton was reminded of Nas. “He killed it,” she said.
Pooch Hall thought the verse solidified K-Dot’s position in hip-hop. “I think he’s just establishing himself as a lyrical hip-hop MC/brand,” said “The Game” star. “Big Sean is here to stay, but so is Kendrick Lamar.”
Kendrick Lamar shook up hip-hop by calling out his peers on “Control,” but it was Big Sean who orchestrated the most-talked-about hip-hop record of the year. Still riding high on the buzz, Rap-Up TV caught up with the G.O.O.D. Music rapper at the Moët Rosé Lounge in West Hollywood on Tuesday to get his take on the track.
He gave his fellow MCs props. “Of course Kendrick spazzed on it, of course Jay Elec spazzed on it,” said Sean. “I feel like we all added our own flavors to it. I knew what it was for hip-hop culture. I knew how important it was.”
He decided to leave his verse intact even after hearing Kendrick’s. “I’m not a ho ass ni**a. I wasn’t gonna change my stuff for nothing. I didn’t want to alter it,” he explained. “I knew how important it was and I just wanted to give it out there and orchestrate that and push the culture forward.”
But he was not prepared for the reaction. “I haven’t seen a hip-hop song stir up this much excitement in years really.”
He admits that Kendrick outshined him by mentioning Drake, J. Cole, Meek Mill, and his other peers. “I think that name dropping really took it over the top for sure,” said Sean.
But that doesn’t take away from his verse. “I love my verse. I think I have some great quotables in there.”
“Control” didn’t make Hall of Fame because of a sample clearance issue, but Sean is trying to make it available on the digital version of the album, due August 27. “We’re trying to work out something where it could at least work digitally. I really fought for that too, man.”
RaVaughn has assembled a dream team of collaborators for her debut. The singer-songwriter, who is signed to Ne-Yo’s Compound University/Columbia Records, sat down with Rap-Up TV to discuss her upcoming album, which features production from The-Dream, Babyface, Eric Hudson, and Jerry Wonda.
She’s also collaborated with Wale (“Better Be Good”), Fabolous (“I’m So Fu**ed Up”), Marsha Ambrosius, John Legend, and Miguel, who appears on a track called “747.”
“I feel like he’s a genius and he’s incredible,” said RaVaughn of the “Adorn” singer. “He is definitely killing the game right now.”
Ne-Yo has been very hands-on with her project and has written four songs. “He’s very supportive and gives me great criticism,” she said of her label boss.
On her wish list of collaborators is Fun. and her Columbia labelmate Beyoncé. “I want to work with Beyoncé ’cause she’s incredible,” said RaVaughn. “I just love her as an artist and as a person. We’ve watched her grow up and I feel like she’s evolved into an amazing person. I just think she’s killing the game right now.”
Listen to RaVaughn’s single “Best Friend,” which she co-wrote with her sister.
Last week, Jhené Aiko debuted her new song “Bed Peace” exclusively for Rap-Up Sessions. Now the L.A. singer shares details about the summertime record and her upcoming EP Sail Out. She recorded over 20 songs for her debut Souled Out and decided to use some of the material for an EP.
“It’s like bridging the gap between [my mixtape] Sailing Soul(s) and Souled Out,” Jhené told Rap-Up TV. “Sail Out has a lot of the hip-hop/rap influence on it, even with the beats. It’s something you wanna put in your car; it’s perfect for the summer time.”
The hip-hop-heavy tracks boast features from Wiz Khalifa (“Hit It Again”), Big Sean, Ab-Soul, and Kendrick Lamar, who guests on the Janet Jackson-inspired “Stay Ready.”
Her rap alter ego J. Hennessy also appears on the EP. “I literally feel throughout the day I go through 12 different personalities in my head,” said Jhené, who is a Pisces. “She’s an aspiring rapper. She still sings, but she’s more aggressive. She likes to really talk a lot of shit and talk about things that a lot of R&B singers don’t talk about.”
The first offering, “Bed Peace,” will hit iTunes soon. “It’s a very summer, feel-good type of song,” she said of the Fisticuffs production.
Da Internz brought us Big Sean’s “Dance (A$$)” and Rihanna’s “Birthday Cake,” and now the hitmaking duo is adding their platinum touch to Miley Cyrus’ upcoming album.
Marcos “Kosine” Palacios and Ernest “Tuo” Clark recalled working with the pop star. “She like to turn up, man,” Tuo told Rap-Up TV. “The first time we met her, she sang Nicki Minaj’s second verse to ‘A$$,’ so we were like, ‘Whoa!’ And after that, we were like, ‘OK, she’s the turn up queen.’”
They have recorded “good, fun uptempo music” for Miley’s album. “Lots of bass, lots of ass. We come with lots of energy and her amazing voice,” said Kosine.
When they’re not in the studio with the likes of Miley or Nas, they have been focused on their artist KAPTN, whose single “Ricky Ricardo” is picking up steam. His album is “85 percent done” and due on their label Write Ya Life/Island Def Jam.
Plus, find out about their studio sessions with Elle Varner and John Legend, whose single “Made to Love” they co-produced.
Michelle Williams may have been raised in the church, but she can still get ratchet. The Destiny’s Child alum explores a grittier side on her upcoming album, Journey to Freedom.
“My mother listened to it, and it’s supposed to be an inspirational type of record, and she was like, ‘This is different.’ She was like, ‘This sounds ratchet,’” Michelle told Rap-Up TV at the ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards. “It kinda does have a gritty, urban feel to it.”
She may surprise some with her new sound. “I got a couple beats on there that are gonna make you turn up.”
The 32-year-old singer worked mainly with producers Harmony Samuels and Warryn Campbell on the follow-up to 2008′s Unexpected, and has a few treats in store. “I collabed with somebody that people are gonna be shocked about.”
The first single, “If We Had Your Eyes,” really hit home. “It touched me so much ’cause it makes me examine myself,” she said.
The 30-second teaser alone racked up over a million views. “I was like, ‘People are really ready for some music from me,’” said Michelle, who has been doing musical theater for the past four years. “That million views let me know people are ready.”
Elle Varner is super psyched about her sophomore album. Instead of playing it cool, the “Refill” singer proudly spoke about her new music at the ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards.
“My new album is unbelievable. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s real,” she told Rap-Up TV of the follow-up to her 2012 debut Perfectly Imperfect. “Everybody says to me, ‘Congratulations! Sophomore slump, what?’ and that’s all I gotta say about it. Get ready because it is unbelievable.”
She has a title in mind, but hasn’t fully committed to it. “I wouldn’t even be able to tell you ’cause it’s not a word,” she said. “If it’s the title that I go with, it will be something that hasn’t been done before.”
She has been in the studio with hitmakers including Pop & Oak, Eric Hudson, DJ Dahi, Da Internz, and Hit-Boy. Look out for the first single in the coming weeks.