With his 10th album Nobody’s Smiling in stores, Common sat down with Rap-Up TV for part two of our exclusive interview. A 20-year veteran himself, the Chi-town MC weighed in on the current state of hip-hop.
“I love hip-hop. I love where hip-hop is. There’s future in hip-hop,” he said. “You always have dark, light, quality, non-quality, but there’s some quality hip-hop out there.”
He singled out the TDE camp in particular. “I can appreciate the aspects of the quality hip-hop and the freedom that I get out of artists, whether it’s Ab-Soul or Kendrick Lamar,” he said. “Their whole team does unique things.”
So can we expect a collaboration between him and the Compton MC? “Man, I would love to do a record with Kendrick,” said Common. “That album [good kid, m.A.A.d city] to me is like one of the most complete albums we’ve heard in hip-hop in a long time. It was the album that set a milestone [...] from the new era of rap artists.”
He also praised Nicki Minaj’s Chicago-inspired record “Chi-Raq.” “I love that joint. I was rockin’ it as soon as I heard it,” he said. “I think Nicki Minaj is a dope MC. She can really rhyme to me. From what she did on ‘Monster’ to now, she still is snappin’. When you hear her rap, you’re like, damn, this woman is cold. I mess with Nicki Minaj.”
Yung Berg is getting his hustle on. The Grammy-nominated producer-songwriter, who has worked with artists including Lil Wayne, Tamar Braxton, and Ray J, is cooking up hits for megastars including Rihanna, Diddy, and Nicki Minaj, who he calls one of his best friends in the industry.
“The Pink Print is the female Blueprint,” Berg aka Hit Maka! told Rap-Up TV. “Jay Z put out the Blueprint. I think The Pink Print really personifies that, and not only that, I’m really involved in it.”
When asked what we can expect, he said, “You just gotta look out for greatness. It’s gonna be crazy.”
The album will be a true representation of who Nicki is. “I think she gave you guys a really great example with ‘Pills N Potions,’” he said. “It has rap in it, it has singing, but at the same token, it’s really just more about Nicki being Nicki. I really feel like she’s coming from the heart with this joint.”
When asked if Drake will be on the album, he said, “I wouldn’t put it past her. You gotta look out for some Drake records. Hopefully, I’m a part of that.”
He also penned a song called “All Night” for Rihanna, which was produced by Nic Nac (Chris Brown’s “Loyal”). “Me and Nic Nac went in,” he said. “It’s about being down all night.”
Additionally, he has been in the studio A&Ring Puff Daddy’s upcoming album Money Making Mitch.
Ray J took over the club on a Tuesday afternoon while shooting a video for his new single “ATM” featuring Migos. Rap-Up TV was on the scene as the VH1 reality star packed Sound Nightclub in Hollywood with some sexy ladies.
“The girl is saying she got her legs open like an ATM. Boom!” Ray J said of the raunchy club banger.
In the provocative clip, the head of his all-female security team ends up falling for him. “Hopefully her legs are open like an ATM by the end of the video and I can cash in and cash out,” he said.
He was also joined on set by the “Versace” trio. “We’re big fans of their music and they’ve been exploding on their own path and they’ve just built a crazy fan base,” said Ray J. “The homies told me to get with ‘em and they was down, so it was just magic.”
Migos returned the love, adding, “It was pleasure to lock in with my boy Ray J. He’s been doing this entertainment for a minute. We makin’ history.”
The song will appear on Ray J’s upcoming EP Ray J Unkut 2, which will also feature a ratchet record called “Never Should’ve Did That.”
He hopes to get back in the studio with his sister Brandy. “She called me and said she wanted to work on this project with me, so she’s flying in Friday,” he said. “God is good. Please God bless me to get back in with my sister and really get focused.”
Mariah Carey’s album Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteusedebuted at No. 3 last month, selling 58,000 copies. While the first-week sales were the lowest of her career (for a non-holiday album), Jermaine Dupri is not sweating it. The So So Def mogul, who manages the pop diva and executive produced Chanteuse, is confident that it will build over time.
“I actually feel like it’s probably one of her best albums she’s ever made,” he told Rap-Up TV at the ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards. “I’m excited to see where the album ends up. I tell a lot of people, this era of music and this genre, they don’t understand records that come out small and sell a lot of records.”
He compared the situation to Kris Kross and Bow Wow, who both put up low first-week sales, but went on to sell millions. “So it’s like the first-week sales sometimes don’t really matter,” he said. “I think people gotta start understanding. If you have a plan and you can put the plan in play, you just gotta keep livin’ it out.”
Mariah is moving forward with plans to shoot a video for her next single, the J.D.-produced “You Don’t Know What to Do” featuring Wale.
J.D. has also reunited with Jagged Edge and will executive produce the R&B group’s upcoming album J.E. Heartbreak Too. “If you like J.E. Heartbreak, you’re gonna love this new album,” he said. “We don’t really feel like we have no competition in the R&B world. When I say that I’m talking about real ballads, music that people actually have sex to. I just don’t believe that nobody cares about that area no more and we’re getting ready to really, really kill it.”
Twenty years after the release of his critically-acclaimed album Resurrection, Common reunites with No I.D. on Nobody’s Smiling. During his trip to L.A. this week, the hip-hop veteran sat down with Rap-Up TV to discuss his 10th album, which arrives July 22 via Def Jam.
The concept-driven project, inspired by the violence in Chicago, includes appearances from Cocaine 80s, Elijah Blake, Vince Staples, and Jhené Aiko, who is featured on the No I.D.-produced “Blak Majik.”
“Jhené Aiko is an artist that I truly respect,” said Common. “I think she has a unique voice in music, in culture. When I say unique voice, not only is it her singing voice, but her perspective, who she is, what she offers to the world is something that’s very, very special. It’s a soul to it. It’s a spirit to it.”
“I wanted to team up with her and do a song that was fresh. I called it ‘Blak Majik’ because I say we make something out of nothing,” he explained. “It’s also a feel-good, fun song, but it’s hard, it’s rough. It’s something special about that song too.”
He also worked with his G.O.O.D. Music brother Big Sean on “Diamonds,” for which a video was recently shot in L.A. “‘Diamonds’ for me, talks about shining. You got shine no matter what. No matter what situation you gotta get to shining. I’m talking about shining for today, not waiting for tomorrow. You just gotta embody it now.”
While he didn’t work with Kanye West on this album, he did attend his fairytale wedding. “That was a very special wedding in the way that it was fun,” he said. “I had been to Italy, but never to Florence. It felt very family-oriented, very simple but beautiful, and it felt like they cared about the guests. The way we were treated, it was royal. Everything was simple and beautiful and we had the best time.”
Rae Sremmurd have exploded onto the scene with their summer anthem “No Flex Zone,” and the record is about to get even bigger. The Mississippi duo, comprised of Slim Jimmy and Swae Lee, have tapped Nicki Minaj and Pusha T for the official remix.
“It’s coming very soon. Right now we’re just building up the hype,” they told Rap-Up TV. “The streets is talking. The world is talking. Everybody is saying ‘No Flex Zone.’ When it gets to its boiling point, that’s when we’re gonna drop that bomb.”
Mike WiLL Made-It, who signed the duo to his EarDrummers label, had nothing but praise for his young protégés, who are readying their Sremm Life EP.
“I’m one of their biggest fans. They put Tupelo on the map, since the great Elvis has died,” said the super-producer. “They got a long career ahead of them. Real talented kids. I don’t really vouch for too many people, but these guys right here are superstars.”
Mike WiLL has also been working on his studio album Est. in 1989 Pt. 3 and recently premiered the new single “Buy the World” featuring Lil Wayne and Kendrick Lamar.
“I’m working with all the originals in all different genres,” he said. “I don’t wanna drop too many names. I’ma drop a triple-disc album, pop records, urban records, everything.”
He has also produced a song called “New New” for Keyshia Cole’s upcoming album Point of No Return.
Starting next week, Bow Wow will officially retire his stage name and go by his birth name, Shad Moss. But the change shouldn’t come as a surprise.
“It’s a name that they heard my whole career,” he told Rap-Up TV at the ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards. “To me, it wasn’t really that big of a deal. I was laughing at the reaction that everybody was making it the biggest news in the world. It was just hilarious ’cause I was like, ‘Shit. I’m just using my normal name.’”
He had been thinking about making the transition for some time now. “I always threw hints about it through my music, but for all my fans that grow with me, they know the name,” he said. “So for them, it’s really not a change.”
It’s just part of his growth as an artist and business man. “I’m embarking on so many different things now, television, clothing, you name it. It’s kinda hard for me to be just Bow Wow. I gotta play both sides of the field.”
Plus, hear him praise his mentor Jermaine Dupri for inspiring his big moves.