It’s fitting that Detroit singer/songwriter/producer Bei Maejor is playing the piano as Rap-Up.com enters the room. Judging by his prolific discography, the 24-year-old, born Brandon Green, is rarely away from an instrument or machine, having already etched out a prodigious career dating back to 2003.
In addition to his own mixtapes, which include volumes 1 and 2 of his popular Upside Down series, the Grammy-nominated artist has worked with everyone from Trey Songz and Keri Hilson to Soulja Boy and Wiz Khalifa. Maejor boosted his profile with the release of his J. Cole-assisted single “Trouble” earlier this year. Now, the versatile hitmaker is focusing on his RCA Records debut, scheduled for release next year.
Rap-Up.com spoke with the rising star about his early days, the definition of “upscale music,” his most surprising collaboration, and how his music has literally saved lives.
Following the release of his 10th solo album The Darkside, Vol. 1, Fat Joe has spent the better part of 2011 finishing up the follow-up The Darkside, Vol. 2, his first official mixtape out October 31. With guest appearances from Raekwon, Jadakiss, and French Montana, Joe returns to his hardcore hip-hop roots after 2009’s more commercially-minded Jealous Ones Still Envy 2 (J.O.S.E. 2), enlisting Cool & Dre and Macho as executive producers and handing the bulk of production over to fledgling producer Mark Henry.
But the Bronx rapper, who recently shed nearly 100 pounds, hasn’t completely abandoned his mainstream aspirations, having just released the slow, R&B-laced “Another Round” with Chris Brown. While no release date has been set for Joe’s upcoming album of the same name, his confluence of street, club, and bedroom hip-hop has allowed him to remain popular long after other rappers his age have faded from the scene.
Rap-Up.com spoke with Joey Crack about his support for Chris Brown, keeping in touch with Ja Rule, opening weight loss clinics, and why, regardless of his size, he will always be Fat Joe.
J. Cole just premiered his new video for “Work Out,” but he’s already on to the next. The Roc Nation MC escaped to paradise earlier this month to shoot the visuals for “Can’t Get Enough” (see photos), the second single off his debut Cole World: The Sideline Story (Sept. 27). Trey Songz guests on the Brian Kidd production and also appears in the Clifton Bell-directed clip.
“It’s like ‘Big Pimpin” minus the million-dollar budget,” Cole told Rap-Up.com of the last-minute shoot, which took place on a catamaran in Barbados surrounded by the beautiful scenery and women.
Cole spoke exclusively with us about the story behind the song, what you can expect from the island-themed visuals, and whether Barbados babe Rihanna will make an appearance.
Ameriie breaks out of the box and explores new territory on her fifth album Cymatika, Vol. 1, which includes unorthodox topics ranging from ancient astronaut theory to androgyny to new world order mixed with elements of trance, electronic, house, heavy drums, and new wave.
“There’s a song about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah with extraterrestrials destroying them with nuclear weapons,” explained the Georgetown grad of “Sodom & G.” “I don’t feel like that’s really been done.”
Other tracks include the mechanical “Intimidation,” “Run for Cover,” and the likely first single “FireStarter (Private Dancer).” “I really wanted to talk about the human experience,” shared Ameriie. “I wanted to talk about other stuff, but in a way that’s still listenable.”
Rap-Up.com spoke with the newly married singer about what we can expect from her genre-bending album.
The young gentlemen of Hamilton Park may rehearse as hard as the Jackson 5, but there’s certainly no fighting over who gets to be Michael. “It’s like that show, ‘Captain Planet,’” Mr. Marcus tells Rap-Up.com. “We each have different powers but with our powers combined…”
Inside a lounge at Atlantic Records in New York City, the R&B quartet (Mr. Marcus Lee, Royce P., Chris Voice, and Anthony)—who is the first act signed to Andre Harrell’s label Harrell Records—sits at attention, eyes gleaming with an amalgamation of excitement, innocence, and anticipation. They’re newbies to the music game, clad in matching plaid button-downs and ready to answer anything—even things they probably shouldn’t.
The Atlanta group’s single, “Thing Called Us,” brings velvety harmonies and a youthful charm that provides their female admirers something new to fan themselves about outside of the overrated teen pop phenoms. They’ll do it all for the love of music—just don’t expect to see them on “Jersey Shore.”
Since March of this year, Ja Rule has been living out a real-life 25th Hour. After pleading guilty to attempted possession of a weapon in December 2010, the 35-year-old rapper is set to begin an 18-month prison sentence this week. Despite the upcoming stint behind bars, Ja remained optimistic and upbeat when Rap-Up.com caught up with him, even discussing plans for a world tour beginning on the last day of his sentence.
With two albums in the works, P.ain I.s L.ove 2 and The Renaissance Project, and a clock ticking on his free time, Ja Rule’s main pre-jail priorities, spending time with his family and finishing up his albums, have taken precedence over the intricacies of the court case and any lingering regrets.
Following a string of hits in the late ’90s and early 2000s, years before his sing-rap style would be appropriated by Drake, Lil Wayne, and others, the rapper became 50 Cent’s primary punching bag and, fairly or not, the exemplar for a style of hip-hop—one marked by sleek, sung choruses and radio-friendly staples—that became passé with the increasing popularity of the harder, more militant, G-Unit era.
Second chances in hip-hop are rare, but with the “Always on Time” hitmaker back on good terms with his Murder Inc. associates (He reunited with Lloyd and Ashanti on stage in April and is collaborating with the latter on “LOL”), he is hoping to pull a Lil Wayne and retain, if not increase, his popularity while in prison. On the eve of his sentence, Ja Rule spoke with Rap-Up.com about his new projects, what he learned from Lil Wayne, the ridiculousness of “Twitter beef,” feeling betrayed by Lloyd, and how he’s risen above the hate.
When fans and critics throw Jadakiss’ name into the top five dead or alive conversation, not much argument follows considering the rap veteran’s lyrical content puts many of his competitors to shame. But when the Yonkers native puts his own list out for eyes to ogle over, he’s sure to raise some eyebrows as it sits outside the quota. “Biggie, Tupac, Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem, [and] Styles P,” Jadakiss tells Rap-Up.com.
Kiss likes to keep the people talking, and he’s doing just that with his newest effort, a mixtape serving as an EP titled I Love You (A Dedication to My Fans), available now. As usual, he’s playful and menacing in his rhymes but all in all, the lyricist just wants his loyal supporters to use his tracks as the soundtrack to welcome a new season. “It’s to hold you down for the summer,” he reveals. “This is something guaranteed, that you know you’re straight for the summer—for your pool parties, your cookouts. If you ain’t got nothing else, you got that.”
As he readies the release of the Aristotle-directed visuals for his first single, “Hold You Down,” the man who made “Ah ha” a widely recognized phrase, is “chillin’,” in his words. He bumps Keyshia Cole’s “Take Me Away” in his ride (he loves everything about the track) and kicks back with his two kids as they read to him (his son is a fan of Vado and Max B). Get to know the zealous MC as he discusses the one article of clothing he consistently drops dime on, his NBA playoffs pick, and which hip-hop icon he wants to work with on his forthcoming album.
“I want to do something with Lord Finesse,” Jorma Taccone admits when asked about which one of hip-hop’s elite MCs he’d want to bring into The Lonely Island fold. While tween rap fans hope for a Soulja Boy union that could one day appear on “Saturday Night Live”—the home where Jorma, Andy Samberg, and Akiva Schaffer took their Lonely Island comedy troupe to new heights—the trio’s collabo wish list includes the likes of rappers they grew up on, such as The Pharcyde, Hieroglyphics, Too $hort, and N.W.A.
Clearly fans of a well-crafted 16, The Lonely Island showcase their rhyming skills—or laughably lack thereof—on Turtleneck & Chain, the follow-up to 2009’s Incredibad. The first effort saw the comedians tapping Justin Timberlake (“Dick in a Box”) and T-Pain (“I’m on a Boat”) while Rihanna, Snoop Dogg, and Nicki Minaj are just some of the A-list talents that lend an assist to several head-nodding tracks (combined with a few of the awkward and sexually-explicit kind) on the new album.
Friends for close to 20 years, the threesome, speaking from inside Universal Republic’s cushy conference room—Andy squats on the floor while Akiva and Jorma rest on separate couches—pick up where they last left off, almost finishing each other’s sentences. It’s apparent the Bay Area natives’ bond goes way beyond their penchant for gold chains and yes, you guessed it, turtlenecks. Read on as The Lonely Island reveals to Rap-Up.com why Justin Timberlake is a bully, why Nicki Minaj is their kindred spirit, and what track the Cash Money clique is welcome to jump on.