“My iPhone is so jacked up. I’m clumsy. I drop everything,” says Elle Varner, rolling her eyes at herself. The 22-year-old singer/songwriter is so comfortable discussing her flaws that it’s almost as if she’s unaware of her killer Coke-bottle shape, lips perfect for pouting (though she never does), and the big, emotive eyes of a caramel-skinned Precious Moments doll.
Her playful and honest lyrical content meets with her voice (think Adele-like soul with a touch of raspy seduction) in a way that is anything but clumsy on her self-written debut Perfectly Imperfect, predominantly produced by Pop & Oak (Nicki Minaj, Diggy Simmons).
The “Only Wanna Give It to You” songstress tells Rap-Up.com how she built up her confidence, which record of Lauryn Hill’s inspired her, and the advice Alicia Keys gave her. Find out why Elle is next to blow.
If A$AP Rocky was not a rapper, he would be a “music video-directing fashion stylist.” Dripped in designer labels (A.P.C. denim, Jeremy Scott sneakers, and a Stussy track jacket and hat), the 23-year-old overachiever says, “This is just my streetwear. Tomorrow I think I might wear Margiela or something.”
Rocky’s name is on every hip-hop head’s tongue these days, including Drake, who’s been co-signing him heavy. His rhymes are steeped in southern simplicity (odd, since he’s from Harlem) and his demeanor is calm and confident, with an occasional tiptoe on the borderline of cocky.
“I don’t feel pressure when people are talking about me,” reveals Rocky. “I do this, so the pressure ain’t a bad thing. It makes me more anxious in a productive way.”
Polo Grounds Music/RCA Records is on the verge of re-releasing his lauded mixtape, Live.Love.A$AP, in a deluxe edition with “better mastering and some amazing beats by A$AP Ty Beats, Clams Casino, and a few tracks that the ladies will be feelin’.” While he bigs up his own crew constantly, A$AP has his heart set on working with Pharrell on his debut album, which will drop in the new year.
The self-proclaimed “pretty muthafu**a” opens up to Rap-Up.com about his love for Asher Roth, flying wizards, and Canadians.
Brandy is coming back hard. Sean Garrett has been in the lab diligently working on the R&B veteran’s sixth album, her first since signing to RCA/Chameleon Records. The hitmaker spoke exclusively with Rap-Up.com about developing a current, yet fresh sound with today’s top hitmakers including Bangladesh, Hit-Boy, and Tha Bizness, while staying true to her R&B roots.
“I wanted to take this opportunity to really try to bring R&B back,” explained Garrett, who also teased with details about the hip-hop-influenced first single, which will feature a surprise guest and is expected to arrive before Christmas.
Find out what he had to say about Brandy’s return to music.
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.