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.
After months of speculation, Nicole Scherzinger was announced as co-host of the U.S. edition of Simon Cowell’s singing competition “The X Factor,” airing this September on Fox. The 32-year-old singer is no stranger to reality shows, getting her start on “Popstars” with girl group Eden’s Crush and later joining the multi-platinum Pussycat Dolls. She attracted Cowell’s attention after guest judging on the U.K. version of his hit show.
Rap-Up.com caught up with an exhausted Nicole, who was recouping from a “long night” of taping, to discuss her new gig, working with the snarky Brit, and how she’s preparing for her latest role.
When you hear Ace Hood’s tone, inflection, and delivery, it’s impossible to deny the influence that Florida’s distinct hip-hop flavor has had on him. When DJ Khaled gave him an opportunity to shine, Ace took it and ran. With minimal sleep and the work ethic of a mogul-in-training, the 22-year-old rapper pushes his product—honest rhymes on Miami-hot beats—in hopes that he can recycle the inspiration he experienced while putting together his third studio album Blood, Sweat & Tears on We the Best/Def Jam.
With nothing to hide, Ace throws his cards on the table and speaks with Rap-Up.com about his mother’s influence, out-of-the-box collaborations, and his admiration for Beyoncé.
Soulja Boy has people talking once again with his latest project. The 20-year-old rapper is reprising Tupac Shakur’s role in the 1992 crime drama Juice. The remake, directed by Rage (“Crank That” and “Kiss Me Thru the Phone”), was inspired by his mixtape of the same name and is currently shooting in Atlanta with an ensemble that includes Waka Flocka Flame and Cam’ron.
Soulja doesn’t plan to flip the script too much, staying true to the original. “It’s basically the same thing. It’s just 2011,” he tells Rap-Up.com. “We’re gonna do it the right way, give the people something to look forward to, and just keep it positive.”
Find out how his Juice-like haircut sparked the mixtape and movie, why he cast Waka Flocka, and what he says to those who criticize his decision to recreate the classic in our exclusive Q&A.