From Kriss Kross to Bow Wow to Da Brat, So So Def has changed the face of hip-hop and introduced some of its brightest stars. On the 20th anniversary of his label, CEO Jermaine Dupri reflects on its legacy and shares what the future holds including new albums from Jagged Edge, Leah LaBelle, Dondria, and Fresco Kane.
“I just want people to understand that So So Def is probably one of the most musical companies to ever come in the 20th century,” said J.D., whose focus remains on breaking new artists.
On February 23, So So Def’s past and present roster will gather to celebrate with a star-studded concert at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre featuring performances from Kriss Kross, Jagged Edge, Da Brat, Dondria, Fresco Kane, Bow Wow, Bonecrusher, Anthony Hamilton, and more.
“It feels like I did what I set out to do,” said J.D. “To even be able to have this concert and talk about it feels incredible.”
Before winning his first Grammy for Best Rap Album at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards, Rap-Up TV caught up with Drake on the red carpet at the Cash Money Pre-Grammy Party. With his friend by his side, an admittedly drunk Drizzy spoke about “Started From the Bottom,” the first single from his upcoming album Nothing Was the Same, due this summer.
The song speaks volumes. “It was about the misinterpretation of me as a person,” explained the Canadian star. “I feel like I don’t say enough and people have their own preconceived stories about what I’ve been through. I’m just sort of excited about that song. It means a lot to me and my friends and what we’ve done to get to this position.”
“Started From the Bottom” has already spawned remixes from Wiz Khalifa, Soulja Boy, and Machine Gun Kelly.
So does Drake have a favorite? “Not yet ’cause the official remix hasn’t dropped,” he teased.
Mary J. Blige was celebrated like a true queen at VIBE’s 20th Anniversary Celebration and Inaugural Impact Awards at the Sunset Tower Hotel in West Hollywood last night. The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul was surrounded by her closest friends including Diddy, Queen Latifah, Anita Baker, and MC Lyte at the intimate dinner party in her honor.
“It feels great to get the Impact of the Year award. It feels amazing,” a fur-clad Mary told Rap-Up TV.
Her mentor Diddy saluted the 42-year-old R&B icon, whose debut album What’s the 411? he executive produced. “Mary is my little sister. She’s one of the reasons why I’m here,” said Puff.
Hip-hop pioneer MC Lyte also acknowledged Mary’s instrumental role in blending hip-hop and R&B. “The first music of its kind to mix hip-hop and R&B… It meant everything. It was extremely impactful.”
Big Sean, Bridget Kelly, Babyface, Andre Harrell, and Wayne Brady also came out to toast MJB, while Nick Cannon DJ’d the after-party.
Big Sean was in a celebratory mood as he kicked off Grammy weekend in L.A. Nominated for two Grammys for “Mercy,” the G.O.O.D. Music rapper was accompanied by his parents—who he planned to get wasted—at VIBE’s 20th Anniversary Celebration and Inaugural Impact Awards at the Sunset Tower Hotel on Friday.
Sean is putting the finishing touches on his sophomore album Hall of Fame and expects to drop a new single this month. “It’s almost done, finally. We took our time with it, perfected it, got great songs on there,” he told Rap-Up TV. “I can’t wait for people to hear it. It’s gonna be surprising. Something new, something fresh, heartfelt, meaningful, fun—all different types of feelings on this album.”
The follow-up to his 2011 debut Finally Famous includes appearances from Miguel, Jhené Aiko, Kid Cudi, Nas, Common, and his G.O.O.D. Music family.
Once he’s done recording, he plans to play the album for fellow Detroit rapper Eminem. “I wanted to make sure my album was completely done before I went and played it for him,” said Sean. “I know a while ago he reached out.”
As one of the best-selling female groups of all time, TLC has amassed millions of fans including Drake. And it turns out that Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins is also an admirer of the Young Money rapper.
“I think Drake is awesome. He’s so talented. He’s one of the special ones,” T-Boz, one third of the iconic R&B trio, told Rap-Up TV.
Drizzy has never been shy about showing his love to T-Boz, Chilli, and Left Eye. He sported a “FanMail” T-shirt during rehearsals for the VMAs and even covered the group’s song “FanMail” on 2010’s “I Get Lonely Too.”
“It’s an honor when someone appreciates your work and they do something, so I don’t trip on stuff like that. I think it’s a compliment actually,” said T-Boz of Drake’s remake.
Drizzy recently bought a TLC T-shirt (“Protection Is the Priority”) off eBay and had T-Boz and Chilli sign it.
Now October’s Very Own is linking up with TLC’s very own. T-Boz plans to hit the studio with Drake and his producer Noah “40″ Shebib in the coming days to record some new music. “I think he would write perfect for my tone because he sings in that register that I sing in,” she said.
T-Boz, who has long battled sickle-cell anemia, recently released her single “Champion” to iTunes. The star of TLC’s “Totally T-Boz” dedicates the empowering track to children with the disease, but it has a broader message.
“It really goes out to anybody who has overcome any challenge in their life, whether it’s sports, cancer, whatever,” she explained.
French Montana’s debut Excuse My French hasn’t even dropped yet, but he’s already proclaimed it the “biggest album of the decade.” While on set of his video for “Ocho Cinco,” the Bad Boy rapper backed up the bold statement by revealing the star-studded cast of collaborators.
In addition to executive producers Diddy and Rick Ross, he’s enlisted Nicki Minaj (“Freaks”), The Weeknd (“Gifted”), Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg, Drake, Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, and M.I.A., plus production from Harry Fraud, Young Chop, Mike WiLL Made It, and Rico Love.
“I feel like it’s going to be a classic,” French told Rap-Up TV. “I feel like it’s going to be the best album to come out in a decade.”
One artist he’s still waiting on is Lana Del Rey. The pop starlet has yet to clear her sample. “That’s the only thing holding it up,” said French.
Find out if Excuse My French lives up to the hype when it arrives on April 16.
The countdown is on to Justin Timberlake’s first album in six years, The 20/20 Experience, due March 19. While the public has only heard the Jay-Z-assisted single “Suit & Tie,” Keri Hilson got a sneak peek of what J.T. and Timbaland are cooking up in the lab.
Miss Keri, who is signed to Timbaland’s Mosley Music Group, says the dynamic duo behind “SexyBack” is about to change the sound of music once again.
“They both are capable of redefining the sound of radio, and I believe, based upon what I’ve heard, they’re gonna do that again,” she told Rap-Up TV. “So I’m proud of them and I’m excited for what’s about to happen.”
In addition to Justin, Timbaland has been working with Keri on her third album. “I’m all about blending the worlds of pop and hip-hop and R&B all in a pot,” said Keri of the follow-up to 2010’s No Boys Allowed.
2013 marks the return of Machine Gun Kelly. While he released his debut album Lace Up in October, it was missing the fire that made him want to rap in the first place.
“MGK is just professional, bland—there’s no soul or substance in him,” the Cleveland MC told Rap-Up TV on set of French Montana’s “Ocho Cinco” video. “As a personality, Machine Gun Kelly is back. That’s that motherfu**er that doesn’t give two fu**s of a f**k about anything or anyone.”
You can expect to hear Machine Gun Kelly on his upcoming mixtape, due next month. The first single will be “Peso” featuring Meek Mill and Pusha T.
“It’s a joint that makes you want to get up and go to work,” he said of the track, which samples Aloe Blacc’s “I Need a Dollar.”
Machine Gun Kelly was recently in the studio with his pal Wiz Khalifa. While he originally went there to smoke, they ended up recording for the mixtape.
“I felt like I nearly got dropped from my label and felt this hunger that I hadn’t had in a long time, and I just put it in words,” explained MGK, who is still signed to Bad Boy/Interscope. “I felt like I wasn’t a problem in the game yet, and now I feel like, ‘God damn.’ I’m so fu*king stoked on this tape.”