V OPINION: Why BP3 Is Not The Downfall Of Jay-Z

The Blueprint 3
Jay Z
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Shawn Carter is an asshole. For the cocksure Brooklyn MC better known to non-pedestrian music fans as Jay-Z, it's an attribute he wears with as much shame as Amy Winehouse guzzling a bottle of vodka at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. After all, this is a man with an ego mammouth enough to open up his classic 2003, would-be swan song The Black Album with his mother trumpeting his arrival as if he was the second coming of Jehovah ("The only one who didn't give me any pain when I gave birth to him..." Sheesh!) Yet, like other iconic a-holes who have led the pack in their respective musical genres--Miles Davis, Mick Jagger and Prince, to name a few--Jay-Z has managed to back up his peerless inflated ego; save for the occasional, tepid Kingdom Come mishap.

Given Jay's hard-to-love aura (the sports club-owning, Beyonce-having, Forbes list-topping, 10 no. 1 albums boasting mogul is not above reminding fans of his trailblazing success from time to time), artistic stumbles will always be met with overzealous reaction. Such is the case with the polarizing online reception some tracks off his 11th album The Blueprint 3 have received. Even Jigga's brilliant yet risky opening shot "D.O.A. (Death of the Autotune)" was the subject of debate, igniting hip-hop's first generational civil war with pre-meditated lines like "This aint for I tunes, this aint for sing-alongs." But while he won over the throwback faithful by having the gall to release a digging-in-the-crates, clarinet-backed single in the kiddie age of Soulja Boy, the knives were already out. Leaked tracks like the uninspired "Off That," a Timbaland techno-ish debacle, featuring rap's current boy wonder Drake, was greeted with a Greek chorus of boos.

But just as the epitaph for the 39-year-old's tombstone was being tossed about, Jay-Z unleashes his most lyrically devastating project in years. No, The Blueprint 3 is not cut from the same soulful, introspective cloth of his 2001 masterpiece The Blueprint. This is Jay's revenge album as the sneering opener "What We Talkin' About," with its sci-fi synthesizer attack, clearly attests. "We have just seen the dream as predicted by Martin Luther...you could choose to sit in front of your computer, posing with guns, shooting You Tube up," an annoyed Jay-Z spits at the crowd of keep-it-real antagonists claiming the jet-setting Obama supporter has gone soft.

The playful rhyme delivery of "Thank You" belies Jay-Z's brutal verbal drive-by on the Jim Joneses of the world, paralleling their demise with the aftermath of a terrorist attack: "They ran a plane into that building and when that building fell, ran to the crash site with no mask and inhaled toxins deep inside they lungs...as they heard that second hand smoke kills." On the celebratory "Real As It Gets," he recruits Atlanta street-rap king Young Jeezy, recalling his D-boy days where "I used to duck shots, but now I eat quail..." And on one of Blueprint 3's truly shining moments, the Kid Cudi assisted "Already Home," Jay tosses his uncomplimentary alias back in the faces of critics ("Now these nigga's is mad, oh they call me a Camel, but they ass is in a drought/What the fuck, I'm an animal").

Unlike its predecessor's steady flow of dusty soul samples, The Blueprint 3 is armed with a sparser, colder keyboard sound (Kanye West, No I.D., Swizz Beatz, The Incredibles, and the Neptunes all back Jay's brazen big payback). Sure, the floundering moments are easy targets--from the West-produced "Hate," with its plodding, stutter-step beat and sophomoric lyrics to "Forever Young," a song so transparent in its aspiration to become Jay-Z's version of Euro-arena rock. Just be glad that after 15-plus years in the game, Mr. Carter still understands his strength. "Meanwhile had Oprah chilling in the projects/Had her out in Bed-Stuy, chilling on the steps....I gotta be the best," he proclaims on the potent 808 kick of "On To The Next One." What an asshole. -- Keith Murphy

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Kodak Black Disses T.I. In New Song, "Expeditiously"

Kodak Black snapped back at T.I. and his family in his latest track, “Expeditiously.” In the song, which was released on Monday night (April 15), the Florida rapper also appears to send a few pointed words at fellow MC, The Game.

“Young n***a stickin' to the code, 'cause I don't condone snitching,” Kodak spits on the track. “I ain't going out like that rapper, I don't do no tippin’…”

“…When he said my name on the TV, that boy a bold witness/On the news, see T.I.P., that boy don't got no feelings,” he continues. “…They say The Game strippin', old heads ain't hitting on nothin’...”

Kodak also sends shots at Tip’s lady love Tiny, calling her a “b***h” and “ugly as hell.” He also claims on the song that T.I. never knew Hussle personally.

The diss comes after T.I. called out Kodak for his dispectful comments aimed at Lauren London, the longtime love of the late Nipsey Hussle. T.I. also teased his own Kodak diss track via social media, and removed an installation dedicated to Kodak from the Trap Music Museum.

Listen to the track above.

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Premiere: I DO Tackles Gun Violence In "Tears" Music Video

The United States' problem with gun violence has become one of its most daunting concerns, with statistics from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation stating that the country had 4.43 deaths due to gun violence for every 100,000 people in 2017. It's become so commonplace that many have become desensitized, but Los Angeles' duo I DO hopes to keep conversation around the topic alive in the new video for their song "Tears."

The Hector Felix-directed video illustrates three instances of gun violence: an argument between three men that ends up with a mother grieving the loss of her son, a white police officer who pulls over a car with two unarmed black men and shoots one of them, and a mass shooter who opens fire at a concert. The video also attempts to humanize immigrants. The song, performed by I DO – the duo of vocalist J. Lauryn and producer Trackdilla – is just as mournful. "How many times will it take for us to see freedom? Too many bodies on the floor," J. Lauryn sings.

“We hope 'Tears' is a song that connects with anyone who has lost a loved one or friend to gun violence,” I DO told VIBE in a shared statement. "'Tears' is a song with a message. A message that many are trying to push. How many voices does it take for change to happen?”

The Hawaiian-born J. Lauryn wrote on Ziggy Marley's Grammy-winning self-titled album, along with lending pen work to David Guetta and Ashanti. Trackdilla escaped violent conditions in Angola, Africa to arrive in the United States, where he has since produced and collaborated with 2 Chainz, Rick Ross, Sean Paul and others. Together the two form I DO, a duo represented by Billboard Power 100 manager Dre London, who manages Post Malone and Tyla Yahweh.

Watch the music video for "Tears" above.

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Singer Ari Lennox performs onstage at the 2017 ESSENCE Festival Presented By Coca Cola at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on July 1, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for 2017 ESSENCE Festival)
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Ari Lennox To Release Debut Album In May

Fans of singer-songwriter Ari Lennox can finally relax. The singer's debut album will be arriving the first week of May.

The "Whipped Cream" singer confirmed the release on Twitter Friday (April 12), while reacting to multiple dates of her Shea Butter Baby Tour selling out in a matter of hours. The singer has wrapped her melodic vocals around R&B lately with the release of the charting single, "Whipped Cream" as well as her standout verses on "Shea Butter Baby" with J.Cole.

Lennox has been signed to Cole's Dreamville Imprint since 2015 and released her label debut EP, PHO in 2016. Singles like "Backseat" featuring labelmate Cozz and "GOAT" were faves among critics as well as her soulful peers like Anderson .Paak.

After a successful set at J.Cole's Dreamville Festival last weekend, the singer is ready to embark on her upcoming Shae Butter Baby Tour. More importantly, she's ready to release her style of R&B flair to the masses.  “I just pray I can bring this sort of music back to a more mainstream level,” Lennox told Billboard for their latest issue. “These vibes can heal a lot of people.”

Shortly after the release of "Whipped Cream," the singer dropped a few loose singles like "Grampa," "Pedigree" and the sultry, "40 Shades Of Choke."

Check out the dates and get into these jams by Ari Lennox below.


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Excited to announce that @babyrosemusic @MikhalaJene and @rongilmorejr will be joining me on tour!! ❤️Also — New #SheaButterBaby tour info: LA and Santa Cruz have new dates (5.16 & 5.18); We’ve moved to bigger rooms in LA, NOLA, ATL, and the CHI; Charlotte & Toronto have been added as well as a 2nd NYC show. Tix on sale at 10AM • NYC on sale at 12PM! 👧🏾👶🏾

A post shared by Ari Lennox (@arilennox) on Apr 12, 2019 at 6:08am PDT

May 12 – Phoenix, AZ

May 13 – Santa Ana, CA

May 15 – Los Angeles, CA

May 16 – Santa Cruz

May 17 – Oakland, CA

May 21 – Denver, CO

May 24 – Dallas, TX

May 25 – Houston, TX

May 26 – New Orleans, LA

May 28 – Orlando, FL

May 29 – Atlanta, GA

May 31 – Virginia Beach, FL

June 1 – Roots Picnic

June 2 – Baltimore, MD

June 4 – New York, NY

June 5 – Boston, MA

June 7 – Grand Rapids, MI

June 9 – Chicago, IL

June 10 – Detroit, MI

June 11 – Cleveland, OH

June 14 – Washington, D.C.


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