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3 Reasons Nicki Minaj Crushes All The Boys On Kanye West's "Monster"

Since joining up with Lil’ Wayne’s omnipresent Young Money contingent in 2009, the much heralded Nicki Minaj has been an exercise in mild inconsistency. For every lyrically scorching showcase (Y.M.’s “Roger That” displayed the usually Technicolor Nicki getting down to serious MC business with sneering, brazenly cocky lines like, “White girls tell me ‘Hey Nicki, your camp rules!/Is that why you get more head than shampoos?’”) there’s the deflating and at times annoying performance (Has there ever been a bigger first single disappointment in hip-hop than the silly, disjointed toss-off “Massive Attack?”)

But to be truthful, Nicki has more pressing responsibilities than her male hip-hop counterparts. Not only is she given the task of single-handedly taking the female hip-hop game off of life support, she has to keep the Young Money commercial streak of Lil Wayne and Drake alive while selling a shit load of albums. But if her debut album, due out this fall, contains any of the brilliant, fearless hallmarks of her remarkable guest spot on Kanye West’s “Monster” there is reason for optimism. Point blank: Nicki Minaj may have just given the most bold and ambitious rhyme performance of the year by a male or female. Here’s a break down.—Keith Murphy

Nicki Isn’t Afraid To Take Chances…Win Or Fail

The knock on Nicki Minaj has been that her over-the-top animated delivery has at times obscured the fact that she is capable of being a pretty clever MC. Early followers of her hip-hop career point to her impressive 2007-2009 mixtape run which included Playtime Is Over, Sucka Free and Beam Me Up Scotty as well as her star-making appearance on Weezy’s own underground salvo Dedication 2. Some critics have wondered aloud just what happened to the New York Queens chick who delivered straight-no-chaser bars without the cartoon-tinged hyperbole?

Which is why Nicki’s verse on “Monster” is so jarring. The woman gives perhaps her most over-the-top, she-should-be-on-her-meds verbal exhibition to date. But this time, she comes off sounding like a hungry, ambitious artist who smells blood. Nicki does what Rick Ross, Kanye, and Jay-Z didn’t have the artistic stomach to do on this sparse, ominous track: leave it all in the booth. We haven’t heard such sincere Jekyll & Hyde-like insanity since Biggie got away with it on 1994’s menacing “Gimmie The Loot.” “So let me get this straight, wait I'm the rookie/But my features and my shows ten times your pay/50k for a verse no album out!/Yeah my money's so tall that my Barbies gotta climb it.” Lil’ Kim is somewhere frowning her Botox-injected face.


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New Music: Billi Phene Drops 'Love Crimes' Off Of Forthcoming EP

Billi Phene started as a background singer for Rihanna, but since then, she has emerged as a solo entity who is read to take the world by storm on her own accord.

The Bronx-born singer and songwriter recently released her first single off of her forthcoming EP, which is expected to drop in the summer. "Birthed from the ashes of an explosive breakup, 'Love Crimes' is an unapologetic declaration," says a press release for the song, which became available on streaming services Friday, Jan. 11. "Envisioned as an interrogation room confession, it tells the story of emotional self sacrifice."

The artist, who cites her influences as David Bowie, Bjork, Beyonce and Lady Gaga as some of her influences, says that she's always trying to push the envelope. Her lyrics range from mysterious to dangerous to playing with the boundaries of sex.

“I’m always down for edgier soundscapes," she continues. "It’s the story of being nonconformist, and not fitting into any pigeon hole that seems to inform my lyrics and musical choices. It comes from my truest self. Maybe my music can encourage others to do the be different, to be honest with themselves for once.”

Listen to "Love Crimes" below.

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Footage Reveals That R. Kelly Was Aware Of Aaliyah's Age, Contrary To Lawyer's Statement

An old video has resurfaced which showcases that R. Kelly was aware of Aaliyah's age when they married in 1994. The documentary-style interview demonstrates the R&B singer in the studio with a then 14-year-old Aaliyah while they worked on her debut album Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number, Okayplayer reports.

“Right now I’m producing a very talented young lady, she’s 14. Aaliyah, she’s real street,” he said, continuing to give her directions on how she should hit her notes on the track’s production.

Amid the blatant evidence, Kelly’s lawyer Steven Greenberg recently said that the 52-year-old singer did not know Aaliyah's real age at the time of their marriage. Greenberg also said that Aaliyah allegedly lied about her age in order to get married.

“..My understanding is that she did not claim to be 15. And in order to get married she had to lie about her age,” Greenberg said on Good Morning America. However, he confirmed the two were married. In 1994, VIBE published Kelly and Aaliyah’s marriage certificate in a cover story documenting their union. An excerpt from journalist Danyel Smith reads:

"Then there’s the story that says Aaliyah is supposedly 19, and none of this is as scandalous as folks would like to make it. There is, after all, an Illinois marriage license dated August 31, for Robert S. Kelly and Aaliyah D. Haughton, which lists their respective ages as 27 and 18,” Smith writes. “(Of course, the marriage would be null and void if the ages are not legit.) The only problem is, while promoting her million-selling Jive Records debut, Age Ain’t Nothin’ but a Number, Aaliyah has been evasive about stating her age. Her official bio says 15, and a record company publicist has said, “We stand behind the bio."

Now, another detail has surfaced in relation to the physical abuse Aaliyah allegedly endured at the hands of Kelly while they were married. Journalist Jim DeRogatis, who's extensively covered Kelly's plight with sexual and physical abuse of women, told The New York Times that he obtained court documents stating physical abuse, BET reports.

“The annulment of the Aaliyah marriage and Aaliyah’s legal claim against him had been sealed in Detroit … they were sealed by the court but those documents were provided to me," he said. “It’s a harrowing document, a non-disclosure agreement on both her part and Kelly’s, vowing not to pursue further legal claims for physical abuse. So it wasn’t just an underage sexual relationship, he hit her, allegedly, according to that court document."

R. Kelly is reportedly under criminal investigation by the state of Georgia since Lifetime aired its docu-series Surviving R.Kelly.  

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Premiere: Jordan Hollywood Goes To War In Visuals For "Explosion"

A war-torn forest reminiscent of 1969’s Vietnam War serves as the perfect backdrop for Jordan Hollywood’s video for “Explosion.” Through a montage of wild greenery, Jordan is seen dodging a rainstorm of fiery explosives. Amid the dangerous scenes, his lyrics tell a variety of sex-induced tales paired with braggadocious bars used to remind his rap contemporaries of his space in the game.

The 25-year-old newcomer, who is signed to Quality Control (Migos, City Girls, Lil Baby, Lil Yachty), centers on having his creative visual artistry merge with his lyrical prowess. For “Explosion,” he wanted to revert back to his old artistic roots.

“I’ve been using the same director, Christian Breslauer, since I was 17,” he told VIBE via email. “He did these war videos back then on a shi**y camera that still looked good. Fast forward to now, we were sitting at his house and I was like, 'Yo, remember those war videos you made back then? Let’s do something like that for “EXPLOSION.'”

The Broward County native credits his label for granting him artistic control to express himself how he deems necessary. He named his latest project FINALLY!  as an ode to feeling like he has creative control, and the agency to pursue his craft.

"I’m signed to the best label in the world, I have full creative control, and I have a platform now," he told Billboard. "Whatever vision I have, I can do it. That’s the best feeling. When I say 'finally,' that’s what I mean. To be an artist, not a lot of artists feel the way I feel. They feel controlled or manipulated by people telling them what to do all the time. With me, I feel like I’m in the perfect space and it’s an unbelievable feeling."

Watch the video for "EXPLOSION" below.

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