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3 Reasons Taylor Swift Vs. Kanye West > Jay-Z Vs. Nas

The MTV Video Music Awards showdown on Sunday (Sept. 12) between America’s country music sweetheart Taylor Swift and America’s now omnipresent ‘asshole’ Kanye West personified what riveting, dramatic, and just plain ol’ entertaining television is all about. The highlights followed last year's jaw-dropping moment when Kanye interrupted Swift’s VMA acceptance speech claiming that the moon man belonged to Beyonce. The incident elevated Swift to pop culture sainthood while ‘Ye became a media outcast.

Indeed, the two most talked about moments from the telecast could not have been set in more extreme opposite settings. In one corner was a stripped-down, venerable, barefoot Swift—sitting in an antique leather chair in front of an equally antiquated microphone and television set, with steel guitar in hand—debuting “Innocent,” a track aimed at absolving Kanye from all his VMA sins. In the other corner stood an at-peace and bombastic Mr. West, dressed in a licorice red suit and gold chains amid a futuristic white set and backed up by of all visions three ballerinas and a sneering Pusha T from the Clipse.

For Kanye, his performance of “Runaway” was his chance to move on from the whole ordeal while slyly connecting his brazen behavior towards a significant other in his song to his past notorious actions over a high-art-pop-meets-boom-bap track. When it was all over, the musical culture clash not only proved to be more riveting than the most celebrated hip-hop battle of all time—Nas vs. Jay-Z—it made an emphatic statement that opposites make for great bedfellows. Let’s go to the tape.—Keith Murphy

 

1. Kanye & Taylor Are A Match Blessed By The Music Gods

Throughout music history, classic, high profile rivalries have produced some pretty intriguing and powerful artistic statements. From John Lennon vs. Paul McCartney (In response to a dig made by the latter cute Beatle, the smart Beatle blasted his former bandmate on his 1971 cut “How Do You Sleep?” with the biting line, “The only thing you done was yesterday…” The lyric was in reference to Paul’s most beloved and biggest-selling Beatles single “Yesterday.”) to the aforementioned legendary Nas vs. Jay-Z battle (“Ether,” Nas’ brilliantly brutal answer to Jigga’s “ hard-line 2001 diss “Takeover” caused a usually in-control Jay to lose control of his emotions on his follow-up retort. Most critics rightly gave the battle to the respected Queensbridge MC) such throwdowns have been epic.

Truthfully, Kanye vs. Taylor lacks the competitive venom of the above verbal rumbles. In fact, you could hardly categorize their respective VMA performances as a “battle” since both showings were aimed at seeking peaceful closure. Still, what propels the unlikely duo to a seminal pop culture moment beyond rock and rap beefs is the fact that the two acts come from distinctly different musical genres. Ye’, the larger than hip-hop showman who wears his enormous ego on his sleeve more loudly than any of his I’m-the-shit rhyme peers. Taylor Swift, the doe-eyed country teen dream that is so saccharine that you get a toothache just from listening to her music. You can’t create a more intriguing dichotomy.

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Ella Mai Puts The Ball In Your Court With "Shot Clock" Visuals

Kobe, KD, Kyrie, how about Ella Mai?

Marking her third official single from her self-titled debut album, the 24-year-old dropped a new video from her charting project, bringing "Shot Clock" to life in her B-ball themed clip.

The Colin Tilley directed visual captures the essence of the young singer, framing her unique style and iridescent vocal abilities. The clip captures the various parts of Mai's magnetic energy, as she stars in her own thematic love story.

The two-time Grammy nominee goes through the many downs that occur in relationships while the red beams of shot clock shine in the background slowly reaching zero, a neon indicator of her lessening patience, the singer finds herself alone.

This visual was released in the midst of the "Boo'd Up" songstress' first debut tour currently venturing through the United States and Parts of Europe. Check out the tour dates below to see if R&B's new golden child is coming to a city near you and watch her video for "Shot Clock" above.

THE DEBUT TOUR

Jan 18 – Berlin, DE- Festsaal Kreuzberg Jan 20 – Hamburg, DE- Grosse Freiheit Jan 21 – Copenhagen, DK – Vega Main Hall Jan 22 – Stockholm, SE - Berns Jan 24 – Oslo, NO – Rockefeller Music Hall Feb 12 - Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom Feb 14 – Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo Feb 15 – Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom Feb 17 – Sacramento, CA – Ace of Spades Feb 19 – Oakland, CA – Fox Theater Feb 20 – Santa Cruz, CA – The Catalyst Feb 22 – Phoenix, AZ – The Marquee Feb 23 – Las Vegas, NV – House of Blues Feb 25 – Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre Feb 27 – Lawrence, KS – The Granada Feb 28 – Minneapolis, MN – Varsity Theater Mar 2 – Detroit, MI – St. Andrew’s Hall Mar 3 – Chicago, IL – Concord Music Hall Mar 5 – Cleveland, OH – House of Blues Mar 6 – Toronto, ON – The Danforth Mar 7 – Montreal, QC – Club Soda Mar 9 – Boston, MA - Royale Mar 11 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Steel Mar 13 – Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts Mar 15 – Silver Spring, M.D. – The Fillmore Silver Spring Mar 16 – Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Sound Stage Mar 19 – Atlanta, GA - Tabernacle Mar 20 – Orlando, FL – The Plaza Live Mar 21 – Fort Lauderdale, FL – Revolution Live Mar 24 – Houston, TX – House of Blues Mar 26 – Dallas, TX – House of Blues Mar 27 – Austin, TX – Emo’s Mar 28 – San Antonio, TX – The Aztec Theatre

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Smif N Wessun

9th Wonder Talks Collabo Album With Smif N Wessun And The Soul Council

A few weeks fresh off the 23rd anniversary of their classic debut album, Da Shinin', Brooklyn duo Smif N Wessun (Steele and Tek) have released the video for the soul smacking single, "Testify" produced by Khrysis, off their newest album, The All. The project, produced entirely by Grammy-nominated producer 9th Wonder and his Soul Council team, brings the hardcore feel of SNW's best work to the forefront.

“9th Wonder and the Soul Council provide the perfect backdrop for Tek and I to deliver heartfelt lyrical content,” Steele reveals directly. “It’s a true tale of ups and downs, wins and losses, growth and acceptance. It speaks to the hearts and minds of all people; particularly our followers and fans of all ages and ethnicities.”

When artists who rep a certain quality sector of hip-hop music resurface to offer newness to an audience, the longtime fans are looking to bring that old thing back while looking to reflect and push forward at the same time.

"'Testify' is a realistic reflective look back on our accomplishments and failures throughout our career and serves as a precursor to what you will experience on The All,” Steele continues. "This project is a reality check for SNW, one that reflects the struggles and obstacles that we’ve had to endure to survive at the level we occupy in the hip-hop arena."

9th Wonder took the project on as a lover of the group, "My goal is to make sure that we cement the legacy of the artist, but at the same time update the artist. We came up with the concept of  The All (based on a speech from Louis Farrakhan), you can never underestimate the essence of Islam in Hip-Hop. Given the fact that SNW are both Muslim and so many others are as well, we couldn't forget that part."

Going into new chambers of living is needed when you have been recording albums for over 20 years. 9th explains, "we wanted them to talk about stuff they wouldn't normally talk about on records, as they are in a different point in their lives, very grown man. It gives something to our generation to listen to, appreciate and celebrate without feeling old, without feeling outdated. We also wanted to let them know, the legends can still do it."

As the word legend gets thrown around a lot, it's not a far off title for the duo of Tek and Steele. "Some bestow the 'legend' tag upon us (we are very appreciative of that)," says Steele. "And we are chronicling that journey throughout the album.”

The full project will be dropping on February 22nd, 2019 on Duck Down Records. You can pre-order the album here and group merch here.

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Premiere: Duck Down Records' Smif-N-Wessun Returns With Khrysis-Produced 'Testify'

It's been nearly 25 years to the day since their classic debut Dah Shinin' impacted in January 1995, but legendary Brooklyn duo Smif-N-Wessun is still representing the culture with authority and authenticity. "Testify," the premiere music video from their upcoming album The All, adds another notch to their storied catalogs.

"Testify" begins with old photos of group members Tek and Steele in their 90s heyday, but they don't spend much time there before getting busy with present day rhymes. Over a backdrop from Khrysis, the Duck Down Records duo confidently announces their return while solidifying their legendary pedigree. The song gives a short but sweet taste from The All, their upcoming album produced entirely by 9th Wonder and the Soul Council.

“9th Wonder and the Soul Council provide the perfect backdrop for Tek and I to deliver heartfelt lyrical content,” Steele told VIBE. “It’s a true tale of ups and downs, wins and losses, growth and acceptance. It speaks to the hearts and minds of ALL people; particularly our followers and fans of ALL ages and ethnicities.”

‘Testify” is a realistic reflective look back on our accomplishments and failures throughout our career and serves as a precursor to what you will experience on The All,” Steele continued. "This project is a reality check for SNW, one that reflects the struggles and obstacles that we’ve had to endure to survive at the level we occupy in the hip-hop arena. Some, bestow the “Legend” tag upon us (we are very appreciative of that) and we are chronicling that journey throughout the album.”

The All is scheduled for a February 22, 2019 release on Duck Down Records, and is available for pre-order.

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