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Lil Wayne's Oct/Nov VIBE Cover Story

Lil Wayne doesn’t take compliments too well. That much is apparent when you attempt to congratulate the hip-hop enigma on racking up his fifth top 10 debut on Billboard’s Hot 100 with his current single—the strutting darkly tinted Drake —featured song “She Will.” You then unknowingly add more proverbial fuel to fire by mentioning that the impressive feat puts him ahead of his three biggest peers in the current rap landscape: Eminem, Kanye West and Jay- Z. Wayne is not impressed.

“There’s no competition [with any artists],” he asserts in a perturbed tone after a VIBE cover photo shoot in Miami. “Music isn’t about competition no more. All the gangster rappers are happy. All the skateboard rappers are happy, all the white rappers are happy…Everybody just happy to do music these days. There are no problems,” he adds. “That shit died a long time ago with them old-ass rappers. We are just making music, making money and having fun-feeding our families. Competition is for the old guys.”

Such a hairpin response trigger response is not merely moody—rapper theatrics; it’s the contradictory, if elusive, ramblings of the “best rapper alive.” In late August, tracks for the goblin’s much-anticipated album The Carter IV leaked, drowning the blogosphere in Carter curiosity. One particular cut, “It’s Good,” ignited a frenzy of HOLY SHITS and other Cap-lock catharsis. The song will go down as Wayne’s first official salvo at Mr. Shawn Carter with the brutal line, “I got your baby money/ Kidnap your bitch, get that how- much-you-love-your-lady-money.”

Wayne’s jab comes off as a counter- punch to Jay- Z’s slap at Wayne and/or his mentor, Bryan “Baby” Williams on “H.A.M.,” on which Jigga raps, “Really you got baby money…You ain’t got my lady’ s money.” Of course, the inevitable debate followed: Is Wayne built to go toe-to-toe with the old guy? Was he really going at Mrs. Carter? Does Jay- Z have another “Takeover” left in his rhyme reservoir? Or is he in for another “Ether”?

Despite his blatant on-record diss, the Young Money label head is cryptic when the subject of jay- Z comes up. Wayne is more interested in discussing the inspiration behind his cover shoot: homage to the ultimate guitar god Jimi Hendrix. It’s all there-the badass black hat; a “Purple Haze” era Technicolor military jacket; black leather pants; and Jimi’s signature orange, black and white Fender Stratocaster. “Jimi’s just one of my favorite artists,” says Wayne, who a few years ago decided to pick up the guitar himself. “Everything Jimi stood for, I believe in.”

The irony of Wayne channeling the spirit of the late ax-wielding genius instantly hits you. There was a time when an unstable Lil Wayne was on a watch list for the next in line to join the Hendrix-led “Forever 27 Club,” a crew of deceased musicians (its most recent inductee, Amy Winehouse) who partied way too hard and left behind sad fans and beautiful corpses. An overdose from too much codeine-laced purple drink seemed highly plausible at one point.

However, at 28 years old, Dwayne Michael Carter has sidestepped such a morbid destiny. An eight- month prison stint from a 2007 gun possession charge seemed to have made the relentless MC more focused. At press time, Lil Wayne-who was finishing up his sold-out I Am Still Music tourhas taken in $15 million in 2011, according to Forbes. The music mogul who guided both Drake and Nicki Minaj to platinum stardom is a studio rat that has no interest in fronting the obligatory fashion line or staging a Hollywood takeover. In fact, he shrugs off any Tupac-style big-screen dreams. “I’m wealthy enough,” he says. “I don’t really dip into nothing that really ain’t my field, because that’s when you start looking crazy and doing stupid things.

”For Wayne the choice is clear: music or death. --Keith Murphy

 

VIBE: You say competition is for the “old guys” but it sounds like you’re going at Jay- Z with that line, “I got your baby money/Kidnap your bitch, get that how-much-you-love-your- lady-money.” Are we looking at it in the wrong way?
Lil Wayne: I know for a fact, music is about perception. You can’t do anything but perceive what you hear. If I know that for a fact, I can never be upset abut someone’s reaction to it. I’m not gonna say I don’t know what will happen before I say it [on record]. I do know what will happen. I am aware of it. It is what it is.
 
So you knew the repercussions of going after Jay before anything even happened?
Well, I’m a man. I believe as a man you should know that. Every man should know the repercussion and consequences behind whatever they do before they do it. And of course, I know there wont be any repercussion behind what I did.
 
With the release of Jay- Z-Kanye West collaboration Watch the Throne, fans have already started discussing a similar project featuring you and Drake. Is that really going to happen?
Yeah, we still plan on doing it. We just gotta find the right time.
 
I know you mentioned that you don’t view your peers as competition. But is there any part if you that believes you and Drake can trump The Throne?

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India.Arie Finds “Steady Love” In Music Video Featuring David Banner

India.Arie reminds us that there’s nothing like the feeling of “Steady Love” in the sentimental music video for the new single from her Worthy album. David Banner stars as Arie’s love interest, and the duo showcases perfect chemistry as they cover many of the relationship bases.

From romantic bliss to challenging moments and everything in between,“Steady Love” speaks to the joyous ride that is falling in love, while the visual brings that feeling to life and ends on a wonderfully climactic note.

In a February interview with Billboard, Arie spoke about the significance of titling the album Worthy.

“The title of the album was Worthy for a couple of years before I had any songs,” she revealed. “I love that word. It’s so potent and encompasses so much [in terms of being] deserving of regard and respect. I always have a favorite word. For a while, it was resilient then authentic.

“When I did the interview with Oprah, she asked me how long unworthiness had been my calling card,” Arie continued. “I realized that I didn’t feel unworthy inside but I could see how I could be giving off that energy to others. It made me double-down on wanting to call this project Worthy and explore why she asked that question.”

The album’s title track is one of the collaborations between Arie and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Joel Cross. “At that point, I knew what I wanted to say. Then all the other songs started to take shape, being about respect. Even the love songs are about how you want to be treated, how you want to treat other people. [Radio personality] Tom Joyner said this album is a perfect blend of message songs and love songs. That’s where I’ve been in my life these last few years. And the word worthy is imbued in all of it.”

Watch the video for “Steady Love” above.

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Megan Thee Stallion’s Southern Rap 'Fever' Dream

Hot Girl Meg is already an urban legend. You can see her on the cover of Fever, looming over a luxury auto in skin-tight leopard print as flames and horses erupt behind her. It’s the undeniable movie poster aesthetic of blaxploitation icons like Pam Grier’s Coffy. It’s a perfect fit for rapper Megan Thee Stallion, whose music channels a Southern rap tradition full of larger-than-life figures like Trina, Gangsta Boo, and her hero Pimp C.

The 24-year-old born Megan Pete started rapping in childhood after accompanying her mother, Holly Thomas aka rapper Holly-Wood, to recording sessions in Houston. Megan’s career began with freestyles at college parties, and she released three mixtapes in three years with her mother as her manager, building her buzz while still completing courses. The rapper is slick and authoritative on the mic as she channels alter egos like Hot Girl Meg, who she calls “the party girl, the polished girl, the turn-up queen.” Her debut album Fever, released last week, is a showcase for this alter ego. Hanging with Hot Girl Meg makes for a fun 40 minutes.

Though her profile has risen to the level of Drake Instagrams and Khalid features, Megan Thee Stallion does not make pop music. She raps, she’s excellent, and she knows it. “I’m a real rap bi**h, this ain’t no pop sh*t,” she ad-libs victoriously on her first song “Realer.” Sure, pop music has eagerly siphoned from rap this decade, but rappers have been drawing lines in the sand since Q-Tip said “Rap is not pop, if you call it that then stop” in ‘91. Nowadays, the A Tribe Called Quest auteur is still pushing rap forward as an executive producer for Fever.

“Sex Talk,” the album’s lead single, is a showcase for Megan’s bars. “I’ma bust quick if your lips soft,” she raps in short bursts around distorted bass and snaps. “Rock that ship ‘til ya blast off.” In her second verse, she accents the offbeat to boast, “I should be in museums because this body a masterpiece.” Though the song’s popularity was eclipsed by the video release for last summer’s more bombastic “Big Ole Freak,” it’s a fitting introduction to Thee Stallion: her range of staccato to elongated flows is catnip for heads like her who grew up on freestyle DVDs, paired with a blown out beat riding the minimalist wave that’s subsumed parties across the country.

Sex is the main concern in Megan Thee Stallion’s work, followed closely by money. Such confident sexuality from a black woman has unfortunately drawn criticism and retrograde questioning from some in the media, but she’s undaunted. “You let the boys come up in here and talk about how they gon’ run a train on all our friends and they want some head and they want to shoot everything up, and they want to do drugs,” she told Rolling Stone earlier this year. “Well, we should be able to go equally as hard. I don’t want to hear none of that ‘That’s offensive!’ or ‘All she talk about is p***y.’”

Megan’s mercenary demand for her pleasures is a refreshing gender swap of rap tropes. On “Running Up Freestyle,” she raps, “He say I should be nicer, well your d**k should be bigger.” She’s blunt enough to make me clutch my pearls on behalf of my gender before I burst out laughing. Later in “Sex Talk,” Megan kicks a would-be lover out when she cues up trap music and he asks “Girl, you tryna trap me?” She’s offended by the insinuation she needs to keep a captive, when she doesn’t need anyone she doesn’t want in the moment. It’s a role reversal that plenty of female rappers have executed previously, but few with the same raw skill.

“Hood Rat Sh*t” opens with a sample of a 2008 viral video, a 7-year-old explaining his desire to do “hoodrat stuff” with his friends. The uptempo drums bounce around cavernous piano chords with gleeful menace like a gaggle of unsupervised kids. Megan’s rhymes launch into double time in the lead-up to the chorus, which she spits like a playground taunt. In the third verse, she gives an evocative example of the title: she’s at the strip club drinking Henny from a champagne glass, “eating chicken wings with a thick bi**h” who’s dancing like the diamonds in her necklace. Her swaggering flow sounds like the reincarnation of Pimp C, with the tall tale verses to match.

Rising Charlotte rapper DaBaby adds a verse over bellowing 808s on “Cash Sh*t.” When Megan says “That’s my dog, he gon’ sit down and listen,” DaBaby describes fixing his partner’s weave during sex and incorporating headlocks into new positions. On its own, his verse might be too direct, like a stranger leering from the end of the bar. It’s perfectly absurd on Megan’s album. He works as a foil to the main attraction, like he’s just trying to keep up.

 

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Real HOTGIRL shit 😛

A post shared by Hot Girl Meg (@theestallion) on May 4, 2019 at 9:46am PDT

The only other guest on Fever is Juicy J on “Simon Says,” where he also supplies a beat that sounds like a house party in the middle of a home invasion. “Simon says bust it open like a freak,” Megan raps like a nursery rhyme, a fitting match for the originator of “Slob On My Knob.” The song was the center of a minor controversy over the album release weekend when singer Wolf Tyla implied she had a writing credit and drew an indignant response from Megan. The facts became harder to parse from there. Maybe Tyla wrote the hook, or maybe Juicy did and asked her to record a reference track. (A just okay hook to go to bat for as an unknown ghostwriter, frankly.) In an era where the world’s biggest male stars snipe at each other about fragments of songs they’ve written for one another, this shouldn’t be a story, but a rising female rapper can’t allow any question of her bona fides.

Even if “Simon Says” is entirely ghostwritten, the Three 6 Mafia homage is far from an aberration in Megan’s catalog, or even on Fever. Juicy J produced two other album cuts, future strip club anthems “Pimpin” and “Dance.” Fellow co-founder Project Pat contributes to “W.A.B.,” built around a sample of the group’s “Weak Azz Bi**h.” Three 6’s influence is apparent in so many strains of modern hip-hop, but on Fever Megan places the Memphis collective alongside Houston and New Orleans in a firmly Southern context. The album concludes with Megan declaring herself “Hot Girl Meg from the motherf**kin’ South,” and it doesn’t feel like a conclusion, just a tantalizing cliffhanger promising further misadventures.

Fever is not perfect. “Best You Ever Had” strays a little too close to pop. Halfway through an album of knocking beats, it’s jarring to hear Megan’s voice coated in electronic sheen, sharing space with a recorder loop. In headphones the project becomes a bit repetitive in the back half, but it won’t be noticeable blaring out of club speakers. Given how quickly she’s befriended so many other stellar young female rappers, it would have been great to hear her spar with some of them on her debut.

Nevertheless, Megan Thee Stallion is picking up the baton for Southern hip-hop with a quick tongue and trunk rattling beats optimized for twerking. She inherited the legacy from her mother, as well as an unstoppable work ethic, the kind that kept her from cancelling shows even after her mother’s tragic death this spring because “I know she wouldn’t want me to stop.” Not long ago, a buzzy mixtape rapper signing to a major label like 300 Entertainment was a one-way ticket to clunky albums overstuffed with radio bait. Fever’s cohesion is a testament to Megan’s talent and dedication. Look forward to partying with Hot Girl Meg all summer.

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Megan Thee Stallion Releases Fiery "Realer" Video

Megan Thee Stallion is truly prepping for a hot girl summer. Following up the highly-anticipated release of Fever, the Houston-bred rapper has officially released the visuals for the project's opening song, "Realer."

Red-headed Meg and her friends brandish toy guns, high karate kicks and body rolls as she talks her sh*t. And, much like her project's artwork, there were flames—both literally and figuratively—to be had all around.

Even some of her celebrity peers have expressed excitement over her video's release.

🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥❤️❤️

— TRINA (@TRINArockstarr) May 21, 2019

🐎 🔥 https://t.co/54S59MQ8fx

— Wale (@Wale) May 21, 2019

Watch Hot Girl Meg's spicy "Realer" video up top.

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