Kevin McCall Talks 'Naked,' Debut Album And 'Fan of a Fan 2'

After breaking out with his memorable contributions on Chris Brown's chart-topping single "Deuces," Kevin McCall has left the behind the scenes action and is now bringing his artistry to the forefront. As a multi-faceted producer/songwriter, his songwriting and production credits run deep, but now he is ready to put his own aptitude for singing and rapping on display. With his new single "Naked" out and an album on the way, the California artist is continuing to make a name for himself and showing everybody who Kevin McCall really is. K-Mac recently dished to VIBE on his upcoming debut album, new single and Chris Brown and Tyga's Fan of a Fan 2.

VIBE: You’ve got your single “Naked” out right now. When can we expect an album?
Kevin McCall: We’re gonna see how this record does. I believe it’s gonna do very, very well. Hopefully it does so well that it makes us push the album up because I was expecting early next year but I think with the single doing well is gonna cause us to push it up so that’s what I’m hoping for.

What direction would you like to go with the album?
I would say the overall direction is heavily R&B driven. I’m gonna showcase my singing abilities, my writing abilities and also my production. I kinda just want to let people see who Kevin McCall is in all areas of music.

So no rapping? Or a little bit?
Definitely rapping. I missed that one. Cause that’s how I was first introduced. I was rapping on “Deuces” so I’m gonna continue.

Will there be another mixtape in between?
Yea I’m thinking about doing a new LP. I have a couple of ideas going for it. I believe it’s very important to put out mixtapes in between to keep up the relevancy of an artist because everyone has such short attention spans these days. I’m definitely – For my fans because they support me so much, I’m gonna give them another LP, about six songs. They can expect that soon. I’m also gonna be working on the Fan of a Fan 2 with Chris and Tyga.

Are you going to be on it in terms of songwriting and producing or are you gonna be featured on it like you were the last time?
Well the last time, I wrote on it, produced on it, sang on it and rapped on it. I did all of those things. I was not as known because I was a newcomer. You know “Deuces” is from Fan of a Fan. “No BS” is from Fan of a Fan. I was featured on “No BS.” A lot of people don’t know that.

Have you guys started working on it already? Or is it just getting ready to be in the works?
It’s gonna be in the works because we can always go in the vault and pull out new songs that we’ve never released. But I think we wanna give ‘em something really new. It’s all gonna be new to them anyway. We wanna vibe off of current events going on Today. Tyga’s really hot right now, Chris is really, really hot right now so I think we want to use that energy and create some new stuff.

So there’s no idea of when it’s gonna be released?
I have no clue. Whenever they call me in, I’m gonna be ready to work.

So are you gonna be doing the same thing on Fortune? Will you have any features on Chris’ Fortune album?
Besides the “Strip” record, you might see me a couple more times on the album. I definitely did a lot of writing. I did some production. I think the overall product of the album is something new and innovative. I believe Chris is gonna set a high standard for R&B music and pop music with this album.

What was it like transitioning from behind-the-scenes to blowing up with “Deuces”?
You know, with “Deuces” it was like an overnight type thing. I wasn’t really prepared for it because I was still living in a poor area, didn’t have much money. But I was on TV. It was kind of like a Cinderella story, a male version though. I would go and be with all the celebrities doing red carpets and then I would come back home to Watts, to my grandmother’s house telling stories of who I was with and they didn’t believe me. Once the video came out, they saw that it was true. Now I’m at a point in my life where I’m really blessed. I’m songwriting and producing for a number of artists and I’m able to support my family. It’s a great feeling.

You said you were writing for a number of artists. Who are you writing for besides Chris?
Besides Chris, I’m trying to work with Ciara. She’s about to make a killer comeback, so her. I’m working with 2 Chainz. Me and him have a song together for my album. It’s real crazy, just rapping crazy on it. He’s really, really hot right now in the streets and the hip hop community. Tank, I’ve done a lot of work on his album. His first single “Next Breath” is a song I wrote. Just showing people that me and Chris might write about “No Bs” and all this other stuff but we can write real love songs too that women really gravitate to and can play at their weddings. Stuff like that.

You talked about who you’re working with right now but do you have anybody that you’re hoping to work with?
It’s a stretch but I would love to work with Adele. Just the way that she wrote a ballad and it took over the radio in a time where it’s all club music and pop music. I respect her for that and I’m a huge fan. I would also like to work with Missy Elliott because she was one of the first MCs to have that character in her raps. So, I would love to work with her and have some of that creativity rub off on me. That would be an honor. And of course Kanye and Jay-Z . I would love to work with them. I have some stuff ready for them too.

What inspired “Naked”?
There was a young producer/songwriter named David Wade, he came on the record and by the time the hook came in, I was like “this is nice.” It kind of reminds me of “Sexy Back” by Justin Timberlake. I just felt like it was really young and fresh and something different than what everybody else was doing. So, I had to go in on it and put my little twist on it. It came out great. We went and got Big Sean, that took it to the next level. Shout out to Big Sean for blessing me with that verse.

Was he the first person that you wanted on it?
We shopped it around a little big and played around with a lot of ideas and he was the person I felt was best for it, not just cause he’s hot right now. I had that relationship with him and he’s hot right now. He’s like really hot and he brought youthfulness to the record. Because when people hear the word naked, it’s like almost a taboo word. He kind of takes some of the edge off of it with his playful—he has kind of a playful approach to music and he made it extra fun.

What can we expect from the rest of your solo work?
You’re gonna hear definitely a lot more R&B and you’re gonna hear songs that show a vulnerable side of me, where men don’t like to go but I think it’s something women want to see more in us men and see how we feel on an emotional side. I’m gonna explore that in my music as well.

Is there anything else that we haven’t discussed that you’d like to add?
The video [Naked] should be out soon. It was directed by Chris Brown himself and Godfrey Tabarez and riveting entertainment. It’s gonna throw people off—Not throw ‘em off, but throw ‘em by surprise with how good it looks and how we played off the word naked in an artistic way. We’re in an art gallery, we all have on suits. It’s pretty high class.

Sounds intriguing and definitely sounds like Chris got his hands on it with the art and everything.
He’s really a—People don’t even begin to know how talented he is. Especially his artistic vision. I’m really impressed every time. I hope some of that rubs off on me. As he’s creating a song, he already has the video done and I think that’s very special.

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Beyoncé performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Field on April 14, 2018 in Indio, California.
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Homecoming: The 5 Best Moments Of Beyoncé’s Documentary

Once Beyoncé became the first African-American woman to headline in its nearly 20-year history, we knew Coachella would never the same. To mark the superstar’s historic moment, the 2018 music and arts festival was appropriately dubbed #Beychella and fans went into a frenzy on social media as her illustrious performance was live-streamed by thousands. (Remember when fans recreated her choreographed number to O.T. Genasis’ “Everybody Mad”?)

With a legion of dancers, singers and musicians adorned with gorgeous costumes showcasing custom-made crests, the singer’s whirlwind performance honored black Greek letter organizations, Egyptian queen Nefertiti, and paid homage to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Aside from the essence of black musical subgenres like Houston’s chopped and screwed and Washington D.C.’s go-go music, the entertainer performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as “The Black National Anthem,” and implemented a dancehall number, sampling the legendary Jamaican DJ and singer, Sister Nancy, to show off the versatility of black culture.

One year after #Beychella’s historic set, the insightful concert film, Homecoming, began streaming on Netflix and unveiled the rigorous months of planning that went into the iconic event. The 2-hour 17-minute documentary highlights Beyoncé’s enviable work ethic and dedication to her craft, proving why this performance will be cemented in popular culture forever. Here are the best moments from Beyoncé’s Homecoming documentary.

The Intentional Blackness

“Instead of me bringing out my flower crown, it was more important that I brought our culture to Coachella.”

Throughout the documentary, Beyoncé made it known that everything and everyone included in the creative process leading up to the annual festival was deliberately chosen. “I personally selected each dancer, every light, the material on the steps, the height of the pyramid, the shape of the pyramid,” says Beyoncé. “Every tiny detail had an intention.” When speaking on black people as a collective the entertainer notes, “The swag is limitless.” Perhaps the most beautiful moments in Homecoming are the shots that focus on the uniqueness of black hair and its versatility. What’s appreciated above all is the singer’s commitment to celebrating the various facets of blackness and detailing why black culture needs to be celebrated on a global scale.

Beyoncé’s Love And Respect For HBCUs

#Beychella — which spanned two consecutive weekends of Coachella’s annual festival — was inspired by elements of HBCU homecomings, so it was no surprise when the singer revealed she always wanted to attend one. “I grew up in Houston, Texas visiting Prairie View. We rehearsed at TSU [Texas Southern University] for many years in Third Ward, and I always dreamed of going to an HBCU. My college was Destiny's Child. My college was traveling around the world and life was my teacher.” Brief vignettes in the film showcased marching bands, drumlines and the majorettes from notable HBCUs that comprise of the black homecoming experience. In the concert flick, one of the dancers affectionately states, “Homecoming for an HBCU is the Super Bowl. It is the Coachella.” However, beyond the outfits that sport a direct resemblance to Greek organizations, Beyoncé communicated an important message that remains a focal point in the film: “There is something incredibly important about the HBCU experience that must be celebrated and protected.”

The Familiar Faces

Despite being joined by hundreds of dancers, musicians and singers on-stage, the entertainer was joined by some familiar faces to share the monumental moment with her. While making a minor appearance in the documentary, her husband and rapper/mogul Jay-Z came out to perform “Deja Vu” with his wife. Next, fans were blessed by the best trio to ever do it as Kelly and Michelle joined the singer with renditions of their hit singles including “Say My Name,” “Soldier,” and more. On top of this star-studded list, Solange Knowles graced the “Beychella” stage and playfully danced with her older sister to the infectious “Get Me Bodied.”

Her Balance Of Being A Mother And A Star

Originally slated to headline the annual festival in 2017, the singer notes that she “got pregnant unexpectedly...and it ended up being twins.” Suffering from preeclampsia, high blood pressure, toxemia and undergoing an emergency C-section, the entertainer candidly details how difficult it was adjusting post-partum and how she had to reconnect with her body after experiencing a traumatizing delivery. “In the beginning, it was so many muscle spasms. Just, internally, my body was not connected. My body was not there.” Rehearsing for a total of 8 months, the singer sacrificed quality time with her children in order to nail the technical elements that came with the preparation for her Coachella set. “I’m limiting myself to no bread, no carbs, no sugar, no dairy, no meat, no fish, no alcohol … and I’m hungry.” Somehow, throughout all of this, she still had to be a mom. “My mind wanted to be with my children,” she says. Perhaps one of the most admirable moments in the film was witnessing Beyoncé’s dedication to her family but also to her craft.

The Wise Words From Black Visionaries

Homecoming opens with a quote from the late, Maya Angelou stating, “If you surrender to the air, you can ride it.” The film includes rich and prophetic quotes from the likes of Alice Walker, Nina Simone, Toni Morrison, and notable Black thinkers, reaffirming Beyoncé’s decision to highlight black culture. The quotes speak to her womanhood and the entertainer’s undeniable strength as a black woman.

Blue Ivy’s Cuteness

Last, but certainly not least, Blue Ivy‘s appearance in the concert film is nothing short of precious. One of the special moments in the documentary zeroes in on the 7-year-old singing to a group of people whilst Beyoncé sweetly feeds the lyrics into her ears. After finishing, Blue says: “I wanna do that again” with Beyoncé replying with “You wanna be like mommy, huh?” Seen throughout Homecoming rehearsing and mirroring Beyoncé’s moves, Blue just might follow in her mother’s footsteps as she gets older.

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The O'Jays Provide Political And Spiritual Grooves On 'The Last Word'

Love is the mission and message on The O'Jays final album, The Last Word. The legendary group comprised of  Eddie Levert Sr., Walter Williams Sr. and Eric Nolan Grant feels fresh and nostalgic at the same time as they take on the thrills of innocent love from yesteryear and the sociopolitical metal clouds of today.

The group previously released the lead single "Above The Law," a righteous track that highlights the state of the nation to a tee. The rest of The Last Word is noticeably lighter with songs like "Do You Really Know How I Feel" and "Enjoy Yourself" bringing out the flower power child in all of us. The latter of the tracks bridges today's funk and soul rhymes as it was co-written by Bruno Mars and Patrick Monahan of Train.

“I’ll Be Sweeter Tomorrow (Than I Was Today)," a reworked version from the 1967 album Back On Top closes out the album gently, embodying their full circle journey.

But the party isn't over for The O'Jays. On Tuesday (April 23), the group will perform their new single "Stand Up (Show Love)" on the TODAY show in New York.

Stream The Last Word below.

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Review: Anderson .Paak Reroutes To 'Ventura'

Just five months after his last album Oxnard, singer/producer/drummer/entertainer extraordinaire Anderson .Paak is back with Ventura, his fourth studio LP. Depending on who you ask, the new project is either a surprise second course, or a round of comped desserts to make up for an overdone entree.

The Korean-African-American musician born Brandon Paak Anderson spent the first half of this decade intermittently recording under the name Breezy Lovejoy, converting rock songs into R&B, and drumming for an American Idol alumnus. In 2015, he emerged into the national spotlight thanks to six features on Compton, the long-gestating Dr. Dre album formerly known as Detox. He took advantage of the attention and released two full-lengths in 2016: Malibu was a sprawling solo album that showed him equally deft with bass-heavy club tracks or Sam Cooke-esque soul. Yes Lawd!, a collaboration with producer Knxwledge under the name NxWorries, was a chopped up stoner odyssey, Madvillainy if DOOM could sing as well as he spit. That same year, .Paak announced that he had signed to Dr. Dre’s label Aftermath in a brief but celebratory video featuring the rap mogul himself.

.Paak took nearly three years to unleash the full power of the PR by Dre machine: he debuted the lead single on Zane Lowe, soundtracked an Apple ad, and compared the album to landmarks like The Blueprint and The College Dropout. When Oxnard finally dropped last November, reviews were generally positive but mixed, and it peaked at 11 on the Billboard album charts. Enough fans felt the singer had strayed from his post-millennial soul sound that his own mother felt the need to clap back. With a sprawling summer tour schedule looming, .Paak released his follow-up, Ventura, last Friday.

To hear the artist tell it, that was always the plan. “I told Dre when we were maybe about 80 percent into the Oxnard record that I wanted to actually do two records and he started scratching his head. ...I was like, ‘Let me do two, man. One will be gritty, one will be pretty,’” .Paak told HipHopDX. It’s clear that both albums were compiled from the same sessions, but they are distinct. While Anderson .Paak’s last project emphasized the Michael Bay-sized hip-hop beats that Dr. Dre perfected at the turn of the millennium, Ventura has a more soulful sound. It doesn’t slap, it grooves.

As the cover portrait of the artist with his child suggests, Ventura is an intimate record. He’s focused on sex and love in the long term, the ups and downs of relationships years after the introductory one night stands other pop stars sing about. His blunt-burnt yet sweet voice conjures a charming scoundrel character on record, a dad celebrating Friday night with a popped collar and glass overflowing with dark liquor. It’s a compelling persona .Paak previously exaggerated to cartoonish proportions on Yes Lawd!

Here, his pen shines on the small moments that hint at big feelings. On “Jet Black,” .Paak and his girl are getting physical for the first time in some time, sharing the peak of an unfamiliar high. “It’s been a while, baby, come here,” .Paak beckons. The house beat burbles with slap bass and descending organ as Brandy sings “Feels like someone lifted me.”

.Paak heats up a similarly chilled relationship on the luxuriant “Make It Better.” “Meet me at the hotel motel, though we got a room at home, go to a place that we don't know so well,” he murmurs. Over a laidback thump, .Paak tries to reignite passion in order to save his relationship. His voice desperately yelps on the chorus as the pressure he feels to reconnect emerges, but it quickly subsides into sweet nothings. Smokey Robinson’s backing vocals float in like he’s playing on a radio outside the lovers’ motel room. They’re buried low enough in the mix to suggest that if you’re cool enough to get a feature from a quiet storm legend, you’re cool enough not to rub it in.

Ventura’s precursor was stocked with verses from luminaries like Snoop Dogg, Q-Tip, and Kendrick Lamar, but Ventura’s only guest rapper, Andre 3000, appears on the first track, “Come Home.” It’s a rough start. The song opens with a piano melody that loops but never resolves, creating an anxiety similar to an iPhone alarm clock tone. .Paak begs for someone to come home, but it’s unconvincing, like he doesn’t yet understand why they left in the first place.

While Smokey’s feature is masterfully underplayed, Andre 3000’s verse gets a garish spotlight. Since Idlewild, 3 Stacks has made a habit of releasing guest verses on occasion in lieu of making an album of his own. When he’s on, he’s one of the best rappers alive, but “Come Home” is a rare misstep. The Outkast rapper fills entire bars with syllables about asking for forgiveness on a moped with a puppy, but it doesn’t feel charismatic. Fitting Willy Wonka, Tilikum, and Billabong into the same verse is admirable in a technical sense, but it feels like Andre’s “Rap God” technique for its own sake.

The album finishes much stronger. The last track “What Can We Do?” is built around a chiming sitar, and it savors contentment like a West Coast “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” .Paak duets with Nate Dogg on the hook, using recordings made before the legend’s untimely death in 2011. The deceased vocalist was a key G-funk ingredient, but his voice sits comfortably in a sunnier sound. It’s a credit to .Paak that the faux studio banter that closes the song feels natural.

The other features are similarly complementary to .Paak. Lalah Hathaway coos in unison with him on the disco half of “Reachin’ 2 Much.” Jazmine Sullivan plays the other woman, forced to climb in through the fire escape to retrieve her rings and “Good Heels” the morning after. Only Sonyae Elise spars with her host, offering a righteous rebuttal to his demands for the women in his life and sarcastically suggesting that he might be the “Chosen One.”

.Paak name drops to a few key inspirations in his lyrics as well. Later in “Chosen One,” he raps, “Heard your fans want to keep you in the underground, cool, when I blow up say I did it for MF DOOM,” a reminder of his pre-fame time in LA’s crate digging underground scenes. He contemplates leaving a relationship on “Reachin’ 2 Much” and all he can offer is “I’ll see you next lifetime, baby, what did Badu say?”

Like Erykah Badu’s New Amerykah diptych a decade ago, .Paak’s lyrics about current events are enough to provoke reflection without detracting from the physical pull of the grooves. He nimbly raps “Chicken wings and sushi, I’ve gotten used to the perks, narrowly escaping the holy war on the turf” on “Yada Yada.” Lead single “King James” praises people with public platforms for refusing to go along with a murderous status quo, promising to jump over any wall and bring the neighbors with. In the midst of his “Winners Circle” flirtation, .Paak raps “When I get the gushy, I go dumb like the President.” It’s not a jaw-dropping lyric, but it’s comforting to know that a bar that direct will be performed in arenas across America this summer.

Anderson .Paak’s talent is unquestionable and his spotlight is well-deserved, especially knowing he’s endured homelessness and familial legal trouble on his come-up. To his credit, he appears to be striving towards a magnum opus, a landmark album that becomes a household name like The Chronic or Midnight Marauders. Despite his strong catalog plus a plethora of excellent features, .Paak has yet to deliver that opus. (Yes Lawd!’s destiny as a cult classic aside.) Ventura is a fun, pleasant listen, and an improvement on the bombast of Oxnard. Like most double albums, one gets the feeling that there’s a great forty minute playlist waiting to be assembled from their best tracks.

Ventura ultimately doesn’t quite match the highs of his earlier albums, but it’s a leisurely stroll in the right direction. Nearly a decade into his recording career, it’s proof that .Paak can always find his way to the next beach.

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