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Review: Nas' Remix Of J. Cole's 'Let Nas Down' Is The Year’s Most Intriguing Recorded Moment (So Far)

Nas flips Cole's tribute/confessional for a remix that doesn't disappoint

The danger of creating a tribute to a fellow artist—no matter how heartfelt, conceptual or well-meaning it is—is the finished work can be perceived as banal. After all, we live in a pretty jaded world in which Paris Hilton has a recording deal (just let that sink in). Yet when new breed lyricist J. Cole included the intriguing track “Let Nas Down” on his sophomore album Born Sinner, the results were far from dishwater. In fact, it was pretty insightful—a brutally honest detail of the well-worn battle between art vs. commerce. The remix, however, featuring Nasty Nas himself, takes the saxophone-paced soulful cut to an even more surreal place, making it one of this year’s most powerful statements.

But to get the full impact of the song, it’s important to go back to the original. Essentially an open letter to one of rap’s most revered figures, “Let Nas Down” finds Cole detailing his real-life disappointment of not living up to his idol’s lofty expectations following a conversation with his producer No I.D. “Dion called me when it dropped, sounded sad but sincere…told me Nas heard your single and he hate that shit,” Cole recalls of his attempts to garner a radio hit with the somewhat tepid "Work Out." “Said you the one, yo why you make that shit?”

What happened next is freakin' awesome. Nas jumps on the track to not only publicly offer his backing of the lyrically gifted Cole, but to let him know that he has also been on the other end of blatantly going for the commercial brass ring at the expense of fans. “I ain't mad at you, young king, this unsung song is haunting…Radio records are needed, I just wanted it to bring the warning…” There’s a lot going on throughout this compact 2 minutes, 29 seconds response. It’s all there. From Nas telling the much younger Cole to not look for the stamp approval from veteran musical giants, even larger-than-life mentor Shawn Carter who is naturally busy protecting his own immaculate throne (“It's hard for the great to tell somebody how to be great…”) to Mr. Jones’ deft, brilliant flip of the North Carolina native’s own rhymes (“Long live the idols, may they never be your rivals/Slick Rick was like Jesus, G Rap wrote the Bible/Now what you're 'bout to hear is a tale of glory and sin/Large Professor's my mentor, that's how the story end…”). It’s Nas’ way of saying that hip-hop is in good hands with the likes of Cole, Kendrick Lamar and Tyler, the Creator leading the way.

Indeed, this is not the case of an old, bitter man blocking the path of the young lion. It’s Rakim giving an approving nod to Nas after hearing the hungry newcomer on Main Source's now classic "Live at the Barbeque" circa 1991. And that’s a beautiful thing.—Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Is Expected To Make $64 Million Opening Weekend

Thanks to Us, Jordan Peele has another blockbuster on his hands. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the highly-anticipated horror flick starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex, is expected to have a $64 million opening weekend at the domestic box office.

Peele’s sophomore horror film earned an impressive $7.4 million on Thursday (March 21) night previews, and is forecasted to take in about $27 million from Friday sales. The film is also on pace to knock Captain Marvel out of the No. 1 spot at the box office.

Once final numbers are tallied, Us will likely snatch the third-best opening weekend record for an R-rated horror film behind It, which brought in a whopping $123.4 million, followed by Halloween’s $76.2 million opening weekend last year.

Aside from rave reviews and a genius promo run that included simultaneous screenings in major media markets, Us earned a 95 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film, set in the mid-1980s centers around a family of four who set off on a vacation that finds them confronting some familiar faces.

Peele recently spoke to VIBE about casting Duke (our April 2019 cover star) in the role of patriarch, Gabe Wilson. “I have to have somebody voice what the audience was saying,” he said. “In the case of Get Out, it’s Rod, like, ‘How have you not left yet?’ [In Us], Winston is largely that voice. There’s one moment where Lupita [Nyong’o] takes a step into the unknown, where black people [will think], ‘I don’t know.’ But to have Winston say, ‘Aaaand she left. Your mother just walked out of the car.’ That’s all we need.”

Duke also opened up about the intricacies of his character. “His function isn’t to see through the veil. His function is to tell the absolute truth how he sees it,” explained the 32-year-old actor. “He’s sometimes there to say the things that other people don’t want to say, but he’s also there to make fun of things to keep it from not getting too heavy, even though it’s real. That was my job. [Peele] respected that. I like to lean into functions. If I’m going to be your antagonist, I’m gonna really push you. If I’m gonna be your clown, funny guy, I’m gonna do that.”

Click here to read VIBE’s April 2019 cover story.

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Cardi B Explains Why She Wants To Trademark “Okurrr”

Cardi B hopes to secure as many “bags” as possible. In response to backlash and burning questions surrounding her decision to file to trademark “okurrr,” the 26-year-old rapper took to social media Friday (March 22) to defend her latest money move.

Since people tend to ask Bardi to use what has become her signature catch phrase, she figured that it was time to cash in. “You think I ain’t gonna’ profit off this sh*t? B*tch white folks do it all the motherf**king time,” she said. “So you gon’ be mad at me ‘cuz I want to get some motherf**king money?

“While I’m still hear I’ma secure all the fucking bags,” Cardi continued before adding that there are a “lot of ways to get rich” in 2019.

The Bronx native caught heat for wanting to trademark the word because she wasn’t the first to say “okurrr.” Cardi already revealed that she started using it after she heard Khloe Kardashian saying it, but the word was originally popularized in drag culture -- most notably by Rupaul’s Drage Race contestant Laganja Estranja, in 2014.

However, Rupaul attributed the word to Broadway actress, Laura Bell Bundy, who used it in YouTube skits dating back to 2010. In the skits, Bundy pretends to be a hairdresser named “Shocantelle Brown.”

Although Bundy caught criticism for her little character, which was deemed racist, she typically gets credit for bringing “okrrr” (different spelling) to the internet a full decade before Cardi made it mainstream.

No matter the origin, it looks like Cardi will be the only one profiting off of “okurrr.”


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#CardiB on why she decided to trademark “Okurr”

A post shared by the Jasmine BRAND (@thejasminebrand_) on Mar 22, 2019 at 5:32pm PDT

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Kanye West, EMI Working Towards Private Settlement

Kanye West and EMI could be close to settling their legal drama. Each party filed documents requesting a stay of the case to “explore the potential for a resolution,” The Blast reports.

West sued EMI in an effort to “gain freedom” from his contract, and to own his publishing. In the lawsuit, ‘Ye argued that his contract ended in 2010 under California law, which bars entertainers from being tethered to an agreement for more than seven years. The multi-Grammy winner, who signed the deal back in 2003, also accused the company of slavery because the contract doesn’t allow him to retire.

“Even if the contract were not lopsided in EMI’s favor (it is), even if its terms valued Mr. West’s artistic contributions in line with the spectacular success he has achieved for EMI (they do not), and even if EMI had not underpaid Mr. West what it owes him (EMI has), he would be entitled to be set free from its bonds,” the lawsuit reads.

EMI hit back with a countersuit filed in New York, instead of California. The suit pointed out that the 41-year-old rapper signed multiple contract extensions, in addition to accepting millions in advances.

According to The Blast, West and EMI now feel that putting a hold on the legal proceedings will be beneficial to both sides “and the Court by enabling the parties to engage in meaningful discussions in an attempt to resolve this action without having to incur the burden and expense of litigation and motion practice.”

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