Usher and Chris Brown
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Recording Artists Usher and Chris Brown attend The 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards at the STAPLES Center on February 8, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS)

Usher And Chris Brown Sing About Broken Love On ‘All Falls Down’

We're starting to think and Usher/Chris Brown joint album would be a good idea...

Usher and Chris Brown know a thing or two about messy relationships. Teaming up again to follow up their collaboration on “New Flame,” Brown now lends the assist for a ballad titled “All Falls Down.” Singing about the perils of a broken love, the R&B heavyweights turn on the vulnerability on the somber track, which has leaked onto the Web.

“She feels stupid loving me for me/ And I'm the fool who falls too easily/ We all fall down sometimes/ So why can’t I,” the two sing.

SEE ALSO: Jermaine Dupri Claims Ciara’s ‘I Bet’ Sounds Similar To Usher’s ‘U Got It Bad’

Seemingly tapping into their own failures in love, Ursha and Breezy once again prove their on-wax chemistry. No word on where the song will end up, though Usher has already revealed that a collaboration with Brown will be included on his long-awaited UR album.

Are we the only ones thinking these two could make a dope joint album? Press play to hear “All Falls Down” below.

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Courtesy of Project Girls Club

D. Woods And Shanell Share Details Behind Project Girls Club: Exclusive

There's power in numbers, especially when it comes to black women. YMCMB songstress Shanell, former Danity Kane star D. Woods, Princess of Crime Mob and platinum-selling songwriter Mika Means have merged their talents together to form Project Girls Club, a group that not only boasts big female energy but also a sisterhood like no other.

The ladies' first single "Run Up" is all about the girl power while playing with boastful 808s. The video does the same with the ladies turning up industrial style as their colorful personalities bursts out on every verse.

The group's origins were planted in Atlanta over a decade ago with the women acting as supportive cheerleaders as they moved in their previous groups. After moving on to solo endeavors, the ladies decided to add a music component to the group which also includes mentorship of young girls.

Speaking to VIBE Tuesday (Jan. 22), Shanell and D.Woods, the sisters of the group, shared the creative process behind the first single.

"We put the track on and each girl just went in," Shanell explained. "We kind of feed off each other and that was the vibe. We are a little different than your normal girl group. We feel like power rangers and superheroes so we have that tough exterior. We're still women so we still have a softer side but the tough side is what you might get first."

The ladies know a little something about girl groups. At the start of their careers, three of them were apart of the biggest groups in hip-hop and R&B. Shanell was the sole female vocalist in Lil Wayne's Young Money group comprised of Nicki Minaj and Drake, D. Woods was famously in the platinum-selling girl group Danity Kane while as a teenager, Princess was apart of Atlanta's Crime Mob.

The ladies plan to hit the ground running with more new music and their upcoming album this year.

Check out the rest of the interview below.

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I love the fact that "Run Up" is a confident track as opposed to a love song. Was that a conscientious decision to make the first single more braggy than a love ballad?

D Woods: I think that is just how we are as people. We didn't really have to think about it or make any type of strategic decision of what kind of subject matter. It just came out of how we really talk in every day in conversation.

Shanell: We put the track on and each girl just went in," Shanell explained. "We kind of feed off each other and that was the vibe. We are a little different than your normal girl group. We feel like power rangers and superheroes so we have that tough exterior. We're still women so we still have a softer side but the tough side is what you might get first.

If you could label each woman as a superhero who would be what?

Shanel: I can kind of give you the personalities of each one of us. Like Minka is the party girl, myself, I am like more of like, "Here is the plan," D keeps everybody organized and on task. Princess is our hood spiritual advisor. She's gonna give us a crystal and try and throw you a shot of jack at the same time.

So how did this group come together?

Shanel: We created Project Girls Club years ago with myself D, and Mika. We were all doing shows and mobs of guys would be on stage and there wasn't enough feminine energy.

So we were like, "Let's band together and do all of our shows together. So when you have a show we are gonna come out on stage; if I have a show you're gonna come and support me," so we kind of built it like that.

Then everybody got their deal and started getting pulled away from doing stuff together so much, me signing to Young Money, D being with Danity Kane and Mika doing her solo project, it was hard for us to keep doing stuff together but now, we're wiser and we're experienced

What would you say is the biggest difference between this and other girl groups?

D Woods: For me personally, these are people that I've chosen to work with instead of being put together with that I didn't know. That's the biggest difference. Shanel of course, is my blood sister and Meeka we've known each other since high school, and Princess, we know we cross paths so many different times in the Atlanta music industry so this is like we're coming together because we want to (laughs). That's the difference between me and anyone else's group experience. I was put in a group with people I didn't know and had nothing in common with before–

Shanel: And they were pitted against each other.

D Woods: We were pitted against each other and then put into a group to act like we're all on the same page. Even during the time I was in Danity Kane, there was Project Girls Club. I wanted to include my group into that but we weren't on the same page.

This is a lot being on the same page because we want to be on the same page and seeing the benefits of being on the same page. A lot of times in groups, people are competing against each other and are pushing out one leader and everyone else has to be background singers or just the backup to that person's vision. With this group, we have a hard time explaining that because we see groups, especially those with females, it's like "Who's the leader? What's the look?"

Everyone in Project Girls Group has their own vibe and we don't make anyone else have to be on everyone else's vibe. We celebrate each other's vibe (laughs). I'm not going to make my dream be your dream. Let's figure how to coexist these dreams and push them to the next level.

Shanell: For me, being a part of Young Money it was mostly men. I had Nikki [Minaj] for a while but then she went and did her own thing. It was a lot of creative things I wanted to but there was no female energy. I felt like I was the black sheep. Everyone was super rap and I was doing rock and R&B so I just want to build a place where all of those parts of me can shine. We've all thrived, we've all seen success and we all get it. This is like a more comfortable, a better space for me to tap into every stream of talent I have.

Can you tell us anything about the upcoming album?

Shanel: That's our timeline so we have to set our set dates so that we work toward those dates the project is going to have our plan is to feature as many female artists as we can and leave enough room for us to be on the records.

Shawna reached out and was like, "I want to be a part of this." Sharaya J who was on The Four wants to be a part. We are going to feature a lot of black women in the game and some new girls and just make it a party, make it fun.

D. Woods: Right now we just see black women fighting on TV and talking about taking each other's men and bend it over, pop it open, buss it open for these real ni**as like okay well we are going to be that other thing, that fun thing.

Do you think that because all four of you have these massive hits in your catalogs already that you will revamp those to fit within the group that you are doing now?

D Woods: I mean, that's an idea. I mean we still perform some of those songs for the audience for the audience that is there that is like can we hear something from Young Money and Danity Kane and Crime Mob, like we tap in and give them a little bit of where we came from but right now my focus is in creating this new sound, this new feel, this new vibe, this new culture of women who aren't afraid of each other, who uplift each other, who congratulate each other. What we are hearing and seeing now.

Lastly, what have learned about each other and the process of Project Girls Club?

Shanel: That is a special thing. Of course, we are positive thinkers, we move positively but being that we are all from different walks of life, different experiences, just learning each other's strengths and weaknesses.

When you say women working together it's easier said than done, just people working together is easier said than done so we have to constantly know that that is what we stand for so when we are challenged.

We argue, we bicker and get upset about certain things but it's like okay so we are learning ourselves how sometimes you just gotta figure out how to make it work and understand somebody else's point of view or show them something they don't know and learn something they can teach you. There has been crying, there has been fighting there have been happy days of celebration but it's all apart of this journey.

D. Woods: I joke and say I know everything because she is my sister but you know when you are around people and have known people for as long as we have known each other you tend to generalize people because you are too close to them you can't see the trees through the forest.

In this new stage of Project Girls Club and us having come back together after we have gone out into the world and fought our own battles, we have relearned each other's passions again and then relearned each other's talents and seeing each other's hearts.

We are here to support each other's vision and execute it together so we are learning each other's hearts again and making each other's dreams come true.

Check out the video above and stream "Run Up" by Project Girls Club below.

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Music Sermon: Classic Conscious Posse Cuts For The Hip-Hop Generation

#MusicSermon is a weekly series by Naima Cochrane that highlights the under-acknowledged and under-appreciated urban artists and sub-genres from the '90s and earlier. The series seeks to tell unknown and/or forgotten stories that connect the dots between current music, culture and the foundations of the past.

The year 1985 saw one of the biggest moments in music history when Quincy Jones, Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson gathered pop and rock stars from across the musical spectrum as U.S.A. for Africa for the anthemic “We Are The World,” raising funds for short and long-term humanitarian aid throughout Africa.

The following year, Dexter Scott King was inspired to create a similar moment. After decades-long efforts in Congress with pushes from public figures and notable artists, his father Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday was finally being observed as a national holiday. King wanted to tap younger energy - the growing hip-hop generation – to put a spin on “We Are The World” in commemoration of the first MLK Day.

King reached out to Kurtis Blow, who’d been part of a mass anti-apartheid project the year prior. “I get a call… he says, ‘Hello, Kurtis. I want you to record a song for my father.’ I hung up on him,” Blow told Vlad TV. “He calls me back, ‘I’m serious, I’m Dexter Scott King.’ I said, ‘You playin’.” Kurtis finally realized nobody was playing on his phone, and they got to work. With Blow as producer, King and co-writer/co-producer Phillip Jones assembled a who’s who of young hip urban and urban crossover artists. “Anyone who was too young for ‘We are the World,’” he explained to Vlad: El Debarge, Stephanie Mills, Whitney Houston, Lisa Lisa, Full Force, Stephanie Mills, Teena Marie, Menudo (featuring young Ricky Martin), New Edition, Stacy Lattisaw, James JT Taylor, Whodini, Run-DMC, Grandmaster Melle Mel, The Fat Boys and Kurtis.

They planned to shoot a video at the Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social Change — the designated recipient of all proceeds from the song — to give it a proper spotlight, but they needed money. A benefactor showed up in the form of Prince. Yes, that Prince. According to Kurtis, The Purple One donated $90,000 for a visual.

At this point, supergroups for a worthy cause weren’t a brand new thing. Prior to “We Are The World,” there was Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas” for Ethiopian Famine Relief. In 1985, Artists United Against Apartheid released “Sun City,” but it was nowhere near as big a hit or pop culture moment as the other two.

“King Holiday” was the first of these event songs for us. For something specifically and directly connected to and about us.

After that, black musicians teamed up were several other socially-charged collaborations that took on issues close to home or challenged us as a community to do better–and then there weren’t any more of them. It could be because of lack of incentive, or abundance of egos. Or shrinking of artist pools in some areas, or the shrinking of budgets overall. It’s certainly not due to lack of topical options. Whatever the cause, in honor of MLK Day, we’re going to look back at some of the great supergroup movement moments in black music.

STOP THE VIOLENCE MOVEMENT: “SELF-DESTRUCTION” – 1989

In the three short years between “King Holiday” and “Self-Destruction,” rap expanded from a niche genre to a full cultural movement. But along with that ascension came a growing affiliation with violence. In ‘87 and ‘88, melees were breaking out at rap concerts, and the art form was held solely responsible. Two incidents at New York’s Nassau Coliseum, one with a fatality, were the breaking point. Just as hip hop was coming into its own, it was in danger of stalling out. Media and community leaders were condemning rap as a negative influence. Venues started banning rap concerts, a pall hung that over rap shows and tours until the Hard Knock Life Tour ushered in a new era of all-rap shows more than a decade later.

The situation was dire. Journalist Nelson George contacted music executive Ann Carli with an idea: a posse cut with an anti-violence message. They took the name “Stop the Violence Movement” from a Boogie Down Productions song, and so appropriately enlisted BDP’s help. “This wasn’t about police brutality,” founding member D-Nice said around the song’s 25th anniversary. “This was about how we were killing each other and why we needed to put a stop to it.” The 17-year-old D-Nice produced the song, and BDP leader KRS-One laid his verse down first, followed by some of the best-known rappers on the East Coast: Ms. Melodie, Kool Moe Dee, MC Lyte, Doug E. Fresh, Heavy D, Public Enemy, Stetsasonic and Just-Ice. Just was a controversial addition because he’d recently been accused of shooting someone, but his presence lent sincerity to the message. The video, shot in part at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, was the largest gathering of rappers at one time to date. Beef was squashed, like former rivals DJ Red Alert and DJ Marley Marl pictured together at Scott LaRock’s grave. And though the record featured all east coast lyricists, Tone Loc showed up to rep the west in solidarity.

“Self-Destruction” was released on Martin Luther King, Jr Day in 1989, and received video support, but it didn’t get mainstream radio airplay. It still reached No. 1 on the rap charts in March and stayed there for ten weeks, driving enough sales enough to raise $500,000 for the National Urban League. The Stop the Violence Movement and “Self-Destruction” are still considered one of the most important moments in hip hop. The following year, the west coast took the baton.

WEST COAST HIP HOP ALL-STARS: “WE’RE ALL IN THE SAME GANG” – 1990

Even if you’ve never set foot on the left coast, you know that LA was embroiled with racial tension, gang violence and a confirmed distrust between the black community and law enforcement in the late 80s and early 90s. It’s the climate that birthed “F*ck the Police” and Boyz N The Hood. “All in the Same Gang” was created in the same spirit as “Self-Destruction,” but specifically addressing the violence between nearly 100,000 Los Angeles area gang members.

Michael Concepcion, a founding member of the Crips, conceived the idea after a shootout left him paralyzed from the waist down. He reached out to key west coast artists – some former gang members themselves – to float the idea. Once they were on board, he pitched it Warner Brothers Records. His path was no doubt made easier by the success of “We’re All in the Same Gang.” Additionally, hip-hop’s commercial viability was being recognized as a real thing thanks to Yo! MTV Raps, among other factors. Warner got on board. The single was produced by Dr. Dre––his first track that wasn’t for Ruthless Records––and proceeds were designated for LA youth organization Project Build.

The track featured 14 of the west coast’s biggest rap and rap-affiliated stars, including Tone Loc, Young MC, Digital Underground, MC Hammer, JJ Fad, Michel'le, Def Jeff, Oaktown's 3-5-7, and N.W.A. The video was shot in Watts at the Nickerson Gardens projects––Blood territory, but the Bloods and Crips provided joint security during a temporary truce. Again, assisted with the foundation laid by “Self-Destruction” and illustrating how far rap had come in a short time, the single surpassed the success of its east coast predecessor. It not only hit No. 1, but crossed over to the Hot 100 chart and earned a Grammy nod for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.

H.E.A.L. (Human Education Against Lies): “HEAL YOURSELF” – 1991

KRS-One is hip-hop’s Al Sharpton. If there’s some organizing poppin’ off, he or Chuck D––who may as well be hip-hop’s Jesse Jackson––is in the mix. It’s what they do; it’s their role in the culture. KRS and Chuck talked about this during a Rap City takeover in 1992, “The reason I came up with certain topics like H.E.A.L. and Self Destruction, etc., is because of the need for black people to be organized…So we get most of the rappers together, we organize, say something of some relevance…With rap music, when it’s time to get busy, I can get on the phone with Kane and go,‘Yo Kane, what’s up?’ I can get on the phone with Heavy and go ‘Yo Heavy, what’s up?’ and they’ll be right there.”

KRS always had a focus on self-education. Distrust of the education system and messages from mainstream media was a prevalent theme in his music. The collective H.E.A.L., named for an acronym Human Education Against Lies, expanded on that as a movement against propaganda and false information. “Heal Yourself” features Kid Capri, Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J (perhaps redeeming himself for not participating in “Self Destruction”), MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Ms Melodie, Jam Master Jay, DMC, Freddie Foxx and KRS-One kicking knowledge about education, colorism, drugs, sex, AIDS, domestic violence and politics. The collaborative released a full album, Civilization vs. Technology, but as the lead track, “Heal Yourself,” is the best-known.

B.M.U. (Black Men United): “U WILL KNOW” – 1994

All the black male singers in the known universe came together to create this uplifting theme song for the Jason’s Lyric soundtrack. “U Will Know” is one of those moments unlikely to happen again, simply because there aren’t enough artists to pull off an event outing of this magnitude. The death of R&B groups alone probably halved the potential roster.

Aaron Hall, After 7, Al B. Sure!, Boyz II Men, Brian McKnight, Christopher Williams, Guy, El DeBarge, Gerald LeVert, H-Town, INTRO, Joe, Keith Sweat, The Rude Boys, Portrait, R. Kelly, Silk, Stokley Williams, Tevin Campbell, Raphael Saadiq (on bass) and the Tony’s, Usher, Lenny Kravitz (also on bass). Yes, all of ‘em. Together. Same song. Your church’s Men’s Day Mass Choir could never.

But “U Will Know” is more than a soundtrack song; it’s now part of soul music lore. The gospel-infused track was written by a young D’Angelo, and his brother. It was the second song he’d ever written, on his first demo, and his publisher placed it for the film. He’s often credited the song with landing him his deal.

Looking back on the video now, he belongs amongst those artists and their voices and talents, but in actuality he was the new kid. “It was surreal,” he shared in a 2014 Red Bull Music Academy interview. “Here I am in a room with all my heroes.”

The track hit No. 4 on the Billboard R&B chart and cracked the Top 40 on the Hot 100. But the biggest takeaway, if we’re keeping it a buck, is that Gerald Levert lowkey called everybody else his background singers.

“FREEDOM (The Theme from Panther)” – 1995

In 1995, it was the ladies’ turn, with a once-in-a-career mass assembly for the Panther soundtrack. “Freedom” originated on Atlanta R&B singer and Dungeon Family affiliate Joi’s super slept-on debut album, The Pendulum Vibe. Director Mario Van Peebles then had the idea to flip the Dallas Austin track for the Panther soundtrack and gathered, apparently, every black female artist signed to a label. Many reports say over 60 artists were involved, but VIBE cited 93 artists in its August 1995 issue – all for a monumental song and video.

“Freedom” was promoted as a tribute to the women who’ve fought in the trenches for liberation and justice like Angela Davis, Coretta Scott King, Harriet Tubman (note: here’s a moment where it’s acceptable to evoke Tubman, rappers), Sojourner Truth and Rosa Parks. The collaboration encompassed female artists across multiple genres. The main edit featured Vanessa Williams, Mary J. Blige, Zhane, TLC, Aaliyah, Caron Wheeler, Pebbles, Xscape, Brownstone, Karyn White, Amel Larrieux, Monica, En Vogue, Joi, Queen Latifah, Patra, N’Dea Davenport and Miss Jones (seriously, everybody with a deal) on vocals. (In a cute parallel to “You Will Know,” vocal arrangement was in the hands of a not-yet-known Angie Stone).

There was also an all-rap version with Patra, Latifah, MC Lyte, Salt-n-Pepa, Left Eye, Yo-Yo, and Me'Shell NdegéOcello (Spoken word. Rap. Same.). The lyrics addressed standing up to racism and oppression, but also fighting against misogyny and sexism, all through sisterhood.

“I represent not only in the kitchen and the bedroom / But also in the boardroom so give me more room / Deny my opportunity, you in jeopardy / Yo, yo, set me free, don't hinder me, let me be”

There's only one thing infuriating about “Freedom:” there’s so little story around it. Nothing like this had ever happened before and will probably never happen again (there aren’t enough artists!), but there’s no easily-found behind-the-scenes footage, no EPK interviews, no making-of documentation. This was obviously conceived to be a moment, but wasn’t documented as such, which is a loss to music history. There’s not even a mass choir name!

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Over the years, these supergroup projects continue to pop up occasionally as world events call for them. There was even a “We are the World 25” for Haiti disaster relief. However, the art form of conscious posse cuts has fallen off. In 2015, The Game spearheaded collective of rappers and R&B singers for “Don’t Shoot,” a tribute to Michael Brown and in support of Ferguson, but it wasn’t a moment. There wasn’t the requisite in-studio-with-headphones video. In an age where artists can’t easily agree to outside projects without the label in a huff, when it’s not as easy to get on the phone with your peers the way KRS One did and summon them for action, and when verses can be sent via email with no direct connection with collaborators, the comradery and communion in these projects is lost, and that was the heart. Fortunately, time hasn’t dulled the relevance of these earlier moments.

PS: Somebody give MC Lyte the “Most Consistent” award for being in basically all of these joints.

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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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