Lil Uzi Vert Lil Uzi Vert

Interview: Lil Uzi Vert on the Inspiration of A$AP Yams, Don Cannon, and the Guy That Named Him Lil Uzi 

If you’ve been paying attention, you understand that hip-hop is getting straight up spacey. The mothership is still in Atlanta, where Young Thug, Playboi Carti, and Lil’ Yachty are still beaming down infectious, oddball tracks on a regular basis. But other cities are starting to come into orbit, and in Philadelphia Lil Uzi Vert is sitting in his city’s cockpit. He’ll be landing that wavy ship in Chicago at the end of July when he performs at the #FourLoko After Party on Friday, July 29, an epic combination that should provide some of the wildest moments of the festival weekend. The @FourLoko event will also feature Metro Boomin and O.T. Genasis.

Born Symere Woods, Uzi came up in North Philadelphia devouring a library of Gen-Y hip hop: A$AP Mob, Ying Yang Twinz, Pharrell, Philly-based crew State Property. That wide-ranging appetite served Uzi well; he’s found success in marrying woozy, extraterrestrial rhythm and a hyperactive flow — a trademark that earned Uzi his weaponized pseudonym. “One day I was rapping and this dude comes up and says, ‘You rap fast man, like a little machine gun, like a...like a little Uzi,’” he told VIBE. “I said ‘Yeah, Lil Uzi, that’s fire.’ and to this day that guy probably doesn’t even know he gave me [my name].”

Speed alone wasn’t going to win Uzi fans, though. Plenty of guys can spit like an M16 and never make it past selling a few hundred mixtapes, but Uzi found a home in the ethereal world of “post-internet rap” where artists like Young Thug were going platinum with lines like “Take the boys to school, swagonometry / I'm bleeding bad, like a bumblebee.” The growing affinity for abstract, style-agnostic flows has put bold individuality on a pedestal and opened a wide door for someone like Uzi to walk through, and the 21-year-old has made the most out of the opportunity by just being himself. “I stopped thinking, I just go out and everything is in the moment,” he told VIBE, “I just stop thinking and start moving, you just gotta be you.”

Even though Uzi has made his name riding a particularly modern wave, he was discovered the old-fashioned way. Producer and mixtape guru Don Cannon “was driving through Philly and they were playing one of my older songs on the radio. ‘U.Z.I.’ I think,” Uzi reveals. “Cannon called into Power 99 and they told him who I was. It was crazy to me, it didn’t make sense.” Uzi signed to Cannon and DJ Drama’s Atlantic imprint Generation Now where he released LUV is Rage and Lil’ Uzi Vert vs. the World, a mixtape that launched him into mainstream consciousness on the back of the synthy-laced trap single “Money Longer.”  

“Money Longer” is how most people know Uzi, and embodies that spaced out, foggy musicality that made him Internet-famous in the first place. That style — as well as that initial success — can be traced back to the late tastemaker A$AP Yams. “He was the first A$AP member I ever spoke to, he was a real genius with it,” he says, “I started sitting back and looking at how he was putting things together and making everything move...Just him being him.” He never met the A$AP Mob founder in person, but Yams had faith that Uzi would make it big and one was of the first to champion the Philly native online.

Yams was only part of the sonic equation, though, since Uzi was also grabbing records from bands like Paramore and artists like Marilyn Manson, sounds that didn’t have a lot of resonance in rough North Philly neighborhoods. Citing those bands as influences isn’t exactly what you’d expect from an MC with co-signs from A$AP Ferg and Wiz Khalifa, but that particular strain of alt-rock was formative for Uzi. As he told SPIN back in April, “The type of music I make, it’s not just straight-up rapping. There’s emotion in it. That’s why people feel each song differently. I get all my vibes from rock music, you know? All my melodies and all that.”

You put Uzi in a box at your own peril. Fierce, bold individuality is something central to who Uzi is as a person and as an artist. He is always himself, always at ease with what he’s wearing, who he’s speaking to, what he’s doing. “I’ll be in North Philly with pink hair because, at the end of the day, me and you are doing the same thing,” he told VIBE, “We live in the same place, ain’t nothing different but our clothes. You don’t have to go crazy, you just gotta be you.” That isn’t a surprising line to hear from an artist, but Uzi spikes the sentiment with a rare sincerity: “If you’re you, it doesn’t matter if you’re the most boring person in the world someone will like you. You’re not trying to be anyone else.”

RSVP to #FourLoko’s epic After Parties in Chicago here.

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It Was Pandemonium: Remembering 5 of B2K’s Career-Defining Moments

At the tail-end of last year, B2K sent the world into a familiar pandemonium following the announcement of their aptly titled reunion, the Millennium Tour. After 15 years, the group came back together to tap into our undying love of early 2000’s nostalgia, reminding fans at each tour stop why the “boys of the new millennium,” were arguably one of the biggest Black boy groups to do it since The Jackson 5.

"We are excited to be a part of what will undeniably be a nostalgic and electrifying performance,” Michelle Le Fleur, COO at Omarion Worldwide, – told Billboard in 2018. "While admiring their solo successes, the fans have consistently demanded a B2K reunion and, with the determination of an incredibly talented team, that dream is now a reality."

In the tour’s latter days, it was confirmed that Raz-B and J-Boog’s ups and downs on the road would be one of a few gripping storylines featured on season six of VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood, premiering Monday Aug. 5 at 8/7c, so it’s only right that we celebrate by looking back at a few of the quartet's biggest moments:

Early Chart Dominance

In 2002, the same year that Justin Timberlake launched his solo career and Nelly and Kelly had their “Dilemma,” B2K's self-titled debut album took the R&B world by storm. The album, which boasted the hit singles “Uh Huh” and “Gots Ta Be,” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the U.S. Hot R&B/Hip-Hop albums chart. They’d also join Bow Wow, who was no longer “Lil,”  on the Scream 2 tour on July 25 of that same year.

Pandemonium Ensued

Hot on the heels of B2K’s self-titled success, Pandemonium dropped on Dec.10, 2002 and "Bump, Bump, Bump" peaked at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single became the group's first top 10 hit on the Hot 100 chart and spent a week at No. 1, positioning them to take home the best group and viewer’s choice honors at the BET Awards the following summer.

 

An Untimely End

At the height of their popularity, B2K would announce their split on BET's 106 & Park in Jan. 2004 to the dismay of R&B fans everywhere. Omarion would later state that the decision was ultimately caused by the group’s mutual desire to seek out solo success. “It is true that B2K broke up but it’s not about me leaving or them leaving. It’s about us growing up and wanting to do our own thing,”  he told Jet magazine in 2004.

Omarion Joins Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood

In 2014, Omarion joined the cast of Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood alongside Fizz, Ray J, Soulja Boy, and more. The stint would come ten years after the launch of his solo career, during which, he blessed listeners with four albums (O, 21, Ollusion, Sex Playlist) in addition to playing a lead role alongside his former group members in You Got Served.

 

B2K Reunites

2019 saw the launch of the Millennium Tour, which B2K headlined with Mario, the Ying Yang Twins, Chingy, Pretty Ricky, Bobby V, and Lloyd. The tour was an immediate success,  grossing $5 million just three shows into a 25-date cross country stretch. Though initially slated to end in April, on July 11 Drake took to his Instagram to announce that B2K would be making an unexpected final tour stop as co-headliners of his annual Toronto-based OVO Fest.

If you weren’t one of the lucky thousands who got to catch B2K on the road, then VH1 has you covered. Season six of Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood airs on Monday, August 5 at 8/7c and will feature behind the scenes moments from the Millennium Tour that you won’t want to miss. In the meantime, check out the trailer below:

This is branded content, produced by our marketing department in partnership with our advertisers—not by editorial.

 

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You’re Invited: VIBE VSessions in Los Angeles with Casey Veggies, Kodie Shane, and Buddy

Calling all Los Angeles teens! We are gearing up for our third and final VIBE VSessions — a FREE live concert series in partnership with Fresh Empire, a lifestyle brand dedicated to encouraging youth to reach their goals tobacco-free. The show is open to music lovers ages 13 to 19 and will host some of the most exciting up-and-coming names in hip-hop.

The VIBE VSessions event will feature full sets by LA's own Casey Veggies, Lil Yachty-endorsed Atlanta prodigy Kodie Shane, and rising star Buddy. Host DJ Hed will kick off the night. Attendees at the show will have the chance to take part in on-site giveaways, artist meet-and-greets, and more.

Join us on Saturday, May 13th from 5:00 - 9:00 pm at Hyde on Sunset Boulevard.

Mandatory RSVP at Vibevsessions.eventbrite.com for tickets. Please note entrance is based on capacity so get there early!

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Paul R. Giunta

Metro Boomin Rocks Fresh Empire and VIBE's VSessions Feat. YG, Speakerfoxxx, and DJ Jelly

VIBE VSessions descended to Atlanta for a highly-anticipated night of high-powered DJ sets. In an effort to promote a tobacco-free lifestyle, teens ranging from ages 13-19 filled the dance floor at The Loft's Center Stage, a premiere concert venue located in the heart of midtown. V-103's Big Tigger served as the host setting the tone for the Fresh Empire “lituation.”

While attendees laced up with free swag and photos ops, the show kicked off with Southern Style DJ's own DJ Jelly spinning a 45-minute selection of old and new school hip-hop bangers, ranging from legendary rap collective the Dungeon Family down to trap superstar Young Thug. The energy in the room was pure pandemonium leading to the flawless introduction of Speakerfoxxx, better known as “The Queen of ATL.”

“There is no better place than performing at home,” she said while jumping into her set playing an eclectic mix of hip-hop infused electronic records. The Atlanta native made sure concert-goers enjoyed every minute of their escape from the parentals. Whether she was playing the latest from Gucci Mane, Lil Uzi or 2 Chainz, the crowd just couldn’t stop dabbing to the beats.

Speakerfoxxx kept the momentum going for one hour before her close friend and headliner Metro Boomin hit the stage to wrap up the evening. His cult following began shouting, “If Young Metro don’t trust you,” and from that point, the vibe in the crowd skyrocketed to 100 - real quick. It was only right that he began his set with songs from close comrades Future and Drake like “Where Ya A** Was At,” “Jersey,” and the ultimate ATL anthem “Bad and Bougie” by Migos.

Popular YouTube dancers Meechie and Toosi came and kicked it along with upcoming rapper Sahbaii who performed “Pull Up Wit Ah Stick," the latest hit single Metro is co-signing as next to top the charts. West Coast rapper YG also popped up and rapped a few bars from "Who Do You Love" on his studio album, My Krazy Life and more.

Before the show ended three lucky teens got the chance to win a meet-and-greet with Metro himself. The Atlanta edition of VIBE's VSessions was certainly one for the books and the perfect interlude before the Falcons played in the NFL championship on Super Bowl Sunday.

Fresh Empire's national campaign promotes tobacco-free living while educating youth about the health risks with smoking cigarettes. According to the CDC, each day in the United States, more than 3,200 youth aged 18 years or younger smoke their first cigarette, and approximately 2,100 youth and young adults become daily cigarette smokers. Additionally, if smoking continues at the current rate among youth in this country, 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 will die early from a smoking-related illness.

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