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Interview: Smino Celebrates The Art Of Black Excellence On "Blkoscars"

The St. Louis artist shares with VIBE the inspiration behind his latest track and updates on his upcoming album, blkswn. 

The firm presence of black culture at this year's Academy Awards Sunday (Feb. 25) will be felt on the red carpet all the way to the small screens of Middle America. The power of such films as Fences and masterful filmmakers like Barry Jenkins has even influenced budding lyrical maven Smino to release "Blkoscars" (featuring Jay2), an ode to black excellence and witty retort to the ongoing #OscarsSoWhite debacle.

The St. Louis native tells VIBE inspiration for the Monte Booker-produced track came during  2016, the year everyone hates and the height of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. "I was in Chicago with my brother and Monte sent me this cool a** beat," he said. "We were discussing the absence of people of color at the Oscars since #OscarsSoWhite was happening, so that's where the concept came from. It just so happened that people of color have taken over the nominations this year, so it's just good timing how it all came together." For the first time in Academy history, a black actor is nominated in every single major acting catergory—Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. While Viola Davis is recognized as the most nominated black woman in Oscar history, other legends of color like Jackie Chan will be receiving the Honorary Academy Award (he's only the fifth Asian to receive the award.)

Never one to mask his confidence, Smino is a nurturing and encouraging supporter of black culture. "The coldest s**t about being black is you're kind of just ahead of the curve naturally," he said."Your access to cool s**t just comes out of the air. I feel like a black kid could sit in his room forever and not meet one person in his whole life and make some dope a** art based on what he can pull together from his head. It's already through our ancestors, the music and different crazy styles."

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Smino showcases the wave on change on "Blkoscars" with his ability to drop melodic hooks and double-timed bars. The young-old cat says he was blown away by Oscar-nominated films Moonlight, Fences and Hidden Figures. "I saw all of them with my girl. Moonlight is good as f***," he boasts. "Mahershala [Ali] did a great job in both films (Hidden Figures and Fences). Hidden Figures actually inspired the last song I put out ("Anita") and Fences was so impressive, I didn't get to see the play but I appreciated the film."

Fences-director and star Denzel Washington is among the rapper's Top 3 actors list, along with Jamie Foxx and Will Smith. "Foxx is so versatile and [then there's] Denzel," he said. "He made Training Day so he's the top dog." When it comes to learning any gems from Hollywood, Smino says he's observed it from afar. "You self-consciously study the game and s**t when you're a kid, but you're watching entertainers grow their brand," he said. "I've always paid attention to that."

Smino has wrapped up visuals to "Anita" and says his blkswn project is entering the final stages of completion. For now, feel the groove of black power on "Blkoscars" below.

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Nicky Jam And Ozuna's "Te Robare" Video Transports Them To Another World

Nicky Jam and Ozuna are on a mission to get the girl they want at all costs. A black and white montage serves as the backdrop for their playful new video for their latest single, “Te Robare,” which translates into the mischievous: “I’ll steal you.”

Throughout their performance, a bevy of beautiful women have brief interludes that go from talking in a vaporized infused telephone booth to breaking into a sexy dance group sequence. "We are very happy to be able to share this new single with the fans of the reggaetón genre, we are sure that they will enjoy this song as much as we do,” Nicky said in a press release.

Despite the video featuring a slew of women, it's worth noting that it looks sexy but classic. Jam prides himself in creating this type of imagery in his visuals. In 2017, he told Billboard, "Our audience is so broad that we have to make videos where women look beautiful and conservative and are treated with respect because the videos are seen by kids and adults," he said. "Other reggaetóneros who do what they do are targeting one audience. They don’t have the same responsibility we do."

In addition to releasing new music, Nicky Jam is kicking off his "Intimo Tour 2019" on April 11 in Chicago and will go through the month of May. Watch the video for "Te Robare" above.

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Premiere: Tommie of 'Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta' Calls On Anthony Hamilton For 'Truth' Music Video

"With every trial is a testimony!" Tommie tells VIBE. "Here is mine."

With that, the The Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta star drops her new music video for "Truth." The song sees her recounting a lifetime of struggles - sexual assault, birthing her child in jail, homelessness, and more, while a soulful Anthony Hamilton sings a hook that congratulates her for how far she's come. The video, directed by illHD and Tommie herself, splits between its own storyline and vintage footage of her life.

“This is/was my real life! Beyond the lights. I wanted to share with the people the back story, my whole truth," Tommie said. "In doing so I hope to motivate others struggling with their truth to not be afraid and be inspired to not give up!”

Watch the video for Tommie and Anthony Hamilton's "Truth" above.

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Rich The Kid, Nav, And More Friday Music Releases You Need To Hear

Mar. 2019 was a pretty slow month, but we are back with a new list of the hottest Friday releases. From Rich the Kid to Nav and more, here are all of the Friday music releases that you need to hear below.


Rich The Kid – The World Is Yours 2

Rich the Kid is back with The World Is Yours 2. The 16-track project features Offset, Big Sean, Tory Lanez, Gunna, Ty Dolla $ign, and more. The album also includes the pre-released singles, "Splashin'" and "4 Phones."

This is Rich the Kid's second studio album. It is a sequel to The World Is Yours, which was released in Mar. 2018.

Listen to Rich the Kid's new album below.

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Nav – Bad Habits

Nav's sophomore studio album is here. Bad Habits consists of 16 tracks and includes guest appearances by Meek Mill, The Weeknd, Young Thug, Gunna, and more.

Nav dropped the tracklist and video teaser ahead of the album's release. The preview includes behind-the-scenes footage of the rapper's past live concerts.

The album is completely produced by The Weeknd. Listen to Bad Habits below.

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With a memorable freestyle on Sway In the Morning and Mass Appeal's recently concluded Starting 5 tour under his belt, Albany, Ga. rapper Cantrell has settled down to release his sophomore EP, DEVIL NEVER EVEN LIVED. The second half of a two-EP anthology started with Stardust 2 Angels (2018), Cantrell's new project is anchored by the singles "Fo Five" and "Know It's Wrong" and shares heavy, internalized storytelling with hauntingly beautiful production.

“I wanted to go deeper into me, what I’ve come from, and how that may have shaped the young man that created Stardust 2 Angels,” Cantrell said in a statement about the album. “I wanted to show it all, the good and the bad that brought me to this point... I’m asking for listeners' time so they deserve that much, if not more.”

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Megan Thee Stallion – "Sex Talk"

Raunch and debauchery ensue in Megan Thee Stallion's newest single "Sex Talk." The track, which arrived early Friday morning (March 22), is sexy, empowering, and strong as the 24-year-old takes charge of her sexual nature in this single that puts a women's pleasure over a man's.

"Can I f**k ya to a trap beat? He said girl you tryin' to trap me?/Ah hell nah, ni**a no I ain't (What?)/You can hit that door, here go ahead leave," she raps over the bass-heavy beat.

"Sex Talk" is projected to land on the Houston rappers forthcoming album Fever, which is slated to hit streaming shelves in Apr 2019. Stream the Stallion's "Sex Talk" below.

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Jacquees ft. Lil Baby – "Your Peace"

Jacquees, or the King of R&B, as he likes to call himself, just released a new single featuring Lil’ Baby. “Your Peace” features Jacquees' signature sound and the Atlanta rapper riding on the R&B beat. Listen to the track to hear the two Georgia artists try to find peace with a special someone.

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