vince staples

SXSW 2017 Day 1: Vince Staples Tests New Music, Ari Lennox Reps For Dreamville & More

Here are some of the highlights from the first day of South by Southwest's annual music festival. 

2016 saw South By Southwest celebrate its 30th year, and 2017 is a milestone year for SXSW in a different sense: After a decade of competitive corporate-sponsored expansion, the Austin festival is finally scaling back a touch this year. And that's hardly a bad thing: SXSW was originally about spotlighting up-and-coming talent, so cutting back on secret concerts from A-listers and showcases sponsored by brand-name products could help SXSW regain some of its cool cache. (That being said, there are still plenty of recognizable names at the venerable Austin festival this year, whether they're performing, giving a keynote speech or sitting on a panel.)

Below, Billboard's on-the-scene reporters share standout moments from Day 1 of the music portion of SXSW, from the dive bars to the industry panels.

Ari Lennox: "Thanks to Dreamville for saving n---as from working at Wendy's and Papa John's," Ari Lennox said with a laugh during her Tuesday night SXSW set, nodding to the J. Cole-founded Interscope imprint she's signed to. While Cole deserves credit for giving Lennox some shine via his label, 30 seconds of listening to Lennox sing live is proof enough she would have pulled ahead of the pack eventually, A-list cosign or not. The 25-year-old alt R&B singer has an incredibly strong, confident vocal tone, and her onstage delivery is a degree of flawless that most singers require a dozen takes to achieve in the studio. Watch out for her. -- JL

Vince Staples: -- Possibly the night’s most hyped show was a late-announced performance from Vince Staples, a proud son of Long Beach, Calif. and one of the most promising and accomplished MCs to emerge in the past five years. The show was part of Apple Music’s SXSW series (along with the Chainsmokers Thursday and a mysterious big show slated for Friday night) and was held in a customized venue on the east side of downtown with state-of-the-art lights and sound but an unfortunately low ceiling and stage, which makes sightlines a challenge not only when the average height of a crowdmember comes up to the performer’s chest, but when you’ve got an artist like Staples, who has great songs, razor-sharp lyrics and a percussive, propulsive flow that drives his tracks as hard as the hardest beats -- but whose enthusiasm for performing live seems tepid, at least on this night. With eye-grabbing graphics projected on the screen behind the stage -- an odd combination of sea creatures, explosions, Cold War-era Air Force footage and morphing flowers -- over the course of his hour-plus set he performed most of his stellar Summertime ’06 album, his Prima Donna EP and his latest single “Bagbak” (his new album, Big Fish Theory, is due “very soon,” per his label). And while the crowd clearly loves his songs and he had some strong moments, when the dude tells you to “put your hands in the air” and he’s got his back turned to the audience, it tends to dampen the mood. -- JA

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Ayesha Curry Celebrates Google Assistant Partnership With Thanksgiving Recipe

Just in time for Thanksgiving, Ayesha Curry has teamed up with Google Assistant to share a hearty recipe or two for the chef in you.

To celebrate their partnership, the entrepreneur and mother of three made an appearance at Google's Friendsgiving event in New York City SoHo district on Thursday night (Nov. 14). Before starting a cooking demo, Curry talked about her love for cooking, the importance of family sitting around the table for a meal, and how Google Assistant has helped make her life easier.

"I think it's great because I can walk into my kitchen, child in hand while making a bottle, and ask what the rest of my day looks like. I can just say, 'Hey Google, what does the rest of my day look like' and it'll pull up my whole schedule and it's just one extra peace of mind because I didn't have to do anything tangible. It's effortless... It's like a digital version of a cookbook with how-tos, timers, everything in one and it can truly be integrated into your kitchen."

After using Google Assistant to playfully cue the Kids Bop version of "Truth Hurts," Ayesha whipped up her new Fall Bread Pudding with Brown Butter Apples recipe on a cast iron enamel skillet from her cookware collection. Not only did the device give step-by-step instructions, but it also provided her with alternative ingredients for one of the ingredients.

"With this recipe, you'll see it's super easy, it's fool-proof. Baking is so scientific, this [recipe] is not that. That's what I love about it."

After serving the cooked bread pudding to the audience, the Seasoned Life author talked about her upcoming cookbook in collaboration with one of her sisters and what people can expect.

"It's going to packed, full of flavor. The realistic nature of this [cooking mother] situation is that unless I'm writing a cookbook and developing recipes, I'm not cooking every night at home. That's just not realistic. We all have jobs, we all have things we're taking care of, but I'm always trying to get a meal on the table.

"So that's what this new book is really going to be about. It's going to be about quick, simple, easy ways [to cook]. I tried to keep everything 30 minutes or less, but it's packed and full of flavor."

Ayesha Curry's Fall Bread Pudding recipe can be found exclusively on any Google Nest device. If you're a Google Assistant users, simply say "Hey Google, show me Ayesha Curry's fall bread pudding recipe" and you'll have a sweet and savory dessert for your Thanksgiving (or Friendsgiving) dinner.

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Billboard And VIBE Host Second Annual R&B/Hip-Hop Power Players Event

Billboard and VIBE joined forces for the second annual R&B and Hip-Hop Power Players event on Thursday night (October 17). Held at New York City's Union City, the brands honored the 100 accomplished music executives, agents and more who made the third annual list for their outstanding contributions of driving, influencing and guiding the music industry and hip-hop culture today.

Billboard Executive Director of R&B/Hip-Hop Gail Mitchell and VP of Culture Media/VIBE Editor-in-Chief Datwon Thomas greeted guests at the invite-only reception saying, "Big shout to the team that puts this together, we just want everyone to know that this is a night of celebration. A lot of people have been working in the game for a long time - you are here tonight so you are all winning." He added, "We thank you for taking the time to celebrate your colleagues."

Shortly after, the hosts presented Steve Pamon with the Billboard Executives of the Year Award shared with Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. As he accepted his award, the Parkwood Chief Operating Officer delivered a speech saying, “This award was given to myself and Beyoncé, but the award truly belongs to the team behind me. We live off respect and responsibility. A sincere thank you.” He went on to say, “We live off of respect and the responsibility of being around all of you. You are hip-hop. We are hip-hop. It’s not about us. It’s about us all.”

The late Nipsey Hussle was honored with the Billboard Impact Award for his contributions to breaking barriers of cultural appropriation, young professionals seeking educational resources in science, tech and mathematics spaces, and positivity in his community. Prior to Marathon Agency co-founder, Steve Carless, acceptance of the world on Hussle's behalf, there was a 30-second moment of silence.

In his emotional yet encouraging speech, Carless said, “I accept this on behalf of Nipsey, his family, and all his loved ones and his children. What this means to me, it’s a testament to his hard work and dedication." He added, "Congrats to everyone who made this year. It’s a huge honor...One thing I do want to say it, this award is about inspiration. Responsibility is to uplift each other mentor each other and lead each other. May all of us leave here and know we have a responsibility.”

As attendees enjoyed beverages and captured Instagram-worthy images at the Billboard and VIBE cover-inspired installations, rappers Casanova and Young M.A hit the stage, respectively, to perform their popular singles. Flip through photos and interviews from Thursday night's event down below.

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Ryan Muir

21 Savage And Doja Cat Close Out The Summer At Genius' IQ/BBQ Concert

With summer slowly closing its curtains, Genius held its third annual Genius IQ/BBQ and live concert on (Sept. 7) in Brooklyn, NY. After the end-of-summer event opened its doors and hit capacity, music lovers who made it were in for an interactive, day-long experience.

Presented by Boost Mobile, the free event offered a sky deck view and lounge for V.I.P. guests as well as a warehouse full of both indoor and outdoor experiences. From vendors to ice-cold White Claw beverages to a one-of-a-kind multiplayer trivia game, attendees' attentions were absorbed in activities and an all-around good time. In between sets and as the indoor stage radiated hues of purple, DJ S.WHiT! spun hits from your 1st or 2nd generation iPod.

RCA recording artist Destiny Rodgers took the stage to command the room with her hip-hop, pop, and R&B infused set as she performed her singles, "North$ide," "Apologies," "Lockdown," and "Tomboy."

Hailing from South Haven, Indiana, self-taught guitarist Omar Apollo brought the funk, psychedelic rock, and rhythm and blues while performing "Kickback," "You Got Me," "Unbothered," and "Brakelights."

Yung Baby Tate sported a dark purple laced bustier, black skirt, and thigh-high boots while she sang her hits "Pretty Girl," "That Girl," and "Beckham." The Atlanta producer, rapper, and singer also performed her unreleased track "All Dat" and paid homage to Nicki Minaj while she rapped her "Babytron/Megatron" rendition.

Ann Marie slowed the BBQ down with her R&B sounds rocking a late '90s/2000s-inspired black leather fit. The Interscope Records songstress melodically delivered "Handle It," "Unlove You," "Ride For Me," "Throw It Back," and "My Body," while her backup dancers kept up with their hard-hitting moves.

Rising rapper and Bronx-native Lil Tjay helped to warm up the crowd with his newly released single "F.N." that had the crowd putting their middle fingers up. The 18-year-old Columbia Records signee rapped through his reflective lyrics keeping the crowd hooked from start to finish.

The one and only Doja Cat fans warmed the artist up before she appeared on stage, chanting "Doja, Doja, Doja, Doja." Rocking a yellow, black, and white Fashion Nova pantsuit and jacket set, the 23-year-old engaged with her fans singing her hits "Roll With Us," "Go To Town," "So High," "Game," "Juicy," "Tia Tamara," and "Moo!."

Headliner 21 Savage took over the stage with a 30-minute set as shades of red with hints of green captured the emotion in the UK-native's performance. The Billboard chart-topping rapper took his fans back in time opening  with his 2016 single "Red Opps." 21 carried his set going into Savage Mode with "No Heart," and "X" and gave fans a few M's while rapping "Bank Account."

The Not All Heroes Wear Capes artist closed out the event with performances of "Don't Come Out The House" and "10 Freaky Girls" off of his 2018 album, making the third annual Genius IG/BBQ live concert an event to remember.

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