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Get Ready To Feel Exalted With Sir The Baptist’s Debut Album

Church service comes early this weekend.

Sir The Baptist is ready to officially bring us to church with his debut album, Saint Or Sinner.

The Atlantic Records recording artist, who hails from Chicago’s Southside, implements a healthy mix of hip-hop, soul, R&B and gospel-infused stylings in his songs, and his LP is set to drop on Friday, May 12.

As one of the first acts to perform that brisk Saturday (May 6) at Washington D.C.’s Broccoli City Festival, Sir preached the good word by performing some of his songs including “Creflo Almighty Dollar,” “What We Got,” “Second Line Ball” and “Heaven.” He implemented a gospel-tinged call-and-response section providing audience interaction during the latter, and also invited a young fan on stage to sing with him. The most interesting aspect of his set was when he surprised skeptical concertgoers by giving out his actual phone number, stating that he only wants to be called by those who are serious about making a positive change socially and musically.

During some downtime from the festivities, Sir spoke to VIBE about his goals for 2017, what he hopes to accomplish with his debut album, and how he hopes music can get back to a more holistic frequency to heal the world.

VIBE: What can we expect from Saint Or Sinner?
Sir The Baptist: It’s a balance of this church kid that tries to go and do the music industry, and realizes that it stole so many people. The Michael Jacksons: you know, he was pulled between his spiritual side and the side that wanted to just sing and be popular. Whitney [Houston]: singing in the choir, and then realizing she wanted to do more with her voice, but then when she tried to do more with it, they tried to steal her soul. It was push-and-pull with her, and you find her in a tub.

We're here to holistically heal all the wounds that they [the industry] gave us. These [artists] are traumatized, traumatized saints. With the album, you get to see the balance of saint and sinner, and how I went through that same process, but I escaped fame. Fame is hard. I wanna be famous for doing the right thing, and that's even harder. So many people would just turn away from fame and'll be like “f**k it." I wanna be famous for caring about people.

And you gotta make sure that they don't dig back and try to find the corruption within your story. People like to read about the bad and they like to make the best people villains.
Yes. They did that with Prince. They have video of him leaving the pharmacy getting drugs. They want this! All of these artists are falling into it. We need to put music back into 432 [Hz], that's the frequency that heals people. It’s probably the frequency that David played his harps in when he pushed away demons in The Bible days. We're not even in that frequency anymore, and if you look at frequencies, it affects how your body is. Your body is maybe 80 percent water, and frequencies make it move. Look at you! [Erykah] Badu is playing [at the festival] and now your stance is centered! Badu centers people. That's the secret, frequency and sound bathing. All the greatest people in the world understood frequencies.

What are you hoping that listeners will get out of the new material?
I hope they get the feeling. I'm trying to bring the feeling and the importance back into a frequency that we're not supposed to be in. I'm trying to calm down the frequency somehow with this music.

Any features we can look forward to?
I’ve got songs with Brandy and a bunch of people, Killer Mike, Twista.

How has your upbringing helped carve out the distinction of your sound?
The first song I released was "Raise Hell," and it had stomps and claps in it. Those stomps are sort of a reflection of the wood that was in the pews, or the wood that was in the choir stand that you would stomp, and you'd hear that when we were in the choir stand. Even down to certain frequencies that I put into the music, it's based on what I grew up with and where I came from. Even now, we're having a hard time with that song and putting it on the album, simply because people don't even know how to mix that type of music. They're like, 'how do I mix stomps and claps with 808's?' It's finding that balance of our higher and our lower self.

A Lion on stage!

A post shared by Sir William James The Baptist (@sirthebaptist) on

So, why perform hip-hop and not just straight-up gospel then?
Because gospel's so f**kin’ wack! Gospel is wack as sh*t. I think if I had done gospel, it would have been a bad idea. You know what I mean? If I wanted to reach you, and you're extremely valuable to me, I'd have to talk like we talk, like when we're not in church. Or even when we're in the pew and the pastor's up there and we're like, [out of the side of his mouth] "this mother f**ker right here..." [Laughs] I have to! I told somebody the other day, if Kendrick [Lamar] wasn't as much of a rapper and was more of a preacher, God would have put me somewhere else. It gives me a chance to be more spiritual and gives us something more to hold onto, spirituality-wise. There's a better balance.

Do you think you fit in with the “Chicago sound”?
I hate “Chicago sound.” I'm actually against it, I don't like it. A lot of people come from Chicago, they think it's a Chicago sound, it's really not. It's a New Orleans sound that migrated during the Great Migration to the north. I'm really sensitive about that. A sound without substance is nothing. Sound without history is nothing.

I can tell you every piece of what harmony, chord, arrangement, lyrics, inspiration comes from, and I can direct you to the neighborhood where that person lived, where that person walked. It's a South sound, it comes from the South. Mississippi, Alabama, New Orleans, know where that comes from. New Orleans is part French, know why I say "second line." When I say "I'm fresh to death, they're second linin' in the South" on one of the songs on the album, that’s reflecting what they do in New Orleans and they've got the horns, and they’re carrying the casket, coming down in the street. So, I like Chicago…but I don't.

You’ve had a great 2016. Are you looking forward to anything in 2017?
I'm performing a lot, and then I go overseas a lot. I've never been overseas before, and I really get to implement what this [the mission of his music] really is. I guess in 2016, it got really gospel. A bunch of other artists in Chicago, they started talking about and using gospel music and the sound, the frequency, as a marketing gimmick, and I don't really do that. Mine isn't to pull in a certain type of listener, it's mission-driven, not music driven. So this 2017, I get a chance to implement that.

You said during your set that your music and your career isn’t about you, it’s about us. I really like that.
It’s not at all about me! Not at all. This [mainstream] stuff, you'll go home eventually and you're like "I can't even listen to that anymore, I don't want that in my system." This right now, it's in a certain frequency where if you were braindead, your brain would still process the frequency, but wouldn't process the key.

Any time I perform, anything I do, I never do it for me. I hope those fans see me as family too, because I really care about [them]. I want you to enjoy a song that talks about you, not a song that calls you a b***h. Especially someone of your intellect and your beauty, you should be appreciated and not depreciated.

The way I ran with Rodney Jerkins, who produced Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston and all that, we understand that music surpasses understanding and reasoning. You're gonna remember this popular stuff whether you want to or not, and if I was to pass anything to you, I'd want it to be something that's soul food, good for your life. Not just "oh, I'm f**kin’ cool. Look what I could do."

I’ll never forget when Jay Z walking up to me and being like "thank you." He saw that I cared about you all and that I love doing what I do. From there, I got to open up a show for Beyonce and work with Brandy and all these other artists that we actually appreciate. These newcomers are just...

Some of them really want to do things for fame. It's cool to get recognized, but you can't do it just to get recognized, you have to do it because you love it.
Yes! Please put that in your article when you write this up? Oh G*d dammit! Listen, they’re abusing frequency! Whether we like it or not, they’re getting people to remember [their songs]. Like the McDonald's jingle, "ba-da-ba-ba-ba!" You didn't even realize you were rocking with that song, you were just buying into the frequency, the sound, and now you want a burger. Frequency is a part of hypnotizing. I know I sound crazy, but I care!

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Megan Thee Stallion’s Southern Rap 'Fever' Dream

Hot Girl Meg is already an urban legend. You can see her on the cover of Fever, looming over a luxury auto in skin-tight leopard print as flames and horses erupt behind her. It’s the undeniable movie poster aesthetic of blaxploitation icons like Pam Grier’s Coffy. It’s a perfect fit for rapper Megan Thee Stallion, whose music channels a Southern rap tradition full of larger-than-life figures like Trina, Gangsta Boo, and her hero Pimp C.

The 24-year-old born Megan Pete started rapping in childhood after accompanying her mother, Holly Thomas aka rapper Holly-Wood, to recording sessions in Houston. Megan’s career began with freestyles at college parties, and she released three mixtapes in three years with her mother as her manager, building her buzz while still completing courses. The rapper is slick and authoritative on the mic as she channels alter egos like Hot Girl Meg, who she calls “the party girl, the polished girl, the turn-up queen.” Her debut album Fever, released last week, is a showcase for this alter ego. Hanging with Hot Girl Meg makes for a fun 40 minutes.

Though her profile has risen to the level of Drake Instagrams and Khalid features, Megan Thee Stallion does not make pop music. She raps, she’s excellent, and she knows it. “I’m a real rap bi**h, this ain’t no pop sh*t,” she ad-libs victoriously on her first song “Realer.” Sure, pop music has eagerly siphoned from rap this decade, but rappers have been drawing lines in the sand since Q-Tip said “Rap is not pop, if you call it that then stop” in ‘91. Nowadays, the A Tribe Called Quest auteur is still pushing rap forward as an executive producer for Fever.

“Sex Talk,” the album’s lead single, is a showcase for Megan’s bars. “I’ma bust quick if your lips soft,” she raps in short bursts around distorted bass and snaps. “Rock that ship ‘til ya blast off.” In her second verse, she accents the offbeat to boast, “I should be in museums because this body a masterpiece.” Though the song’s popularity was eclipsed by the video release for last summer’s more bombastic “Big Ole Freak,” it’s a fitting introduction to Thee Stallion: her range of staccato to elongated flows is catnip for heads like her who grew up on freestyle DVDs, paired with a blown out beat riding the minimalist wave that’s subsumed parties across the country.

Sex is the main concern in Megan Thee Stallion’s work, followed closely by money. Such confident sexuality from a black woman has unfortunately drawn criticism and retrograde questioning from some in the media, but she’s undaunted. “You let the boys come up in here and talk about how they gon’ run a train on all our friends and they want some head and they want to shoot everything up, and they want to do drugs,” she told Rolling Stone earlier this year. “Well, we should be able to go equally as hard. I don’t want to hear none of that ‘That’s offensive!’ or ‘All she talk about is p***y.’”

Megan’s mercenary demand for her pleasures is a refreshing gender swap of rap tropes. On “Running Up Freestyle,” she raps, “He say I should be nicer, well your d**k should be bigger.” She’s blunt enough to make me clutch my pearls on behalf of my gender before I burst out laughing. Later in “Sex Talk,” Megan kicks a would-be lover out when she cues up trap music and he asks “Girl, you tryna trap me?” She’s offended by the insinuation she needs to keep a captive, when she doesn’t need anyone she doesn’t want in the moment. It’s a role reversal that plenty of female rappers have executed previously, but few with the same raw skill.

“Hood Rat Sh*t” opens with a sample of a 2008 viral video, a 7-year-old explaining his desire to do “hoodrat stuff” with his friends. The uptempo drums bounce around cavernous piano chords with gleeful menace like a gaggle of unsupervised kids. Megan’s rhymes launch into double time in the lead-up to the chorus, which she spits like a playground taunt. In the third verse, she gives an evocative example of the title: she’s at the strip club drinking Henny from a champagne glass, “eating chicken wings with a thick bi**h” who’s dancing like the diamonds in her necklace. Her swaggering flow sounds like the reincarnation of Pimp C, with the tall tale verses to match.

Rising Charlotte rapper DaBaby adds a verse over bellowing 808s on “Cash Sh*t.” When Megan says “That’s my dog, he gon’ sit down and listen,” DaBaby describes fixing his partner’s weave during sex and incorporating headlocks into new positions. On its own, his verse might be too direct, like a stranger leering from the end of the bar. It’s perfectly absurd on Megan’s album. He works as a foil to the main attraction, like he’s just trying to keep up.

 

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Real HOTGIRL shit 😛

A post shared by Hot Girl Meg (@theestallion) on May 4, 2019 at 9:46am PDT

The only other guest on Fever is Juicy J on “Simon Says,” where he also supplies a beat that sounds like a house party in the middle of a home invasion. “Simon says bust it open like a freak,” Megan raps like a nursery rhyme, a fitting match for the originator of “Slob On My Knob.” The song was the center of a minor controversy over the album release weekend when singer Wolf Tyla implied she had a writing credit and drew an indignant response from Megan. The facts became harder to parse from there. Maybe Tyla wrote the hook, or maybe Juicy did and asked her to record a reference track. (A just okay hook to go to bat for as an unknown ghostwriter, frankly.) In an era where the world’s biggest male stars snipe at each other about fragments of songs they’ve written for one another, this shouldn’t be a story, but a rising female rapper can’t allow any question of her bona fides.

Even if “Simon Says” is entirely ghostwritten, the Three 6 Mafia homage is far from an aberration in Megan’s catalog, or even on Fever. Juicy J produced two other album cuts, future strip club anthems “Pimpin” and “Dance.” Fellow co-founder Project Pat contributes to “W.A.B.,” built around a sample of the group’s “Weak Azz Bi**h.” Three 6’s influence is apparent in so many strains of modern hip-hop, but on Fever Megan places the Memphis collective alongside Houston and New Orleans in a firmly Southern context. The album concludes with Megan declaring herself “Hot Girl Meg from the motherf**kin’ South,” and it doesn’t feel like a conclusion, just a tantalizing cliffhanger promising further misadventures.

Fever is not perfect. “Best You Ever Had” strays a little too close to pop. Halfway through an album of knocking beats, it’s jarring to hear Megan’s voice coated in electronic sheen, sharing space with a recorder loop. In headphones the project becomes a bit repetitive in the back half, but it won’t be noticeable blaring out of club speakers. Given how quickly she’s befriended so many other stellar young female rappers, it would have been great to hear her spar with some of them on her debut.

Nevertheless, Megan Thee Stallion is picking up the baton for Southern hip-hop with a quick tongue and trunk rattling beats optimized for twerking. She inherited the legacy from her mother, as well as an unstoppable work ethic, the kind that kept her from cancelling shows even after her mother’s tragic death this spring because “I know she wouldn’t want me to stop.” Not long ago, a buzzy mixtape rapper signing to a major label like 300 Entertainment was a one-way ticket to clunky albums overstuffed with radio bait. Fever’s cohesion is a testament to Megan’s talent and dedication. Look forward to partying with Hot Girl Meg all summer.

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Megan Thee Stallion Releases Fiery "Realer" Video

Megan Thee Stallion is truly prepping for a hot girl summer. Following up the highly-anticipated release of Fever, the Houston-bred rapper has officially released the visuals for the project's opening song, "Realer."

Red-headed Meg and her friends brandish toy guns, high karate kicks and body rolls as she talks her sh*t. And, much like her project's artwork, there were flames—both literally and figuratively—to be had all around.

Even some of her celebrity peers have expressed excitement over her video's release.

🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥❤️❤️

— TRINA (@TRINArockstarr) May 21, 2019

🐎 🔥 https://t.co/54S59MQ8fx

— Wale (@Wale) May 21, 2019

Watch Hot Girl Meg's spicy "Realer" video up top.

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VIBE Debuts New Podcast On Battle Rap Culture, 'The Chosen' (Hosted By Nunu Nellz)

THE CHOSEN Podcast, hosted by the battle scene's stage Queen, Nunu Nellz, is a show that highlights the artists, entrepreneurs and personalities that shape Hip-Hop battle culture. A lot of success stories may look like they started overnight, yet took many years of hard work and dedication...we will showcase that journey through their stories.

The first episode of THE CHOSEN is with SMACK WHITE, the leader of MC battle culture as founder of the  Ultimate Rap League (URL). This Queens, NY native is a great opening act for what The Chosen is about, success against all odds. A man who took the positive from his neighborhood and helped to create a global platform for people to exhibit their talent through battle rap.

And for some added flavor, the intro beat to the show is produced by none other than the infamous himself, Havoc of Mobb Deep.

Check the first of many great episodes to come of The Chosen Podcast.

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😢 THANK U to @smackwhite @beasleynyc @urltv for embracing me with nothing but love from the first day I met u guys. Thank you for making NUNU NELLZ a house hold name. From my start on “ battle rap arena “ on 15moferadio to writing my first column “what’s hot what’s not “in battle rap for 100barsmag then taking that same column to a printing magazine ( rydermagazineboss ) where it was sold at train station, online and at the legendary black star, I just been blessed. I been able to travel the world and meet so many great ppl bc of u guys. Thank u for any league that ever book me to host their event . Thank u to my fiancé @mr.guercy for pushing me to be the greatest woman I can be and introducing me to the editor and chief of @vibemagazine, @datwon . Thank u to @datwon for believing in the vision and giving me my very own show on the vibe platform #THECHOSEN. This is so BIG and I’m so excited about this new journey . I love media . I love learning about ppl grinds and how they became successful . It was so important to me to grab that @nickiminaj #vibemagazine cover for my first interview . I won’t allow anyone to give me pickle juice (barbs will catch that 🤣) but thank u to all those saying congrats . When the first interview drop im open to all feed back to be the best I can be for the people 💯 Hair @beautiibyday thank u for always stopping what u doing to get me together . I appreciate u

A post shared by URL Princess (@nunu_nellz) on Mar 28, 2019 at 8:11am PDT

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