TIDAL X Sprint Presents Romeo Santos Miami Pop-Up Concert
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Romeo Santos On 'Golden': "I Find A Creative Way Of Telling Haters To Go F**k Yourself"

Welp. 

Romeo Santos steers his massive white Range Rover down West 38th Street in Manhattan and cranks up the volume on his new album. He’s a few blocks north of Madison Square Garden, which he has sold out four times during his solo career, as well as the Empire State Building, which will synchronize its tower lights to his new single, “Carmín,” on July 20, the eve of the release of his new album, Golden. A few miles uptown is the Bronx home on Vyse Avenue where Santos grew up in the 1980s and helped form the best-selling bachata quartet Aventura; a couple of avenues over is the West Side Highway, where he goes running four times a week.

Shy and soft-spoken since he was a child, Santos -- who turned 36 on the day of Golden’s arrival -- is full of swagger as his vehicle rumbles across the city that defines him. Opening track “Golden Intro” blasts through the speakers, and Santos sings along with the lyrics about his “Midas touch,” his status as “the king” and how his critics have foolishly counted him out on more than one occasion.

“You have to be confident about the product you’re putting out,” says Santos, looking younger than his years in gray jeans and a striped tank top. “It’s just like when a boxer is promoting a fight. You can’t go out there and be like, ‘This guy might beat me.’ ”

Why is Santos, one of Latin music’s most bankable superstars, feeling like he has something to prove? It has been only three years since he released Formula, Vol. 2, the top-selling Latin album of 2014 (according to Nielsen Music), which included the smash “Propuesta Indecente,” the all-time biggest song in the 30-year history of Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart as of 2016. Yet in the time since, reggaetón and trap summarily have taken over the Latin charts and achieved unprecedented crossover success. Pop A-listers like Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias have embraced the reggaetón beat, while Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” has become a defining song of 2017 (the Justin Bieber-featuring remix spends its 11th week atop the Aug. 5 Billboard Hot 100). Bachata, the traditional music of the Dominican Republic that Santos made a global sensation with an R&B-laced iteration -- first as leader of Aventura, then as a soloist beginning in 2011 -- has taken a backseat.

Santos says he’s not concerned that his signature sound is currently out of vogue. After all, when “Despacito” hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 in May, Santos wrote on his social platforms, “All Latin artists should be proud of this achievement.” And Goldendoes indeed feature a collaboration with Yankee and Nicky Jam titled “Bella y Sensual” (“Beautiful and Sensual”) that approaches mainstream trap without betraying Santos’ voice.

“It’s like déjà vu, to be honest with you,” he says with a laugh. “When Aventura began, there was a lot of salsa and merengue, and we said, ‘Let’s just do what we do.’ Then Aventura blew up, but urban was in its prime. This is normal. If you put out quality music, you’re always going to be in a good place.”

While Santos the musician says that he’s thriving, it’s difficult to determine whether Santos the person is in a good place, since he’s fiercely protective of his private life. He has never discussed the details of his romantic life in interviews or on social media, and when he posts on Instagram, it’s almost always about the music he’s working on. Santos says he spends most of his free time in the recording studio tinkering with new ideas, and that has only increased since he became CEO of Roc Nation Latin in 2016, which has allowed him to serve as an adviser to such artists as Dominican singer Mozart La Para and American Idol alumna Karen Rodriguez.

Still can't get over this night. ¿Quién no ha escuchado Golden aún?

A post shared by Romeo Santos (@romeosantos) on

“Last night, I had a meeting with Karen, and we worked on a song,” says Santos. “I signed a group of artists that have a good concept of what they should be doing. All I do is coach.” Santos’ longtime manager, Johnny Marines, serves as Roc Nation Latin president, and has pushed him to make investments beyond music; Santos won’t divulge specifics, but he hints at making some long-term investments when his current album cycle ends. Meanwhile, Roc Nation founder JAY-Z has become a friend and mentor to Santos -- he suggested collaborating with Swizz Beatz for Golden, and Santos reached out to the producer for the album standout “Premio.”

“I literally had a conversation with him last night,” says Santos of JAY-Z. “I’ve been blessed to have made a good income, but I put so much energy into music that I never really concentrated on other ways of making money. That’s where Roc Nation has helped me tremendously, and ... a lot of that comes from Jay’s business mentality.”

Santos is not ready to consider a future where recording is not the focal point of his career, and one listen to Golden demonstrates that the Latin superstar is still making vital, exploratory music. “Leaders don’t follow formulas -- they create them,” says Sony Music Latin chairman/CEO Afo Verde. “Romeo writes and records what he feels, regardless of what happens on the charts.” A two-part song suite, “El Papel” (“The Paper”) describes an affair from the perspective of a female lover and a conflicted husband, respectively. “El Amigo,” featuring Julio Iglesias, pairs Santos with one of his idols, while the single “Imitadora” (“Imitator”) has been the album’s biggest commercial triumph, elbowing “Despacito” out of the top spot of the Latin Airplay chart dated July 29.

As Santos reaches for a sandwich and a green apple that are stashed in a bag on the backseat of his car (“I need to eat every three hours -- it keeps my metabolism going so I stay at a certain weight,” he explains), the final track on Golden, a combative rant titled “Sin Filtro” (“No Filter”), plays over the stereo. The song tackles seemingly every piece of criticism that has ever been leveled at Santos. He once again dismisses questions about his sexuality, brought on by his intense privacy.

Santos says that total honesty is the backbone of his music. “I’m sure people are going to listen to that outro and they’re going to say, ‘Why is he talking again about people who say he’s gay?’ ” he says. “I know some people may say, ‘Well, just ignore it.’ But then there are moments where I hear a beat, and I get inspired.

“And then,” he adds, addressing his haters, “I find a creative way of telling you to go fuck yourself.”

Romeo Santos says that he probably knows Julio Iglesias’ catalog better than the man himself, and hadn't worked with the Spanish icon until writing Golden’s “El Amigo” as a duet. “I sent him the demo, and he loved it,” says Santos, who flew to Marbella, Spain, to record vocals with Iglesias.

The two stars traded off verses about the “friend” in the song; at first glance, the lyrics refer to a cherished companion. “Four days later, I’m mixing the vocals, and I get a call from Julio,” recalls Santos. “‘Romeo, I have a question: Did you write a song about a dick?’”

It turns out the ode to “un compinche en mis deseos” (“a buddy in my desires)” was actually a salute to a man’s nether region. Iglesias didn’t mind. “The song is genius,” says the 73-year-old. “And it’s not easy to write a double-entendre song, set it to music and have people actually like it.”

This article originally appeared on Billboard.

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Premiere: 12-Year-Old Rap Princess That Girl Lay Lay Introduces Tha Slay Gang With Fun "Long Hair" Video

It all started with some freestyle raps in her Dad's car that went viral on social media, now Houston's 12-year-old superstar rapper, Alaya High aka That Girl Lay Lay, is poised to take over the teen market and y'all grown-ups need to watch ya back too!

With an infectious hook game and bars that topple stars, Lay Lay burst onto the scene in 2018 with a crowd pleasing appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. That's the same year she dropped her Tha Cheat Code music project to adoring fans that were clamoring for a full body of work from the energetic artist. Having laid claim to signing a record deal as the youngest female rapper ever to her own label, Fresh Rebel Muzik/EMPIRE, Lay Lay is wasting no time in bringing her girls on this ride with her.

Pushing their first single, "Long Hair," Lay Lay and her two bouncy "Tha Slay Gang" group members, Sweets (hailing from South Carolina) and Sugar (repping North Carolina), are sure to dominate every pre-teen birthday, graduation and youth celebration party from here on out. The uptempo track is fun, super engaging and chorus friendly for the hyper masses. Lay Lay explains, "This is one of my favorite songs because its fun and something everyone can dance to. It’s about my friends 'Tha Slay Gang' and I sticking together, working hard and not getting into any drama! We try to demote bullies, and show the world that working hard pays off.”

The video takes place at a neon'd out roller skating rink, with the ladies leading a group of kids in a lit chant of the vocals and letting off one liners galore like: "I don't want no drama/If you go dumb then I'mma go dumber/hot girl winters and hot girl summers/If you knew me Daddy I'm Balenciaga Momma!" Just got to love the kids.

Check for Lay Lay in national tv commercial campaigns with Old Navy

and Mitsubishi.

So much more is on the way for this uber talented MC.

 

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Dave J Hogan

New Music Friday: Eminem, Mac Miller, Dreamville And More

Eminem fans were greeted with a pleasant surprise today, with 20 new tracks from the rap legend. But there's plenty of new music this week: Mac Miller fans are left with a final musical memory from him, Dreamville revamped their Grammy-nominated compilation, and Thundercat released a new single with Steve Lacy and Steve Arrington. Look below for today's New Music Friday.

Mac Miller – Circles The passing of Mac Miller in Sept. 2018 was one of the toughest losses that hip-hop has had in years, with the rapper/singer/producer’s kind spirit and immense artistic growth touching the lives of many. Today, his legacy continues with the release of Circles, his first posthumous album. According to a note from his family, Mac was “well into the process” of recording the Jon Brion-produced album, which was meant to be a companion piece to Swimming, the last album he released months before his death. Apple Music | TIDAL

Eminem – Music To Be Murdered By In the first major surprise release of the year, Eminem has surfaced out the blue with Music To Be Murdered By, the follow up to his 2018 surprise release Kamikaze. Eminem tweeted that the album was inspired by filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, and the 20-track final product has guest appearances by the likes of Young M.A., Juice WRLD, Black Thought, Q-Tip, Anderson .Paak, and a partial Slaughterhouse reunion. Apple Music | TIDAL

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Thundercat - “Black Quails” Jazz maestro Thundercat announced a new album this week, and the beautiful first single “Black Quails” has him playing and singing alongside Steve Lacy (of The Internet) and Steve Arrington. Apple Music | TIDAL

2 Chainz ft. Future - “Dead Man Walking”

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Theophilus London – Bebey Theophilus London’s new album, Bebey, is “a celebration of self-love and represents a return to Theophilus' roots, inspired by his Caribbean heritage and the Brooklyn neighborhoods he grew up in, steeped in Dominican, Puerto Rican, Jamaican and his native Trinidadian traditions,” according to a press release. Tame Impala, Lil Yachty, Ian Isiah, Raekwon, Giggs, Ariel Pink, Gemaine, and Kristian Hamilton provide guest appearances. Apple Music | TIDAL

070 Shake – Modus Vivendi Many music fans discovered 070 Shake with her standout vocals on the G.O.O.D. Music run in 2018 with Kanye’s 2018 album Ye (“Ghost Town,” “Violent Crimes”), Pusha T’s Daytona (“Santeria”), and Nas’ Nasir (“Not For Radio,” “Everything”). Since then, the rapper/singer has been steadily taking her time to drop her G.O.O.D. Music debut, Modus Vivendi. Apple Music | TIDAL

Madlib and Oh No – The Professionals Recent years have seen all-time great producer Madlib enjoy critical acclaim after his two albums with Freddie Gibbs, and this year he's teaming up with his blood brother Oh No, a talented producer and rapper in his own right, for an album called The Professionals. Apple Music | TIDAL

Raekwon – The Appetition Three years after his stellar album The Wild, Chef Raekwon has teamed up with Red Bull to release The Appetition, a three-song EP of new songs with producers and songwriters from Red Bull Songs and created at Red Bull Studios in NYC. Apple Music | TIDAL

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Che Pope interviews Vincent “Tuff” Morgan, peermusic’s head of A&R urban/pop, on Q&A With Che.
HiStudios

Che Pope Talks ‘Q&A With Che’ Podcast, Kanye West, And Why He Left G.O.O.D. Music

At some point in your career, you want to pay it forward. Regardless of the industry you’re in, there comes a time when you reached a certain level of success and want to groom the next generation with your knowledge and expertise. Che Pope, a Boston native, veteran music producer, songwriter, and former head of Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music, is in a position to do just that. After spending seven years with G.O.O.D., as well as making music with critically-acclaimed artists like Lauryn Hill, Dr. Dre, and The Weeknd, Che Pope has utilized lectures and podcasts to discuss his diverse career, sharing a perspective tailored to young creatives who want some mentoring in their own paths. Pope’s experience allows him to give gems in all aspects of the music business – no matter if you’re an aspiring manager, producer, singer, or artist, he has a piece of advice that can apply to you. 

It’s why he’s finally launching a podcast of his own called Q&A With Che, a HiStudios Original, that’s available on the Himalaya app, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more. He describes the show as “Ted Talks with the urban entertainment industry,” using his large network of friends for real conversations on how they made it. The format is more for educational purposes and using the platform to expand his Q&A section of his discussions, with each guest detailing what they do, how their industry works, and their take on the future. Che’s first guest is DMV rapper IDK, who is coming off a major 2019 with his partnership with Warner for his label Clue and the release of Is He Real? 

Speaking with VIBE over the phone, Che explains the genesis of Q&A With Che (the idea came after having a convo with Jay-Z), why IDK was the perfect first guest, his thoughts on Kanye and G.O.O.D. Music, and the books he’s reading today.

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VIBE: Q&A With Che is going to be part of HiStudios’ original programming slate. You’re alongside sport personalities that also have podcasts like Mike Tyson, Gilbert Arenas, and Caron Butler. If I did my research, you’re the first “music veteran” with a show on HiStudios. Was podcasting a logical next step in your career?

Che Pope: I think it was important for me to share the information. And just really what’s the best way to? Obviously, the lectures are great. That’s like, ‘Okay, cool. I go to Harvard Business School just so those kids get it.’ This was a way to really share it with a wider audience, with anybody. And I’ve been getting hit up on Instagram or Twitter where people are always asking me tons of questions and this was a way for me [to reach them]. So many people would be like, ‘Hey, can you mentor me?’ I can’t mentor all of them. This was kind of my way of like, ‘OK, I can’t mentor all of you, but I can do this.’ I think that is what really attracted me.

I had a really great conversation with Jay-Z about it and he just loved the idea of it and that really put a battery in my back. Because at one point in time, it was this great idea we had, and just getting caught up in work and [being] busy and not pursuing it. Once I spoke with Jay-Z and he said, ‘This is amazing. You have to do this.’ That really put the battery back, and then partnering with HiStudios and Himalaya, it just really gave me the team I needed to really bring it out there in the manner that I wanted to do, the professional level that I wanted to present it at.

So you were already thinking of podcasting back then. When did that Jay-Z convo happen?

That happened about two years ago in his living room.

How’d the convo go? Were you trying to pitch yourself to Tidal?

No, I actually wasn’t. He said, ‘You know, you’re more than welcome to consider Tidal.’ But he was like, ‘I just think it’s a great idea.’ I wasn’t actually pitching anything. We were just having a business conversation. I guess you could say the next step in my career is not only the podcast, but I also have a start-up. I was just getting business advice and out of that meet, Q&A came up.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the hip-hop podcast landscape. We got everybody from ItsTheReal’s, which you were on. The Joe Budden Podcast. Rap Radar Podcast. Do you see the success of those guys as motivation to reach that level or are they competition?

I don’t think they’re competition. We are really two different things. I’m much more like Ted Talks than I am No Jumper, ItsTheReal, Joe Budden. Although ItsTheReal is a little bit different than Joe Budden. Joe Budden wants to be opinionated, sort of controversial at times and really drive listeners on entertainment. Mine is much more educational focused. Entertaining in the fact that people who are going to be on it cause anyone could be on it. It could be anyone from Diddy to someone you haven’t heard of. I think it is entertaining in that [regard], but it is much more educational than I am trying to entertain you and be controversial and all that kind of stuff.

And I think it's really interesting that you chose IDK as your first guest. He’s coming off his Warner partnership for Clue and his album Is He Real? dropped last year. He’s a younger rapper but he has this business savviness to him. Why did you want to interview him?

That’s specifically why. I built a relationship with the kid cause he was in negotiations at one point and time to sign with G.O.O.D. Music. He is from the DMV area originally, which is where my mom is from. So we kind of made a cool connection a few years back when he was still this independent kid coming up trying to figure it out. But he was far more informed than most artists I meet. He was talking to me about his independent promotion and his marketing plan and things of that nature, which he had written himself. And I was like, ‘Wow, this kid is [incredible].’ When he finally did the deal with Warner, he was just the perfect first guest for me cause he is living what these kids want to do, what many of them want to do. His journey is really a testament to educating and empowering yourself and challenging. He had overcome adversity. He had been in jail before. It built himself up from scratch. Really talented story and his story is just getting started. I think the sky's the limit to where he can go.

Before I let you go, I want to talk about Kanye. You’ve been there since Yeezus. You’ve been there since Cruel Summer. Now, he’s on this new trajectory of dedicating himself to God, releasing Jesus Is King and Jesus Is Born. He’s no longer making secular music and is reportedly done performing solo shows. When you were working with him, did you see any early signs that his artistry was progressing towards this?

No, but I would say the thing with him is he is always evolving. I would say you never know what is next, which is exciting. I couldn’t say I saw this coming, at all. You never know what’s next, I will say that, which is one of the exciting things when working with him, for better or for worse, you know? Whether it was a Trump hat or “slavery was a choice” comment or whatever, or those amazing moments like Yeezus or some of the amazing musical experiences I was apart of. You never knew what was coming and that was exciting. I wish him the best on it. When it was time for me to move on? I wish him the best with it.

You were with G.O.O.D. Music for six and a half years?

Yeah, seven years. Since 2011. I was one of the longest running people that lasted the longest with him [Laughs].

Why did you want to leave?

I think for me it was the next progression in my career. To transition from working with somebody and helping them build their stuff to building my own company. I am building a music incubator, start-up. It was really sort of the next progression in my career. I had to take that step as a business owner. And that takes a lot of work, a lot of focus, and a lot of commitment, you know? It’s one of those things. They say that saying, ‘if it was easy, everybody could do it?’ It’s not easy.

You once described your role at G.O.O.D. with Noah Goldstein as “getting shit done.” Now that Pusha-T has taken the role as president, what do you think of his “term” so far?

I think Pusha-T is an artist, and I think he has aspirations of his own label. I don’t know what’s going on with G.O.O.D. Music. It’s kind of like in…what’s the word when something is in suspended in time? Desiigner left the label. I know 070 [Shake] is putting her album out, but that’s more Def Jam. I don’t think there’s really a G.O.O.D. Music focus there.

I think Kacy Hill isn’t there either, right?

Yeah, Kacy Hill left. I do think they still have some artists. I know Teyana is active. I don’t really know much about what’s going on these days at G.O.O.D. Pusha-T is one of my favorite artists, and I think he’s still focused on Pusha-T. I don’t know what his involvement is with the label at all or a day-to-day basis or if he’s still involved at all. 

I think that means we’re going to see something major happen. Big Sean still has his album coming out, so maybe something like that.

Yeah. Big Sean’s coming. I’m sure Pusha’s coming. I know 070 Shake’s album is amazing. I’ve heard it so I’m excited for her because I know it’s a long time coming and she’s great. She’s gonna be on the Swedish House Mafia project as well. I think she could really be one of the next, big young artists.

I saw that books are your thing. What are you reading now?

As far as this year, I want to read as many as I can. I have different people that turn me onto books. You never know what someone is going to refer. Right now, I am reading Ben Horowitz’s new book What You Do Is Who You Are. I think Ben is just a brilliant guy and the fact that he loves hip-hop too, which is really cool. Anytime he drops a book, I try to get it.

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