Jason Chandler

Beyond Lit: 9 Unforgettable Moments From Billboard’s Hot 100 Fest

DJ Khaled's dance moves and T-Pain's friendly reminder of his legendary catalog left us shook. 

Over the weekend, the Billboard Hot 100 music festival brought together the young, the old and the lit as acts the from different spectrums of music turned Long Island into a colossal dancery.

During the course of two days (Aug. 19-Aug. 20) acts like Tinashe, Big Sean, DJ Khaled, Lil Yachty and Major Lazer commanded the stage with special guests such as A$AP Ferg, J Balvin, a very colorful Bella Thorne and the one and only Asahd Tuck Khaled shot attendees into the world of fandom. Since its formation in 2015, the festival has served as an open space for underage music lovers whose musical footprints assist artists to the top of the charts.

In those sizable 48 hours, plenty of moments commanded our attention and timeline like T-Pain’s comical, yet rightful demand for “respek on his name” to Khaled’s smooth dance moves.

Enjoy visuals from the festival along with 9 unforgettable moments below.


Ugly God Is A Cornhole Champion

The Houston native enjoyed a dose of chill time after his set Saturday by taking part in the classic lawn game of cornhole. Backstage at the Artist Village, the “Water” rapper exchanged his shades for reading glasses to keep his eye on the prize.

His set was also appreciated by fans of his latest project, The Booty Tape. Jumping from “F**k Ugly God” to “Stop Smoking Black & Milds,” God kept the crowd at a high level.

Gucci Is Black Boy Joy in Rare Form

With a mix between new and old jams from the vault, Gucci Mane was all smiles throughout his monstrous performance. With leaps and bounds from “Freaky Girl” to “I Think I Love Her,” Gucci brought it full circle with his new Hot 100 entries like “Both” featuring Drake and his guest verse on Rae Sremmurd's “Black Beatles.” With his smile hitting ear to ear, Gucci let loose his black boy joy to a very welcoming crowd.

The Artistry Of Ty Dolla $ign Should Never Go Unnoticed

The Cali native might’ve played the same time as Rick Ross, but his fans showed up and turned out to his bevy of jams. Building up to his monster tracks like “Or Nah,” “Paranoid” and “Blasè,” Ty smoothly slid into standout from the Beach House mixtape series and his the guest spots on Fifth Harmony’s “Work,” Kanye West’s “Fade” and “You and Your Friends” with Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg.

After removing his jewels and clothes (sorry ladies, only waist up) to perform “Blasè,” Ty crowd surfed and quickly headed back to stage to lay down a solo guitar set. Nayhoos present, Ty reminded fans about his creative genes can turn a festival stage into a an intimate set.

Tinashe, Demi Lovato & Camila Cabello Make Up Billboard’s Girls Club

Making up the festival’s small group of female performers, the pop starlets didn’t disappoint as live renditions of the their hits were recited in their respectable crowds. Tinashe and Demi’s sets featured plenty of boomkat dance moves as Camilla was welcomed with large arms to her first solo festival performance. The women, along with pop-indie darling Phoebe Ryan, were stark reminders on why we should continue to vie for female musicians on the bill.

Big Sean Drops Inspirational Vitamins From The Heart

Closing the Hot 100 Stage Saturday was Big Sean, who was happy to lend out words of encouragement to fans. The “Bounce Back” rapper reminded the crowd to stay true to the themselves even in the midst of turmoil. He also gave a shout to the power of resistance and ambition while performing “One Man Change The World.”

But it wasn’t all inspirational vitamins. The “Moves” rapper opened the show with “Mercy” with plenty of bass to follow. With the spirit of a giant, the Detroit native got fans to “Jump Out the Window” and get low to “A$$.” With flames and smoke emerging from the stage, Sean’s performance proves there’s levels to festival life.

DJ Khaled Actually DJ’d, Asahd Has A Young Simba Moment

After a 30-minute wait, DJ Khaled indirectly satisfied the crowd before hitting the stage Sunday. As guests like Lenny S. headed to the stage, baby Asahd peaked outside of his stroller to swarms of teens trying to snap a photo of the adorable executive producer of Grateful.

Khaled dropped hit after hit from his nearly 20-year career and reminded fans of his origins when he hit the turntables for a mix of the 97’ New York jam, “Wild From Da Night” by Rampage and Busta Rhymes. He continued the hood spiritual vibes with special guest and birthday boy Fat Joe. The two performed “All The Way Up” and the Terror Squad classic, “Lean Back.”

Khaled also enjoyed the riddims of his summer tune “Wild Thoughts,” making it a grateful moment for us all.

Cardi B’s Reach Is No Stretch Armstrong

Cardi B wasn’t in attendance at the festival, but it didn’t stop DJ’s from playing “Bodak Yellow” every hour. Proud Long Island tweens with mouths full of braces recited lyrics as guys created a hip hop mosh pit.

Since its release in June, the song has climbed the Billboard charts becoming a fave among artists like Bruno Mars, Demi Lovato and Nicki Minaj.The track is now the highest-charting single by a female emcee since Nicki’s 2014 hit, “Anaconda.” With “Bodak Yellow” entering the Top 5 at Number 3 this week, Cardi’s increasing fan base is bound to the take her to a festival stage soon.

Never Forget, T-Pain Has The Hits

T-Pain's dozens of singles and guest verses gave the artist a chance to drop a humble brag during his Sunday set. Before dropping some much needed vocals, the Florida native spoke out on his legacy. "I checked. I'm the n***a with the most No. 1s at this whole festival," he said. It was no stopping Pain as he performed nearly every hot record of the aughts.

Blending his records with guest features, Pain lead with “Up & Down,” “2 Step (Remix), and “All I Do Is Win” before diving into “I’m Spring,” “Bartender,” and “Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin.)” He also created a beat on stage laid it down on top of Chris Brown’s “Kiss Kiss.”

Fans had a chance to rest their vocals chords as Pain flexed his in an a capella add-on to “I’m Sprung.” Pain kept the party going from the sidelines of the Sun Stage where he watched Yachty and Young Thug’s performances. Thugger might not’ve taken Pain’s advice on falling in love with strippers, but it’s nice to the see Pain show respect to rap’s budding superstars.

Major Lazer Bring The Heat With Camilla Cabello & J Balvin

Closing out the final day was Major Lazer who came prepared with plenty of Confetti poppers, talented dancers and enjoyable surprises. Taking a page from Pain’s book, Jillionaire, Walshy Fire and Diplo took it back to the “Pon de Floor” days all the way to tracks from their Know No Better EP.

After blowing away fans hours earlier, Camilla returned to the stage to perform “Know No Better” sans Quavo and Travis Scott. Latin crooner J Balvin made it to the stage just in time to perform “Buscando Huellas,” another fan-favorite from the EP. With high octane energy, the group kept the crowd jumping all night as their dancers engaged in twerking contests, making teens (and some adults) falling in love on site.

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Kid Cudi Announces Eminem Collaboration, "The Adventures Of Moon Man And Slim Shady”

Update: 8:37 P.M. EST (July 14, 2020) Kid Cudi and Eminem brought a comic book vibe to their new collaboration. Stream “The Adventures of Moon Man & Slim Shady” below.

Original story below.. 

Kid Cudi and Eminem are releasing a new single, "The Adventures of Moon Man and Slim Shady,” scheduled to drop this Friday (July 10).

Cudster’s daughter, Vada, announced the news in an adorable video posted to his Twitter account on Wednesday (July 8).

And now a word from Princess Vada the chosen...

— The Chosen One (@KidCudi) July 8, 2020

Besides working with Eminem, Cudi collaborated with Kanye West on an upcoming Kids See Ghost animated series. Additionally, the Ohio native is gearing up to debut an animated Netflix series, Entergalactic, based off his upcoming concept album of the same name. Cudi will executive produce the series along with Kenya Barris.

The 36-year-old rapper and actor will also appear in the HBO mini-series, We Are Who We Are. The coming-of-age story centers around two teenagers living on an American military base in Italy.

Watch the trailer below.


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Mario Wants Us To Learn Our History And "Rewrite It"

The power of music cannot be denied. From Gil Scott Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" to Kendrick Lamar's "Alright," a soul-stirring melody can galvanize the masses and uplift the spirits of those fighting against societal wrongs like racial injustice. That same energy can be channeled and molded into a soulful number with an impact just as powerful. Enter Mario's smooth single, "Rewrite It."

After the bassline sets the song's tempo and the lyric: "Got in a system that we 'bout to get out," starts the first verse, you soon realize it's a declaration—a melodic proclamation, encouraging our Black brothers and sisters to "uncover your eyes," stand up together, and really see the power we have as a historically oppressed people. "Rewriting the hold damn history/ Rewriting the things that were taught to me," he echoes over the pulsating chorus. "You see the whole damn world/ It's time for us to rewrite it...Rewrite it, yeah, rewrite it."

With movements like Black Lives Matter, it's a stance many have expressed and can agree with. Peaceful protests and calls for change continue to happen around the world, and the Baltimore native has been using this time to not only further educate himself but to also do his part in the form of song. "I just wanted to use my voice and spread a powerful message," he explains during VIBE's Instagram Live Q&A. "I feel like for us, it's another wake-up call. When I say us, I mean melanated people, whether you're in the industry or not in the industry."

The unjust killings of unarmed Black women and men like Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have truly caused a chain reaction of eye-opening conversations, learnings, and revelations by Black and non-Black people alike. If you were to ask Mario what the phrase "Black lives matter" means to him, he'd simply say, "It's a call to action to study, to understand, to fight for what you believe in."

He continues candidly, "It's a call to action for us to unite more and do more things that will directly affect our communities. It's a call to action for all of those people that are out there of many different races, fighting for the cause, to show them what our unity can do. It's time for us to really be the change that we want to see."

R&B Spotlight's Cory Taylor sat with Mario to catch up with the multi-faceted creative about today's climate around social justice, where he thinks the solution for change lies, and his upcoming Closer to Mars EP. Watch the full interview below.

On how he's been during this pandemic and days of quarantine:

I've been doing nothing too different from what my normal daily life was like, meditating, definitely was doing a lot more yoga since I was home a lot. And just being healthy, man. I've always been health-conscious, but I just took it another step of studying more and reading a lot more. Just being kind to myself a lot more. Kind of stay and keep my anxiety at a low, because it's just so much crazy energy out there right now. I think a lot of us are reacting right now, we're reacting to what's going on, but I think we also got to be proactive moving forward.

On coming up with the TikTok challenge for his single "Closer":

I was bored in my backyard and one of my dancers came over. I'm like, "Dude, do this little routine to this record I just put out." Then we just put it out as a TikTok challenge. People started doing it, then it started going crazy. We just had fun with it.

On the civil unrest around the killings of our Black brothers and sisters:

There are so many different levels of things that we need to fix. We need to focus on, of course, okay, defund the police. We need to focus on getting convictions, continue to get that. That needs to be our main focus, because at the end of the day. We need immediate convictions. We don't need to be waiting three, four months. We don't need to be.

On the other side of things, we've collectively got to start studying more. We've got to start saving our money. We've got to start building our own businesses, which there's a lot of melanated-owned businesses out there. And we need to just start studying and reading more, and really understanding laws, and understanding what it is that we need.

One of the things that I'm passionate about, and that I want to start seeing more and speaking out more on is critical mass. When you have certain states that are majority melanated people, but then you have a lot of white people in office that are making the choices. We need to be making choices when we're the majority because we know what we need.

On career goals outside of music:

I can't wait until people really get a chance to really know me outside of what they know, because I create across the board—I'm a writer, I'm an actor, I'm a singer, I'm a performer, but I'm just a creative. And it's something that I've really been investing in, my time, so I'm looking forward to sharing this. Y'all going to see movies one day, whether it be Netflix or other platforms that make sense for it. And when y'all see the credits, and y'all see that I'm behind it, you're going to be like, "What?! We had no idea this guy was..." (Smiles) You know what I'm saying? So I'm really excited about that because it's just going to show that we can do anything.

On working on the set of Empire:

It was inspirational to see that a show could last six seasons and still be in the millions, the audience. As a creator, that's a creative's wish. You're working with Terrence, working with Taraji. The fact that we can have that level of success in film. You have multiple, different cultures and people coming throughout the show. It has so many different people. If you look at the cast list over the six years, what it did, it just lets you know how powerful art is, how powerful creativity is. I loved working with Terrence. I learned a lot from him as an actor. Taraji, shout out to the DMV. She's doing some really powerful things in the mental health space.

On his upcoming endeavors as the country is in quarantine: is the site I just started, and so I'm going to be doing virtual tours. I've got new merch that I'm putting out called "The Big Payback," that's about to be lit. I'm giving back to a lot of communities and melanated-owned businesses, and just inspiring personal economic growth. But yeah, man, we about to be back out here.


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The Musical 'Exodus' Of Brian McKnight

With every grand entry, there usually comes a grand closing. In the case of R&B veteran Brian McKnight, it's no surprise that he has decided to end his 20-album run of compilations with his latest studio album, Exodus. Although McKnight doesn't consider this the end of his musical career, the singer-songwriter has decided to use this time to redirect his energy and time to truly living life and pursuing other endeavors.

"It's not really retirement. It's that I think that I've said everything I need to say as far as original music is concerned," he says in an on-camera interview with VIBE. "And it's funny because I have friends of mine that are calling like, so you're not writing for yourself and well, can I have those songs that you're going to write that you're not going to use?

"I'm like, sure. So that's another way to go, writing songs for other people. I just, there's so many other things that I want to do. I want to wake up every day and my wife and I just do whatever makes us happy."

With his single Earl Cohen-produced "Nobody" and 12 other signature, love tunes on the tracklist, Exodus serves as a solid body of work. The inspiration behind is last album of original work? The love of his life—his wife, Leilani—who he randomly crossed paths with at an event he was attending.

"I think the thing that people need to realize is that when you meet someone and all you want to do is give of yourself to them, then it's no longer about you."

Watch our full interview with McKnight where he talks about his new album, how he's been managing the new normal, quarantine life, why he's been able to stand the test of time and that thing called love.

On his own experience with police as a Black man:

I remember what it was like in the seventies. I remember what it was like in the eighties, in the nineties. I can remember getting pulled over. I mean, as recently as August being pulled over in my own neighborhood, driving an expensive car that a police officer pulled us over, just to see if I was the person that was supposed to be driving that car. Now, it didn't go past that because he realized who I was. But my wife not being black and now learning that she is black now that she's with me. It was something that was foreign to her. And I had to explain to her that this is what it's like to be a black man. And it's sad that that's what we have to grow up with. But at the same time, I think that now we're seeing that because of social media. I remember when Rodney King happened, It was pretty much on the news. It was the news. But now the whole world, because of social media, can see that things aren't as good as we thought they were.

On whether he ever finds himself worried about his sons getting pulled over by police:

I think that what we have to do as parents is also to educate those that although something may not be fair, although something may not be the exact way you want it to be that, it's hard to say this and I don't want to get any flack for it, but sometimes it's better. And this isn't anything to just turn the other cheek and do what you got to do and stay alive at the same time.

On his cover of a song by Sting:

I did a cover for the first time in a long time. I very rarely talk about how much Sting has influenced me and I wanted to do something to show him the homage that I haven't shown him. And I covered his song "Fragile" because I think that song really speaks to what I'm trying to talk about as far as how we treat one another. That it's fragile, what we have here. And let's not take it to the point of breaking. We can bend, we have bent, we've been bending, but let's turn that thing around. And get back straight again.

On how his love for his wife inspired his album:

Since I met my wife, she has been the subject of every song I've written. And the funny thing about that is I'd never written anything about anyone. I'd never cared about anyone. I didn't know love on any level till I met the love of my life when I was 42 years old. And I never believed in it. I know I wrote about it extensively. I know that I was the love man from Borneo when it comes to music, but I was really just faking it. I had listened to a lot of songs and I knew a lot of music and I could take from a book or I can take from a movie. This is the first time in my life where actual personal experience is coming out in the music. And it's all because all I have to do is look at my wife, be around her, and she is the essence of everything that I want to say, everything that I want to be. And it's a wonderful thing to wake up every morning with the most beautiful woman who ever lived.

On advice to himself as a new artist starting out:

The advice I would say to him is, is that when you're 42 you're going to meet a woman that's going to change your life. You need to wait on everything till then. Don't waste your time doing anything but counting the days until she shows up, because that's when you're going to start to live. That's when your life is going to become everything you want it to be, period.

On who he'd take part in Verzuz battle/celebration with:

To me, the verses battles aren't necessarily about going up against each other. It's about the celebration of the music. And there are several artists. I think Joe and I could do a great Verzuz because I'm such a fan of him.

Stream Brian's Exodus album on Apple Music, Spotify, or Tidal.

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