JPEGMAFIA
Rich Fury

New Music Fridays: Ghostface Killah, Conway, JPEGMAFIA And More

This week sees Wu-Tang royalty pleasing long-time fans, a new LP from one of rap's most subversive voices, more free heat from the Griselda camp, and a Brooklyn veteran tackling the desecration of culture in his hometown. Read below for more on this week's New Music Friday.

Ghostface Killah – Ghostface Killahs
As Hulu airs the new original series Wu-Tang: An American Saga, one of the pillars of the Clan shows that he's still kicking. Ghostface Killah is releasing his 13th album, Ghostface Killahs, today. He's released two singles this year, "Conditioning" and "Party Over Here," and as is often the case with the rapper known as Tony Starks, he's keeping it in the family: guests include Wu-Tang members and affiliates such as Method Man, CappaDonna, and Inspectah Deck, along with previous collaborators Sun God, Shawn Wigs, and Solomon Childs. Apple Music | TIDAL

Conway The Machine – Look What I Became
Fans of Conway The Machine have been anxiously waiting for his debut studio album on Eminem's Shady Records since he announced his deal with the label in March 2017. And as he's been in the lab cooking up, he's continuously released music, with nearly half a dozen mixtapes over the past year and change. Today, he continues that string of drops with the Look What I Became EP, his third drop of the year. The project is full of the gritty, corner-dwelling hip-hop his fans love him for, with guest appearances from his Griselda cohorts Benny The Butcher and Westside Gunn, along with Jim Jones, Dave East, El Camino and Amber Simone. Apple Music | TIDAL

JPEGMAFIA – All My Heroes Are Cornballs
JPEGMAFIA has built a reputation and fan base from his experimental production and provocative, humorous lyrics and song titles, along with lending his sounds to Denzel Curry, Injury Reserve, and more. Peggy's latest album All My Heroes Are Cornballs, however, is "a meticulously sequenced record where anger frequently gives way to tranquillity – and vice versa," according to one early review. We haven't given it a listen yet ourselves, but we're excited to see what he has up his sleeve. Apple Music | TIDAL

Von Pea – City For Sale
Von Pea has been an indie rap staple for years, primarily known as a member of beloved Brooklyn rap trio Tanya Morgan. But today he's going solo dolo for City For Sale, an album that tells the story of the gentrification of his home city. "City For Sale is a breakup album. A relationship album. Instead of a woman it's about my hometown...YOUR hometown...your old way of living," he said about the album on his Bandcamp page. "Growing apart from a place, from people, from who you once ... The overall narrative is for any person that feels unfamiliar in a space that was currently familiar to them. This album is me finding my new comfort zone because I have to." Apple Music | TIDAL

Jahshua Smith – They Don't Love You Like That
Detroit lyricist Jahshua Smith has previously branded his music as Pro Black Cool, a combination of his fly Detroit energy and sociopolitical awareness that stems from his Motown family lineage and sense of black history. But on They Don't Love You Like That, the follow-up to The 4th Wall (2016), he gets his most personal yet, pairing his usual sensibilities with songs that chronicle surviving a massive car crash and moving back to Detroit after years in New York City. "I want people to recognize even when they feel a lack of love, the most powerful love comes from themselves," Smith told VIBE. "This is my self-love letter after coming home and almost losing myself." Apple Music | TIDAL

Emeli Sandé – Real Life
Scottish R&B singer/songwriter Emeli Sandé has returned with Real Life, her first studio album since 2016's Long Live The Angels. While her last project dealt with her divorce and other personal battles, according to Belfast Telegraph, her new record is more uplifting and confident. "The main themes on the album are freedom and survival, and I wanted the message of love to run throughout every song," she said. Apple Music | TIDAL

Shari Marie – Reflection
Shari Marie is 21 years old, but she looks to share a lifetime of experiences on Reflection, her new album executive produced by Grammy winning producer Swagg R' Celious (H.E.R., Kehlani, Alicia Keys, Ne-Yo). As she says in a press release: "“This is my first album ever and I can’t even describe how proud I am of the body of work created. It pulled so many emotions out of me and helped me during different situations while making it. Reflection is honest and real. I addressed old relationships, haters who didn’t wanna see me win and some of my family hardships. I’m excited to see how the music will impact the fans.” Apple Music | TIDAL

Lil Nas X ft. – Panini (DaBaby Remix)
After the record-breaking success of "Old Town Road," breakout star Lil Nas X has moved on to the next with his single "Panini" with a performance at the MTV VMAs and a music video. And this week, he's released a remix of the song with rookie of the year candidate DaBaby – and awarded a Twitter user $100 for correctly guessing the guest. Apple Music | TIDAL

Jhené Aiko – "Trigger Protection Mantra"
Jhené Aiko has gotten back into the swing of releasing new music over the past year with a few freestyles, but her new "Trigger Protection Mantra" is more of a meditation tool than anything else. Her tweet about the song simply says "headphone recommended," and rightfully so, as the song is a peaceful, immersive escape from daily stress. The YouTube link below provides more information about the song's healing properties, revealed by Aiko's sound healing mentor Jeralyn Glass. Apple Music | TIDAL | Spotify

A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie – "Mood Swings"
Since the release of his last full-length album in late 2018, A Boogie has been making cameos with the likes of 2 Chainz, Khalid and his homie Don Q. Now, the week that he was axed from the Power theme song for the original version, he's dropped his own new joint: "Mood Swings," a single from his next album. "Mood Swings" sees him popping sh*t, getting freaky with his best friend, and warning his enemies. Apple Music | TIDAL

Big Boi, Sleepy Brown and CeeLo Green – "Intentions"
Big Boi and Sleepy Brown have been a formidable team for years now, collaborating on tracks with each other via Outkast and on Big Boi's material, and performing together whenever Big Boi has a show. The duo have now decided to make an album together, and the funky first single "Intentions" has fellow Dungeon Family member CeeLo Green joining in. All of them sound just as beautiful and well-coordinated as always. Apple Music | TIDAL

French Montana ft. Gunna – "Suicide Doors"
French Montana is always prone for a hit, and his new song with Gunna, "Suicide Doors," sounds like another one. Armed with a beautiful Harry Fraud production, French and Gunna trade celebratory, boastful and melodic rhymes. Apple Music | TIDAL

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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... pic.twitter.com/xmgIMkUntz

— 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:

Mariovip.com 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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