The Rap Up #3 - June 2009
06 Jul 2009
the hip hop world publically mourns the passing of one of its true inspirations, but looks forward as much as it does backward this summer - new releases from the likes of jay z, dizzee rascal and lethal bizzle will ensure things stay exciting both sides of the pond in the coming months.
In light of the unexpected passing of Michael Jackson this month, the Hip Hop community came out in droves to pay their respects to a man who has had such a heavy influence on so many careers. The annual BET Awards held in Los Angeles was hastily reconfigured in the final hour to pay tribute to the late king of pop, giving the hosts, winners and special guests a stage to have their say. The event was conducted by Jamie Foxx and attended by a star studded audience that even included Michael's father. T.I and Beyonce dominated the awards which became an afterthought given the circumstances, both being nominated in 5 separate categories. Best Male Hip Hop Star winner Lil Wayne came out with one of the more profound reflections of the evening stating 'no one would be at the BET Awards if it weren't for Michael Jackson.' Since then, many other Hip Hop icons have come out to pay their respects publicly, including P.Diddy, MC Hammer and LL Cool J - the impending funeral is likely to be a who's who of black music.
There was one particularly notable absentee from the ceremony, star of gossip columns the world over Chris Brown was allegedly banned from the event over fears that his presence might result in a frosty reception from fans. Chris's music career has taken a back seat after allegations that he violently attacked his then girlfriend Umbrella star Rihanna earlier this year. At the 2006 World Music Awards, Chris Brown was given the honour of covering Jackson's hit 'Thriller' to a televised worldwide audience. However, he was nowhere to be seen at the awards ceremony in Los Angeles on Sunday. After recently reaching an agreement with the prosecutors before a preliminary hearing on 22nd June, the 20 year old hot shot will now serve 180 days of community service, undergo domestic violence counselling and be under a period of probation for the next five years after managing to avoid jail time.
Moving away from the gossip columns for a hot minute, after officially ending his time at Def Jam, this month Jay Z announced that he will release his new album entitled The Blueprint 3 later on this year. After some important live shows and disappointing recorded efforts over the last 2 years, the self proclaimed greatest rapper alive has decided to channel his creative energy back into replicating the successes of his glory days. The album is thought to feature almost exclusive production work from Kanye West, who was nothing more than a man behind the boards when the original Blueprint album came out in 2001. The first indication of what the long player might sound like comes in the form of street single 'D.O.A (Death Of Autotune)', which you can check out right here. It takes a pop at the T-pain pioneered vocal effects that have populated many of the chart topping success stories including number one seller Lil Wayne, suggesting a return to a more traditional Hip Hop sound for Jay, about time.
Looking a little closer to home, there's also plenty of things to get excited about back in Blighty. Lethal Bizzle is gearing up for a big summer with the imminent release of his 3rd studio album. The first single 'Go Hard' is already a radio hit, supported by his now customary slot on the NME stage at Reading and Leeds, plus a full UK tour to follow.
Dizzee Rascal has teamed up with Calvin Harris again off the back of their 'Dance Wiv Me' success in an attempt to create the ultimate summer anthem. 'Holiday' is only just getting its first Radio One plays now but it's a dead cert number one, following up the rave tinged 'Bonkers' - so keep an ear out for that one.
There's also already been some fantastic Hip Hop shenanigans at the festivals this year already, particularly the liberal minded Glastonbury. Even after last year's Oasis debacle and this year's shift towards a more guitar lead set of headliners, there was still a healthy wedge of urban talent scattered across the festival. The Streets tore up the Jazz World stage as they warmed up for Q Tip, doing a cover of 'Billie Jean' alongside crowd pleasers of their own including a 'Lets Push Things Forward' and 'Blinded By The Lights'. As part of the performance Mike Skinner also had his face mowed into a field neighbouring the site as part of an elaborate publicity stunt - check that out here. Roots Manuva also put in a sterling performance on the final day of music, highlight of which are still available on the BBC iPlayer. Over and out.