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Curiously Curated 012: Watch Out For These Producers

On Curiously Curated 012, we’ll be taking a deep dive into some of the best producers (and executive producers) in the underground right now. These four creatives all bring something very special to the table, which is made blatantly apparent in their music.

This is your opportunity to get familiar with A$AP Illz, BlaccMass, Yung Icey, and Jaasu.

1. A$AP Illz

This is a new age for executive production, with countless opportunities for those who can serve the role properly. A$AP Illz is one of those people. The A$AP Mob co-founder has a history of spotlighting dope underground talent, and has recently continued that trend with a Dee Aura collab tape, BODEINE BRAZY. The tape features just one artist: ROKKSTAR NOVA. Not to mention the unique influence that Nino Andretti and DJ Phatt added, just as they have on many notable underground projects. BODEINE BRAZY isn’t any ordinary underground project. It’s a new wave. One led by A$AP Illz and his circle of innovative creatives. If you pay attention closely you’ll see many key details within the project that are deliberately there; it’s no coincidence, that’s A$AP Illz’s influence.

A$AP Illz

Perfection is what I love to mold and create. It’s my honor to do it.

Illz’s attention to detail seeps throughout the 10 tracks of this project, all of which he arranged and ordered. Illz is one of the most prolific tastemakers of our generation, and it’s on full display here. This is a big step forward for Illz, and a big step forward for the underground music culture right now.

For those in tune with music and fashion, A$AP Illz’s name has been popping up everywhere. This BODEINE BRAZY tape makes it abundantly clear why that’s the case. Check out his debut album with Dee Aura below.

2. BlaccMass

BlaccMass is one of our favorite producers of late; the young talent somehow manages to exceed expectations with every single drop. BlaccMass has an unparalleled knack for remixing popular acapellas, both with other popular beats and beats of his own. Not only is his beatmaking ability on display, but so is his passionate love for music.

BlaccMass

I feel the job of a producer is to curate the landscape for the artist. Almost like picking the setting for a movie, you are designing the set for the actor and you basically direct everything. Letting the artist infuse into your work, but not losing sight of your original intention.

BlaccMass’ wild catalog goes beyond just remixes and mashups; he’s made beats for Lancey Foux and Zack Fox, amongst others.

BlaccMass

I love that music peers into the soul and notes can become engrained in the psyche. Music is and always will be apart of my life because the songs I hear hit my soul every time. It’s a metaphysical feeling that can’t be easily simplified nor explained, but the people who really knows the feeling, they know.

BlaccMass is putting on an absolute clinic for how to be a modern age producer. It’s like he knows exactly what every music lover wants. Time and time again, he delivers.

3. Yung Icey

If you claim to be familiar with the hip hop underground, and you don’t know Yung Icey, then sadly, you’d be wrong.

Yung Icey has interwoven himself into the music scene at its roots, and he’s continued to grow alongside his recording artist peers from those very roots. He’s made a notable impact on SoundCloud, and has proceeded to repeat that pattern. Icey ‘s SoundCloud boasts 18k followers and over 10M streams on just his top two songs alone (both with Yung Bans): “Right Through You” and “Out.” That’s more than what most recording artists typically have. As if that’s not impressive enough, his portfolio of music includes cuts with Future, Denzel Curry, D Savage, and Poundside Pop, amongst others.

Icey has taken his industry insight and has directly applied that to the underground artist community through management and collaboration, working closely with acts like NGeeYL and BabyPlug (Curiously Curated 011 alum).

Coincidentally, the cover art of one of Icey’s top two SoundCloud songs, “Out,” features A$AP Illz (the cover of today’s edition).

4. Jaasu

To end our 12th edition of Curiously Curated, we’ll be highlighting producer wonder Jaasu.

His collaboration with 10fifty on Remble‘s “Touchable” turned heads after the song went viral on TikTok. That wasn’t Jaasu’s first bout of exposure, and surely won’t be his last. If you consider yourself a fan of Rich The Kid, Famous Dex, SSGKobe, $not, Lancey Foux, Coi Leray, or Bankrol Hayden, then chances are, you’ve crossed paths with Jaasu’s work.

Jaasu brings an unmatched energy into collaborations with recording artists and other producers. He’s got his formula down-pat, and is just shining at this point of his career. Here’s one of his hits with British rap phenom Lancey Foux:

Conclusion

This not only concludes our 12th edition of Curiously Curated, but also this series as we know it.

Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean we’re ending Curiously Curated. We’re just expanding it into a bigger concept, so we can more easily give you your fill of relevant music news and insight. So stay tuned, we’ve got some very exciting things up ahead.

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Music

Travis Scott is Back Like He Never Left

What’s your favorite Travis Scott line? Do you even have one? Does anybody? Despite being incredibly popular and acclaimed, Scott has never made particularly thought-provoking music, unless those thoughts are no cap fr fr and AAAAAAH!

For the most part, Scott traffics in vibes, setting the mood with a blown out bass here, a syrupy synth arpeggio there. This is all clever branding: Scott is a cool and handsome guy, so he makes music that aims to project a cathected coolness and handsomeness upon his listeners too.  

And yet, Scott’s uncontainable raging is harder to stomach in the wake of the tragic death of eight people during his performance at his Astroworld Festival. Lyrics like “it’s not a mosh pit if there’s no injuries” hit different now—namely, they hit worse.

Although Scott’s recent concerts have still maintained his signature energy, they’ve mostly been small-scale events at night clubs and private events. By the time Scott hits the road to headline a spate of festivals in the fall, he’ll surely do so with additional guardrails and precautions surrounding him.

The rage isn’t dead, but it’s been put in timeout; rap’s most image conscious star has to reckon with the fact that a central pillar of his image has buckled under its own weight. 

With Scott announcing his grand return with a pair of concerts in London and then a Vegas residency, he comes bearing gifts—his long-awaited album Utopia is rumored to drop some time within the next few months. In the four years since 2018’s Astroworld, Scott has become one of music’s biggest stars, in large part due to his relationship with Kylie Jenner.

For companies looking to address their KPIs by tapping into a younger demographic or something like that, Scott became the go-to pitchman. Despite his meager output, his brand as the Pied Piper of suburbia remains strong, placing him at the center of an ever-expanding sprawl of soft drinks and sneakers and candles and cologne.

Like Drake and Ye, Scott has reached a level of stardom that practically transcends music; Travis Scott dominates news cycles simply by being Travis Scott. 

Accordingly, Utopia represents an opportunity for Scott to reassert his artistic and musical primacy. While Scott’s features and singles have often felt perfunctory, he’s one of the few remaining musicians who seems to conceive his albums as cohesive artistic statements.

On Days Before Rodeo and Rodeo, he broadened popular rap’s horizons with his new strain of gothic, portentous trap music; Birds In the Trap Sing McKnight elevated him to the mainstream, thanks to crossover hits like “Goosebumps” and “Pick Up the Phone;” Astroworld refined his sound, merging the anarchy of Scott’s biggest hits with the sativa’ed chill of his deeper cuts. 

Although Scott has mostly avoided leaks during the protracted Utopia rollout, early returns suggest a mellower, more grown-up release. Of his most recent singles, the tepid “Escape Plan” is a synth-driven up-tempo offering, but “Mafia” is sparse and spacy. Similarly, leaks like the 21 Savage-featuring leak “Niagara Falls” and “Lost Forever” (the Westside Gunn collab that Scott premiered at Dior’s 2022 Summer Show) are better suited for head-nodding than head-banging. 

Notably, “Niagara Falls” and “Lost Forever” are two of Scott’s best songs in years. And this makes sense—underneath all the pyrotechnics and teeth-gnashing angst, Scott’s best songs have always been his slower, crepuscular ones; ask any Travis Scott diehard their favorite songs and odds are they’ll rattle off titles like “Drugs You Should Try It” or “90210” or “Impossible” or “Oh My Dis Side” or “Maria I’m Drunk” or “Astrothunder” before they get to “Sicko Mode.” These tracks aren’t necessarily lyrical-miracle-spiritual Real Hip Hop, but they belong to a recognizable genus that includes his mentors Ye and Kid Cudi and even reaches as far back as Bone Thugs-N-Harmony in the 90s.

If Scott brought rap’s now-dominant punk aesthetic to the maintream, he’s also ceded it to the next generation—he doesn’t mosh like Playboi Carti or Yeat; he doesn’t preen like Lil Uzi Vert. Earlier in his career, touting his wide-ranging tastes (and general disdain for hip hop) may have been an easy gambit for Scott to prove he’s Not Like Those Other Rappers.

But as he enters his second decade of stardom and prepares to drop his first post-Astrofest album, his success hinges on his acceptance that he defines hip hop’s establishment rather than defies it. 

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Music

Here’s What To Expect At LL COOL J’s Rock The Bells Festival

It’s that time of the year again peoples. Hip-Hop’s finest are once again coming together to rock NYC out, and we couldn’t be more excited. Taking place Saturday, August 6, 2022 at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, this one-day-only event will bring together some of the most iconic and influential MCs of all time, including LL COOL J, Ice Cube, Busta Rhymes, Lil Kim, The Diplomats ft. Cam’ron, Jim Jones & Juelz Santana, Fat Joe & Remy Ma, Scarface, Jadakiss, and much more.

Heck of a lineup if we say so ourselves. Curated and headlined by LL COOL J in his hometown, the event has been created with the intention of celebrating and uplifting classic Hip-Hop culture through the lens of music, food, fashion, art, and more.

But wait, there’s more! 

To further bring the festival experience to life, Rock The Bells has teamed up with Houston Hip-Hop legend, Bun B to host and headline the first ever Hip-Hop food court experience, featuring a selection of food & beverage vendors from other Hip Hop artists including Nas’ Sweet Chick, E-40’s Goon with the Spoon, Jadakiss & Styles P’s Juices for Life, Ghostface Killah’s Killah Koffee, Mia X’s Team Whip Them Pots and Bun B’s Trill Burgers along with a handful of local eateries.

To get y’all even more hyped up, we chatted with Hip-Hop legend Roxanne Shanté who’s hosting the festivities to learn more. 

Getty Images

ONE37pm: Great to be chatting with you Roxanne! You are hosting the festivities this year. How excited are you?

Shanté: When it comes to doing festivals, people have nicknamed me the hostess with the mostess because I really enjoy hosting and seeing everybody have a great time. To do this is just incredible for me because it’s almost like having a huge family reunion on stage. It’s like being able to say that we are going to have a great time, and that’s why I tell everybody this is not just a festival, it’s an experience.

You are going to get a chance to experience hip-hop to its fullest. The performances are great, we have the best of the best including the rest, and I am really looking forward to it. It’s really going to be a great day!

ONE37pm: You’re a rap legend, and you are going to be amongst other legends who have changed the game. How important is that?

Shanté: I think this was the best thing that could have been done. Coming out of the pandemic, one of the main things that you want to do is see people. You want to see the people you love, and come together and have a great time. That’s the main thing you want to do, especially if you are someone who has been in the house for a very long time, and you love the music and culture.

We’re telling people that this isn’t just something you want to come out for because this is your era, you can bring the family and children with you. People are going to learn something. They are going to leave with a love and learning of Hip-Hop that they may not have had before.

Mainly because you’ve never seen so many greats on one stage. The old school are truly the creators, survivors, and pioneers. The still-standings. There’s somebody on that stage that represents everyone. You may say that you have energy like Busta, but you haven’t had the chance to do it. Now’s the time to do it. We also tell people to feel free to dress for the occasion.

If you want to throw in your closet and bring out your old stuff, do it! At festivals you aren’t limited to what you can wear. Come out with your Kengos and adidas! Not only do we have the greats performing their greatest hits, but we also have things like a live hip-hop game show. We have a lot of surprises!

ONE37pm: One of things we cover here is style, which you have always been recognized for. Can you give us a preview of what you’ll be rocking? Or do we have to be surprised?

Shanté: Honestly, I haven’t even picked out my outfit yet! I’m one of those people where everything about me is spontaneous and about that moment. What I can tell you is that you are going to see a lot of “rock the bells” from me and on me. You are going to be able to look at certain articles of clothing and wonder where did I get it from, or the decade it came from.. You are going to wonder if it’s new or from the 1980s!

ONE37pm: Thanks to platforms like TikTok we are starting to see more millennials and Gen Z’ers becoming interested in music history. Some of those will be at the event tonight, or even reading this article. What’s your message to them?

Shanté: If you love Hip-Hop, then you need to be here to see this first hand. You need to be able to say that historically you were there. So you need to be here! And you’ll learn something!

ONE37pm: What else is in store for these remaining months of 2022?

Shanté: You can hear me everyday on Sirius XM on LL COOL J’s Rock The Bells Radio, so I’m definitely going to be doing that and making sure everyone has a nice day. We also have a few other projects that are lined up, and usually when people say that they wonder they can and cannot mention. Because I’m such a spontaneous person, I just tell everyone to follow the Rock The Bells site, and I will keep you posted on everything. We’ve got some great surprises!

Be sure to keep up with both Rock The Bells and Roxanne Shanté via Instagram for more updates!

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Music

Curiously Curated 011: New and Noteworthy Artists

After 10 volumes, we’ve established a pretty strong footing for Curiously Curated. As we venture onto the next 10, it seems pretty clear what (or rather, who) we’re looking for.

Today, for the 11th edition of Curiously Curated, we’ll take a deeper look at four up-and-coming artists who have began to make a major name for themselves: Myles Cameron (cover), 26ar, Baby Plug, and Lil Crix.

1. Myles Cameron

Myles Cameron has been on my radar for a while now, but looking back, it’s become very clear that he’s never missed. Not once.

Whether he’s releasing singles, EPs, or music videos to go along with either, you can bank on the fact that he’ll provide quality. Some of his top tracks include “Yellow,” “Caged Bird,” and “Heaven’s Hands.” Take a listen to this extraordinary talent for yourself.

2. 26ar

Earlier this month, 26ar dropped off a brand new project, FLYEST OOTA, which features two artists: PGF Nuk and Rob49. After proving his talent time and time again, 26ar is back again just to remove all doubt.

This latest project is some of his best, and the song “Finish” with PGF Nuk (who had a recent viral collab with Polo G for their song “Waddup”) is a certified hit. Get familiar with 26ar and his latest project in the link below.

3. Baby Plug

Baby Plug has a storied career, and a strong foundation that outdoes his peers’.

From the early days of his rap career, he’s been a fan favorite, and for good reason. Some of Baby Plug’s top songs include “No Fifties (feat. Lil Gotit and Lil Keed)” and “Still Bunkin.” His 2020 project, Topic, will tell you everything you need to know.

4. Lil Crix

If you’ve been paying close attention to Kodak Black‘s social media lately, then you’ve probably come across Lil Crix.

Lil Crix is an artist emerging from Florida, and it seems as if he has a clear path to the top at the moment. Not many co-signs outweigh that of Kodak Black; you can expect to be seeing and hearing a lot from Lil Crix in the coming year. Check out why Kodak is so interested in this up-and-comer for yourself below:

Conclusion

There you have it, yet another Curiously Curated in the books. As we’re just two songs away from 100 on our playlist, there’s plenty of great emerging artists to get familiar with on there. Take a look below, and DM us on socials to tell us your favorite song!

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Top Record Labels in Hip-Hop

Let’s talk about the top record labels at the moment. We’ll discuss their founders, the artists they’ve signed, and much more.

The definition of “top record labels” has evolved along with the environment in the music industry. Today, we’ll be discussing the top record labels and why they’ve each earned that reputation.

One thing to note that’s changed over the years is the ability for people to independently create some of the most successful record labels in recent times. This is largely thanks to democratized distribution and heightened administrative access, which have come from industry and technological advancements.

Here’s our list, in no particular order:

1. Understanding the Major Label Infrastructure

Sony Music Group

Universal Music Group

Warner Music Group

2. Field Trip Recordings (Zack Bia / Geffen Records)

Founder(s): Zack Bia

Parent Label: Geffen Records

Signed Artists: Yeat, SSGKobe, Onlybino!, Mallory Merk, HVN, Slump6s

Notes: Zack Bia’s label has been making major strides throughout the year, signing acts like Yeat and SSGKobe. Pay close attention to their performance the remainder of the year.

3. Generation Now (DJ Drama / Warner Music Group)

Founder(s): DJ Drama, Don Cannon, Leighton Morrison

Parent Label: Warner Music Group

Signed Artists: Lil Uzi Vert, Jack Harlow, Seddy Hendrinx, Sonny Digital, Killumantii, Skeme, and Carvena

Notes: This label has become well-known for their roster, which includes Uzi and Jack Harlow.

4. Cinematic Music Group (Jonny Shipes / Sony Music Group)

Founder(s): Jonny Shipes

Parent Label: Sony Music Group

Signed Artists: Joey Bada$$, JayDaYoungan (RIP), Ola Runt, Prentiss, Skaiwater, Yungeen Ace, Smoke DZA

Notes: Cinematic functions as a management company and publishing company as well as a label. It’s grown a very strong reputation for itself and all of its close brand affiliates like Smokers’ Club.

5. Dreamville Records (J. Cole / Interscope)

Founder(s): J. Cole

Parent Label: Interscope

Signed Artists: J. Cole, Bas, JID, Ari Lennox, Cozz, Lute, Earthgang

Notes: J. Cole’s label made a name for themselves with their collective albums, which put a huge emphasis on collaboration. Dreamville has a storied history and a bright future.

6. Galactic Records (Lil Tecca / Giuseppe Zappala / Republic Records)

Founder(s): Lil Tecca and Giuseppe Zappala (Management)

Parent Label: Republic Records

Signed Artists: Lil Tecca, Tokin, Tana, WAV, Based1*, Lucas Rosse*, Menoh*, Niko East*

* indicates a producer

Notes: Galactic is one of the top new-era labels, with one of the best ears for talent, and a business-savvy choice of signing producers.

7. Alamo Records (Todd Moscowitz / Interscope)

Founder(s): Todd Moscowitz

Parent Label: Interscope

Signed Artists: Lil Durk, Comethazine, Wifisfuneral, Rod Wave, 03Greedo, Lil Mexico, Slimelife Shawty, ALX, Dee Watkins, YS, Sainvil, Yak Yola, and more

Notes: Alamo’s roster speaks for itself. It has one of the strongest A&R teams, and a knack for nurturing careers of some of this generation’s best talent.

8. 300 Entertainment (Warner Music Group)

Founder(s): Kevin Liles, Lyor Cohen, Todd Moscowitz

Parent Label: Warner (Original owners sold in 2021)

Signed Artists: Megan Thee Stallion, Young Thug (and YSL Records), Fetty Wap, $not, Tee Grizzley, OMB Peezy, Shy Glizzy, Whiterose Moxie, Quarters of Change, and more

Notes: YSL is a whole focal point in itself; Megan Thee Stallion and the rest of the roster make this impossible to miss on our list.

9. Victor Victor (Steven Victor / Republic Records)

Founder(s): Steven Victor

Parent Label: Republic Records / Universal Music Group (UMG)

Signed Artists: Nigo, Pusha T, Pop Smoke, Autumn, Ski Mask the Slump God, 16yrold, Cashmoneyap, Reyanna Maria

Notes: One thing is for sure: Steven Victor knows his way around the music industry. The music mogul has one of the most tightly curated rosters in existence.

10. AWGE (A$AP Rocky, Interscope)

Founder(s): A$AP Rocky

Parent Label: Interscope

Signed Artists: Slowthai, Thottwat, Kelvin Krash, Smooky Margielaa, A$AP Nast, Playboi Carti, Key!, A$AP Twelvyy, A$AP Ant, A$AP Illz, A$AP TyY, A$AP Ferg, A$AP Rocky

Notes: There’s a certain charisma and artistic integrity that AWGE displays, and it’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen. This collective of top-tier creatives has made quite the name for itself, especially on the heels of their ‘AWGE Tapes.’

11. Griselda Records (Westside Gunn, Conway the Machine, Mach-Hommy / Independent)

Founder(s): Westside Gunn, Conway the Machine, Mach-Hommy

Parent Label: Independent

Signed Artists: Westside Gunn, Conway the Machine, Mach-Hommy, Benny the Butcher, Boldy James, Rome Streetz, Armani Caesar

Notes: This label is one of the most deliberate and artistic out there. Led by Westside Gunn, Conway the Machine, and Mach-Hommy, this classic-styled group of artists are making major waves, both in-person and digitally.

12. Quality Control (Kevin “Coach K” Lee and Pierre “P” Thomas / Universal Music Group)

Founder(s): Kevin “Coach K” Lee and Pierre “P” Thomas

Parent Label: Universal Music Group

Signed Artists: Migos, Lil Baby, City Girls, Lil Yachty, Marlo, 24 Heavy, Bankroll Freddie, Duke Deuce, Jayy Fox, Jordan Hollywood, Kollision, Layton Greene, Quay Global, Wavy Navy Pooh, Lakeya, Metro Marrs

Notes: QC has become known for their ability to develop and sustain the careers of some of the most notable artists in the game. Migos, Cardi B, and the list goes on.

13. Collective Music Group (CMG) (Yo Gotti / Universal Music Group)

Founder(s): Yo Gotti

Parent Label: Universal Music Group

Signed Artists: Yo Gotti, Blac Youngsta, Moneybagg Yo, BlocBoy JB, 42Dugg, Big Boogie, EST Gee, Mozzy, Lil Poppa, Lehla Samia, Glorilla

Notes: This past year has been a monumental one for CMG. Pay particularly close attention to their latest signee, Glorilla, who arguably has the “hot girl” song of the summer, “FNF (Let’s Go).”

13. Other Labels on Our Radar

No Records (bbno$)

Pick Six Records (Moe Shalizi)

Listen2TheKids

Records Co

Asylum

Conclusion

That concludes our list of the top record labels in the music industry. There are definitely more worth mentioning, but we’ll continue covering them as they make big steps going forward.

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Music

Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” Is Everything We Expected and More

Renaissance. Is. A. Flawless. Masterpiece. It’s rare that an artist is able to maintain the same level of sheer hype and anticipation that they had at the beginning of their careers, but here we are 25 years into Beyoncé’s career, and she’s better than ever.

Make no mistake, this is Bey at her best. Renaissance is a complete body of work that ties together everything Bey has done from a musical standpoint up to this point.

It’s her Dangerously In Love vocals and harmonies evolved. It has the funk themes that she began to really experiment with during the B’Day era executed to the next level. It’s the mixture of the falling in love and “poppin yo ish” themes that we began seeing during her I Am Sasha Fierce era elevated.

It’s the rawness and experimentation with different sounds that we saw in 4 coming in full circle. It’s the disco and celebratory themes of sexuality that we were really introduced to in 2013’s self-titled Beyoncé times ten. And finally, it’s the artistry and brilliance of the Lemonade era in a fun rebirth fashion.

Songs like “I’M THAT GIRL” and “COZY” let us know that Beyoncé is indeed “that girl,” and enjoying herself, her family, and the fruits of her labor.

 “ALIEN SUPERSTAR” is a sound we’ve never heard from Bey before. Same with “CUFF IT,” and “ENERGY,” which give off the fun flirty vibes of old school Beyoncé songs like “Check On It.”

“CHURCH GIRL” and “THIQUE” also give off “dip it, pop it, twerk it” vibes, and tracks like “AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM,” and “SUMMER RENAISSANCE” really highlight Bey’s genius when it comes to harmonies and background vocals. The album’s opener “I’M THAT GIRL,” is very much giving the 2022 edition of “Bow Down” and “Flawless.”

Tracks like “PLASTIC OFF THE SOFA” and “VIRGO’S GROOVE” are a nice throw back to those 1980s and 1990s sounds that we have been nostalgic for.

“HEAT IT” and “MOVE are the classic bangers that we have to come to know and love from Beyoncé, with an sick production and a catchy chorus that instantly gets stuck in your head. “ENERGY” is the short bop that you wish was longer, similar to how Bey did us with 2007’s “Kitty Kat” video (It’s not too late Beyoncé). “PURE/HONEY” is yet another song from the album that show us just how dynamic of a vocalist Beyoncé is.

And while “BREAK MY SOUL” got everything going with a flashback house music vibe that we weren’t expecting, “SUMMER RENAISSANCE” closes everything beautifully, leaving us in excitement for Act II (which Bey has confirmed this project will be three-parts).

Bey really put her foot in this, and the past ten years are any indication of what else is to come combined with the photos we’ve seen thus far, the visuals are about to be insane. 

In case you didn’t hear us earlier, this is year 25 of Queen Bey. A year that aside from Act I: Renaissance will also see her celebrating the 25th anniversary of Destiny’s Child’s first album which will officially make them eligible to be inducted into the Rock & Roll, and the 20th anniversary of her debut solo album Dangerously In Love.

A Renaissance indeed. And this only Act I.

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Music

17 Unforgettable Mixtapes That Now Are On Streaming Services

Mixtapes hold a special place in the hearts of many hip-hop fans. 

A mainstay in hip-hop, the mixtape has also been appreciated by R&B, reggae and pop music lovers. 

Documentaries presented by the Tribeca Film Festival have been made about the legacy and impact of mixtapes. A mixtape has even won a Grammy Award

In the past, mixtapes were only available on physical formats like cassette tapes or CDs. Or you had to search through sites likes Dat Piff or Spinrilla. But now, with the rise of streaming services, many of the greatest mixtapes of all time are now just a click away. 

Whether you want to revisit a classic tape or check out a project that you missed out on when it first dropped, you can now listen to many of them without much of a hassle. Classic mixtapes from Future, Jay-Z, The Weeknd, Drake and others have been released on popular streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal. 

Kid Cudi’s 2008 debut mixtape, A Kid Named Cudi–which featured the smash hit “Day ‘n’ Nite” – and Mac Miller’s 2011 I Love Life, Thank You are the latest major mixtapes to hit streaming services. 

Relive some of your favorite mixtape memories or make some new ones by checking out these 17 classic mixtapes that are now on streaming services.

The S. Carter Collection (2003)

Artist: Jay-Z 

Re-released: 2018

Standout joints: “Beware,” “Pump It Up Freestyle,” “Young, Black & Gifted Freestyle”

By the time Jay-Z was ready to retire, he had just about done it all. One of the few things his iconic resume was missing was an official mixtape. In April of 2003, Hov dropped his first tape called The S. Carter Collection. It featured his raps over original beats, as well as over tracks made famous by N.E.R.D, B2K and Joe Budden. The mixtape accompanied the now billionaire’s first sneaker collection. The Reebok-produced S. Carter Collection kicks went on to become the fattest-selling shoe in the athletic brand’s history.

Trap or Die (2005)

Artist: Young Jeezy 

Re-released: 2020

Standout joints: “Trap or Die,” “Do Da Damn Thang,” “Get Ya Mind Right,” “We Luv Ya” & “U.S.D.A., Pt. 2”

Prior to taking over the rap game with his debut album, Young Jeezy conquered the streets of Atlanta with his breakthrough mixtape. Titled Trap or Die, the 26-song project provided more evidence that Jeezy was a force to be reckoned with. Vets such as Fabolous, Trick Daddy, Bun B and Yo Gotti appeared throughout the hood classic. 

A Kid Named Cudi (2008)

Artist: Kid Cudi 

Re-released: 2022

Standout joints: “Day ‘n’ Nite” 

Kid Cudi is one of the most influential artists of his era. The kid from Cleveland introduced us to his eclectic vibes with 2008’s A Kid Named Cudi. The mixtape set the stage for Cudi to change the game.

So Far Gone (2009)

Artist: Drake

Re-released: 2019

Standout joints: “Successful,” “Best I Ever Had,” “Houstatlantavegas” & “Uptown”

So Far Gone is the project that put Drake on the map. It displayed Drizzy’s ability to make hits, write great songs and rap his ass off. 

Beam Me Up Scotty (2009)

Artist: Nicki Minaj 

Re-released: 2021

Standout joints: “I Get Crazy”, “Itty Bitty Piggy” & “Slumber Party”

Nicki Minaj made it clear that she was ready to compete with the best of them with the release of Beam Me Up Scotty. The “Female Weezy” went toe-to-toe with the Best Rapper Alive on a couple of joints, as well as the likes of Gucci Mane and Busta Rhymes.

In 2021, she reminded everyone just how special her breakthrough mixtape was when she introduced it to streaming services. Even though as a result of issues clearing samples fan-favorite songs like “I Feel Free”, “Mind on My Money”, “Handstand” and “Five-O” did not make the final cut for the reissued version of Beam Me Up Scotty, the tape debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, making it the highest charting mixtape of all time on Billboard’s album chart. The updated version of the mixtape was released with three new tracks including “Seeing Green,” which featured standout verses from her Young Money gang members Lil Wayne and Drake.

No Ceilings (2009)

Artist: Lil Wayne

Re-released: 2020 

Standout joints: “Oh Let’s Do It”, “Wasted” and “Swag Surf”

Mixtape Weezy was nothing to mess with. Mr. “Feed Me Rappers or Feed Me Beats” made his claim as the best rapper alive more believable when he fired off countless unbelievable raps over other rappers’ instrumentals. 

Following the release of the epic Carter 3, Lil Wayne was in full rockstar mode. But he brought it back to his gritty roots with No Ceilings. The superstar rapper laid his top notch, mind-blowing bars and flows down on some of the most popular beats of the time, which included Jay-Z’s “Run This Town”, Beyoncé’s “Sweet Dreams” and Kid Cudi’ “Make Her Say.”

Wayne managed to body every track, while finding clever ways of mentioning the tape’s title on just about every one of those bodied tracks. No Ceilings also featured the original joint, “I’m Single.”

Kush & Orange Juice (2010)

Artist: Wiz Khalifa 

Re-released: 2018  

Standout joints: “Glass House,” “Still Blazin” 

There’s no doubt that Wiz Khalifa’s 2010 mixtape Kush & Orange Juice is considered a classic by many. To this day, that project resonates with listeners. The songs on the mixtape are all about Wiz’s favorite topics: smoking weed and living life to the fullest. Whether you’re driving in your whip, relaxing at the crib or just in need of a trip down memory lane, its laid-back vibe and feel-good lyrics make it perfect for just about any occasion.

Sailing Soul(s) (2011)

Artist: Jhené Aiko

Re-released: 2021

Standout joints: “July,” “Sailing Not Selling” & “Growing Apart Too”

Although we technically first got wind of Jhené Aiko in the early 2000s on B2K albums, the sultry singer didn’t officially land on most people’s radars until 2011 when she dropped Sailing Soul(s). The mixtape, which was mostly written by the singer-songwriter and featured verses from Kanye West, Drake and Kendrick Lamar, received lots of love upon its release. It also helped her land a deal with Def Jam Recordings.

House of Balloons (2011)

Artist: The Weeknd

Re-released: 2021 

Standout joints: “The Party & The After Party,” “High for This” & “The Knowing”

Long before The Weeknd was one of the most recognizable artists in the world, he was a super mysterious artist with a few songs on YouTube. House of Balloons helped to change that. Although many listeners still weren’t sure what he looked like or if The Weeknd was actually a group, HOB helped us get acquainted with his unmistakable aesthetics. A mixture of r&b, electronic and alternative vibes, the tape was full of moody instrumentals, sharp vocals and Abel’s drug and sex-infused lyrics.

Thursday (2011)

Artist: The Weeknd

Re-released: 2021 

Standout joints: “The Zone”, “Thursday” & “Rolling Stone”

Less than five months after the release of his debut mixtape, The Weeknd was back with another buzzworthy project. Thursday continued down the path carved out by House of Balloons. The mixtape featured nine songs and a feature from Drake. Thursday showcased The Weeknd’s songwriting and production skills and his unique vocal style, as well as helped to define Toronto’s soundscape at the time.

Echoes of Silence (2011)

Artist: The Weeknd

Re-released: 2021

Standout joints: “Initiation”, “Montreal” & “D.D.”

Echoes of Silence was the final chapter in what would later be known as Trilogy. Released in December of 2011, Abel’s third project of that year further established the singer as the future of r&b.

1999 (2012)

Artist: Joey Badass

Re-released: 2018

Standout joints: “Hardknock”, “Survival Tactics”, “FromdaTomb$”

Joey Badass’ latest album, 2000 is a sequel to his debut mixtape, 1999— which says a lot. The Brooklyn native’s first mixtape was so dope that he’s revisiting its vibes 10 years later.  

Dreamchasers 2 (2012)

Artist: Meek Mill 

Re-released: 

Standout joints: “Amen,” “Burn”

Meek Mill had a lot to prove by the time Dreamchasers 2 dropped. Luckily, the second installment of the Philly MC’s Dreamchasers series lived up to the hype. There was so much hype for the project that the 20-song tape crashed DatPiff with more than 2.5 million downloads in a 24-hour time span. Heavyweights such as Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, Big Sean, Wale, Mac Miller and others appeared throughout the well-received mixtape. 

Acid Rap (2013)

Artist: Chance The Rapper

Re-released: 2019  

Standout joints: “Cocoa Butter Kisses” and “Favorite Song”

Six years after its initial release, Chance The Rapper’s second mixtape, Acid Rap, landed on streaming services. Up until then, the critically acclaimed 14-track tape was only available on YouTube, Soundcloud and sites like Mixtape Monkey and Dat Piff— where it received more than 1 million downloads. The Grammy Award winner’s debut mixtape, 10 Day, also became available to stream in 2019.

Monster (2014)

Artist: Future

Re-released: 2019  

Standout joints: “Fuck Up Some Commas,” “Codeine Crazy” & “Throw Away”

After the lukewarm reception from Future’s sophomore album, Honest, fans and critics wondered if Hendrix had lost his sauce. He proved he didn’t with the release of Monster. Executive produced by Metro Boomin, the mixtape featured trap anthems such as “Fuck Up Some Commas,” “Codeine Crazy” and “Throw Away.”

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Travis Barker’s Biggest Hip Hop Moments

You know Travis Barker—he’s a seminal figure in emo pop-punk history as the lead drummer of Blink 182, a newly-established reality tv stalwart thanks to his marriage to Kourtney Kardashian, plane crash survivor and a memoirist. Over the last ten-ish years, he’s also sneakily built up a discography  as a hip-hop power player that rivals just about anybody else in his genre. Under his auspices, hip hop has entered its new pop-punk era with Barker shaping a new generation of heart-stricken crooners such as Machine Gun Kelly and Iann Diorr. Here are Travis Barker’s biggest hip hop moments as he transitions from rock drummer to all-purpose musical guru. 

1. “Crank Dat” Cover

Every piece of this video feels dated—the shaky, out-of-focus footage that looks like it was captured with a camcorder, the title’s “(EPIC DRUM COVER)” parenthetical, the very fact that it’s a rock-music-adjacent rendition of “Crank Dat” by Soulja Boy. Filmed in the late 2000s, Barker’s Soulja Boy cover was part of a series of remixes of popular rap songs that Barker uploaded to YouTube during this period—his version of Flo Rida’s “Low” was similarly well-received. While Barker wasn’t yet creating original hip hop music, these little viral showcases demonstrated his comfort blending different styles and genres.

2. TI, “Yeah Ya Know (Takers)”

This 2010 collaboration between Barker and southern rap legend T.I. marked one of Barker’s earliest forays into hip hop. Although the song doesn’t carry the Blink pop-punk hallmarks of Barker’s more recent work, the Blink 182 drummer’s fingerprints are apparent in the crisp drum pattern and the wailing electric guitar in the background. “Yeah Ya Know” might not have made waves as a hit single, but it laid the foundation for Barker’s future successes, legitimizing him as a serious hip hop producer outside of the purview of his day-job as a drummer. 

3. “Give The Drummer Some”

Barker’s debut album was an opportunity to flex his hip hop bonafides—Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Swizz Beatz, The Game, Pharrell, Lupe Fiasco, RZA, Raekwon, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, E-40, Twista, Busta Rhymes, Lil Jon, Kid Cudi, Tech N9ne, Bun B, Beanie Sigel, Paul Wall, Jay Rock, Kurupt, and Clipse all have features. With its loaded track-list of rap royalty, Give the Drummer Some served as a de facto industry-wide endorsement of Barker. 

4. Pitbull, “Bad Man (Featuring Robin Thicke, Joe Perry, Travis Barker)”

People don’t take Pitbull seriously and it’s not hard to understand why. He makes silly songs! And while Pitbull is largely regarded as a remnant of the confusing mid-2000s culture that had people wearing lens-less glasses, his embrace of Travis Barker in 2016 seems downright visionary in retrospect. To be sure, “Bad Man” isn’t a traditionally good song, but Pitbull and Travis Barker make it listenable through sheer force of charisma. 

5. 03 Greedo, “Meet the Drummers”

In the summer of 2019, 03 Greedo was in high-demand, working with super-producers such as DJ Mustard and Kenny Beats during his final days of freedom before the start of a lengthy prison sentence in Texas. Naturally, though, Greedo found time to link up with Barker, laying the ground-work for Meet the Drummers, a five-song EP. Even across these five songs, their chemistry is clear on standouts “Cellout’ and “Trap Again.” For years, Greedo has described his sound as “emo music for gangbangers;” with Barker, he evidently found his perfect emo music muse. 

6. UnoTheActivist, “Might Not Make It”

Whereas most of Barker’s collaborations are with big-name artists, UnoTheActivist is still relatively underground. Combining Playboi Carti’s idiosyncratic vocals with Gunna’s unwavering chill, Uno makes prototypical, blissed-out Atlanta-style trap music. More, working with Uno represented an opportunity for Barker to dabble with a new sonic palette. As such, Might Not Make It sounds unalike any of Barker’s earlier hip hop projects while still maintaining the general pathos of his other work. 

7. Machine Gun Kelly, “Tickets to My Downfall” and “Mainstream Sellout”

For the last decade, it’s felt like an inevitability that Machine Gun Kelly and Travis Barker would collide at some point—Kelly is a “rapper” who’s pined for pop-rock stardom; Barker is a pop-rock idol who’s transitioned into more hip-hop-ish territory. On 2020’s Tickets to My Downfall and 2022’s Mainstream Sellout , Barker positions Kelly as a new-age Mark Hoppus, smirkingly tearing through hook-y, uptempo pop-punk songs. It’s a natural fit for both Kelly and Barker—in Barker, Kelly finds the legitimacy to credibly switch his sound; in Kelly, Barker has the frontman to recapture the star-making energy that defined Blink 182 and has has now drifted back into the zeitgeist. Together, they combine for one of Travis Barker’s biggest hip hop moments, if not his single biggest so far.

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Music

Curiously Curated 010: Need-To-Know Producers

Producers serve a role in the music ecosystem that is crucial. Without them, there is no music for artists to drop. This series has been great for many reasons, but one in particular that stands out is the spotlighting of producer talent. It’s crazy to see just how rare producer press is; it’s not so easy to find articles on even the biggest of producers.

Today, on our 10th edition, we’ll be highlighting three producers who you need to familiarize yourself with: Daringer, 10Fifty, and David Morse.

1. Daringer

One of the most sought-after producers of retro-styled beats goes by the name of Daringer. His beats make up some of the most classic Griselda hits like “DR. BIRDS,” “The Cow,” “Lemon,” “97 Hov,” “George Bondo,” and many, many more.

For as young as Daringer is, you wouldn’t necessarily expect his level of old school production prowess. The Buffalo native even produced Sauce Walka’s most recent viral freestyle for ‘From The Block.’ Daringer is able to keep pace with some of the greatest producers in the game like Alchemist; Benny The Butcher mentions it in his episode of Kenny Beats‘ ‘The Cave.’ He’s well worth your attention.

2. 10Fifty

If you’re familiar at all with Lil Gotit’s catalog of music, then you’d definitely recognize his trademark beat-tag for 10Fifty: “10Fifty I luh you.”

10Fifty got his start at a relatively young age, and has gone on to produce for Gotit and other artists like Remble, Comethazine, EST Gee, Gunna, Young Thug, and many more.

He’s one of the most consistent, talented producers out there. Definitely get familiar with 10Fifty and his expansive catalog. You probably recognize his viral hit with Remble, “Untouchable”:

3. David Morse

David Morse has been having himself a year. He’s found himself charting for a large portion of the recent past, after scoring multiple placements on Lil Durk’s latest project, 7220.

Even though 2022 has been an explosive year for David, this isn’t new to him. He’s landed placements with artists like Lil Durk, NBA Youngboy, 645AR, Lil Skies, SahBabii, SSGKobe, Lil Yachty, and Swae Lee, just to name a few.

His catalog is ridiculous, you’ve got to see it for yourself. The Airwaves Atlanta producer has come up in a major way, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

Conclusion

After yet another successful week of Curiously Curated, there’s only one thing left to do: listen to our weekly playlist. It’s got everything from all ten editions so far. Check it out below.

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Music

Ten Major Artists Who Have Performed in the Metaverse

If the Metaverse already has nearly everything the real world has—clothing, grocery shopping, landlords—it makes sense that music will figure into its future too. While the technology is still in its relative infancy, there are already major artists who have performed in the Metaverse and begun venturing into the great digital unknown. With tours halted and the world sheltering in place in the spring of 2020, the Metaverse became an increasingly attractive option for artists who were looking for unconventional ways to connect with their audience. But still, even with artists back on the road, Metaverse concerts are here to stay. Here are 10 artists who have performed in the Metaverse and brought the future of music into the present.

1. Marshmello: Fortnite
Getty Images

The masked DJ made his Metaverse debut way back in 2019 before the Metaverse was even really a thing; his Fortnite concert in February 2019 marked the first crossover between the music industry and Fortnite’s rapidly expanding Metaverse. By today’s standards, Marshmello’s 2019 concert already seems a little primitive, but it’s still revolutionary for broadening the music industry’s horizons and exposing the world to the possibilities in the nascent Web 3 space. 

2. Travis Scott: Fortnite

Although Travis Scott wasn’t the first artist to perform in Fortnite, his April 2020 concert was the first time that a Metaverse concert truly registered on the broader music landscape. With much of the world still in lockdown, Scott’s Fortnite performance became an indelible piece of pandemic monoculture alongside Tiger King, The Last Dance and Andrew Cuomo. Over two years later, Scott’s Fortnite appearance is still one of the most-attended concerts to take place in the Metaverse, with nearly 28 million people tuning in.  

3. Soccer Mommy: Roblox

Whereas Marshmello and Travis Scott mega-stars who feel like natural fits for the Metaverse, Soccer Mommy’s inward-facing indie rock seems incongruent with the high-octane energy of the Metaverse. Earlier this month, Soccer Mommy promoted her new album Sometimes, Forever by hosting three days of games and events in Roblox, culminating with a concert. By being a fairly small  artist compared to her Metaverse peers, Soccer Mommy demonstrates the true utility of the medium, using it to connect with her passionate fanbase in ways that were previously inaccessible. 

4. Foo Fighters: Meta

The Foo Fighters may be the only rock band in the world with the clout and influence to schedule counter-programming opposite the Super Bowl halftime show. Last February, the Foo Fighters tried to “Learn to Fly” into the Metaverse, but they were sadly more zero than “My Hero.” Sadly, the band’s VR concert on Horizon Venues, a platform run by Meta (nee Facebook), was plagued by technical difficulties. Fans struggled to log onto the concert after the virtual “waiting room” crashed. Unable to move on from the Foo Fighters debacle, Meta shuttered Horizon Venues last month. In retrospect, maybe it was a little unfair to expect such a Boomer-heavy fanbase to navigate the Metaverse quite yet.    

5. Justin Bieber: Wave

On November 19th, 2021, Justin Bieber put on his first-ever Metaverse show on Wave, a virtual music platform. Interestingly, Bieber’s Wave avatar looked oddly life-like, falling in the uncanny valley between a real-life person and a cartoon-y video game character like those that populate Fortnite or Roblox. Set against a striking, evolving backdrop, Bieber performed hits such as “Peaches” and “Lonely” from his 2021 album Justice.

6. Young Thug: Horizon Venues

On the day after Christmas last year, Young Thug gave his fans a present with a Boxing Day Metaverse concert. While streaming on Meta’s Horizon Venues platform, Thug performed alongside a giant digital tarantula, bringing his beloved pet and recording partner into the Metaverse. 

7. David Guetta: Roblox

Partnering with Wonder Works Studio and Warner Music Group, super-DJ David Guetta put on a 45 minute set in the Roblox Metaverse on February 4th, 2021. Beyond a simple concert, Guetta’s foray into the Metaverse featured dance battles, puzzles and virtual merchandise for the attendees’ avatars. Evidently, Guetta enjoyed himself—in 2023, he’ll release the David Guetta Experience alongside French startup Stage 11, an ambitious undertaking that’ll feature a narrative element and appearances from Snoop Dogg and Akon. 

8. Ariana Grande: Fortnite

Building on the success of Travis Scott’s Fornite appearance, Epic Games brought Ariana Grande to the Metaverse in August 2021. Calling Grande’s iteration a “concert” probably sells the experience short. Instead of statically watching a virtual Grande strut across a virtual stage, viewers were transported to a series of mini-games and interactive features as they streaked across the virtual sky.

9. Post Malone: Horizon World

Like David Guetta, Post Malone has double-dipped in the Metaverse. In February 2021, he linked with Pokemon for a completely computer-generated performance to celebrate their 25th anniversary. Then again last week, Malone took his talents to Meta’s Horizon World for a “block party” in the Metaverse. During the 40 minute set, special guests such Roddy Ricch, the Kid LAROI and Fleet Foxes joined Posty to perform songs from his recent album, Twelve Carat Toothache

10. Daler Mehndi: Somnium Space VR

Largely unknown to American audiences, Indian popstar Daler Mehndi became the first Indian artist to play a show in the Metaverse. As part of a celebration around the unveil the first India-based Metaverse, Mehndi performed his ground-breaking concert in January 2022 for the 73rd Republic Day. As one of the biggest Indian artists, Mehndi drew over 20 million, a massive crowd that rivals that of any of the artists who have performed in the Metaverse. Most impressive, Mehndi’s concert only aired once whereas Travis Scott’s and Ariana Grande’s were both re-streamed several times over the course of many days. By bringing the Metaverse to India, Mehndi demonstrated the true global scope of this new technology and that it can have an impact on fans and artists around the world.