R.I.P. To The Godfather: Frankie Knuckles’ 10 Greatest Tracks

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There are musical innovators and then there’s Frankie Knuckles. The Bronx, New York born DJ/producer turned Chicago-based dance visionary, who is widely recognized as the architect of house music, died Monday afternoon at the age of 59. And with his untimely passing comes a flood of tributes from the U.S. (The Roots frontman tweeted of Knuckles’ death, “He was the DJ that DJs aspired to be. True dance pioneer.”) to overseas (BBC Radio 2’s Pete Tong added: “RIP gentleman genius, groundbreaker, inspiration. Blessed to have worked with you…”). And while Knuckles trumped his cult hero status as the man that made Windy City dance venues the Warehouse and the Power Plant landmark attractions in the ’80s—by the next decade he reigned as the go-to remix king for the headlining likes of Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson and Depeche Mode—his death is being felt the hardest back home.

“He made what I call wonderful garage music,” Southside Chicago native and local DJ Demetrius Lawrence tells VIBE. “He is one of the most original DJs that we’ve ever heard bringing in the establishment of house culture on multi-levels from music to fashion to philosophy. Frankie’s death is a huge loss.” Indeed, his impact on the EDM world and beyond cannot be overstated. VIBE presents the ten greatest Frankie Knuckles tracks of all-time. Dance on!

Drake Deserves Nod For Album of the Year

“Nothing Was The Same” is by far the best rap/R&B album of 2013- a bold statement with several big names dropping records in 2013. Drake raps and sings over tremendous beats and offers lyrics much deeper and personal than recent releases by kingpins Jay-Z and Kanye West. “Hold On, We’re Going Home” and “Started From The Bottom” show the two sides of Drake: a singer with talent to top R&B charts, and a rapper with the charisma and energy to dominate the club scene.

The album boasts great songs on both sides of the spectrum and truly can be enjoyed from start to finish. Drake displays his conversational style rapping and as we have grown accustomed to, he questions the pleasures of fame while also enjoying the limelight. The album truly sounds like a Greatest Hits compilation and should earn some recognition as the best of 2013.

KENDRICK LAMAR

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Few hip-hop stars have arrived as fully formed as 25-year-old Kendrick Lamar. Hailing from the MC hotbed of Compton, Lamar has been cranking out increasingly adventurous mixtapes since he was a teen, at first under the name K.Dot (a moniker he later abandoned). But with the release last fall of his proper major-label debut, good kid, m.A.A.d. city(Interscope/ Aftermath/Top Dawg Entertainment), Lamar took his show widescreen. He subtitled the album A Short Film by Kendrick Lamar, and there is something palpably cinematic about it. It’s a deftly nuanced work filled with richly painted vignettes, complicated characters, and shifting perspectives that begins with a 17-year-old Lamar trying to find his way as he is being pulled in multiple directions by his friends, parents, hip-hop fantasies, girls, and the culture of Compton, and ends with him figuratively taking the baton from Dr. Dre while wondering if what he has achieved is a victory or simply part of a cycle. (Another Compton legend, MC Eiht, appears on the track “m.A.A.d. city.”)

On the back of the hit singles “Swimming Pools (Drank)” and “Poetic Justice,” good kid, m.A.A.d. city reached No. 1 on both the Billboard Rap and R&B/ Hip-Hop charts. This past March, Lamar was even anointed “Hottest MC in the Game” by a panel of experts empowered by an authority no less than MTV (formerly an acronym for “Music Television”).Nevertheless, to reduce good kid, m.A.A.d. city to a pop phenomenon is to, in part, ignore the thrust of its instant-classicness: Like some of the best records in the history of pop, it’s an album that not only tells a compelling story, but a near-definitive one of a specific time and place, offering a window on the varying complexities of turn-of-the-century Compton, where the gangs, drugs, and guns are all still plentiful, but the kids now also have a generation of grade-A hip-hop to fall back on in struggling to navigate it. In fact, songs on good kid, m.A.A.d city like “The Art of Peer Pressure” deal directly with the glorification—and the growing urban mythology—of the rags-to-riches gangsta-rapper narrative that surrounded Lamar as a kid. But good kid, m.A.A.d city is also an intensely personal album that draws its power from Lamar’s frequently ambivalent—and conflicted—relationship with the people and world that he is chronicling. In one of several voicemail interludes that punctuate good kid, m.A.A.d city, Lamar’s mother offers him some advice: “Tell your story to these black and brown kids,” she urges. “Let them know you was just like them, but you still rose from that dark place of violence, becoming a positive person.” Near the end of the capper, “Compton,” the true complexity of that story is brought into full relief as Lamar slyly raps, “Harsh realities we in made our music translate / To the coke dealers, the hood rich, and the broke niggas that play . . . Roll that kush, crack that case, 10 bottles of rosé / This was brought to you by Dre . . . In the city of Compton / Ain’t no city quite like mine.” CONTINUE READING

XXL Presents…30 2012 Rap Songs That Stay on Repeat

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It isn’t easy condensing a year’s worth of rap music. Still, we can safely say there were enough recognizable songs that couldn’t be ignored. Some were regional anthems. Some took off on a national scale. Hip-hop’s go-to producers (Mike Will Made It and Young Chop) and everyone from Future and Big Sean to Chief Keef helped shape a new diverse sonic signature. With only a week and a few days left until the year is up, we reflected on songs that have an undeniable lasting appeal. There are obvious ones such as “Love Sosa” and “No Worries,” but we made sure to highlight the best from rap’s eclectic pool of MCs. It’ll be interesting to see where hip-hop will go since new trends are forming by the minute. Before we set our sights on 2013, here are 30 songs that’ll stay in heavy rotation.—XXL Staff

{CHECK OUT WHO IS ON THE LIST}

Ice Cube Says ‘Last Friday’ Is “Marinating,” Coming After Next Album [Video]

Since revealing in March that a fourth installment of the beloved Friday movie series is in the works, Ice Cube has had fans on the edge of their seats waiting for more information. Now Cube says he has a timetable in place for producing the new film. The West coast OG recently chopped it up with TheWellVersed and 2DopeBoyz and revealed the new Last Friday film will start production after his upcoming album, Everythang’s Corrupt. “Yeah, [Last Friday] is coming,” he said. “We’re marinating on it, putting it together…probably my next album will be done quicker than the Friday movie. We just turned in the script, so it’s going to take a couple of more months to put it together.” On his new album, he added, “[My goal with this album is to] have fun, go in there, look forward to the next song being better than the song you just did. To me, there’s no pressure at this point . it’s all gravy, and it’s all fun.”

Check out the interview, below.