Category: Rap/Hip-Hop

Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott on Love, Making It Work, and the Kardashian Curse

She’s a billionaire business mogul. He’s the most electric rapper in the game. How did they come together? How do they make it work? And can they survive the Kardashian Curse? Mark Anthony Green sits down with the world’s most powerhouse power couple.

It’s Kylie, from the jump, who controls the tempo. The youngest Jenner and her well-oiled glam squad bounce around Milk Studios, in Hollywood, with supreme purpose. Her half-male, half-female contingent is like Ocean’s Eleven, except with more crop tops and lip fillers. And instead of a case full of phony casino chips, there’s just a roller bag full of luscious hair extensions that need meticulous untangling. Midway through the shoot, the photographer and stylists start praising a particular photo on the monitor, but King Kylie shuts it down. “People are going to turn it into a meme,” she says, like some kind of social-media medium. “Let’s move to something else.” She later tells me that Kim and Kanye are the ones who taught her to be more assertive on creative things. “I just want the best cover photos for me and for you guys.”

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Joining her in the studio is her 27-year-old partner, Travis Scott. They’ve been together for about a year, but this is their first photo shoot together. What’s the binding force between a rage-thirsty rock star from Missouri City, Texas, and a beauty mogul of Calabasas royalty? Other than their newborn baby girl, Stormi? What’s that shared frequency that’s responsible for the most dynamic celebrity couple of modern times? We’ll get to that, but what I can report is that it’s not a mutual admiration for posing in front of a seamless. Taking pictures is a lucrative sport for one and medieval torture for the other.

Travis has a much smaller team with him. Just his manager—who works from a laptop the entire shoot—and a bag of what smells like some of California’s loudest weed. Between shots, he just kind of paces around, with his head down and his lanky limbs covered in expensive clothes. A wall or photo light would stop him and send him in a different direction. He looks like one of those Microsoft screen savers from the ’90s, careening off the edges of the monitor. “He was whispering to me the whole time,” Kylie tells me afterward, smirking. “He just doesn’t like taking the photos.” Travis hates anything that slows him down. (He even hates restaurants; the man despises wasting time in restaurants.) And he admits that he’s “impatient as a motherfucker” during photo shoots, despite really liking the end result. But it isn’t simply young angst that makes hurry-up-and-wait painful for Travis. It’s “la flame”—the internal fire, the rage, “the piss,” as he calls it, aggression in its funnest form. It’s why Travis, a decade into a notoriously energetic career, has made his case for having the best live show in hip-hop history.

A few years ago, at a nightclub, I saw Travis swing from a chandelier while performing. One of the gold baroque leaves he held on to for dear life cut his hand, and he was beginning to bleed pretty badly. He paused for a second. Smiled. Then pressed his bloody palm against the ceiling, leaving a red handprint, and kept rapping. That energy, that commitment—that’s why there’s an entire generation of young tattooed daredevil rappers coming up behind him who look to Travis as the source, and who’ve taken his lead.

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That may be the thing between the two of them, the binding force: influence. Not in some Adweek marketing sense—in direct-contact-with-the-people kind of way. When they say jump, kids will do it…off a balcony. (That actually happened to Travis.) These two make the mosh pits, memes, and moments that trend and move the needle. They forge 2017’s most overused four-letter word—vibe—and they’re masters at 2018’s: wave. You can’t pause when catching a wave. And that’s their art. Their common thread. Which helps explain how their relationship went from zero to Stormi in just a few months.

“We don’t go on dates,” Kylie tells me. In fact, their first date wasn’t really a date. They were at Coachella—neither can remember where, exactly, they first met—and the whole thing just turned into a hang that went well. While she tells me about it, she begins to giggle about the story she told Travis that got his attention that night. The story wasn’t anything special, but that’s what made it real. How’d you meet your significant other? It starts normal, right?

But then their second date, by all definitions, was anything but normal. They caught the wave. Kylie Jenner—and nearly 100 million followers of hers—just abandoned her life in California and took off on tour with Travis Scott.

“Coachella was one of the stops on his tour,” she explains. “So he said, ‘I’m going back on tour—what do we want to do about this?’ Because we obviously liked each other.”

What do we want to do about this? That’s an early-2000s Matthew McConaughey big-screen-heartthrob line. Holy shit. “And I was like, ‘I guess I’m going with you,’ ” she said, to complete the scene.

READ MORE:https://www.gq.com/story/kylie-travis-cover-2018

The New Business of Hip-Hop Beats: How One Company Gets Musicians Paid For Creating Samples

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On June 10, manager Mike “Heron” Herard got a mysterious phone call from the Grammy-winning production duo Cool & Dre. Two artists Heron manages, multi-instrumentalist Leon Michels and composer Beat Butcha, had landed placements on a top-secret project that the producers described only as “life-changing.”

They just needed stems of the recordings that Heron had sent them months before, including a four-bar instrumental loop Michels had created in his spare time, and a few tweaks: a new bassline and strings on top.

Days later, Heron got another call: The project was JAY-Z and Beyoncé’s surprise LP as The Carters, Everything Is Love, and the album’s opening track, “Summer,” would feature Michels’ loop. (A bonus track, “Salud!,” featured Butcha’s work.) It was the first time Michels’ music had been sampled since he began working with Heron’s musician management company, BeatHustle, in 2017. Within its first week, “Summer” totaled 9.1 million on-demand streams and 3,000 downloads, according to Nielsen Music, debuting at No. 84 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“It’s Beyoncé and JAY-Z — that’s the top of the mountain,” Michels tells Billboard about the placement, jokingly adding, “It’s all downhill from here, basically.”

The success of Heron’s new music outfit is a window into how the ­business’ top stars are ­churning out music faster than ever, increasingly soliciting pieces of ideas from a wide range of creators in order to make as many beats as they can in real time. With that kind of ­pressure, the old model of producer as crate digger, crafting melodies out of old soul records or on synths or keyboards, is history. The increase in volume has made it more ­difficult for sampled musicians to claim credit — and payment — for their work, ­creating an opportunity for ­businesses like BeatHustle.

“We’re in a climate where people are just trying to get records out really quickly,” says Heron. “I’ve been with guys where they dedicate tons of hours to records just to walk away, and no one credits them. Often there’s nothing malicious in it — it’s just guys trying to hustle.”

In the late 1990s, Heron was part of a community of record-collecting fanatics who would spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars digging through record stores for obscure samples, re-recording them onto LPs and selling the breakbeats to producers like No I.D. and Dr. Dre. Diddy, says Heron, would give one of Heron’s record-collecting friends $10,000 to $15,000 just to go shop for records, many of which wound up on Bad Boy albums like The LOX’s Money, Power, Respect.

“I would go get everything, ­digging hard, and put all the choice cuts on one album and sell them,” says Heron. “I was making a living doing that — must have been 20 volumes, which was 100 percent illegal.” He laughs. “[BeatHustle] is sort of like what I was doing before, but just, like, 100 percent legal.”

Heron began working with Shady Records in 2013, where he remains vp A&R. But he also started managing ­musicians on the side, beginning with Robert “G Koop” Mandell and AntMan Wonder three years ago, helping them place original music with hip-hop producers. It was then that he realized there was a problem in the production line.

“In 2018, there’s not a whole bunch of young guys that can ­actually play instruments,” says Heron. “So I found that those that could were sort of getting taken advantage of. And guys were ­reaching out to me, like, ‘Hey, man, I got a placement with this guy, I didn’t get paid, I didn’t get any ­publishing, I wasn’t credited.’ ”

An overlooked credit can equate to millions in lost revenue for a musician. G Koop, for example, provided the melodic backbone to Migos’ “Bad and Boujee,” which Metro Boomin flipped into a No. 1 single that has racked up 1.1 billion on-demand streams and 1 million downloads sold, according to Nielsen Music. Heron says that in the past, G Koop might have gotten a few hundred dollars for his ­contributions, and no publishing credit. But with BeatHustle, working with people like Metro and his manager Rico Brooks — the two of whom he ­considers to have “led the charge on fair ­treatment of these musicians” — G Koop is credited as a co-producer. Heron declines to comment on ­specific songs but says he’s often able to secure 50-50 splits with producers.

Heron now manages a stable of six composers who, collectively, have contributed to records by Rick Ross, Future, DJ Khaled, Rihanna and others. He has his musicians create original beat packs, which he sends to a tight-knit group of producers he knows and trusts; Cool & Dre, Metro and Murda Beatz, the lattermost producing Drake’s recent No. 1 single, “Nice for What,” are among them. For someone like Michels, who has led several funk bands over the years and worked on records by such artists as Sharon Jones and Lee Fields, the process can be much simpler and more collaborative than just getting sampled.

“I’m not making bridges and choruses and verses, it’s usually just a groove,” he says, noting he’s made around 100 tracks that BeatHustle has sent out. “I’ll do them in a night, just get some weed. They’re not that involved.”

But for producers and artists, particularly in a fast-paced world and in the shadow of high-profile copyright lawsuits like that of Marvin Gaye‘s family against Pharrell and Robin Thicke, the value that BeatHustle provides can make a huge difference.

“The musicians and producers, they’re like a community,” says Heron. “That’s what I like to think of BeatHustle as: just music guys.” This article originally appeared in the June 30 issue of Billboard.

READ MORE: https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/8463320/business-beats-beathustle-help-musicians-paid-hip-hop-sample

Atlanta Rap Keeps Evolving. Quality Control Is Taking It Global.

26QUALITY1-jumboThe nimble record label in the world’s de facto hip-hop capital is working
to build sustainable careers, not viral moments, in the streaming era.

ATLANTA — Unless you catch a glimpse of the eggplant Mercedes-Maybach S600 or the various young men with clusters of diamonds on choker-short chains coming and going at all hours, there is nothing too flashy about the headquarters of Quality Control Music, a record label here in the world’s de facto hip-hop capital.

As the birthplace of the chart-topping, trendsetting careers of Migos and Lil Yachty, this studio and office compound, northwest of downtown, is the latest nondescript landmark to help alter the course of rap music, a near-constant occurrence in Atlanta over the last two decades. But despite its pedigree as a center of luxury and innovation, the space — tucked behind a Goodwill and a full-service dog care facility — is light on bacchanalia and heavy on rules and expectations.

“DO NOT come to the studio UNLESS you are working,” reads a weathered printout taped to a bare wall amid four recording studios. “BE RESPONSIBLE for the company you bring … DO NOT have anyone dropping off or picking up drugs at the studio … This is not your home, this is not a hangout, this is a place of business. PLEASE conduct yourself accordingly and in a professional manner.” (Also: “ANY gambling, all parties involved must pay the house 30%!”)

The artists tend to listen. On a recent weekday afternoon, the promising, singsong street rapper Lil Baby, 21 years old and newly into music after two years in prison, diligently wiped his Chick-fil-A sauce and crumbs from a studio countertop as he played tracks from his next mixtape, “Too Hard.” Expected in early December, the project will be his fourth release of the year despite the fact that he started rapping in February.Taking in the songs were the stewards of Lil Baby’s fledgling career: Quality Control’s chief executive Pierre Thomas, or Pee to everyone in his orbit, who typed notes on his phone; and its chief operating officer Kevin Lee, known as Coach K or Coach, who vibed with his eyes closed.

Both men, veterans of the nexus where Atlanta’s street culture meets its music scene, have known Lil Baby since he was a charismatic teenager who was respected around town for his gambling prowess, and they had long encouraged him to pursue a career in music.

Hardheaded and fast-living, Lil Baby resisted until his sentence for gun and drug charges limited his options. As he raps on one new song: “Last year I was sittin’ in a cage/this year I’m goin’ all the way/takin’ drugs, trying to ease the pain.”

Pee, visibly energized by Lil Baby’s progress as an introspective songwriter, announced that the track would serve as the intro for the mixtape, only to receive a vehement protest from the rapper.

“Listen, you’re getting overruled on this one,” Pee shot back, ending the discussion. “Have I told you anything wrong yet?”

It’s this hands-on engagement with homegrown talent that Quality Control hopes will set it apart. Founded by Pee and Coach in 2013 around the flamboyant, fast-rapping local trio Migos, the company went from a start-up with the growing pains typically associated with a new independent label — exacerbated by their artists’ run-ins with the law — to a joint venture with Capitol Music Group and Motown Records in 2015.

Though prospects like OG Maco, Young Greatness and Rich the Kid didn’t truly take off, Quality Control has avoided the temptations of today’s viral-rap gold rush — in which a meme or one-off video by a rookie can lead to a major-label deal — preferring to stick with its system of developing talent gradually and at home.

This year brought an extended breakthrough amid hip-hop’s domination on streaming services: “Bad and Boujee” by Migos hit No. 1 and led to a smash album, “Culture”; while the human meme Lil Yachty established himself as a ubiquitous brand partner with a loyal youth following.

Now, with two well-oiled moneymakers who have refused to fizzle — Lil Yachty’s “Lil Boat 2” mixtape is scheduled for late December and Migos’s “Culture 2,” featuring the single “MotorSport,” is due out in January — Pee and Coach can shift focus to building sustainable careers for its “farm team” of young Atlanta rappers, including Lil Baby, Marlo and Mak Sauce, while simultaneously expanding its brand into television, film and more. (“Quality Control Presents: Control the Streets, Volume 1,” a compilation album featuring the label’s roster and guests like Nicki Minaj, Kodak Black and Cardi B, is scheduled for release on Dec. 8.)

Coach K and Pee are not your standard record industry players, but more akin to No Limit’s Master P and Cash Money’s Baby and Slim: savvy businessmen who shaped their labels with grass-roots hustling — updated for the internet age.

“Other labels have these A & Rs and C.E.O.s and chairmen, sitting in an office looking on the internet at numbers on SoundCloud and Spotify — they’re just into the analytics,” Pee, 38, said. “That’s part of it. But if I’m being honest — and it might sound ignorant — I don’t own a computer. I’m really out here in it.”

a massive hip-hop museum is coming to harlem next year

twiwIt’s official: a hip-hop museum is set to open in Harlem, the birthplace of the genre, early next year. The museum will be over twenty stories tall and include an arcade, a concert lounge, and a sports bar, plus a five star hotel right next to it. The large-scale project is estimated to bring in over $350 million to the Harlem area.

Announced in a press release today, the move will help cement hip-hop’s legacy and cultural influence. The museum will provide a space for the genre’s iconic artists to be recognized and celebrated. “The Museum will enshrine hip-hop pioneers and legends in wax and through displays (memorabilia and collectibles are presently being gathered and catalogued),” the release reads. Currently, only seven of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 295 inductees are hip-hop acts (Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Run-D.M.C., Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, N.W.A., and Tupac).

First emerging out of New York City in the 70s with commercially successful tracks like The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” hip-hop has become a cross-cultural, mainstream genre —80% of hip-hop listeners being white men. In 2015, Spotify found that hip-hop was the most played genre in the world on its streaming service.

movement: queen moves | sponsored by new balance

i-D travels the globe in search of athletic subcultures that are creating a movement in their city through sport. In the first episode of an all new 3-part series, MOVEMENT sponsored by New Balance, we follow Queen Moves, a dance collective based in New York defying the norms of the dance industry. Their mission is to create a community that supports women and to help dispel the insecurities that many women deal with in modern society. Their choreography are inspired by women’s personal stories – the themes of their routines ranging from political issues to heartbreak. From studio to the streets, watch them transform a personal story about identity loss and discovery into dance and perform it for all of New York. Their journeys remind us that those who are fearlessly independent and defy expectations can make a larger impact on the people around them and the cities they dwell in.

Beyoncé x Aaliyah – All In A Million Nights (Mashup)

Looks like Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau isn’t the only hookup making us dream of an alternate reality. This perfect matchmaking exercise comes courtesy of 19-year-old producer Amorphous, who has masterminded a collaboration 20 years in the making: a duet featuring Aaliyah and Beyoncé. “Remixed Beyoncé’s ‘All Night’ with Aaliyah’s ‘One In A Million,'” the Orlando teen tweeted of his decade-spanning mash-up. “Two friends who I really wish had the chance to work together.” Don’t we all.

It’s not impossible that Baby Girl and Queen Bey would have collided on their own accord at some point. On the 15th anniversary of Aaliyah’s tragic death in 2001, Beyoncé posted a throwback tribute to the R&B icon — a video of her pre-Jay self interviewing Aaliyah (and gushing about D’Angelo) at the 2000 MTV Movie Awards. Bey has also thanked Aaliyah for being an early supporter of Destiny’s Child. Amorphous, meanwhile, wasn’t born when “One in a Million” was released in 1996, but that’s just testament to the Missy Elliott and Timberland-assisted slow jam being well ahead of its time. Happy #TBT.

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!