Watch an amazing live performance by Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu Live Video

Get Erykah Badu’s music at iTunes | amazon

About Erykah Badu

She grew up listening to ’70s soul and ’80s hip-hop, but Erykah Badu drew more comparisons to Billie Holiday upon her breakout in 1997, after the release of her first album, Baduizm. The grooves and production on the album are bass-heavy R&B, but Badu’s languorous, occasionally tortured vocals and delicate phrasing immediately removed her from the legion of cookie-cutter female R&B singers. A singer/songwriter responsible for all … more>>> Apple Music

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Marc Anthony in Rosemont, Illinois at Allstate Arena on Sunday, December 03, 2017

Marc Anthony in Rosemont, Illinois at Allstate Arena on Sunday, December 03, 2017. – TICKETS

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Songs: Pop | Hip-hop | Rock |R&B/Soul | Dance | Country | Reggae | Latin | World Music

Albums: Pop | Hip-hop| Rock | R&B/Soul | Dance | Country | Reggae | Latin | World Music

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Watch – Julian Marley – Live in Argentina 2017 HD

Julian Marley Music

Julian Marley – Live in Argentina 2017 HD

Julian Marley Music – amazon | iTunes

Julian Marley
The son of reggae legend Bob Marley and Lucy Pounder, Julian Marley grew up away from his half-brothers Ziggy and Damian, having been raised in England with his mother. He still visited his father and Rita Marley in Jamaica, and by 1989 became involved in Ziggy and Stephen Marley’s production company Ghetto Youth International. Stephen executive produced Julian’s debut album Lion in the Morning, released by Tuff Gong in 1996. In 2003 he dropped A Time & Place, and then in 2009 he released Awake, which featured tracks with both Stephen and Damian. ~ David Jeffries | iTunes

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Lady Gaga upcoming concert Tampa, Fl

Lady Gaga upcoming concert Tampa, Fl => Tickets

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Songs: Pop | Hip-hop | Rock |R&B/Soul | Dance | Country | Reggae | Latin | World Music

Albums: Pop | Hip-hop| Rock | R&B/Soul | Dance | Country | Reggae | Latin | World Music

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Katy Perry upcoming concert tickets

Katy Perry Tickets

Katy Perry upcoming concert tickets



Katy Perry

Brandishing a wink, a coo, and cleavage with the aplomb of an assassin, Katy Perry created a distinctly new millennial pop persona: a Disney princess as imagined by Madonna. Flirty and bodacious, Perry sometimes skirted with taboos — she sneered on her first single “Ur So Gay” (punch line: “and you don’t even like boys”), she gasped “I Kissed a Girl” and she liked it — and that willingness to be controversial certainly put her on the pop culture radar, but the reason she stayed there was her knack for blending classic pop conventions with new trends. This talent reached its apex on 2010’s Teenage Dream, a blockbuster sophomore set that generated hits as diverse as its dreamily romantic title track, the cotton-candy summertime pop “California Gurls,” and steely EDM variant “Firework,” but she was canny enough to temper some of her risqué moves as her career progressed, transforming herself from the naughty cousin into an admirable big sister.

Perry’s success was so sudden in 2008 it seemed as if she was an overnight success when the opposite was true. The daughter of Pentecostal pastors, she was born Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson on October 25, 1984 in Santa Barbara, California. Raised by born-again parents, Katy was initially attracted to gospel music, sometimes sneaking pop music in to balance the inspirational tunes, but when she first started singing it was in the church. She picked up the guitar at the age of 13 and soon started writing songs, pursuing a music career in earnest when she was 15. Earning the attention of CCM artists Jennifer Knapp and Steve Thomas, Katy headed out to Nashville in 2001, where she cut demos and eventually secured a contract with Red Hill Records. Red Hill released Katy Hudson, a record targeted at a Christian/inspirational demographic, in February 2001, but the album didn’t garner much attention and was ultimately buried once the label was shuttered at the end of the year. In the wake of the album’s failure, Perry transitioned toward pop music, relocating to Los Angeles and working with producer Glen Ballard, the chief collaborator of Alanis Morissette, one of Katy’s biggest inspirations. As she abandoned Christian music, she also abandoned her surname Hudson, choosing to use her mother’s maiden name Perry instead.

Ballard signed Perry to his Island/Def Jam-distributed label Java in 2004 but once the producer’s imprint severed ties with its parent company, Perry and the album were dropped. Next up, Perry signed to Columbia Records, where she worked on a record for two years, collaborating with the likes of Max Martin, Dr. Luke, the Matrix, Desmond Child, and Butch Walker, but just as the album was reaching the finish line in 2006, she was dropped from Columbia. Perry continued to soldier forth, working as a backup singer for hire (she can be heard on Mick Jagger’s “Old Habits Die Hard” from the soundtrack to 2004’s Alfie), and recording a full album with the production team the Matrix, only to find that album also scrapped.

She finally saw a song called “Simple” released on the soundtrack to 2005’s The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but her next big break arrived in 2007, when Jason Flom signed her to Capitol. Once again, Perry headed into the studio to create a would-be blockbuster — Ballard, Dr. Luke, and Butch Walker all returned, with Dave Stewart, Greg Wells, and S*A*M* & Sluggo also showing up — but this time everything fell into place for the singer. First came the deliberately controversial “Ur So Gay,” released as a video and digital single, and it gained enough attention that by spring of 2008, Madonna was calling it her current “favorite song.” By that point, Katy’s first real single was scheduled for release: “I Kissed a Girl.” Also vaguely scandalous, “I Kissed a Girl” became a smash and headed all the way to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Her debut, One of the Boys, followed in June of 2008, and it was also a success, supported by the Top Ten hit “Hot N Cold,” along with “Thinking of You” and “Waking Up in Vegas.” One of the Boys was a big enough hit that the shelved album Perry had recorded with the Matrix back in 2004 saw a release in January 2009, but it didn’t do much.

Perry supported One of the Boys with media appearances and steady tours, including an appearance on the 2008 Warped Tour and her own headlining Hello Katy jaunt in 2009. A stopgap MTV Unplugged album appeared in November 2009, by which time Perry was hard at work on her second album, Teenage Dream. Preceded by the frothy single “California Gurls,” Teenage Dream was an international smash, generating no less than five consecutive number one singles in the U.S.: “California Gurls,” “Teenage Dream,” “Firework,” “E.T.” (which featured Kanye West), and “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.).” This success had few precedents: she was the first female artist ever to achieve such a run of number ones and the first artist since Michael Jackson to have so many singles from an individual album reach the pole position. In 2012, the album was expanded as Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection, which contained a new single in “Part of Me,” which also topped the charts. During this entire cycle, Perry was a constant pop culture presence, undergoing an international tour, appearing in cameos all over television, courting mild social media controversies, creating fragrances, and filming the documentary Katy Perry: Part of Me, which appeared in theaters in July 2012.

As the Teenage Dream juggernaut wrapped up, Perry turned her attention to recording her third album. Appearing in October 2013, Prism signaled a more mature Katy Perry, something that was apparent from its motivating first single, “Roar.” Prism received a lift from its third single, “Dark Horse,” which became her ninth number one (“Unconditionally” didn’t crack the Top Ten), and it was followed by “Birthday” and “This Is How We Do,” both released as she supported the album with an international tour. The highlight of that tour was her appearance at the halftime show for 2014’s Super Bowl XLIX, where she performed with Missy Elliott and Lenny Kravitz.

Two years later, Perry made her comeback with another major sporting event: the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. Her single “Rise” was honored as the official anthem for the games; it peaked at 11 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Perry next released “Chained to the Rhythm,” a single co-written with Sia Furler and co-produced by Max Martin, in February 2017. Another single — “Bon Appetit,” featuring Migos — appeared before the June release of Witness, an album that emphasized EDM-inspired dance-pop. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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Chance The Rapper Upcoming Concert Tickets

Chance the Rapper Tickets



About Chance the Rapper

Despite his evasion of stylistic pigeonholing and no label affiliation — not even a major-bankrolled vanity imprint — Chance the Rapper became one of the most significant artists to infiltrate the mainstream during the 2010s. Through several mixtapes, his output underwent a rapid evolution as he celebrated life and faith, mourned personal loss, and hit upon lighter everyday experiences with high-aptitude wordplay served with a variety of mostly genial styles. All the while, the productions that supported the verses and hooks included various regional contemporary rap production styles, and among other genres synthesized elements of gospel, jazz, and soul. Previously unthinkable achievements, such as winning a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album with a mixtape available only on streaming platforms, prompted headlines, yet they didn’t overshadow the creative accomplishments that vaulted him onto the top tier.

A native of Chicago’s West Chatham neighborhood, Chancelor Bennett made his mixtape debut in April 2012 with 10 Day, a wide-ranging effort recorded during — and partly inspired by — a high school suspension of the same duration. Featuring beats from Flying Lotus, Chuck Inglish, and Lex Luger, it was was preceded by advance notice from Complex and followed by praise from Forbes. One of Bennett’s early supporters was Childish Gambino, who took him on as opener for a U.S. tour. Increasing popularity didn’t prevent Bennett from visiting local schools, deepening a lasting humanitarian connection with his community. Second tape Acid Rap, Bennett’s first release to register on Billboard’s album charts, arrived in April 2013 and intensified efforts from major labels who wanted to sign the artist, only to be turned down. By the end of that year, Bennett had strengthened his commercial appeal with an appearance on Justin Bieber’s “Confident,” a single that nearly reached the Top 40 on its way to a gold RIAA certification. Months later, XXL magazine selected Bennett for their 2014 Freshman list, a group that included fellow Chicagoans Vic Mensa and Lil Durk.

From 2014 through the first four months of 2016, Bennett was heard primarily on collaborations with artists that included Madonna (“Iconic”), Action Bronson (“Baby Blue”), Snakehips (“All My Friends”), and Kanye West (“Ultralight Beam”). There was also extensive involvement in Surf, an album from Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment, and Free, a six-track mixtape co-billed with Lil B. The next proper release from Bennett, Coloring Book, arrived in May 2016. Enhanced by collaborators ranging from Ty Dolla $ign to Kirk Franklin, the album was well-received by critics and listeners, and peaked at number eight on the Billboard 200. Bennett’s 2016 output as a headliner and featured artist led to seven Grammy nominations. He took the award for Best New Artist, Coloring Book won Best Rap Album, and Best Rap Performance went to him, Lil Wayne, and 2 Chainz for “No Problem.” During the first half of 2017, Bennett lengthened his discography of featured appearances through tracks by brother Taylor Bennett and Brian Fresco, as well as DJ Khaled, whose “I’m the One” topped the Billboard Hot 100. ~ Andy Kellman

Chance the Rapper – iTunes

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Katy Perry – Roar (Live One Love Manchester)

katy perry live music

Katy Perry – Roar (Live One Love Manchester)

Katy Perry

Brandishing a wink, a coo, and cleavage with the aplomb of an assassin, Katy Perry created a distinctly new millennial pop persona: a Disney princess as imagined by Madonna. Flirty and bodacious, Perry sometimes skirted with taboos — she sneered on her first single “Ur So Gay” (punch line: “and you don’t even like boys”), she gasped “I Kissed a Girl” and she liked it — and that willingness to be controversial certainly put her on the pop culture radar, but the reason she stayed there was her knack for blending classic pop conventions with new trends. This talent reached its apex on 2010’s Teenage Dream, a blockbuster sophomore set that generated hits as diverse as its dreamily romantic title track, the cotton-candy summertime pop “California Gurls,” and steely EDM variant “Firework,” but she was canny enough to temper some of her risqué moves as her career progressed, transforming herself from the naughty cousin into an admirable big sister.

Perry’s success was so sudden in 2008 it seemed as if she was an overnight success when the opposite was true. The daughter of Pentecostal pastors, she was born Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson on October 25, 1984 in Santa Barbara, California. Raised by born-again parents, Katy was initially attracted to gospel music, sometimes sneaking pop music in to balance the inspirational tunes, but when she first started singing it was in the church. She picked up the guitar at the age of 13 and soon started writing songs, pursuing a music career in earnest when she was 15. Earning the attention of CCM artists Jennifer Knapp and Steve Thomas, Katy headed out to Nashville in 2001, where she cut demos and eventually secured a contract with Red Hill Records. Red Hill released Katy Hudson, a record targeted at a Christian/inspirational demographic, in February 2001, but the album didn’t garner much attention and was ultimately buried once the label was shuttered at the end of the year. In the wake of the album’s failure, Perry transitioned toward pop music, relocating to Los Angeles and working with producer Glen Ballard, the chief collaborator of Alanis Morissette, one of Katy’s biggest inspirations. As she abandoned Christian music, she also abandoned her surname Hudson, choosing to use her mother’s maiden name Perry instead.

Ballard signed Perry to his Island/Def Jam-distributed label Java in 2004 but once the producer’s imprint severed ties with its parent company, Perry and the album were dropped. Next up, Perry signed to Columbia Records, where she worked on a record for two years, collaborating with the likes of Max Martin, Dr. Luke, the Matrix, Desmond Child, and Butch Walker, but just as the album was reaching the finish line in 2006, she was dropped from Columbia. Perry continued to soldier forth, working as a backup singer for hire (she can be heard on Mick Jagger’s “Old Habits Die Hard” from the soundtrack to 2004’s Alfie), and recording a full album with the production team the Matrix, only to find that album also scrapped.

She finally saw a song called “Simple” released on the soundtrack to 2005’s The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but her next big break arrived in 2007, when Jason Flom signed her to Capitol. Once again, Perry headed into the studio to create a would-be blockbuster — Ballard, Dr. Luke, and Butch Walker all returned, with Dave Stewart, Greg Wells, and S*A*M* & Sluggo also showing up — but this time everything fell into place for the singer. First came the deliberately controversial “Ur So Gay,” released as a video and digital single, and it gained enough attention that by spring of 2008, Madonna was calling it her current “favorite song.” By that point, Katy’s first real single was scheduled for release: “I Kissed a Girl.” Also vaguely scandalous, “I Kissed a Girl” became a smash and headed all the way to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Her debut, One of the Boys, followed in June of 2008, and it was also a success, supported by the Top Ten hit “Hot N Cold,” along with “Thinking of You” and “Waking Up in Vegas.” One of the Boys was a big enough hit that the shelved album Perry had recorded with the Matrix back in 2004 saw a release in January 2009, but it didn’t do much.

Perry supported One of the Boys with media appearances and steady tours, including an appearance on the 2008 Warped Tour and her own headlining Hello Katy jaunt in 2009. A stopgap MTV Unplugged album appeared in November 2009, by which time Perry was hard at work on her second album, Teenage Dream. Preceded by the frothy single “California Gurls,” Teenage Dream was an international smash, generating no less than five consecutive number one singles in the U.S.: “California Gurls,” “Teenage Dream,” “Firework,” “E.T.” (which featured Kanye West), and “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.).” This success had few precedents: she was the first female artist ever to achieve such a run of number ones and the first artist since Michael Jackson to have so many singles from an individual album reach the pole position. In 2012, the album was expanded as Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection, which contained a new single in “Part of Me,” which also topped the charts. During this entire cycle, Perry was a constant pop culture presence, undergoing an international tour, appearing in cameos all over television, courting mild social media controversies, creating fragrances, and filming the documentary Katy Perry: Part of Me, which appeared in theaters in July 2012.

As the Teenage Dream juggernaut wrapped up, Perry turned her attention to recording her third album. Appearing in October 2013, Prism signaled a more mature Katy Perry, something that was apparent from its motivating first single, “Roar.” Prism received a lift from its third single, “Dark Horse,” which became her ninth number one (“Unconditionally” didn’t crack the Top Ten), and it was followed by “Birthday” and “This Is How We Do,” both released as she supported the album with an international tour. The highlight of that tour was her appearance at the halftime show for 2014’s Super Bowl XLIX, where she performed with Missy Elliott and Lenny Kravitz.

Two years later, Perry made her comeback with another major sporting event: the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. Her single “Rise” was honored as the official anthem for the games; it peaked at 11 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Perry next released “Chained to the Rhythm,” a single co-written with Sia Furler and co-produced by Max Martin, in February 2017. Another single — “Bon Appetit,” featuring Migos — appeared before the June release of Witness, an album that emphasized EDM-inspired dance-pop. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

– iTunes

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Future – Mask Off (Jimmy Kimmel Live!)

Future - Mask Off - live

Future – Mask Off (Jimmy Kimmel Live!)

Known for a uniquely fluid and melodic yet mumbling vocal style, rapper Future busted out of Atlanta at the dawn of the 2010s with a flurry of mixtapes, high-charting albums, certified platinum singles such as “Turn On the Lights” and “Low Life,” and contributions to several other hits as a featured artist. Born Nayvadius Wilburn, he grew up in his city’s Zone 6 section with roots in the ATL’s Dungeon Family, who dubbed him “the Future.” Mentored by cousin and fellow Dungeon Family member Rico Wade of the revered Organized Noize, Future released his first mixtapes in 2010 and early 2011, which left him poised for a mainstream breakthrough.

A few months after the January 2011 release of his third mixtape, Future was featured on YC’s “Racks,” a single that bubbled up to the Top Ten of Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Shortly thereafter, the rapper signed with major-label Epic, and “Tony Montana,” his proper debut single, subsequently peaked just outside the Top 20. Its parent album, Pluto, landed the following April and debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, supported by the number two R&B/hip-hop hit “Turn On the Lights,” which earned Future his first RIAA platinum certification. No new studio albums were offered in 2013, but Future’s year was productive as a guest artist. He appeared on four Top Ten R&B/hip-hop hits that went either gold or platinum: Lil Wayne’s “Love Me,” Ace Hood’s “Bugatti,” Rich Gang’s “Tapout,” and Rocko’s “U.O.E.N.O.” He appeared on a remix of “Body Party” by Ciara, who became his fiancée that October.

Future’s second full-length album, Honest, was issued in April 2014. It earned both critical acclaim and popular success and peaked at number two. Two singles from the album, “Move That Dope” (featuring Pharrell, Pusha T, and Casino) and “I Won” (co-produced by frequent collaborator Metro Boomin and featuring Kanye West), went gold. A few months after the album’s release, Future and Ciara’s split was made public. Late 2014 and early 2015 brought three mixtapes and another hit single, “F**k Up Some Commas.” They primed Future fans for third album DS2, which debuted at number one in July 2015. Only two months later, What a Time to Be Alive, a mixtape collaboration with Drake, reached the same spot.

In early 2016, Future dropped Evol, which arrived unannounced but still debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. Its “Low Life,” a collaboration with the Weeknd, quickly went double platinum. In November of that year, Future issued another Drake-assisted hit, “Used to This,” from his Beast Mode 16 mixtape. The roll continued through 2017 with a pair of full-lengths, Future and HNDRXX, the latter of which featured appearances from the Weeknd and Rihanna. Issued during consecutive weeks that February, the albums kept Future’s streak of number ones intact. ~ David Jeffries & Andy Kellman, Rovi

iTunes

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Rihanna – Bitch Better Have My Money – Live

Rihanna Watch

About Rihanna

Rihanna established her dance-pop credentials in summer 2005 with her debut smash hit, “Pon de Replay,” and continued to demonstrate hit potential in subsequent years (“S.O.S.” in 2006; “Umbrella” in 2007; “Disturbia” in 2008). However, it was the singer’s third album, Good Girl Gone Bad, that made her a full-fledged international pop star with a regular presence atop the charts. Born Robyn Rihanna Fenty on February 20, 1988, in Saint Michael, Barbados, she exhibited a certain star quality as a young child, often winning beauty and talent contests. Because she lived on the fairly remote island of Barbados in the West Indies, however, she never foresaw the sort of stardom she would later attain.

That stardom came courtesy of a fateful meeting with Evan Rogers. The New Yorker was vacationing in Barbados with his wife, a native of the island, when he was introduced to Rihanna. Rogers had spent years producing pop hits for such superstars as *NSYNC, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, and Rod Stewart, and he offered the talented Rihanna a chance to record. Along with Rogers’ production partner, Carl Sturken (the other half of Syndicated Rhythm Productions), Rihanna recorded several demos that sparked the interest of the Carter Administration — that is, the newly appointed Def Jam president Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter. This led to an audition, and Rihanna both received and accepted an on-the-spot offer to sign with Def Jam.

Come summer 2005, Def Jam rolled out “Pon de Replay,” the lively leadoff single from Music of the Sun. Produced almost entirely by Rogers and Sturken, the song synthesized Caribbean rhythms with urban-pop songwriting. “Pon de Replay” caught fire almost immediately, climbing all the way to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and contesting that summer’s reign of Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together” atop the chart. The debut album spawned one other hit, “If It’s Lovin’ That You Want,” which also broke the Top 40. Rihanna’s follow-up effort, A Girl Like Me, saw even greater success and spawned three sizable singles: a chart-topper (“S.O.S.”) and two Top Ten hits (“Unfaithful,” “Break It Off”).

Rihanna’s third album, 2007’s Good Girl Gone Bad, continued her success while signaling a change of direction. Good Girl Gone Bad was a first-rate dance-pop album, stacked with several chart-topping singles and boasting collaborations with Jay-Z, Ne-Yo, Timbaland, and StarGate. The lead single, “Umbrella,” shot to number one, as did “Take a Bow” and “Disturbia.” Its success turned Rihanna into one of the planet’s biggest pop stars.

Rated R was released in 2009 during the wake of a physical altercation with romantic interest Chris Brown, who pleaded guilty to felony assault. The album’s lead single, “Russian Roulette” — written with Ne-Yo — was one of the year’s most controversial singles, and it set the tone for the singer’s new, dark direction. Rated R peaked within the Top Five of the Billboard 200, while another one of its singles, “Rude Boy,” topped the Hot 100. Rated R: Remixed was released in the spring of 2010 and featured ten tracks from the album revamped for the dancefloor by Chew Fu.

Loud, Rihanna’s fifth studio album, followed in November and was led by the StarGate-produced “Only Girl (In the World).” That song, as well as the follow-up singles “What’s My Name?” and “S&M,” all topped the Billboard Hot 100. In November 2011, shortly after Loud’s “Cheers (Drink to That)” entered the Top Ten, the singer released Talk That Talk. The single “We Found Love” with Calvin Harris earned the top spot in the Hot 100, and the album peaked at number three.

Unapologetic, Rihanna’s seventh studio album, featured some of her brashest material and was led by “Diamonds” — her 18th Top Ten single. Unapologetic became her first number one album, and eventually produced further Top Ten hits in “Stay” and “Jump.” By the fall of 2013, another record had fallen: her feature on Eminem’s “The Monster” helped it hit number one on the pop charts, tying her with Michael Jackson for the most chart-toppers in Billboard chart history. The song won a Grammy Award in the category of Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. In early 2015, Rihanna released “FourFiveSeconds,” a stripped-down single featuring the unlikely duo of Kanye West and Paul McCartney. It topped the Hot 100 and was followed by the cruder “Bitch Better Have My Money,” which led the way to Anti the following January. ~ Jason Birchmeier

| iTunes

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Kanye West – Stronger (Live from The Joint)

Kanye West - Stronger (Live from The Joint)

Kanye West – Stronger – (Live from The Joint)

Kanye West

In the span of three short years, Kanye West went from hip-hop beatmaker to worldwide hitmaker, as his stellar production work for Jay-Z led to a major-label recording contract and, ultimately, a wildly successful solo career. West paired his beats with tongue-twisting raps and a self-assured, flamboyant personality. His dapper fashion sense set him apart from many of his rap peers, and his confidence often came across as boastful or even egotistical, albeit amusingly so. This flamboyance, of course, made for good press, something that West enjoyed in spades during his sudden rise to celebrity status. He was a media darling, appearing and performing at countless awards shows (and winning at them, too), delivering theatrical videos to MTV, and mouthing off about whatever happened to cross his mind. He frequently spoke out against the rampant homophobia evident in much rap music, posed for the cover of Rolling Stone as Jesus Christ, and even claimed during a televised Hurricane Katrina fundraiser that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” West courted controversy, no question about it, but his steady presence in the celebrity limelight couldn’t eclipse his musical talent. His production abilities seemed boundless during his initial surge of activity, as he not only racked up impressive hits for himself (including “Jesus Walks” and “Gold Digger”), but also collaborated on smash hits with the likes of Jay-Z and Ludacris. As his career progressed throughout the early 21st century, West shattered certain stereotypes about rappers, becoming a superstar on his own terms without adapting his appearance, his rhetoric, or his music to fit any one musical mold.

Coming out of left field (i.e., Chicago, a city rarely praised for its hip-hop exports), West was an unlikely sensation and more than once defied adversity. Like so many others who were initially inspired by Run-D.M.C., he began as just another aspiring rapper with a boundless passion for hip-hop, albeit a rapper with a Midas touch when it came to beatmaking. Indeed, it was his beatmaking prowess that got his foot in the industry door. Though he did quite a bit of noteworthy production work during the late ’90s (Jermaine Dupri, Foxy Brown, Mase, Goodie Mob), it was West’s work for Roc-a-Fella at the dawn of the new millennium that took his career to the next level. Alongside fellow fresh talent Just Blaze, West became one of the Roc’s go-to producers, consistently delivering hot tracks to album after album. His star turn came on Jay-Z’s classic Blueprint (2001) with album standouts “Takeover” and “Izzo (H.O.V.A.).” Both songs showcased West’s signature beatmaking style of the time, which was largely sample-based; in these cases, the former track appropriated snippets of the Doors’ “Five to One,” while the latter sampled the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.”

More high-profile productions followed, and before long word spread that West was going to release an album of his own, on which he planned to rap as well as produce. Unfortunately, that album was a long time coming, pushed back and then pushed back again. It didn’t help that West was in a tragic car accident in October 2002 that almost cost him his life. He capitalized on the traumatic experience by using it as the inspiration for “Through the Wire” (and its corresponding video), which would later become the lead single for his debut album, 2004’s The College Dropout. As the album was continually delayed, West continued to create big hits for the likes of Talib Kweli (“Get By”), Ludacris (“Stand Up”), Jay-Z (“’03 Bonnie & Clyde”), and Alicia Keys (“You Don’t Know My Name”). Then, just as “Through the Wire” was breaking big-time at the tail end of 2003, another West song caught fire, a collaboration with Twista and comedian/actor Jamie Foxx called “Slow Jamz,” which gave the rapper/producer two simultaneously ubiquitous singles and a much-anticipated debut album. As with so many of West’s songs, the singles were driven by somewhat recognizable sample-based hooks: Chaka Khan’s “Through the Fire” in the case of “Through the Wire,” and Luther Vandross’ “A House Is Not a Home” in the case of “Slow Jamz.”

In the wake of his breakout success, West earned a whopping ten nominations at the 47th annual Grammy Awards, held in early 2005. The College Dropout won the Best Rap Album award, “Jesus Walks” won Best Rap Song, and a songwriting credit on “You Don’t Know My Name” for Best R&B Song award was shared with Alicia Keys and Harold Lilly. Later that year, West released his second solo album, Late Registration, which spawned a series of hit singles (“Diamonds in Sierra Leone,” “Gold Digger,” “Heard ‘Em Say,” “Touch the Sky”). The album topped the charts, as did the “Gold Digger” single, and Late Registration eventually won a Grammy for Rap Album of the Year. West’s production work continued more or less unabated during this time; particularly noteworthy were hits for Twista (“Overnight Celebrity”), Janet Jackson (“I Want You”), Brandy (“Talk About Our Love”), the Game (“Dreams”), Common (“Go!”), and Keyshia Cole (“I Changed My Mind”). West also founded his own label, GOOD Music (i.e., “Getting Out Our Dreams”), in conjunction with Sony BMG. The label’s inaugural release was John Legend’s Get Lifted (2004), followed one year later by Common’s Be. In addition to all of his studio work, West also toured internationally in support of Late Registration and released Late Orchestration: Live at Abbey Road Studios (2006) in commemoration.

After retreating from the spotlight for some time, West returned to the forefront of the music world in 2007 with a series of album releases. Consequence’s Don’t Quit Your Day Job and Common’s Finding Forever, both released by GOOD, were chiefly produced by West; the latter proved to be particularly popular, topping the album chart upon its release in July. And then there was West’s third solo album, Graduation, which was promoted well in advance of its September 11 release (a memorable date that pitted Kanye against 50 Cent, who in one interview swore he would quit music if his own album, Curtis, wasn’t the top-seller). A pair of singles — “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” and “Stronger,” the latter an interpolation of Daft Punk’s 2001 single “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” — led the promotional push. It became his third consecutive chart-topping album, and its success culminated in eight Grammy nominations. West was the victor in four of the categories, and he performed two songs during the ceremony, including Late Registration’s “Hey Mama,” chosen in honor of his recently deceased mother. That loss, compounded by a breakup with his fiancée, informed 2008’s 808s & Heartbreak, a major change of pace that saw West singing most of his emotionally pained lyrics with the assistance of Auto-Tune. The album went platinum.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, most of which was recorded in Hawaii and involved guest vocal spots from the likes of Nicki Minaj, Kid Cudi, Rick Ross, and the RZA, was released in November 2010. It was preceded by the bombastic, King Crimson-sampling single “Power.” A sprawling and audacious album, MBDTF debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and also went platinum. While the album was still hot, West recorded the aggressive and boast-heavy Watch the Throne with Jay-Z and numerous producers and songwriters. Billed as a set by the Throne, it was released in August 2011 and entered the Billboard Top 200 chart at number one. In September 2012, he released the GOOD Music collaboration album Cruel Summer, which featured artists such as Big Sean, Pusha T, and Lifted. Four singles (“Mercy,” “Cold,” “New Flow,” and “Clique”) were released as promotion for the record.

Toward the end of 2012 there were rumblings from acclaimed producers that a new album would emerge soon. These murmurs were soon confirmed when West himself announced that he was working on his sixth album with the likes of Daft Punk, King L., Justin Vernon, Rick Rubin, Chief Keef, and many more contributing. As one of the most eagerly anticipated albums of 2013, Yeezus was released to rapturous reviews from critics. West touched upon controversial and sensitive topics and delivered an astonishing and bold record, described as his most confrontational and bravest album to date. Despite leaking four days early upon its release, Yeezus sold almost 327,000 copies during its first week and the album’s first single, “Black Skinhead,” was certified gold by mid-October. The year 2013 also proved to be a personal milestone for West, as he became a father for the first time, with partner Kim Kardashian giving birth to a baby girl in June of that year. In 2014, he announced a new album and released “Only One” featuring Paul McCartney, which, like his 2015 single “FourFiveSeconds” with McCartney and Rihanna, remained a non-LP release. In 2015, he announced another, different album, titled So Help Me God, which later turned to SWISH, then Waves, and finally T.L.O.P. The album was released in 2016 and featured the single “No More Parties in L.A.,” with guest Kendrick Lamar and production from Madlib. ~ Jason Birchmeier & Andy Kellman – iTunes

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