Tag Archives: Nicki Minaj

2016 Grammy Predictions

It’s that time of year again.  The nominees for the 58th Grammys were announced this Monday, which opened up the discussion on which artist had the best album/song and why they should win in their respective categories.  At some point or another you begin to hear the case for every nominee, which makes speculation a lot of fun.  With that being said, I am going to add my two cents into the fray on who I think will take away the awards music’s biggest night.

2016 grammys kendrick
via Urban Islandz

The Grammy nominations were almost dominated by Kendrick Lamar, which was quite a surprise considering the years that other artists have had.  However, Kendrick Lamar more than deserves these awards and I actually think he will take home a good haul on Feb. 15.  The two other artists that gained a good number of nods are Taylor Swift and The Weeknd.  No surprise there.  One glaring omission is Adele but hey, that’s just a by-product of how the Grammys work.  Just wait till next year, where she will most likely top the nominations list and take home a car full of awards.

Let’s get into the four major fields…

*Predicted winners denoted with ‘(Winner)’


Record Of The Year

“Really Love” — D’Angelo And The Vanguard

“Uptown Funk” — Mark Ronson Featuring Bruno Mars (Winner)

“Thinking Out Loud” — Ed Sheeran

“Blank Space” — Taylor Swift

“Can’t Feel My Face” — The Weeknd

2016 grammys uptown funk
via MCM

There’s a lot of pretty great songs here, but “Uptown Funk” is almost a sure-fire lock.  It was the song that took the radio by storm and dominated the airwaves for most of the summer.  At this point it has been over played, but maybe there’s a reason for that?


Album Of The Year

Sound & Color — Alabama Shakes

To Pimp A Butterfly — Kendrick Lamar

Traveller — Chris Stapleton

1989 — Taylor Swift (Winner)

Beauty Behind The Madness — The Weeknd

2016 grammys 1989

This is a tough category.  All of these albums are pretty great and have wide range in terms of style and sound.  My personal favorite album of the year is To Pimp A Butterfly but it’s hard to deny the kind of year that Taylor Swift has had.  Swift pretty much stole the summer with her massive 1989 tour and her album of the same name is just as great.  Her year is going to be topped off in the best way possible, a Grammy.


Song Of The Year

“Alright” — Kendrick Duckworth, Mark Anthony Spears & Pharrell Williams, songwriters (Kendrick Lamar)

“Blank Space” — Max Martin, Shellback & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Taylor Swift)

“Girl Crush” — Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna & Liz Rose, songwriters (Little Big Town)

“See You Again” — Andrew Cedar, Justin Franks, Charles Puth & Cameron Thomaz, songwriters (Wiz Khalifa Featuring Charlie Puth) (Winner)

“Thinking Out Loud” — Ed Sheeran & Amy Wadge, songwriters (Ed Sheeran)

2016 grammys see you again
via Billboard

Once again, this is another category that made me stop and really think.  “See You Again” serves as the theme song (of sorts) for Fast and Furious 7, paying homage to the late Paul Walker who died due to a fatal car accident.  Wiz Khalifa and the super talented Charlie Puth have given fans what they wanted and more.  You don’t even have to be a Fast and Furious fan to have an appreciation for their song.


Best New Artist

Courtney Barnett

James Bay

Sam Hunt

Tori Kelly

Meghan Trainor (Winner)

2016 grammys meghan trainor
via VIP Seats

The Best New Artist category is always a slightly entertaining category for me.  Because of the Grammys and their weird timing schedule, by the time the nominations are announced, the nominees for this award are not really “new” anymore.  When looking at these artists, Meghan Trainor stood out to me the most.  Title was a great debut album and she is generally just a likable person.  I think the voters will agree. However, Tori Kelly is a close second.

As for some of the other categories…


Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

“Ship To Wreck” by Florence & The Machine

“Sugar” by Maroon 5

“Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson Featuring Bruno Mars (Winner)

“Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift Featuring Kendrick Lamar

“See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa Featuring Charlie Puth


Best Dance Recording

“We’re All We Need” by Above & Beyond Featuring Zoë Johnston

“Go” by the Chemical Brothers

“Never Catch Me” by Flying Lotus Featuring Kendrick Lamar

“Runaway (U & I)” by Galantis (Winner)

“Where Are Ü Now” by Skrillex And Diplo With Justin Bieber


Best Rock Performance

“Don’t Wanna Fight” by Alabama Shakes

“What Kind Of Man” by Florence & The Machine

“Something From Nothing” by Foo Fighters (Winner)

“Ex’s & Oh’s” by Elle King

“Moaning Lisa Smile” by Wolf Alice


Best Alternative Music Album

Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes (Winner)

Vulnicura by Björk

The Waterfall by My Morning Jacket

Currents by Tame Impala

Star Wars by Wilco


Best Rap Album

2014 Forest Hills Drive by J. Cole

Compton by Dr. Dre

If Youre Reading This Its Too Late by Drake

To Pimp A Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar (Winner)

The Pinkprint by Nicki Minaj


Best Urban Contemporary Album

Ego Death by the Internet

You Should Be Here by Kehlani

Blood by Lianne La Havas

Wildheart by Miguel

Beauty Behind The Madness by The Weeknd (Winner)


Best Country Album

Montevallo by Sam Hunt

Pain Killer by Little Big Town

The Blade by Ashley Monroe

Pageant Material by Kacey Musgraves

Traveller by Chris Stapleton (Winner)


The best part about making these kinds of predictions is that they will most likely be totally wrong and someone you would never have expected will win the awards.  There was a lot of tough categories this year so I could see some of them going either way.  (Yeah, looking at the Best Rap Album was a doozy)  It’s going to be a fun night and I am pretty confident in one prediction: there’s going to be a lot of happy fans and mad fans.

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The VMAs 2015 Recap

via People
via People

MTV was hyping this year’s MTV Video Music Awards to be super crazy and off the rails.  There was even talk about the program being put on a slight delay.  Why?  Well, because Miley Cyrus was hosting them and let’s just say she knows a thing or two about crazy.  All you have to do is take a quick look at her Instagram to see why.  Ever since she left her squeaky clean Hannah Montana image behind her, she has redefined what it means to be an attention grabber.  With her hosting the VMAs, things were probably going to get weird…except they didn’t.  It was actually a relatively tame showing from Miley, with the emphasis being put on the multitude of performances.

Nicki Minaj started off the night with a raucous performance of “Trini Dem Girls,” complete with tribal dancing and vaginal slapping, pretty much par for the course when it comes to a Nicki Minaj performance.  She then moved on to “The Night Is Still Young,” where the crowd was met with a surprise when Taylor Swift came out to join her on stage.  If you didn’t know already, the two had some beef brewing between them, but if this performance meant anything, the beef between them had finally been squashed.  What a way to start the show.

With one celebrity squabble crushed another one was built up…by Nicki Minaj of course.  After being presented the award for Best Hip-Hop Video, Nicki Minaj proceeded to call out Miley Cyrus who was standing on the other side of the stage.  Miley Cyrus was talking negatively about her in an interview a while back and Nicki thought the bright stage of the VMAs would be the best place to settle things.  Things didn’t really settle however, but only got worse, leaving us with a pretty awkward moment.

via Hugo Gloss
via Hugo Gloss

Now that we’re on the topic of Miley Cyrus, let’s talk about her hosting performance shall we?  She was pretty tame in terms of the things she did.  She started with a brief little monologue talking about how MTV will probably go back to having no hosts by the time the night is over.  The monologue had some other jokes here and there that pretty much fell completely flat.  Miley Cyrus is better when she does her own thing, without a script put in front of her.  She had numerous wardrobe changes, some more interesting than others, as the night went on.  There were also a number of sketches that were sprinkled in between.  Aside from an “accidental” nip slip towards the end and a head scratching performance at the end, Miley wasn’t really the Miley that most were probably expecting.  In fact, she kind of left me disappointed.  She got progressively more annoying as the night went on and definitely less funny as well.  Perhaps the most surprising thing coming from her end was a surprise announcement of a free album, “Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz.”  Pretty bold move…

via Billboard
via Billboard

As far as other performances go, there wasn’t really any “bad” performances.  Macklemore and Ryan Lewis graced the outdoor stage outside the theater with a performance of their newest single “Downtown.”  The Weeknd gave a pretty solid performance of “Can’t Feel My Face,” complete with flames galore.  Twenty One Pilots and A$AP Rocky might have given us the most interesting and different performance of the night with a mash up of their songs.  I didn’t know what to expect from it at first, but I liked it.  Demi Lovato took the outdoor stage with a fun performance of “Cool for the Summer” with surprise guest Iggy Azalea…who no one particularly asked for.  There was also a cool performance from Pharrell Williams of his newest song “Freedom” that took place on the outdoor stage as well.  I thought the stage outside the Orpheum Theater in the streets of Los Angeles was a pretty cool setting in my opinion.

via Zimbio
via Zimbio

Justin Bieber made his return to the VMA stage after a five year hiatus.  That span of five years has been pretty tough for the young rascal and he looked like a changed man last night.  He gave an electric performance of “Where Are U Now,” followed by his newest song “What Do You Mean” which ended with Bieber literally flying in the sky performing some acrobatics.  After making his landing safe and sound, the artist was in tears…for no apparent reason.  Perhaps it was because he felt good to finally be back on stage again after all he has been through…or maybe it was the straps that might have rubbed him the wrong way…your guess is as good as mine.

via ET Online
via ET Online

As far as the televised awards go, Taylor Swift might have to be considered the big winner.  She took home the Best Female Video award for “Blank Space” and Video of the Year award for “Bad Blood,” among others.  Artist to Watch was given to Fetty Wap, most notably for his hit “Trap Queen.”  Best Male Video was given to Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars for their infectious jam “Uptown Funk.”  Finally, the award for Best Video with A Social Message went to Big Sean, Kanye West, and John Legend for “One Man Can Change the World.”  Big Sean probably gave the acceptance speech of the night, dedicating it to his late Grandma who was a war pilot.  It was a well-deserved award for Sean.

via Zimbio
via Zimbio

Let’s be serious though, perhaps the most talked about and most important portion of the night was the presentation of the Video Vanguard Award, which was presented to Kanye West.  It was only fitting that Taylor Swift would be the one to present Kanye his award because of their past VMA history.  Anyway, Kanye soon took the stage and just stood there for a good minute, soaking it all up.  The crowd was going crazy, shouting “Yeezy” chants left and right.  Kanye finally took the mic and started rambling on and on about a whole variety of different things ranging from his daughter to groceries to celebrity beef to award show and the culture that surround them.  I have to admit, I kind of lost him a couple of times, but it was still fascinating to watch.  He ended the big speech with a joke about running for president in 2020 before dropping the mic and walking off stage.  It was a very Kanye thing to do, setting the social media sphere in flames.

via Billboard
via Billboard

Even though the show could have done just fine without the “crazy” antics and mischief from Miley, 2015’s VMAs still had its fair share of fun and talk-worthy moments.  The emphasis was on the performances, which only makes sense in this day and age. No one watches award shows for the awards anymore.  It’s all about which performance topped them all, and this year’s VMAs gave us a whole lot of performances to think about.  I struggle to pick which one was my favorite because they were all equally great and exciting. The VMAs continue to provide a fun award show experience that tops most award shows on TV these days.  I hope this trend continues on…but let’s have Miley sit out next time please?


Here’s the full list of winners from the night…VMAs 2015 8

Video of the Year: Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar – “Bad Blood”

Best Male Video: Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars – “Uptown Funk”

Best Female Video: Taylor Swift – “Blank Space”

Artist to Watch: Fetty Wap – “Trap Queen”

Best Pop Video: Taylor Swift – “Blank Space”

Best Hip-Hop Video: Nicki Minaj – “Anaconda”

Best Rock Video: Fall Out Boy – “Uma Thurman”

Best Video With A Social Message: Big Sean feat. Kanye West and John Legend – “One Man Can Change The World”

Song of the Summer: 5 Seconds of Summer – “She’s Kinda Hot”

2014 Album of the Year

It’s been a pretty good year for music.  I would have to argue that last year was probably better in terms of releases, but 2014 started to get much stronger as the year went on, especially as it was coming to a close.  There were some great albums (many that made it to the top of the list) that came out pretty late into the year.  I should  preface this by saying that my musical tastes lie in the hip-hop and pop realm.  With that being said, there were some great albums that came out, but I just wasn’t in to them.  Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran had a great year (thus their Grammy nominations).

Now, here are my top ten albums that came out this year…

10. While (1<2) – Deadmau5

2014 album of the year whileDeadmau5 has always been an innovator when it comes to electronic music.  All you have to do is follow him on social media to figure that out.  While (1<2) is no different when it comes to innovation.  There is a wide range of sounds on this one and I couldn’t stop myself from tapping to the beat on pretty much all of them.  If you are an electronic music fan, you should definitely give one of the best electronic albums of the year a listen…but I probably didn’t have to tell you that.


9. Mastermind – Rick Ross

2014 album of the year mastermindIt’s been a busy year for Rick Ross, the only artist on this list to release to albums in one year.  His second album, Hood Billionaire, was a little iffy and could have used a little more time, but I’m here to talk about his superior album of the two, Mastermind.  The album contained hits like “War Ready” featuring Jeezy and “Vein” featuring The Weeknd.  Not to mention Rick Ross teamed up with Jay Z with the song “The Devil Is A Lie”, which received a lot of critical praise.  Rick Ross is a powerhouse, and Mastermind displayed this fact brilliantly.


8. Broke With Expensive Taste – Azealia Banks

2014 album of the year brokeThis was an album that flew quietly under a lot of people’s radars.  After a long wait, Azealia Banks released Broke With Expensive Taste to quite a lot of critical praise.  Azealia Banks isn’t really a household name, but she deserves to be.  The album contained a lot of different and unique sounds that made it different from the rest.  With songs like “Chasing Time” and “Desperado”, I couldn’t get the album out of my head.  This album was probably my surprise of the year.  I wasn’t expecting much from it, but it delivered.


7. My Everything – Ariana Grande

2014 album of the year everythingAriana Grande has had a big year, and part of it was because of her latest release My Everything.  It’s hard to argue with the talent that the young singer has.  Her vocal range is enormous and it’s possible that she could become the next Mariah Carey.  The album contained hits like the summer sensation “Problem”, the energetic “Break Free” and the deep, yet sensual “Love Me Harder” featuring the talented The Weeknd.  There is a tone of great songs on the album, making it one of my top pop albums of the year.  (Sorry Taylor Swift)


6. The Pinkprint – Nicki Minaj

2014 album of the year pinkprintNicki Minaj is slowly turning into a feminine hip-hop powerhouse.  She also had a fantastic year, topped by the release of The Pinkprint, which features the strongest Nicki Minaj yet.  The album contains so many different genres, all in one complete package.  There’s some rap that hearkens back to her earlier days, pop, and even some R&B.  Some of my favorites included “Pills N Potions”, “The Crying Game”, “Only”, “Feeling Myself”, and “The Night Is Still Young.”  Any Nicki Minaj fan should find something that they like on the album.


5. The Inevitable End – Royksopp

2014 album of the year inevitable endThis is another album that people might not have heard about when it was released back in November.  The Norwegian electronic duo Royksopp put out The Inevitable End with the plan to stop making music.  They might be taking a break, or they might be done for good.  Either way, I thought that the album was a fitting conclusion to their career.  You could tell that there was a sad tone throughout the album, but it also had some warm feelings as well.  They also collaborated with pop star Robyn for songs like “Do It Again” and “Monument”.  The album also ended with the simply titled “Thank You”, which was a strong finish.


4. The New Classic – Iggy Azalea

2014 album of the year new classicIggy Azalea took the hip-hop world by the horns.  Her first album The New Classic, contained a plethora of hits that propelled her to the top of her game.  “Work”, “Change Your Life”, “Fancy” and “Black Widow” were all songs that put her in the spotlight of the hip-hop industry.  She has also faced equal amounts of backlash and attacks from fellow rappers, but I thought that she has handled herself pretty well despite the things she has gone through.  The album was a strong first impression, and I can only imagine the type of hits she will come out with in the coming years.


3. Shady XV – Eminem & Shady Records

2014 album of the year shadyThe king of controversy is back again with the aptly named Shady XV.  Eminem has built his record label Shady Records into a formidalbe empire in the hip-hop industry.  The album came in two parts, the first being some of the new stuff from the record label, including songs like Eminem’s “Guts Over Fear” and the Detroit fight songs “Detroit Vs Everybody”.  The second part of the album went back in time, reviewing some of the classics that have come from the label.  There was a ton of stuff featured in the package, and it was hard to be disapointed with the final product.  Eminem continues to be one of the best rappers out there.


2. Blacc Hollywood – Wiz Khalifa

2014 album of the year hollywoodWiz Khalifa has had a tough year due to his break-up with long time wife Amber Rose.  However, when Wiz Khalifa goes and looks back on his year, Blacc Hollywood will probably make everything okay.  Wiz’s fifth studio album was supported to the top of the hip-hop charts with songs like “We Dem Boyz”, “KK”, and the pleasant sounding “Staying Out All Night.”  There was a lot more depth to the album than Wiz’s previous projects, making it just a joy to listen to.  Some people didn’t like it as much, but I thought there was a ton to like about the album.


1. 2014 Forest Hills Drive by J. Cole

2014 album of the year jcole

Finally, we have the recently released 2014 Forest Hills Drive, the third studio album by rapper J. Cole.  In my review, I stated that the album was more than just an album, but instead, a story.  J. Cole took us on a journey through his life, beginning in is childhood years and went till the current day J. Cole.  He had some revelations throughout the album and decided to act upon those revelations by the end.  It was amazing to see the progression of the rapper from being young, reckless, and famous to being the wise and talented artist that he is today.  J. Cole isn’t the household rapper that he should be.  If you are a fan of hip-hop at all, make sure to give his latest piece of work a listen, you wont regret it.  It’s fitting that the album has “2014” in it’s name, because it was by far my favorite of the year.

Review: The Pinkprint

the pinkprint coverThe Pinkprint (2014)

Nicki Minaj

Rap / Hip-Hop

Young Money / Cash Money / Republic Records


A lot of people have been proclaiming Nicki Minaj as one of the “queens” of the rap and pop industry.  It’s hard to deny the fact, given the amount of successes she has had this year.  She’s hosted award shows, released one of the songs of the summer, and continues to do more and more.  The Pinkprint, her third studio album, is going to be her closer for the year, her “pinkprint” on the year, per say.

the pinkprint 2

One of the things I enjoy most about the album is her trip back to her mixtape roots as a primarily rap artist.  Before she was known for her “dance-pop” sound, she was an up-and-coming rapper from the Young Money label.  On The Prinkprint, she leaves that “dance-pop” sound from Pink Friday and brings back her older sounds.

The album starts off with a pretty emotional track from Nicki, which is not to characteristic of the singer.  “All Things Go” is an open door to her love life, her family, as well as her abortion that she had to go through.  The song is then followed with “I Lied” and “The Crying Game”, which both showcase the vocal talent of Nicki as well as her emotional side.  At this point, I thought I was listening to a deep and emotional R&B album…until the next songs started to ramp up the energy.

“Get On Your Knees” featuring Ariana Grande was energetic, but nothing really special.  The song was then followed by “Feeling Myself”, which was actually one of my favorite songs from the album.  It features verses from both Nicki and Beyonce, who both come off as cocky, which is no surprise given the position they have in pop culture as of late.

2014 iHeartRadio Music Festival - Night 1 - Show

Other stand-out songs include “Only”, which was the banger featuring verses from Drake and Lil Wayne, and a hook by Chris Brown.  The thing that makes this song stand out is the things that the Young Money founders set straight on the track.  We also have “Trini Dem Girls”, which features a little help from Lunchmoney Lewis.  The song is probably one of the cooler sounding songs on the album, giving tribute to Nicki’s Trinidadian roots.

“The Night Is Still Young” is a pop-infused song which provides a lot of vivacity to the album.  “Pills N Potions”, one of the first singles that was released from the album, is another one of my favorites.  It’s a soft-spoken, yet powerful song that features a mesmerizing hook.

Your probably wondering why I’ve made it this far talking about The Pinkprint without mentioning “Anaconda”, arguably her most popular song of the album.  Even though it is her most popular song, doesn’t mean it’s her best.  In fact, it’s probably far from her best.  The overtly sexual nature of the song will probably put most off, and the song gets pretty old when you listen to it a couple of times.  The Sir-Mix-A-Lot sample was probably the coolest part about the song, and that’s about it.

the pinkprint 3

The album closes with the deeply emotional “Grand Piano”, where Nicki delves into a man who has lied to her, “playing her heart like a grand piano.”  It’s a fitting end to an album that begun in a similar way; a deep venture into her once private situations that she was dealing with.  She doesn’t have anything to hide anymore.

The Pinkprint remarkably shows off the vocal variety that Nicki Minaj has when it comes to her music.  The album features a mix of emotional ballads, lyrical rap prowess, club bangers, and “poppy” radio hits.  It’s all there in Nicki’s arsenal.  There is still part of me that wishes she would just pick one style and run with it though.

This album was probably my favorite Nicki Minaj album.  However, this might not be the same for everybody.  She got popular with her dance-pop sound and not too much of that sound is present on the album.  If you are wondering whether you should get the album, it probably just depends on what type of Nicki you are into.  Although, there is a bit of everything on the album.

 

2015 Grammy Awards Predictions

The lists are out and the nominees have been announced!  There looks to be a lot of tough races in some of the categories.  It’s going to be interesting once it all goes down on February 8th.  Now, it’s time for me to make my semi-educational guesses as to who will take home the big awards…

RECORD OF THE YEARgrammy 2014 1

-“Fancy” by Iggy Azalea feat. Charlie XCX

-“Chandelier” by Sia

-“Stay With Me” (Darkchild Version) by Sam Smith

-“Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift (WINNER)

-“All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor

This was one of the tougher categories to choose.  The favorites are probably “Fancy”, “Shake It Off”, and “All About That Bass”.  However, I think Taylor Swift will be the lucky lady that takes home the award.

ALBUM OF THE YEARgrammy 2014 2

Morning Phase by Beck

Beyonce by Beyonce

by Ed Sheeran

In The Lonely Hour by Sam Smith  (WINNER)

Girl by Pharrell Williams

This was probably the toughest category for me to choose.  All of the albums that were nominated have an extremely likely chance of getting the award, however I thought that Sam Smith had a hell of a year and his album might sit well with the board of judges.   I guess we will have to wait and see.

SONG OF THE YEAR

-“All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor

-“Chandelier” by Sia

-“Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift  (WINNER)

-“Stay With Me” (Darkchild Version) by Sam Smith

-“Take Me To Church” by Hozier

“Shake It Off” was the song that got in your head every time you listened to it, no matter if you liked Taylor Swift or not.  It’s a catchy tune that served as one of the standout tracks on her album 1989.  I am going to go ahead and say that the award will be in Taylor Swift’s hands by the end of the night.

BEST NEW ARTISTgrammy 2014 3

-Iggy Azalea  (WINNER)

-Bastille

-Brandy Clark

-Haim

-Sam Smith

Iggy Azalea has had a busy year.  She’s been on many hit singles and she has put out a hit album as well.  She also has come under a ton of fire from some of her hip-hop superiors.  Don’t forget about her night at the American Music Awards as well, where she took home all the awards for the hip-hop category.  She has handled herself really well through all of this, and that is why I think she is the best new artist of the year.  However, Sam Smith would make a good choice as well.

And now for some of the other categories that interest me…

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUMgrammy 2014 4

Ghost Stories by Coldplay

Bangerz by Miley Cyrus

My Everything by Ariana Grande

Prism by Katy Perry  (WINNER)

by Ed Sheeran

In The Lonely Hour by Sam Smith

BEST DANCE/ELECTRONIC ALBUMgrammy 2014 5

Syro by Aphex Twin

While (1>2) by Deadmau5  (WINNER)

Nabuma Rubberband by Little Dragon

Do It Again by Royksopp & Robyn

Damage Control by Mat Zo

BEST R&B PERFORMANCEgrammy 2014 6

-“Drunk In Love” by Beyonce feat. Jay Z  (WINNER)

-“New Flame” by Chris Brown feat. Usher & Rick Ross

-“It’s Your World” by Jennifer Hudson feat. R. Kelly

-“Like This” by Ledisi

-“Good Kisser” by Usher

BEST URBAN CONTEMPORARY ALBUMgrammy 2014 7

Sail Out by Jhene Aiko

Beyonce by Beyonce  (WINNER)

X by Chris Brown

Mali Is… by Mali Music

Girl by Pharrell Williams

BEST RAP SONGgrammy 2014 8

-“Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj

-“Bound 2” by Kanye West

-“I” by Kendrick Lamar  (WINNER)

-“We Dem Boyz” by Wiz Khalifa

-“0 to 100/The Catch Up” by Drake

BEST RAP ALBUM??????????????????????????????????

The New Classic by Iggy Azalea

Because The Internet by Childish Gambino

-Nobody’s Smiling by Common

The Marshall Mathers LP2 by Eminem  (WINNER)

Oxymoron by Schoolboy Q

Blacc Hollywood by Wiz Khalifa

*Side Note: This category should be interesting given all of the controversy and words that have been exchanged between Iggy and Eminem.

With that, my predictions have been made for the big categories as well as the categories that interest me the most.  Now we will have to wait till February 8th to see whether or not I was right about these choices, or a complete idiot.  Probably the latter, but I like to think that I am better than that.

 

 

The 2014 American Music Awards – Recap

The 2014 American Music Awards have come and gone, and it was certainly an action packed show.  The night was hosted by everybody’s favorite, Pitbull.  I guess hosting award shows is what Pitbull does now, because he seems to do a lot of it.  He did an alright job, but his opening monologue was hit-and-miss and some of his jokes just came off plain creepy.  (Yeah, I am looking right at that “Booty” joke)

Fan choice award shows, especially fan choice music award shows, tend to make me grumble.  It’s when one band gets a massive following to stand behind them and vote them to the top of every category that they are nominated for.  Yes, this may speak to an artist’s talent, but this always isn’t the case.  Sometimes a band can get a massive following do to their looks, for example.  A massive fan-base is not always proportionate to an artist’s talent.

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With that being said, it was One Direction that took home the most awards of the night at the Nokia Theater in L.A., including the big one; Artist of the Year.  For Artist of the Year, the band was up against the likes of Iggy Azalea, Luke Bryan, Beyonce, and Katy Perry.  All four of those artists, in my opinion, probably deserved the award the most.  But since there was no committee voting for the awards, it was the fans that had the final say.

Iggy Azalea was also a big winner last night, wrapping up all of the awards for the hip-hop category.  There is some interesting commentary that can be had about this as well, given the recent controversy between Eminem and Iggy.  If you haven’t heard already, Eminem released a snippet of the song “Vegas” of his newest album that contained lyrics about physical harm and rape directed at both Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea.  Iggy ended up getting back at Eminem by calling him an “old man” and speaking her thoughts on Twitter.  Both Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea were at the awards last night, and it was Iggy that got the last laugh.  She was facing both Drake and Eminem for the two hip hop categories, and she came out on top for both of them.

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In her speeches, she name checked Eminem (in the lightest way possible) saying that because she got the award, she knew she was heading in the right direction.  These two awards were the first two AMAs she has ever received.  Her mentor T.I., who seemed to have picked up the role of peacemaker in light of all of Iggy’s harassment, was right by her side during the acceptance.  It was a big night for her.

Other notable awards included Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist, which went to Sam Smith.  The Favorite Rock/Alternative Artist award went to Imagine Dragons, who has been having a pretty big year.  The Favorite Country Album award went to Brantley Gilbert for his third studio album Just As I Am.  Taylor Swift also won big, being the recipient of the Dick Clark Award for Excellence.

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But anyway, the American Music Awards, in my opinion, are about the performances and the moments that come along with them.

Taylor Swift kicked off the show with a bang, performing her newest hit “Blank Space.”  She transformed the stage into a black-and-white striped mansion and danced all throughout the halls with her army of back-up dancers.  It was quite a spectacle and a great way to kick off the show.

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There were a lot of acts that involved first time live performances of a lot of songs.  Imagine Dragons sung their newest hit “I Bet My Life” with an energetic and sentimental performance.  We also saw Lil Wayne later in the show debuting his new song of the Carter V, “Start A Fire”, with Christina Milian.  We also got a performance by Sam Smith and A$ap Rocky, who performed “I’m Not The Only One”.

The most fun performance of the night probably came from Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj who performed the hit “Bang Bang.”  I always like when they play this song live because it’s easy to see how much fan the trio have with the song.  You can tell that they never get tired of it.  Fergie also had a colorful and exotic performance of “L.A. Love” with DJ Mustard and YG.  There were some massive set-pieces and a lot going on onstage.  It’s was a performance that evidenced that Fergie is still relevant in today’s music sphere.

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Ariana Grande gave a brilliant acoustic performance of her songs “Problem” and “Break Free”, which really showcased the true talent of the young artist.  Her performance was finally topped off with a rendition of her newest song “Love Me Harder”, which featured the vocal magic of The Weeknd.  Those two on stage together was a pretty awesome showing.  We also got “emotional performance of the night” from Selena Gomez, who sung her deeply intimate “The Heart Wants What It Wants.”

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There were a bunch of other performances, some lackluster and others completely fine.  The most intriguing performance was Garth Brooks, who came live from North Carolina and performed the song “People Loving People” to a large arena crowd.  We also had Iggy Azalea and Charlie XCX, who both gave performances of their songs “Boom Clap” and “Fancy”.   Iggy Azalea went back on stage with Jennifer Lopez at the end to close out the show with “Booty.”  The performance was not big enough to close out the show, but it did deliver on the promise of high levels of booty.

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Like I said before, there was a lot going on during last nights festivities.  I may not have agreed with most of the winners, but I knew I wasn’t going to before the show even started.  However, there was a lot of great performances that made up for it.  Pitbull should also stop hosting awards shows.  That is all.

The full list of winners can be found below:

Artist of the Year: One Direction

New Artist of the Year: 5 Seconds of Summer

Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist: Sam Smith

Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist: Katy Perry

Favorite Pop/Rock Band/Duo/Group: One Direction

Favorite Pop/Rock Album: Midnight Memories by One Direction

Favorite Country Male Artist: Luke Bryan

Favorite Country Female Artist: Carrie Underwood

Favorite Country Duo or Group: Florida Georgia Line

Favorite Country Album: Just As I Am by Brantley Gilbert

Favorite Rap/Hip-hop Artist: Iggy Azalea

Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album: The New Classic by Iggy Azalea

Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist: John Legend

Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist: Beyonce

Favorite Soul/R&B Album: Beyonce by Beyonce

Favorite Alternative Artist: Imagine Dragons

Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist: Katy Perry

Favorite Latin Artist: Enrique Inglesias

Favorite Contemporary Inspirational Artist: Casting Crowns

Favorite EDM Artist: Calvin Harris

Single of the Year: “Dark Horse” by Katy Perry, featuring Juicy J

Top Soundtrack: Frozen

Dick Clark Award for Excellence: Taylor Swift

Review: Sweet Talker

sweet talker coverSweet Talker (2014)

Jessie J

R&B / Pop / Soul

Label: Lava / Rebublic


Jessie J’s music career has always been intriguing to me.  It just seems like not that much people are talking about her.  She has the ability to make pretty big hits.  Her single’s “Domino” and “Price Tag” did very well and she even wrote Miley Cyrus’s hit “Party in the USA.”  So like I said, the ability is there, but where is her star power?

With the British singer’s recent release of Sweet Talker, Jessie J’s third studio album, it seems as if her star power will reach a maximum.

The album starts out with a bang (no pun intended) with four of my favorite songs off her release.  She starts off with the energetic “Ain’t Been Done” and then moves to the even faster “Burnin’ Up” with 2 Chainz.  We then have the title track “Sweet Talker”, in which Jessie J gives a strong performance.  Lastly, “Bang Bang” is probably my favorite track off the album.  When it was released as a single, it was a bona fide summer hit, featuring the likes of Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj.  The track also warranted a VMA performance that was truly something else.

However, the rest of the album did not stand out as much as the first four hits.  Jessie J started to slow it down with sweet sounding melodies, which started to run together towards the end.  There wasn’t too much variety as the album started to come to a close, but Jessie J still managed to make them entertaining to listen to, with her powerful and melodic voice.

She almost reminds me of a hybrid between Beyonce and P!nk.  She has a wide vocal range and a booming voice, with some pop, hip-hop, and r&b influences.  She doesn’t have the name recognition of those two artists, but she still has a voice that can be singled out of a crowd.

Sweet Talker could be considered A+ material if there was only some variety towards the latter part of the album.  However, Sweet Talker is still a strong release from the brit. Her single “Bang Bang” propelled her into the US spotlight, now it’s up to her what she does with it.

Hopefully she provides us with more impressive chart-topping hits.

 

Review: Blacc Hollywood

blacc hollywoodLet me tell you about a place called Blacc Hollywood.  It’s a place reserved for the rich and famous.  The successful.  You can almost consider it a lifestyle.  Let me also tell you about a rapper named Wiz Khalifa.  He embodies the Blacc Hollywood mantra.  He’s the man that runs the town.

Blacc Hollywood, Wiz Khalifa’s fifth studio album, has a ton to like.  There is a little bit for everyone this time around.  There’s something for those who liked Trap Wiz, Wiz’s last mixtape, and there’s something for the people who are familiar with the old, ganja-smoking Wiz.  It seems that Wiz has formulated all that is old and new and put it into one style that is unique to just Wiz Khalifa himself.

Anyway, lets get to the music shall we.  The album features the likes of Ty Dollar $ign, Juicy J, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Snoop Dogg, Schoolboy Q, and much more.  They all offer great back up to Wiz, especially Taylor Gang’s own Chevy Woods.  In fact, I see a lot of potential for Chevy Woods.  He has a lot of talent and him and Wiz work pretty well together.

“We Dem Boyz” can probably be summed up as the anthem and the theme song for the album.  This can be a good and bad thing though.  It has a catchy beat but the song gets repetitive after a while.  I actually prefer the remix that is featured later on in the album.  It includes the likes of Rick Ross, Schoolboy Q, and Nas and it slows down the original song for a pretty cool sounding remix.  It’s probably one of my favorite songs on the album.

However, it’s songs like “Promises” and “Stayin Out All Night” that really showcase the artistic skills of Wiz.  He provides the vocals that really make those songs hum.  They sound great and they offer something more diversified.  On the other hand, songs like “Ass Drop” and “True Colors” are the club bangers that have some great beats, but that’s about it.

We see the lifestyle that Wiz is living through songs like “The Sleaze” and “Raw”.  He and his crew, the Taylor Gang have made it and they aren’t afraid to brag about it.  They’re living the life of Blacc Hollywood.  As for the fans of old Wiz, there’s still those marijuana-infused songs throughout like “So High” and “Kk”.  Wiz can’t live without those greens.  That’s something that hasn’t changed.

Blacc Hollywood is impressive.  I started listening to it with the mindset that it was going to be sub-par; that Wiz didn’t really have it in him.  I was proved wrong, and I am glad that I was.  I also started to notice something as I was listening through.  I got the impression that perhaps Wiz has gotten some inspiration from Snoop Dogg in his life.  He does in fact appear on the album anyway.  It wouldn’t surprise me, because I believe that one day, Wiz might just become the next Snoop Dogg…and that’s a good thing.

Review: Rise of an Empire by Young Money

young money rise of an empireIf you remember Young Money’s original compilation album, We Are Young Money, you probably recognize a lot of the stars that were featured on the album got their careers launched by the release.  We Are Young Money was a good showcase of the talent that was coming from the record label of YMCMB.  The same can be said about Rise of an Empire, Young Money’s second compilation album.  The only difference is, their second going doesn’t seem as significant as the first album.

Rise of an Empire still features a lot of star-power.  The likes of Lil Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Tyga, and Birdman are featured on the album.  Not surprisingly, some of the stand out tracks on the album come from these artists.  My favorite track on the album, by far, is “Trophies” by Drake.  It’s a powerful anthem that really shows off the confidence and skill of Drake.  It also has a catchy beat that features a pretty sweet and triumphant trumpet track in the background.

I also liked “Looking Ass” by Nicki Minaj.  I am pretty impressed with how far Nicki Minaj has progressed as an artist since We Are Young Money.  She want from an up-and-coming female rapper to one of the leaders of the female rap scene.  “Looking Ass” demonstrates her lyrical skills.

When it comes to everybody else, there are a lot of forgettable tracks on the album.  Rappers like Euro, YG, and Chanel West Coast show a lot of potential.  However, I didn’t really find their contributions to the album very impressive.  I feel like they still have room to grow, and who knows, maybe this release will really help propel their careers.  We still have yet to see.rise of an empire tracklist

This leads me to the main point that I made earlier. The album does a good job of showcasing the talent from Young Money, but it just doesn’t live up to their first album.  We Are Young Money was a huge collection of artists that seemed to all have made a name for themselves in the rap game.  On this album, a lot of the same artists have returned, which doesn’t give it the same feel as the first album.  Rise of an Empire almost seems like a “check-in” on the progress of artists that have already made a name for themselves.  I guess what I am trying to say is that I would have preferred to see a lot more new names.  I already know that rappers like Lil Wayne and Drake have what it takes, how about some of the others?

Whether the other rappers will succeed is perhaps a work in progress.  The potential is there, but I wouldn’t say their necessarily “part of the empire” just yet…