April 26, 1996 |
Somewhere in New York City, Prakazrel "Pras" Michel is on his cellular phone, engulfed by an ear-numbing clamor. Is he in the subway? At a video arcade? On a street corner? Doesn't matter. It's noisy as hell, but Pras still wants to talk. "When you struggle together," said Michel, one-third of the trio called the Fugees, "you understand what hard work is. " For eight years the Fugees toiled in the world of hip-hop, where their reggae-influenced music and intelligent rap lyrics found a small loyal following but was lost behind the popular posturing of gangsta rappers.
June 13, 2001 |
Ryan Toby, Claudette Ortiz and Robby Pardlo, collectively known as the pop/hip-hop group City High, stand in an elevator at WTXF-TV (Channel 29) as a young blond woman enters, smiles, and faces the closing doors. "Folks should know who we are by now," Toby, 20, says in mock irritation. He does a comic half-lurch toward the startled woman. "Don't you know who I am?" he asks, flashing a mouthful of perfect teeth. The trio roars with laughter. The woman smiles, but makes a quick exit when the elevator stops on the next floor.
November 10, 2012 |
It was perhaps no surprise that a tour billed as Life Is Good/Black Rage was rife with contradiction. Named for, respectively, hip-hop godhead Nas' latest studio record and a new song (and expected album) from reclusive hip-hop/soul royalty Ms. Lauryn Hill, the tour's sold-out Philly stop was packed despite a chilly mix of snow and spitting rain. Nas, the 39-year-old Queens, N.Y., rapper whose classic 1994 debut Illmatic is spoken of in hushed tones, is touring on his tenth album, Life Is Good , released in July.
October 6, 2013 |
Early Friday morning, Lauryn Hill , front lady of the Fugees , was released from a minimum-security federal prison up in Connecticut. She's served her three months for her tax-evasion conviction; now for three months of home confinement as part of a year of probation. Weird: It's the same prison that's the setting for Orange Is the New Black . . . . Silly but fun: The Albuquerque Journal ran an obituary for Walter White, protag of deceased show Breaking Bad . Walter's hometown!
March 3, 2006 |
Ain't nothin' but a party, y'all. Back in 2004, before Dave Chappelle got all twisted up in his own success, the comedian organized and hosted one perfect day - a rather impromptu rap party held on the asphalt of Brooklyn. It's music for the people, featuring Kanye West, Common, Erykah Badu, the Roots, Mos Def, and an onstage reunion of the Fugees. The entire ego-free affair is captured in this delightful documentary by French director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
August 20, 2000 |
Crafting a hip-hop identity can be like running for political office - those who are most persuasive speak in multiple tongues, dazzle with outlandish rhetoric, and appeal to tribes with widely divergent views on bedrock issues such as whether it's appropriate to discharge weapons in a nightclub. On The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II a Book (Columbia . 1/2), a masterful blend of verbal sparring and musical exploration unlike anything to emerge from urban music so far this year, Wyclef Jean works his constituency like a pro. But he's no waffler.
January 31, 2011 |
Maybe Lauryn Hill - or, excuse me, Ms. Lauryn Hill, as the Fugees singer, rapper, and songwriter who played a sold-out show Saturday at the House of Blues in Atlantic City now calls herself - is just a genius of expectation management. When Hill showed up three hours late for a show in New York at the start of her 2011 comeback tour this month, it didn't seem like such a good PR move. Word of Web instantly went from excitement at the long- awaited return of arguably the greatest combination singer-MC in hip-hop history, all but unheard from since 1998's landmark The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill , to how-could-you-be-so-arrogant irritation.
August 20, 2000 |
How Wyclef Jean knows there's a spirit looking out for him: Two years ago, when the Fugees guitarist and hip-hop avatar was riding high as the producer of hits for Canibus, Whitney Houston, Carlos Santana and others, he found himself vaguely unhappy with the music he was creating for himself. Work on his second solo project - The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II a Book, which arrives Tuesday - was, in his words, "going nowhere. " Then, right on cue, in walked his kick in the pants: Nija Battle, the first person ever to pay him for production work.
October 20, 1996 |
Consensus is a rare thing in the ego-driven world of hip-hop. But well before the drive-by shooting that killed Tupac Shakur on Sept. 13, many of the hip-hop industry's major players had arrived at a similar conclusion: Gangsta rap was past its creative peak. After years of unchallenged dominion, the multimillion-selling fantasy form enjoyed by kids from suburban cul-de-sacs and inner-city playgrounds alike is cooked. A reign of terror on the wane. Dr. Dre, the man credited with giving West Coast gangsta rap its funky menace, sensed it early: The producer and former president of Death Row Records severed ties with Death Row CEO Suge Knight months ago in order to set up his own label, Aftermath Entertainment.
January 28, 2011 |
ltc POP . . . plus While he may still be hanging in the basement with the "Shop Vac" on, spacey pop geek Jonathan Coulton (a former software writer) has a rich and amusing fantasy life. Coulton imagines his control of robots and bionic girls in "The Future Soon," welcomes visitors to his space station at "Chiron Beta Prime," gets possessed (and murder-lized) by a "Creepy Doll" and traces the trail of Norsemen to "Ikea," where "Billy the Bookcase says hello. " "Some of it's funny but a lot of it's not," cautioned Coulton of the work.