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features

50

TOP 20 MUSICAL GENIUSES VIBE salutes the masterminds whose musical IQs have charted high through the past two decades.

74

THE 50 GREATEST ALBUMS Whether you prefer night-capping with Kings of Leon or being schooled by Lauryn Hill, this ranking of stellar LPs stacks up the best of all avenues of music. Spoiler alert: There will be upsets...

82

TOP 21 LIFE-CHANGING MOVIES From Forrest Gump to Menace II Society, hit rewind on the most impactful flicks in reel time.

86

19 MOST LUSTABLE CELEBS Grab the lotion and a towel: VIBE brings super sexy back with an eye-popping list of the planet’s most desirable.

64

LEADERS OF THE NEW COOL Lyrical wunderkinds Miguel and Kendrick Lamar scribed their way to glory. Here, the two discuss each other’s pristine LPs, their biggest risks and who keeps them on their toes.

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THE 10 MOST DOMINANT ATHLETES Stacking chips and setting records, these professionals had no shame in their game. Run the tape back on the jocks that made it reign.

90

20 SMARTEST TV SHOWS No need for a 2400 on the SATs to grasp these irresistible small-screen wonders. Reflect on the boob tube’s most brilliant.

P H O T O G R A P H B Y STEVEN GEOMILLION & DENNIS LEUPOLD

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departments

S CE NE

29

BLAST P G.17

MUSIC

Nick Cannon wins Obama’s co-sign; Music promo gets shady; A summer set list of the hottest festivals

THE BEST MAN

ASK AN EXPERT

Sideshow comic Craig Robinson doesn't stand up for failure. Here, the office clown airs out his funny business

A lawyer cross-examines hypothetical paparazzi legislation

SEX

French Montana freaks out to Angela Yee’s horndog queries

SCENE

20 ?

SPLURGE

Featuring: Justin Timberlake, the Miami Heat, pasties and Tila Tequila

ENDORSE

PROPS

P G. 94

Keep tabs on YouTube’s next big channels

P G.33

P G. 96

Block thy haters with these stand-out spectacles

BUZZ FACTOR

Turn binge drinking into skinny sipping with these four tips

TRANSPORT

The hybrid (finally) gets a good look

GADGETS

Tablets square off for supremacy

MAINTENANCE

Give your socks playtime with this foot-long guide

UPKEEP

A beauty junkie swag surfs for cheap goodies online

Ego Trip’s Book of Rap Lists NEXT

47

Chicago-bred rookie Rockie Fresh wasn't about the hard knock life. Still, the rap rookie is slowgrinding for the city that put him on Photograph by Emilie Elizabeth

KICKSTART

Kicks fit for super-rich kids

NIGHTLIFE

The Dream hotel takes its talents to South Beach

Vol. 21, ISSUE #3; “VIBE” (ISSN 1070-4701) is published bi-monthly (Feb/Mar, Apr/May, June/July, Aug/Sep, Oct/Nov, Dec/Jan) by Intermedia Vibe Holdings LLC, 29 E. 19th Street, 2nd Fl, New York, NY 10003. Reproduction without permission is prohibited. Copyright © 2013. Title “VIBE” registered U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Canada and other countries. Printed in the U.S.A. MANUSCRIPTS AND ART: The Publisher assumes no responsibility for return of unsolicited manuscripts, art, photos or negatives. SUBSCRIPTION INQUIRIES (U.S.) 888-887-2654 (International) 386-246-0412 or vibe@emailcustomerservice. com Subscription Rates: U.S.A. and Possessions: $14.95 U.S./year. Canada/Foreign: $34.95 for 1 year, $59.95 for 2 years, U.S. funds only (includes GST), subscribe online at www.vibe.com/subscribe Subscription Problems & Change Of Address: Send your magazine label along with your new address to VIBE, PO BOX 433150, Palm Coast, FL 32143-3150 or visit www.vibe.com/customerservice Please allow six to eight weeks for the change to affect delivery. Postmaster: Send address changes to VIBE, PO BOX 433150, Palm Coast, FL 32143-3150. Periodical postage paid at New York, NY, 10199, and additional mailing offices.

8 VIBE A P R I L /M AY 20 1 3

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edit letter

(Left to right) Kendrick Lamar and Miguel: rap and rad rhythm and blues.

Did you say Never? I W I L L S AY M Y P I E C E then you won’t hear another qualifying statement from me. For the final time, Brandy Norwood’s Never Say Never belongs on this Top 50 albums list. The omission of Bran-Bran’s classic disturbs me like reckless rap lyrics. I’m exaggerating; but, still, I’m uneasy with the snub. The record was casually discussed, then dismissed. It popped up again with a hodgepodge of other slighted classics (No Teflon Don!) when Phoenix’s Wolfgang Amadeus was sliced. But outside of my high school cheerleading the album never stood a chance. All hail democracy! There were no North Koreas allowed in our debate war room. But I worried that the generation jumps between staffers were playing a significant role. VIBE is a mix of Gen X and Y. More often than not it speaks to the wide perspective of the brand and serves as a strength. But when you’re dealing with albums that have been experienced in the moment by some versus a study class catch-up from others, those perspectives are glaringly different.

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It’s like this: My mother talks about Diana Ross like she walked around with a magic lasso, flew in an invisible jet and ruled over legions of women whenever she opened her mouth. I dig that. And based on Diana’s catalog, two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, records sales, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and films, that Wonder Woman status is spot-on. But although I’ve done the homework I never partied to “Upside Down” (sampling not included). When “Endless Love” was bangin’ Billboard’s No. 1 spot for nine weeks, my obsession was Star Wars action figures (did your R2D2 have a telescope?). Not saying my understanding of Diana was robotic. But mama Merl probably has a deeper connection than I do. The somewhat, semi truth is I’ve come to grips with a list without Never Say Never. The staff understood the seamless brilliance of Rodney’s instrumentals meshed with what is still one of R&B’s most unique voices (And yeah I know her vocal range is limited. That texture though.). They’ve felt the impact of

dynamic duet “The Boy Is Mine.” And in the spirit of debating and the nature of lists I respect that majority rules. So I’m holding off on that online petition. Besides the world-class debating done by John Kennedy, Bonsu Thompson, Clover Hope, Adelle Platton, Datwon Thomas and lifeline call Keith Murphy was unreal and surreal. With that said this Genius list really presents a problem. Forgive me if I'm harping on the slight but can you believe…I kid, I kid. Special thanks to these incredible illustrators who saw the vision: Robert M. Ball, Philip Burke, André Carrilho, Sophia Chang, Stanley Chow, Kelsey Dake, Ale Giorgini, Glue Kit, Jack Hughes, Craig & Karl, Dushan Milic, Daniel Nyari, Yuko Shimizu and Ian Wright

Jermaine Hall Editor-in-Chief Twitter: @vibe_EIC Instagram: Jermainehall PHOTOGRAPH BY CHUN-KAI SHIH

4/9/13 5:00 PM


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PULSE

WELCOME TO THE PARTY LIFE

Celebrating our 20th Anniversary in grand style, VIBE magazine held the first ever VIBE Impact Awards, honoring the iconic musical career of R&B superstar Mary J. Blige, during the 55th annual Grammy Awards weekend in Los Angeles. Amid the posh backdrop of the Sunset Tower Hotel's amazing citywide view and luminous dining area atmosphere, the biggest and most influential celebrities came out to salute the legend. Host of the evening Andre Harrell, founder of Uptown Records; super producer Babyface; legendary songstress Anita Baker; triple-threat entertainer Queen Latifah; and the incomparable Sean "Diddy" Combs were all in attendance to shower the honoree with praise and love. The Malibu Red and Sol Republic sponsored soiree continued as DJ Homicide and TV/radio personality Nick Cannon rocked the after party with turn-up quality tunes for all the stars in attendance. Visit www.vibe.com/grammys for video highlights and more photos.

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Blast W H E R E E V E RY T H I N G M A K E S A N I M PACT

R E A L TA L K , N O P R O M O

Nick Cannon Hollywood’s perpetual jokester talks emojis, kid stars and his biggest beef with wifey

VIBE You’re a guy with a ton of jobs— America’s Got Talent, Wild ’N Out, Real Husbands of Hollywood. What’s the most shameful gig on your résumé?

Wienerschnitzel! [Laughs] It’s a hot dog fast food chain. They don’t have those on the East Coast, huh? We had to wear these hats with wieners on them. I was like 16. By 17, I was on All That.

NICK CANNON

What’s your favorite emoticon?

What is that? Oh, a smiley face? I didn’t know that’s what those things were called! I like the ones with the tongue sticking out. Your kids are 2 years old. Do you get any points on the back end if you get them on America’s Got Talent?

My son drums, which is crazy, and my daughter, she’s singing already. She ain’t even talking all the way. They could be like the new White Stripes. How would you feel about Sharon Osbourne judging your kids, though?

Real talk, I wouldn’t want them to be on a show where they would have to be judged. I see how I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y PA U L W I N D L E

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blast / M U S I C

Riddle Me This “C TY AG NA” N OCNO” NCTOI N U T IENDU E D

tough it is on all of those kids, and I don’t want mine to go through that.

Tricks aren’t just for kids. To build buzz for projects, artists and labels are turning the music biz into a game of Clue

You’ve always toed this line between hip-hop and comedy. What rapper is the funniest to work with?

Probably French Montana, especially when he’s turnt up. He’s hilarious. He’s got an episode coming up for this new season of Wild ’N Out. French came o n, super turnt up, cracking jokes from I didn’t expect it, because he’s serious most of the time, but he was in the audience cracking on people. He’s got this drawl. Nobody gave him no jokes or nothing; it / was all him. He used to be a battle rapper, so I had to throw some bars at him. I got at him real quick. He didn’t want it. [Laughs] Do you and Mariah ever argue about the lighting in your house?

Absolutely! How did you know that? I want shit to be super-bright, like a grocery store, all the time. My wife is a perfectionist when it comes to lighting. She likes to set the mood, candles, all of the shadows right. No overhead lighting, nothing. You told Howard Stern that you and Mariah make love to her music. Under what circumstances do your songs come on?

Uh, never! [Laughs]—only when I’m deejaying for myself in the house. But Barack Obama had you on his second inauguration playlist, so there’s that.

Yeah, that was a good look. That was cool because I was a surrogate for Obama early on, and he would always say that, if he won, he would let me DJ the inauguration party. He kept his word, which I always thought was cool. That’s a solid cat, even before he was the president.

IN ONE OF THE MOST

successful promotions ever, the studio behind the 2008 monster flick Cloverfield launched a series of fictional products. One of them included Slusho!, a beverage complete with T-shirts and a tagline (“You can’t drink just six!”) that hatched a cult-like following. Only later did fans uncover clues that revealed the drink was no realer than a Kardashian plotline, but the stunt confirmed a long-held belief: Everyone loves

a good mystery. This Hollywood blueprint is increasingly spilling into music, with artists and labels using covert tactics to amp up anticipation for a project. At a time when hype is as fleeting as a tweet, virtual mind games peak intrigue. With the suspense fitting of a Stephen King thriller, Justin Timberlake prefaced his post-hiatus single “Suit & Tie” with a countdown clock on his site, over a blurred

background that, once deciphered, spelled out his song and album title. Likewise, Ke$ha * unveiled her Warrior album name as a puzzle of letters on Instagram, while Lady Gaga teased hers by posting a flick of a temporary tat. The Weeknd tantalized fans with a screenshot of a desktop folder labeled, “2013 untitled album.” It makes sense that the recuperating music biz would swipe a formula that’s proven fruitful for films like Cloverfield and 2012’s Prometheus, whose creator “leaked” a video of a fake character prerelease. Such stealth moves build fan engagement beyond bland release-date plugs. Still, it’s not as simple as just dropping a puzzle—artists need a core fan base intent on cracking these Da Vinci codes. Even as social media has morphed from barely audible bullhorns into every celeb’s default promo tool, entertainers and execs are still learning how to translate those disciples into dollars. When baring all is the norm, it helps to leave a little something to the imagination. —SOWMYA KRISHNAMURTHY

Take that, 200 million albums sold! Next time we have an argument about the lighting, I’m bringing that up. CATCH THE ACTOR, TV HOST AND SOMETIME-RAPPER CRACKING FUNNY BONES ON MTV’S SPRING RE-UP OF WILD ’N OUT.

AN AUTO-TUNE LIFELINE 2007: T-Pain upsurge

2009: Jay-Z’s “D.O.A.” eulogy

2008: Kanye’s 808s & Heartbreak

2012–13: Future’s trap warbles

I L L U ST R AT I O N : S O P H I A C H A N G

I noticed Mariah wasn’t on there...

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Memory Lane

Slimmed singer Chrisette Michele shares her life in songs

SOUNDTRACK

God’s Ultimate Playlist What tunes your deity has pon the replay* “I’m Different,” 2 Chainz “New God Flow,” Pusha T 0 3 / “Resurrection of Real,” Pro Era 0 4 / “Who Gon Stop Me?” Kanye West & Jay-Z 0 5 / “Lord Knows,” Drake 0 6 / “Jesus Piece,” The Game 0 7 / “All Eyez on Me,” 2 Pac 0 8 / “I Am Not a Human Being,” Lil Wayne 0 9 / “HiiiPoWeR,” Kendrick Lamar 1 0 / “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself ),” Ne-Yo 1 1 / “Invisible,” Taylor Swift 1 2 / “Gangnam Style,” Psy 1 3 / “Don’t You Worry Child,” Swedish House Mafia 1 4 / “Locked Out of Heaven,” Bruno Mars 1 5 / “Amen,” Meek Mill 1 6 / “Power Trip,” J. Cole 1 7 / “Don't Judge Me,” Chris Brown 01/

02/

Whitney Houston, “Jesus Loves Me” At 4 years old, I sang “Jesus Loves Me” in church. Every Sunday, mom would dress me up in the flyest clothes from Macy’s. I remember having a silk pink trench coat—I didn’t take it off to sing my solo.

_

2000 HIGH SCHOOL SWEETHEART Musiq Soulchild, “Love” I was dating the captain of the basketball team in 12th grade. He was sitting in my room, pulled out his ChapStick like young boys do, and laid one on me. I ran outside like, “Mom, he kissed me!” She was excited, because until then I

hadn’t had any big crushes. She might’ve thought, Does my daughter like guys or anything besides music?

_

2008 TAKING HOME A GRAMMY Onyx, “Slam” I won a Grammy for the song [will.i.am and I] did together called, “Be OK.” I was on the red carpet when they told us, and my close friend picked me up and swung me around. It was surreal. It was the first time I felt like this is what I do for a living. I’m a singer. I needed that validation to feel like I belonged.

_

2010 FIRST INK

The Cardigans, “Lovefool” It took me forever to get

my first tattoo: stars down my neck. I was in the city with my best friend, and it was one of those fun nights where you’re not really worried about behaving. You’re just doing what feels right.

_

2011 GOING GREEN

Britney Spears, “Toxic” I was always obsessed with being a vegetarian—not necessarily because I needed to become one, but more so because it looked cool. Sometimes your spirit just knows what it wants, and you’re attracted to that. It was at a time in my life when I needed some cleansing. I started off by juicing food and ended up staying vegan for a year and a half. I’ve had my bumps in the road, but it feels really, really good. –AS

*DISCLAIMER

1. We cannot guarantee that your deity is in fact bumping these tracks. 2. No offense!

TOLD TO STACY-ANN ELLIS

NBA FINALS PREDICTION Sal, Bookie, Maddux Sports: “Oklahoma Thunder and Heat. I’d go with OKC because you lose to learn.

The Heat are older and more banged up.”

05.13_VB_blast_thescore.indd 19

Thomas John, Psychic: “Heat versus Clippers. Miami’s shooting and offense will overpower.”

I L L U ST R AT I O N : S O P H I A C H A N G ; P H O T O G R A P H Y : B R YC E T H O M P S O N

1986 SINGING LIVE AS A TOT

4/2/13 9:10 AM


blast / M U S I C

MOVEMENT FESTIVAL

ELECTRIC ZOO MOVEMENT THE ROOTS FESTIVAL PICNIC

THE ROOTS PICNIC

ELECTRIC DAISY CARNIVAL ELECTRIC DAISY CARNIVAL

ROCK THE BELLS

COACHELLA

GOVERNORS BALL

BONAROO

ROCK THE BELLS

DUDE, WHERE’S MY FESTIVAL?

Grab the keys to your hybrid Zipcar and ride across America in the company of thousands of party diehards. Big K.R.I.T. and electronic dance music's Eric Prydz guide you on a cityhopping music festival road trip that jumps from ratchet to raving and back again —John Kennedy and Sarah Polonsky Coachella Indio, CA April 12–14, 19–21 NOTABLE AC TS: Phoenix, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blur, The Stone Roses, Disclosure, Benny Benassi, Jurassic 5 ERIC PRYDZ SAYS: “It’s the blend of artists you can’t get anywhere else. Great opportunity [for DJs] to go and play, because we always have time to check out the other acts.” WHERE: WHEN:

Movement Festival Detroit, MI May 25–27

WHERE: WHEN:

GOVERNORS BALL

BONNAROO

NOTABLE AC TS: Richie Hawtin, Soul Clap, Art Department ERIC PRYDZ SAYS: “Detroit is the birthplace of techno, so it’s a cool festival to see some super underground and really cutting-edge performances.”

BIG K.R.I.T. SAYS:

“I haven’t been to that one yet, but Gary Clark Jr. is the artist I’ve been looking forward to seeing perform. Lord willing, I get called up for that.”

The Roots Picnic

WHERE: New

Bonnaroo

Rock The Bells

Manchester, TN June 13–16 NOTABLE AC TS: R. Kelly, Mumford & Sons, Paul McCartney, Haim, The Lumineers, Pretty Lights BIG K.R.I.T. SAYS: “This will be my first time [performing,] but I heard it’s like the Super Bowl of festivals—a lot of people and energy. Hopefully, I’ll have a band by then. I’m trying to put on a hell of a show.”

San Bernardino, CA; Mountain View, CA; Holmdel, NJ WHEN: August 18–19; 25–26; September 1–2 NOTABLE AC T: Bone ThugsN-Harmony, Wu-Tang Clan BIG K.R.I.T. SAYS: “It was dope to see so many artists I grew up listening to and be around so many different generations of hip-hop. People just vibe out and go back and forth between stages.”

WHERE: WHEN:

Governors Ball

WHERE:

Electric Daisy Carnival

Philadelphia, PA June 1 NOTABLE AC TS: The Roots, Solange, Gary Clark Jr., Grimes, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Robert Glasper, How To Dress Well, Jennah Bell WHERE: WHEN:

York City, NY WHEN: June 7–9 NOTABLE AC TS: Kanye West, Guns N’ Roses, Nas, Dillon Francis, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Haim, MS MR BIG K.R.I.T. SAYS: “I wish I could’ve got booked for this! I would definitely love to catch [Nas’] show.”

Las Vegas, NV WHEN: June 21–23 NOTABLE AC TS: Armin van Buuren, Avicii, Carl Cox ERIC PRYDZ SAYS: “They book the biggest and best DJs. It’s one big, crazy spectacle; the production is absolutely amazing.” WHERE:

Electric Zoo New York City, NY WHEN: August 30– September 1 NOTABLE AC TS: David Guetta, Tiësto ERIC PRYDZ SAYS: “New York! Really cool lineups with a lot of underground talent and DJs mixed with the big names.” WHERE:

WHAT IS TRAPSTEP? Noun: A looped street melody, peppered with ad-libs, high-hat patterns and 808 bass. As popular-

ized by: Skrillex, Drumma Boy and Trap-A-Holics. Sample this: B.o.B., feat. Nicki Minaj, “Out of My Mind (Clark Kent Remix)”

I L L U ST R AT I O N : S O P H I A C H A N G

COACHELLA

ELECTRIC ZOO

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blast / M U S I C LOSE SOME, WIN SOME

I was 18 when I signed to Dr. Dre. I recorded a demo with one of his producers in L.A. and played it at Dre’s house. He looked at me, like, “Let’s make a deal.” I had everything. I had a sick condo—I was like, “This is it!” Then after eight months he dropped me, and I was back in Philly at my mom’s house, depressed. It went from a crazy high to the lowest of lows. _

I thought I was ready for marriage. Stevie J was my first serious situation, and I was definitely too young. I was the chick that was like, “I don’t understand why I keep dating this kind of dude. He can’t even commit.” But I was the kind of chick that wasn’t committing. _

With my fashion line Fetish, I was involved, but because my partners felt like they had more experience, they would dictate the designs and I would fall back. I wouldn’t have let them control so much. _

I wanted to make sure they saw I could write my own rhymes. I wasn't gonna try to f$%k my way through the crew. ”

DMX and I talked when he got out of jail. But I heard about [his legal issues] when everybody else did. If he didn’t contact me personally, I didn’t want to hit him up. He knows I’m here for him, but X is not gon’ tell you nothing until he’s ready.

Highs

I wrote my verse to the “Ruff Ryder’s Anthem”

remix in somebody’s truck outside the Apollo. I wanted to make sure they saw I could write my own rhymes. I wasn’t gonna try to fuck my way through the crew. _

Everything I went through makes it easier to appreciate the love I have now. When I met Maximillion [Cooper], I thought he’d be the worst dude, out with a chick every other week, based on his lifestyle. He’s very supportive and he’s a man. I’m truly in love. _

I’m proud that I was able to take risks, like doing a song with Gwen Stefani. As a girl in a crew, as much as they let me do me, it had to make sense for the movement. I wrote [“Let Me Blow Ya Mind”] and wanted somebody different on the hook. Gwen reminded me of me—a girly girl in a world full of dudes. It made sense. _

I knew a lot of people wouldn’t like “She Bad Bad.” It’s an in-yourface record. But I really want people to listen to this album with an open mind. It’s not gonna be Ruff Ryder ’cause that was a moment in time. I’m still Eve from Philly. I’m an MC, no matter what track I’m spitting over. —AS TOLD TO CLOVER HOPE

PHILLY’S FLYEST SERVES UP GULLY RHYMES AND GENRE-BENDERS ON HER INDEPENDENT ALBUM, LIP LOCK, 0N SALE MAY 14.

STRIP CLUB SOUNDTRACK Pregame: “Pour It Up,” Rihanna

Rick Ross & Lil Wayne

In Da Club: “Pop That,” French Montana, feat. Drake,

After-Party: “Wild for the Night,” A$AP Rocky, feat. Skrillex & Birdy Nam Nam

I L L U ST R AT I O N : S O P H I A C H A N G ; P H OTO : A M A R PA I L K A L I AV I

Eve

Lows

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blast / B U S I N E S S C L A S S

Now his pieces give your favorite entertainers chills

CELEBRITY JEWELER

Ben Baller countered the 2000s recession the only way he knew how: by putting on a front. “I had to maintain that ballin’ image, but I was spending my savings,” says the 40-year-old Los Angeles native, who’s cooled the necks of Mariah Carey, Floyd Mayweather and Michael Jackson. “People don’t realize if you kill yourself socially, survival is 10 times harder.” Since striking gold in 2004, when Ben piggybacked on his cousin and uncle’s family business and founded jewelry company IF & Co, perception has outweighed reality in the former DJ and Aftermath executive's world. The reformed sneakerhead flipped his hip-hop Rolodex into clientele thirsty for his loud and proud (and recessionenduring) craftwork. With a budget-friendly

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Showtime!

Booking agent Peter Schwartz helps rap acts like A$AP Rocky protect their necks from janky promoters

Neff watch collaboration ($35!) and online reality show in tow, Baller shares how he keeps his biz shining bright.

3.

1.

4.

Fall Back When it comes to someone of power, I never approach them first—it shows weakness. Once you make it, you don’t need to do that. People already know if they want to get right, they go to me.

Credit Check If your credit ain’t good, don’t even try it. You’re going to need it to take out loans, buy diamonds and gold. Just because you have a decent credit score doesn’t mean you can get what you need.

2.

5.

Eyes On the Prize There are five rules for being successful. Number one: Get paid. I forgot the other four, but that’s all that matters. I don’t do that, “Let me get you back later”; you pay me right there.

Hustle and Flow If it wasn’t for networking, I wouldn’t be here. There are jewelers who make me look like a fucking peasant, and they’re on one customer per year. Why the fuck are they not doing it how I am? My mouthpiece is definitely the reason for my success.

M Y J O B A S head of Urban Music at The Agency Group is to represent the touring side of a music artist’s career. That includes booking shows, negotiating prices for performances and building up live artists. With the decline of the big record label touring has become a more attractive vehicle for artists to make money and be exposed. Booking gigs is very time-consuming. I receive 700 e-mails every day. You’re constantly dealing with flaky people; it’s my job to find out who’s serious . My artists are like my kids, so I look after them with care. The best path to become a booking agent is to get experience at an agency. Find talent. Make the proper contacts, so you know what venues are in, say, Providence, R.I. It’s important to have sales and negotiating skills; we’re selling our artists. Be prepared to do a lot of work. But after you work on a tour for five months and see the first concert, it’s the greatest feeling.

—AS TOLD TO JOHN KENNEDY

—AS TOLD TO CHRIS YUSCAVAGE

_

Get Fresh I don’t believe in wearing a suit every day. But jumping into the game, you have to look the part. Dress nice.

CHOOSE ONE: ROBIN THICKE Cats or dogs? Pussy

Rémy

Beyoncé or Rihanna? Brihanna

Red or white wine?

Twitter or Instagram? What are those?

I L L U ST R AT I O N : S O P H I A C H A N G

Chain Reaction After a decade of DJing, jeweler Ben Baller put his career on ice.

D A I LY G R I N D

4/2/13 9:13 AM


C A P T I VAT I N G C O L O R S T O R I E S C R E AT E D W I T H I N N O VAT I V E M AT E R I A L S .

A D D I T I O N A L D I S C O V E R I E S AT S U P R A F OOTWE A R .C O M

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3/19/13 2:41 PM


I T ’S

A

M A T E R I A L

W O R L D

@SUPRAFOOTWEAR

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3/19/13 2:41 PM


blast / S O C I A L INTERNET

So You Know It’s Real Cyber dating posers have made e-romance riskier. Max Joseph, of MTV’s Catfish: The TV Show, explains how to spot a fake Let’s say I’ve fired up a search engine to snoop on Mr. Right. What are immediate danger signs?

VIBE

If you Google their name and nothing comes up. Most people have left some sort of paper trail on the Internet. If they seem too good to be true, they probably are.

MAX JOSEPH

Food for Thought Insist on Instagramming your feast before sticking a fork in it? At least paint a pretty picture. Foodie photog Lou Manna drops tips on better plate presentation

Turn Off The Lights @kimkardashian BAD FORM: Kim Kardashian’s garlic noodles with lobster MANNA SAYS: The direct flash compresses distance. You want natural light coming slightly from behind or the side to give it texture and shape. A piece of white tissue or wax paper [over the lens] can diffuse the flash. Come Color Correct @taylorswift Taylor Swift’s Thanksgiving turkey and pie MANNA SAYS: Filters make food look faded and yellow. The sepia effect is okay if you want it to look like old food. You want nice exposure and colors that are saturated. Use filters that have a warm, saturated effect, like X-Pro II. BAD FORM:

Narrow Your Focus @currensy_spitta Curren$y’s rice, beans, fried chicken and corn bread MANNA SAYS: Throwing objects out of focus is hard with a cell phone—you can’t vary the stops and depth of field. Shoot from various angles. The top angle is nice if light is coming from the side. But lower is more dramatic. BAD FORM:

— What if he or she’s not game to Skype?

It’s a major red flag if they’re camera shy. Ask them, “Hey, can you take a photo of yourself right now holding up a piece of paper with my name on it and send it to me?” — What extra tools can help dig deeper to avoid being blindsided?

We’re not using any tools anyone else couldn’t use. Check if their Facebook page has less than 100 people, and if no photos are tagged. Call [their job] and make sure the story checks out. It’s virtual contraception.

POTENTIAL GAME OF THRONES (SEASON 3) LIVE-TWEETS “You could be king, but watch the Queen of Thorns

conquer @DianaRigg”

“#HeyBoo @missnemmanuel”

“Is that dude from Pirates of the Caribbean? #skinchanger”

—ADELLE PLATON

I L L U ST R AT I O N : S O P H I A C H A N G ; P H O T O G R A P H Y : B R YC E T H O M P S O N

Keep It Moving @itsgabrielleu BAD FORM: Gabrielle Union’s blackened turkey loin with avocado salsa MANNA SAYS: The styling is random and too symmetrical. Try to create a circular composition, which keeps your eye moving and directs your attention toward the food.

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4/2/13 11:31 AM


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blast / S E X

The Bronx’s party-hardy rapper relates his love life to romance tracks. Turns out he’s a bad boy

“NONE OF UR FRIENDS BUSINESS,” GINUWINE (1999)

“EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE,” THE POLICE (1983)

“PEACHES & CREAM,” 112 (2001)

A N G E L A Y E E : Ever have a relationship and her friends mess things up?

Have you ever been stalked?

Guys think they can go down on you and you’ll be ready to have sex.

F R E N C H M O N TA N A : Friends always fuck shit up, ’cause you never know when they’re hating or looking out for you. What about your friends? Of course they hate; they’re the worst. As soon as they see her with somebody—especially a rapper— they got you pulling her aside.

Say she previously smashed Rick Ross or Diddy. Does it matter?

Of course not. You can never judge what a woman did before she met you—she didn’t know you. If she’s still doing it after, that’s a problem. But everybody got a past; you don’t want her to start digging up yours.

I’ve had psycho groupies, all kinds of shit. I got scared a bunch of times, but I always cut it short. It got to the point where she tatted my name and my album date, shit like that. Is that flattering?

Nah, it’s scary. It’s love, but it’s scary love. You ever stalked anybody?

Probably once when I was with a chick for three years and something felt shaky. You start doing your research. Everybody’s [gone] through that. But I never been the type to start calling somebody and go crazy. You call once or twice and they don’t pick up, it’s like, aight.

A BEDROOM SOUNDTRACK BY FRENCH MONTANA “I Want You,” Marvin Gaye ”

“Adorn,” Miguel ”

I never went down in my life. Why not?

I’m African; I never needed to. Once I reach a certain age, I’ll probably try different things, though. What if a girl told you, “I don’t give head”?

It doesn’t matter—a lot of them don’t know how. You can’t get head with a condom on and it feels good. And I ain’t letting every girl suck my dick with that nasty throat they be having. You shouldn’t let girls with nasty throats suck your dick.

You never know. The prettiest one can have the nastiest throat.

“Fancy,” The-Dream

Any song on the Dead Presidents soundtrack: ("I like old-school shit…that smooth shit.")

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I L L U ST R AT I O N : S O P H I A C H A N G

French Montana

LIP SERVICE WITH ANGELA YEE

I L LU ST R AT I O N B Y ALEXANDER WELLS

3/28/13 5:42 PM


blast / S C E N E

CRAIG ROBINSO N

knows how to keep a show going. During a four-day stand-up tour in Fairbanks, Alaska (“the North Pole,” he quips), the 41-year-old music-teacher-turnedcomic made the mistake of pregaming on tequila shots chased with beer before a gig. “The show was going so well... Then I was like, ‘I need to go to the bathroom. Y’all wait,’” Robinson recalls. Moments later, his stomach rebelled. “I vomited onstage. But I kept going. It was as if everything went to a higher level. I could do no wrong. Nothing was going to stop me.” This Puff mentality has sent Robinson’s acting career on an upward slope, anchored by his deadpan turn as paperpusher Darryl Philbin on NBC’s The Office, which ends its eight-year run this May. His dry wisecracks leave permanent impressions, even in bit roles like Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up (playing a discriminating bouncer) and Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls, his one-way ticket out of obscurity. “I was in this shitty condo when my manager told me I got that part,” says Robinson, who reunites with Perry in

With his scene-stealing wingman roles, Craig Robinson is sliding into first, growing his laughing stock by any means necessary

this spring’s Peeples and co-fronts the summer comedies Rapturepalooza and This Is the End with the Seth Rogen squad. “You ever scream privately to yourself? It was one of those.” Consider it an aha moment for a guy whose baby steps into standup involved a botched attempt to impress a chick. Before moving from his native Chicago to L.A. in 1999, the master’s degree holder nurtured his comedy gene in college through open mics. “I was at some sorority talent show, and two guys I knew went up and did comedy. It blew my mind,” he says. “I saw them like they were superheroes. They had this power to get this response from you. That’s when I got hooked.” Now transitioning from the sidelines to the forefront, Robinson spearheads an upcoming autobiographical NBC pilot, where he plays a music teacher. On top of filming Hot Tub Time Machine 2 this summer, he’ll be moonlighting as a member of the funk-psych band the Nasty Delicious, another dream materialized. “When I was teaching, I yearned to have a band to the point where I would be at shows and

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be conducting bands from the audience,” says Robinson. “Now, I have a band. What it’s becoming is a bunch of people who love to play together and some serious-ass musicians. I just get out the way and let them rock, so I look like a genius.”

I vomited onstage. But I kept going. It was as if everything went to a higher level. I could do no wrong. Nothing was going to stop me.”

—STEVEN J. HOROWITZ

UNREAL PREQUELS The Hunger Pains (prequel to: The Hunger Games)

quel to: Django Unchained)

The Pre-Game (prequel to: The Hangover)

Broomhilda Diaries (pre-

Standby (prequel to: Flight)

LO C AT I O N H A R V E L L A S LO S A N G E L E S C A . I L L U ST R AT I O N : S O P H I A C H A N G

c

The Best Man

P H O T O G R A P H B Y PA M E L A L I T T K Y

4/2/13 9:18 AM


blast / S C E N E

Best In Show A couch potato’s

3

sanctuary, YouTube now has stars like Jay-Z and Shaq curating content. What channels are worth your click? Fill your cyber queue with these addictive programs

7

squad of self-made beauty gurus, it’s your one-stop shop for DIY hair and makeup schooling merged with girl talk. — DOUBLE G NEWS NETWORK

7.

4.

8

5.5

9

—Kevin L. Clark

1

C H A N N E L youtube.com/ westfesttv (by Snoop Lion) G E N R E News, Comedy I T ’ S L I K E The Daily Show With Jon Stewart mixed with greenery T H E S K I N N Y Flanked by a roster of guests (Pac Div, Sons of Anarchy), Snoop, aka Nemo Hoes, waxes prophetic on everything from his longest smokefree hiatus to next week’s forecast. — 8.

5.

THE YOUNG TURKS

youtube.com/ theyoungturks (by Cenk Uygur) G E N R E News, Politics I T ’ S L I K E MSNBC condensed T H E S K I N N Y In five minutes or less, amateur anchors Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian cover global affairs (CIA whistle-blowers; women in combat) via news-desk discourse. — CHANNEL

NARDWUAR THE HUMAN SERVIETTE

C H A N N E L youtube.com/ iamother (by Pharrell Williams’ I Am OTHER) G E N R E News, Music I T ’ S L I K E Oprah Winfrey meets Pee-wee Herman T H E S K I N N Y Eccentric rap head Nardwuar goes guerilla in off-the-cuff interviews with hip-hop’s usual suspects (see: real estate tips from 2 Chainz). — 2.

THE HOOD CHEF

CHANNEL

youtube.com/

hoodchefnyc (by Brooklyn T and Hector Savito) G E N R E Cooking I T ’ S L I K E In the kitchen with Ghostface T H E S K I N N Y This how-to for foodies finds Hood Chef whipping up slowcooked meals and occasionally grilling rappers on their top dishes. — THE CELIBATE NYMPHO CHRONICLES

3.

C H A N N E L youtube.com/ tanjareen (by Tanjareen Martin) G E N R E Dramedy I T ’ S L I K E An all-black Sex and the City

T H E S K I N N Y Professed sex addict Tanjareen turns celibate after a lover (or three) shafts her. Watch her date without the D in a 100-day fast. — 4.

DECODED

youtube. com/jayz (by Jay-Z’s IconicTV) G E N R E Music I T ’ S L I K E A lyrical Behind the Music T H E S K I N N Y This hip-hop pit stop has vets (Juicy J) and freshmen (Ab-Soul) rhyme a cappella and read CHANNEL

FUTURE KATT WILLIAMS OFFENSES Engaging in a brawl with Chris Brown

Stealing a cane from a neighborhood pimp

youtube. com/insidegaming (by Machinima) G E N R E Lifestyle I T ’ S L I K E G4TV T H E S K I N N Y From Harry Potter for Kinect to Super Smash Bros., this consolecentric hub for demos, news and reviews is the go-to for every game boy and girl. —

6.

THE PLATFORM

youtube.com/ theplatform (by Andrea’s Choice, Amy Pham, Camila and P’Trique) G E N R E Beauty, Lifestyle I T ’ S L I K E A virtual slumber party T H E S K I N N Y Hosted by a CHANNEL

BLACK NERD COMEDY

9.

C H A N N E L youtube.com/ Black Nerd Comedy (by Andre Meadows) G E N R E Comedy, Lifestyle I T ’ S L I K E Best Week Ever x I Love the ’80s T H E S K I N N Y The fasttalking Trekkie slanders throwback toons and tech missteps in his bleeptastic “Black Nerd Rants."

Trespassing on Martin Lawrence’s lawn

Public disturbance (performing standup at a day care)

I L L U ST R AT I O N : S O P H I A C H A N G

between the lines of their hottest bars. —

1.

INSIDE GAMING

CHANNEL

6

2

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3/29/13 10:07 AM


blast / A S K A N E X P E R T ART

Bill of Lights

Paint Job

With stars pushing for laws against peeping paps, entertainment attorney Cassandra Spangler reviews VIBE’s proposed legislation

Street art writer Daniel Feral weighs in on a pair of musicians who’ve discovered their inner Van Gogh

requested legal permission to take her daughter out of the country [because of ] paparazzi harassment. Groups like the Los Angeles City Council recently lobbied for a paparazzi-free zone around a celebrity’s person and family. NEW RULE NO.3

Photogs must foot speeding tickets for celebs forced to go 55 in a 54 A law like this may only fuel criticism that our justice system isn’t blind. However, many existing laws provide celebrities with civil remedies for expenses incurred and harm suffered as a result of paparazzi—last year a paparazzo faced criminal charges after a car chase involving Justin Bieber.

S PA N G L E R

NEW RULE NO.1

NEW RULE NO.2

Paparazzi who catch celebs with a forkful have to ante up on the bill (plus 30 percent tip)

Snapping baby bump flicks is considered child endangerment

One way to deal with this issue may be a ban on cameras and cell phones in [high-end] restaurants and nightclubs. Establishments that institute a ban may actually see increased celebrity clientele. That’s been the case with The Box in New York City. S PA N G L E R

S PA N G L E R It’s unlikely that the mere act of photographing an unborn child puts that child in danger. But where extreme measures are taken to obtain the photograph, a paparazzo may face enhanced criminal penalties. Halle Berry

F E R A L : He’s a very talented painter with a strong graphic sensibility. He paints with both a beautiful splashy and ragged expressionistic brush stroke, but also has the skills to render a tightly molded figure. So far the work seems to have influences that are very popular.

NEW RULE NO.4

Paps must sport badges with their name and the agency for which they gawk S PA N G L E R This may be the best way to go. We’ve seen this self-regulation in the music industry with the RIAA’s parental advisories and [Hollywood’s] MPAA ratings system. Perhaps it’s time for the media to follow suit—for example, by purchasing photos only from “licensed” paparazzi. —AS TOLD TO KATHY IANDOLI

↑ CHRIS BROWN The former school bus vandal launched a graphic-centric clothing line and an NYC art exhibit. Chris can get into the layering and manic qualities Basquiat was obsessed with. He drops any sense of eye-to-hand coordination and creates those monsters that seem to be born in a fun house. —AS TOLD TO IYANA ROBERTSON

FERAL:

CAN CELEBS TRADEMARK SLOGANS? U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Rep: It has to be on something

you’re selling or putting out in the marketplace. If it’s just a saying or something you get known by, that’s a copyright.

05.13_VB_blast_expert.indd 31

I L L U ST R AT I O N : S O P H I A C H A N G

Justin Bieber sports a gas mask in London.

↑ SWIZZ BEATZ The Basquiatobsessed art collector plans on showing his creations at a exhibit.

4/2/13 9:12 AM


5

blast / 8 T R AC K

FILM

An Entertainment Cheat Sheet

1

TV

A 30-Second Sell Model Employee (Premieres in May on VH1)

Soul Revival Motown: The Musical (Opens April 14 at New York’s LuntFontanne Theatre)

• Spinning the record back on

CHRISSY TEIGEN (JUDGE):

You have these eight gorgeous women in a house, working so hard for this Mandalay Bay Resort spokesmodel role that they lose all concept of the cameras. Vanessa Branch, the Orbit gum girl, is one of the judges, and they really get on these girls’ asses. A few things that stick out: ice buckets, underwear and swimsuits. I’ll save it as a surprise. —AS TOLD TO ADELLE PLATON

2

TV

soul’s finest, Motown provides a visual memoir of Detroit’s 1960s hit machine, from founder Berry Gordy, Jr.’s POV. “There are 50 different versions of how it happened,” says director Charles Randolph-Wright. “This is his.” —MILES MARSHALL LEWIS

4

6

• Suffering a near skull bash, the wrestlerturned-actor plays his own stunt double in the Michael Bay–directed Pain & Gain. He and Mark Wahlberg tag-team in an all-steroid-everything drug bust. The muscle man then revs up for his second Fast & Furious appearance. Sequel six finds the Rock, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker overtaking mercenary drivers for another speed-chaser in London. —A .P

3

MUSIC

MUSIC

Yeah Yeah Yeah's Buzzing New LP

Mosquito

(April 16)

Pop-rock trio Yeah Yeah Yeahs' lets its imagination fly on this schizophrenic fourth LP. There are intense, psychedelic moments: The literally bugged-out title track is an insectophobe spazz-out. Four songs later, hyperbolic sirens, caustic guitars and Karen O’s punk chants power an alien invasion on “Area 52.” Thankfully, lo-fi burners (see: “Subway”) help soothe Mosquito’s trippy bite.

MUSIC

This Album Might Get You (Or Her) Pregnant Thumpy Johnson (Spring)

—JOHN KENNEDY

JEREMIH This is the shit you need if you want to have a great time, have a baby or two. It’s refreshing, dope street R&B. Guys can still be hard listening to “Horny.” “For the Freaks” is like a warp. Twobodies-in-one type of shit.

8

—AS TOLD TO CAMILLE AUGUSTIN

One Q, One A Love & Hip Hop Atlanta (Season 2 premieres in April on VH1) ATL’s inaugural season pumped up the ratchet factor. Can it get any wilder? BENZINO, CAST MEMBER Last season, I was Stevie J’s confidant, the voice of reason coming in as Karlie Redd’s [love interest]. This time, you’ll see Zino involved in a little more drama. I definitely will have more of a voice. VIBE:

—AS TOLD TO SHARIFA DANIELS

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A Dwayne Johnson Primer Pain & Gain (April 26) Fast & Furious 6 (May 24)

FILM

7

3 Cool Points Director Brian Helgeland on why his Jackie Robinson biopic, 42, won’t strike out (April 12)

W H O ’ S O N F I R S T Any “first” has merit, but I was drawn to Robinson’s real everyday bravery. I concentrated on the 1947 season in Brooklyn because what Jackie did that year was like landing at Normandy— there was no going back. F I E L D O F D R E A M S The production designer chose Engel [Stadium] in Tennessee [to represent] Ebbets Field. We re-created the scoreboard and outfield ads, and then greenscreened the rest of the field so we could add the stands and Brooklyn beyond. S TA R S A R E B O R N The actors came prepared, knowing we only had three or four takes to get things right [because of budget]. It’s tricky for someone famous to play someone else famous. I wanted to be able to say, “Here’s Jackie, and here’s Rachel” and let the audience flow with it from the start. —AS TOLD TO M.M.L .

FILM

Director vs. Techie A pair of POVs on the flick Jobs, about Apple’s genius cofounder (April 19) Seeing Ashton [Kutcher] play this part in this era of Jobs’ life—him being a showman of a product that had never been seen before to a tortured inventor—felt interesting and dynamic. Ashton did a remarkable job. LESLIE HORN, GIZMODO.COM STAFF WRITER: The marvel of a good movie is when there’s no distinction between where the actor ends and the character begins. I can’t help but think Ashton is playing Steve Jobs, not that he is Steve Jobs. It’s a weird casting choice, but it might work. —C. A .

JOSH STERN, DIRECTOR

4/1/13 6:54 PM


Splurge W E' V E G OT T H E G O O D S

• Calvin Klein Collection Tortoise Sunglasses $185, calvinklein.com

• Kris Van Assche x Linda Farrow Sunglasses $400, us.lindafarrow.com

Eye Candy

Augment your sunglasses stash this season with Calvin Klein’s rectangular shades of gray. Or for a look that’s just different (read: bolder), go camo in these thick-framed tortoise shell specs, a retro marriage between Kris Van Assche and Linda Farrow that put a tough twist on the wardrobe staple. You’ll never blend in again.

PHOTOGRAPH BY ALEX JOHNSON

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splurge / B UZ Z FA C T O R RECIPE

The Replacements Guzzle these skinny drinks for optimal weight watching

1

. THE 3RD DATE Substitute for the usual Margarita Mix up 2 oz. Tanteo Jalapeño tequila, 1 oz. lime juice, 1/2 oz. agave nectar syrup and 1/2 oz. orange juice in an ice-filled shaker. Strain into a rocks glass filled with more cold cubes. Garnish with orange wedge dipped in chili pepper and drank up.

2

. COSMO BLANCO Substitute for the usual Cosmo

Considering cutting out booze to help shrink that spare tire? Before you kill your buzz completely, bottle these tips for lightening your load —Victor Ozols

Liquor Over Beer

Try Lower-Cal Mixers

To find your finest physique, give the brews a break and start watching calories. While most non-light beers pack 150 calories per mug, a shot of vodka, rum or tequila tallies a milder 100. Go further by switching the usual suspects for a light spirit like Fergie’s Voli vodka ($20), which at 60 proof flaunts a third fewer calories.

The go-to Cinco de Mayo libation, margaritas (1) boast as much as 740 calories—more than a Burger King Whopper—thanks to its sugary ingredients. For a skinnier version, have the bartender replace Cointreau (an orange-flavored liqueur) with a splash of orange juice and a drop of agave. Cosmo (2) sippers can substitute red cranberry juice for white (it’s less tart) to reduce the sweet life.

_

Swap Out Simple Sugar

Skip sugar-heavy sips like mai tais and coladas that easily surpass the 500-calorie mark. And instead of Domino, ask the bartender to spike your potions with agave syrup. It’s sweeter than simple syrup and easier on your innards. Agave is made from the same plant as tequila.

_

Bare Some Fruit

Help prevent booze bloating by using natural sugars found in fruits. Cut down on the processed kind in a mojito (3) and opt for muddled strawberries, which give it a flavor smack without the head-pounding sweetness. Drop a decent tip for your server—like your waist, slimming a cocktail takes work.

3

. STRAWBERRY BASIL MOJITO Substitute for the usual Mojito Muddle 1 large strawberry and 5 basil leaves in a Collins glass. Add 2 oz. Appleton Dark rum, 1/2 oz. lemon juice and 1/2 oz. simple syrup (for a bigger calorie dip, use Truvía sweetener). Drop in ice, roll mixture into a cocktail shaker and give it a few shakes. Top with club soda and strawberry garnish. —RECIPES COURTESY OF KATIE MULHOLL / DAVID BURKE KITCHEN

IMAGE COURTESY OF GETTY IMAGES

Get Low

Grip an ice-filled cocktail shaker and combine 2 oz. Ketel One Citroen vodka, 1 oz. white cranberry juice, 1/2 oz. agave nectar syrup and 1/2 oz. lime juice. Shake and strain into a glass; adorn with lemon twist for a sweet and sour mash-up.

34 VIBE A P R I L /M AY 20 1 3

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3/29/13 9:44 AM


CREATE A VIBE ALL YOUR OWN

Whether it’s a relaxing or cool space you are looking for, The Home Depot has everything you need to keep it simple and make it your own.

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splurge / T R A N S P O R T

Baby Steps

TECH

Auto brands have gradually made their green machines more Prince Charming and less Shrek. Consider Caddy’s latest wheels a leap from fugly to fashionable —Will Gock

Linked In Equip your whip for the Jetsons era

2001 Toyota Prius While it didn’t take on its wedge shape until generation two, Toyota’s flagship hybrid had about as much visual appeal as a Vokál lookbook. Still, celebs and Mr. Me Too’s bought in for the eco factor alone, choosing to rock a green machine with essentially the same shape as the Pontiac Aztek.

Heads-Up Displays

BMW’s non-intrusive, glass-projected data acts like a pair of Google goggles for windshields.

2001 Honda Insight Honda’s primary planet-saver has always been the redheaded stepchild to its rival. Complete with rear-wheel covers, the inaugural Insight’s odd sculpting was the automotive equivalent of a unibrow.

SIRI Inside

GM integrates Apple’s robo-assistant SIRI into some of its smaller offerings, meaning voiceoperated sexting and playlist control. 2008 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid Building a full-size green SUV seemed like an oxymoron, but Caddy’s early foray into alternative energy took a simple approach to style—keep it the same. And the “HYBRID” badging and decals were easily removable with razor blade and fishing line.

2011 Fisker Karma Fisker’s one-percenter sport sedan threw all stereotypes of electric vehicles to the wind. Sculpted in supercar-worthy lines, its guts pay homage to Mother Earth through sustainable materials, including inlays harvested from driftwood.

Night Vision

2010 Chevy Volt The turning point in the hybrid movement, Chevy’s 2007 Volt concept dropped jaws with a more masculine flair that shared the brand’s bully-ish design language. Its swagger thinned for 2010, but there was finally more on the menu than tofu.

Mercedes-Benz’s night vision display detects body heat down to the animal level for better nocturnal navigation. Mobile Hot Spots

VW’s professional big bro, Quattro, keeps you hooked to the matrix, enough to sustain a portable office. —W.G.

2013 Cadillac ELR The 2014 ELR represents an opposable-thumbs moment in the evolution of hybrids. Essentially a repackaged Volt, it integrates Caddy’s angular design DNA into a legitimate double take generating vehicle. Wheel mounted paddle-shifters allow drivers to initiate aggressive downshifts that generate more battery power, translating to even more distance (and fun) per charge. It might finally get you to brag about green in a different way.

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splurge / G A D G E T S

A Running Tab

With more killer features and curves, tablets have evolved from pocket paperweights to necessities. Use this cheat sheet to find out which portable to power up —Mike Dawson

1

. GOOGLE NEXUS 7 Minimalists who prefer their gadgets slim S TA N D - O U T S P E C S : With its rounded edges and logo-free torso, no one will know you only dropped two C-notes. The 7-inch screen is built for palm piloting. D E A L- B R E A K E R : Google’s inaugural tablet takes a minute to boot up, plus its fuzzy 1.2-megapixel cam makes Instagram flexing tough. • Starts at $199, play. google.com BEST FOR:

_

2

. KINDLE FIRE HD 8.9” B E S T F O R : Daily commuters seeking distraction S TA N D - O U T S P E C S :

Super-fast streaming speeds—ideal for Netflix and Pandora hogs—and an interface friendlier than Dora. D E A L- B R E A K E R : An extra $15 to opt out of ad pop-ups from Amazon clients. • $299, amazon.com

_

3

. APPLE IPAD MINI Tablet virgins and jacks-of-all-trades BEST FOR:

S TA N D - O U T S P E C S :

Dummy-proof and powerful (processor zips like Bone Thugs bars), Apple's babe bro tablet packs gluttonous storage and cloud capacity for media ranging from Batman to Lil B. D E A L- B R E A K E R : Costs a fistful next to more featurerich competition. • Starts at $329, apple.com

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P H O T O G R A P H B Y JOSHUA SCOTT

VIBE_SPLURGE_Gadgets APR_FIRST.indd 37

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splurge / M A I N T E N A N C E TIPS

Sock Stars

1

Kick your feet up in these dapper essentials

If your idea of sock coordination means scoring a match in the laundry pile, it’s time for a tutorial. Know these FAQs before slipping into your next pair

1

. ETRO COLORBLOCK SOCKS If you spend weekends spilling Ace of Spades in the same clubs Hov frequents, sport Etro’s line of opulent cashmeres in suit-and-tie-friendly hues. $52 nordstrom.com

I’m breaking out my bright suit this spring. What’s the perfect sock matchup?

For suits that might startle Craig Sager, find subdued socks a shade darker than your ensemble but lighter than your shoes. If you’re decked in black or navy, grab a pair that matches your outfit.

_

2

. PERRY ELLIS TRETORN Skew more preppy? Channel Pharrell with Perry Ellis’ thin cotton-blend socks in conservative colorways. $16 us.tretorn.com

22

_

3

Is it ever cool to go… commando?

Knock your socks off, and let your dogs breathe in airy footwear like loafers and boat shoes. Invest in a potent powder to soak up sweat and leave the funk to James Brown.

_

4

. DIESEL HOLDEN GREEN MOHAWK SOCK For socks that stand out like a Cee Lo ensemble, try Diesel’s popping patterns and buoyant colors. $25 diesel.com

Are white socks only for the gym?

3

05.13_VB_splurge_maintenance rv1. 4.1.indd 40

I just copped a pair of printed socks. Is there a rule for mixing and matching?

For experiments with fresh prints à la Andre 3000, don patterned socks like argyle or stripes with solid garb. With prints on prints, keep all the patterns in the same color family.

. SEAN JOHN STAR DRESS SOCKS More stripes on stripes, a go-to Sean John pair will hold you down like Mason Betha. 3-pack $21 seanjohn.com

40 VIBE A P R I L /M AY 20 1 3

Bottoms Up

4

You can slip on a pair for sporty attire (T-shirt, shorts, kicks). But stay away from whiteys with black dress shoes, unless you're planning to moonwalk. —JESSICA C. ANDREWS

P H O T O G R A P H B Y JOSHUA SCOTT

4/2/13 12:02 PM


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splurge / U P K E E P

Sign Me Up

c

In lieu of drugstore hit-and-runs, product junkies can now get swag bags shipped straight to their crib. Niki McGloster dives into the sample swapping deep end

02

C A L L M E A C R E AT U R E

of habit. I don’t go all Tyrone Biggums over powders and goops. Instead, I stick to a faithful lineup—see: my portable stash of Lubriderm lotion and Motives foundation—and only restock when the needle hits E. But with spring shifting in, my regimen needed a reboot. Via word of mouth, I stumbled over a solution: online subscriptions, aka door-to-door hair, body and cosmetic bundles for cheap. As a 24-8 work drone, pledging allegiance to a virtual delivery service that cut out the endless bottle browsing and steep receipts was a no-brainer. Some brief site surfing (while dodging KimYe baby headlines) led me to enlist with three top-tier monthly dealers: Birchbox 1, curlBox 2 and BeautyARMY 3. Two days later, once the travel-

size samples arrived, my inner girly girl shrieked… and then went mute. This was it? Each box boasted a motley crew of content, from generic brands (Skinn Collagen Boost Lipstick) to indie lines (You Da Balm, EDIA Serene Moisturizing Paste), some worth hoarding; others made for re-gifting (hey, Ma). Truthfully, being a 20-something woman of color with oily skin curbed my initial enthusiasm—would these products even cater to me? But if you stick it out long-term, I learned, the ratio of dope to mediocre merch evens out; plus some sites let you customize your parcels. Since black women spend MMG ends on health and beauty purchases per year, this was a frugal alternative. By sifting through a mixed baggie of pre-picked goodies, I could dibble and dabble without the commitment, Stevie J–style.

SHOP

Try-Outs Give these fullservice sample sites a test run

42 VIBE A P R I L /M AY 20 1 3

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1.

2.

3.

BIRCHBOX Stuff your clutch with vitals ranging from Band-Aids to luxe lathers • S A M P L E I T E M Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream $10/month, birchbox.com

CURLBOX Cleansers and creams keep curly girls’ manes popping • S A M P L E I T E M Elasta QP Olive Oil & Mango Butter Moisturizer $20/month, curlbox.com

BEAUTYARMY A gamut of baller-level aromas, ointments and cosmetics • S A M P L E I T E M Bvlgari Jasmin Noir perfume $12/month, beautyarmy.com P H O T O G R A P H B Y JOSHUA SCOTT

3/28/13 9:24 AM


splurge / K I C KS TA R T

High Life

Full disclosure: These sneakers aren’t fiscally friendly. But if you’re on a buying binge treat your feet this summer —Daniel Williams

01. Kurt

Geiger London | $200 kurtgeiger.com

02. Supra

Falcon $200 | suprafootwear.com

04. Giuseppe

Zanotti Brown Suede Fringe Sneaker | $775 giuseppezanottidesign.com

03. Puma

X Alexander McQueen | $210 puma.com

05. Adidas

X Jeremy Scott | $200 adidas.com

PHOTOGRAPH BY JOSHUA SCOTT

05.13_VB_splurge_kickstart.indd 43

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splurge / N I G H T L I F E

Dream Team

Want room and board that’s fit for Foursquare? Upgrade your suite life at one of hotelier Vikram Chatwal’s overnight sensations —Deena Campbell

BARS

Happy Ending

Cap your workday at one of these major-city pubs LOS ANGELES

DREAM SOUTH BEACH 1111 Collins Ave. Miami, Florida R O O M R AT E S : Starting at $168 per night T H E V I E W : Miami skyline T H E D I G S : Excuse the French Moroccan– inspired rooms. The suites, conjured up by designer Lawrence Murray, double as a Hall of Fame, with OG

snapshots of the Rolling Stones and John Lennon. S WA G F A C T O R : Keep up like a Kardashian by shooting selfies on the white sand beaches 50 yards away. PA R T Y L I F E : Spend your dough on Serafina’s Neopolitanstyle pizzas before hiking up happy hour to 2 p.m. at the venue’s rooftop lounge, Highbar.

DREAM DOWNTOWN 355 West 16th St. New York, NY R O O M R AT E S : Starting at $465 per night T H E V I E W : Empire State Building T H E D I G S : The Dream franchise’s portholethemed flagship— designed by Trump SoHo architect Frank Fusaro—plasters guests’ four walls with a rotating showcase of local art. S W A G F A C T O R : A luxury swimming pool and see-through floor overlooking the lobby could stroke any ego. PA R T Y L I F E : Perfect your chopstick game at the French-inspired Japanese restaurant Cherry before picking up tabs at its secret underground nightclub (Primetime: 1 a.m.).

The Edison After putting in work, breadwinners flock to this speakeasystyle watering hole every Thursday for 35-cent cocktails before 7 p.m. Try the bar’s namesake beverage, a smooth blend of bourbon, pear brandy, honey and lemon juice. Just don’t walk in rocking Foamposites—the dress code is adult contemporary. 108 W. 2nd St., #101, edisondowntown.com — NEW YORK CITY

Lavo Olivia Pope–approved, this restaurant/nightclub hybrid finds star clientele and corner-office types intermingling. Lift your pinky up to a catalog of imported red and white wines, bubbly and Italian-style cocktails. 39 E 58th St., lavony.com — MIAMI

Area 31 Drink in the Miami skyline and booze at this dining hub burrowed on the 16th floor of the EPIC Hotel. Art Basel meets Top Chef on the alfresco rooftop during “Martini Wednesdays,” serving up a crowd of local artists, $5 premium well drinks and bite-size morsels. 270 Biscayne Blvd. Way, area31restaurant.com — ATLANTA

Cypress Street Pint & Plate Brick decor and emo fire pits warm up this homey, southern thirst trap. The popular house brew Sweetwater IPA checks out at $3 a glass, while happy hour munchies include all-American dishes till 7 p.m., keeping bellies full and wallets packed at the end of the day. 817 W. Peachtree St. NW, Suite E125, cypressbar.com —MIKE DAWSON

44 VIBE A P R /M AY 20 1 3

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4/2/13 12:15 PM


Next P E O P L E ON T H E V E RG E

Jessie Ware Singer BORN: October 15, 1984

My sister used to say I looked like Ricki Lake in Hairspray

Miu Miu. Their shoes are the best, and they make really classy clothes MUST-SEE TV: Girls and Curb Your Enthusiasm HEELS OR SNEAKERS: I love sneakers but they don’t go with the outfits I [wear now]. I had to learn to be a heel girl—I’m scared I’m going to fall over WHY I’M ABOUT TO BLOW: I was hitting my stride on the last two songs I wrote for Devotion: “Wildest Moments” and “Running.” I’m [figuring] out how I like to work. The next LP is going to be in the same lane, maybe more confident. I want to do a bit of everything and be as romantic as possible.

FAVORITE CLOTHING BRAND:

—AS TOLD TO JOHN KENNEDY

HOMETOWN: London,

England CLAIM TO FAME: Devotion PREVIOUS DAY JOB: I was a

really crap journalist, so I jumped ship quickly MY BIGGEST VICE: Food. I think about it 24-7 STAR-STRUCK MOMENT: In Hollywood, I screamed in Ryan Gosling’s face and ran off. I looked like this crazy fan girl FIRST-DATE RULE: Don’t go out for dinner. With my [now] boyfriend I was worried about something getting stuck in my teeth UNEXPECTED COMPARISON:

P H O T O G R A P H B Y PA U L S C A L A

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next

Rockie Fresh

different ages,” reflects the now 22-year-old rhymer, speaking into a dying iPhone 5. “I felt like if that was possible then it’s easy to take current events—things I’m going through— and put them into the same form.” Rockie Fresh is no gospel rapper, but he recognizes Pullen) aside his parents, one of thousands the power of the tongue. The trippy Electric attending a 2005 gospel conference, captiHighway mixtape—his first project since signvated by megachurch pastor T.D. Jakes’ stiring to Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group in ring sermon. July—merges brag bars, chronic leaves and “This is crazy that one person can take distorted vocals, cut from a Chi-Town fabric information [from] before any of us were void of hometown cohorts King L’s or Chief even born and make sense to [people] of all Keef’s babbled aggression. “I was always in the house,” admits the movie buff, who moved to his city’s South Side suburbs when he got to high school. “I really never lived that street lifestyle... People in the city give me respect for creating my own lane.” Rockie traces his eclectic sonT H E S TAT S ics back to his days as a rebellious member of Homewood-FlossBORN: April 16, 1991 moor High School’s student body, HOMETOWN: Chicago, IL in which privileged brats and CLAIM TO FAME: Electric Highway mixtape young ratchets intermingled. LAST MOVIE WATCHED: Already sneaking listens of Nelly, Paid in Full. Movies Kanye and Lupe under Mom and open up my mind to Dad’s devout ceiling, the baseball life and different situations to rap about and basketball fiend penned his FIRST ALBUM I BOUGHT: first raps at 16, keeping his ears Country Grammar. attuned to the diverse genres Nelly was super hot, blasting from classmates’ iPods. so I had to get that “I knew I wanted to add those influences to give my sound something different, give people a different musical experience,” says Fresh, who has recorded with rock band Good Charlotte. Peddling his own mixtapes on the Internet built a local buzz and snagged the attention of Fall Out Boy’s lead singer Patrick Stump, who pulled Rockie aboard as an opening act on his 2011 solo tour. “He killed it every night,” says Stump. “I’m pretty sure he sold the second most merchandise of the whole tour. That’s the kind of hunger winners have.” Rockie’s 2012 mixtape Driving 88 sparked a bidding war between Diddy and Rick Ross. As with all major decisions, Rockie prayed on it before (curiously) inking with the boss behind God Forgives, I Don’t. Now waving the MMG flag, Rockie isn’t in a rush for overnight celebrity. He’s been recording to Boi-1da beats with his usual pencil-free approach (“I’ve never been a big fan of writing raps because I think too hard on trying to be cool,” he says), yet he’s simmering his upcoming major label debut LP. “I’m young, and I feel like to make a really dope album you have to experience a lot,” Rockie says. “There’s still more stuff I wanna experience. I’m just taking it slow.” —BENÉ VIERA

MMG’s spaced-out spitter is serving up a softer side of the Chi I N N E W O R L E A N S ’ packed MercedesBenz Superdome stadium, some 900 miles away from his native Chicago stomping grounds, a pubescent Rockie Fresh is finding his calling. There are no colliding football players or shouting artists onstage, yet here sits the wide-eyed rapper (born Donald

PHOTOGRAPH BY EMILIE ELIZABETH

VIBE_NEXT MOB APRIL MAY 2013.indd 46

4/1/13 8:07 PM


Lianna La Havas

GUEST LIST

Singer

Bands a Make Her Dance • These three musical ensembles are proof that there’s power in numbers. Group hug! Fitz and the Tantrums

Lead crooner Michael Fitzpatrick slicks Motown-era lacquer on this indie pop band’s major label debut, More Than Just a Dream (May 7). Yet, the festival-crawling troupe shines brightest live, as singer Noelle Scaggs shakes her tambourine (and her waistline) all over the stage. Haim

Powered by ’80s synths and percussion, Haim makes retro sound spanking new. The three L.A. sisters joined past winners Adele and Ellie Goulding when they scored BBC’s Sound of 2013 honors. Bad Rabbits

Bad Rabbits strikes sweetand-sour chords as Fredua Boakye’s heavy rock star vocals clash against poppy synths and guitars. Led by the single “Fall in Love,” the multiracial band’s first LP, American Love (May 14), seeks to fill Gym Class Heroes’ gaping void.

BORN: August 23, 1989 HOMETOWN: London,

England CLAIM TO FAME: “Lost &

Found,” Is Your Love Big Enough? SOUNDTRACK OF MY YOUTH:

The Fugees’ “Killing Me Softly.” I first heard that when I was 7; it was great. Reminds me of my childhood every time INSTRUMENT I’D LIKE TO LEARN: The harp. It’s the

most beautiful sounding thing, and seems to employ techniques on a piano and guitar. I play [both], so I wonder if I’d take to it easily MORNING MUST-HAVE: I got an espresso machine for my birthday, so I’ve been making soy milk cappuccinos. It’s quite fantastic A GOOD-ASS NIGHT: I love cooking and entertaining, so I’d invite my closest friends over for a dinner party, have jokes and end with a movie FAVORITE MOVIE: Buffalo ’66. It’s drama with a very slight dark humor DREAM DESTINATION:

Rubin Singer HOMETOWN: Vienna,

Austria CLAIM TO FAME: Garbs for

Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Fergie and Solange CHILDHOOD IDOL: Grace Jones. I lived for her when I was a kid and a teenager. Still do GO-TO DRINK: A very dirty martini. Filthy, actually ALTERNATE CAREER: Classi-

cal ballet. I decided that lifestyle wasn’t for me—I wasn’t ready for my career to be over at 28 TREND TO KILL: High-low dresses and skirts. It was done to death. I can’t look at it anymore NEXT TREND TO HIT: Razorsharp tailoring. I’m all about a sharp jacket or a sharp skirt. It’s clean, forward, directional,

HAIRSTYLE I’D NEVER ROCK:

The shaved-head look. I love hair—the bigger the better NON-MUSICAL TALENT: I really love to paint in watercolor. Drawing repeated patterns and trying different color

techniques, shading. I just make stuff up WHY I’M ABOUT TO BLOW: I’ve set out to not sound like anyone. I have a band, but all the songs start off with just me on a guitar—playing the electric guitar in a solo-oriented way is different. The need for live, tangible, real-life music that you can touch and feel and has truth—that’s what I’m offering. —JOHN KENNEDY

I’m a third-generation fashion designer, so it’s in my blood. I’m finally at a point where I can speak my truth. I have no fear. This collection I’m working on is a game changer.”

Fashion designer

BORN: July 22, 1978

Jamaica. I’ve never been there, and half of my family is from Jamaica. I’ve always been intrigued about going and making music

aggressive. It’s feminine HIDDEN TALENT: Painting DREAM DRESS MODEL: Cate Blanchett FASHION WEEK GRIPE: New York Fashion Week is “get it done, get it over with, on to the next one.”

The glamour and fantasy of what fashion shows ought to be is missing WHY I’M ABOUT TO BLOW: I’m a third-generation fashion designer; so it’s in my blood. I’m finally at a point where I can

speak my truth. I have no fear. This collection I’m working on is a game changer. It’s taking a 90-degree turn to really go to where my heart, soul and sensibility really reside. —STACY-ANN ELLIS A P R I L /M AY 20 1 3 VIBE 47

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4/2/13 10:12 AM


Great Debates From albums to films to whips, VIBE’s last word on the culture’s biggest arguments

picking favorites inevitably results in blood baths. Egos get dented, feelings crushed and victors spoiled. That’s the spirit of lists. No matter the conclusion, the convos kindled are worth the struggle of parsing data to crown number ones (dot-coms know). Determined to spark deep thought and emerge with definitive rankings, VIBE’s debate squad brainstormed the following lists and spent a sweatshop worth of hours in a war room, strapped with 20 years of facts and verbal PowerPoints. The madness needed parameters, so every list’s time span ranges from VIBE’s inception in 1993 to 2013, meaning subjects that peaked outside that margin got excluded (no Michael Jack, no Magic). And every list needed to be conclusive. No ifs or buts. When it came time to ground our anchor, top 20 Musical Geniuses, statements like, “Diddy was pissing Gold” and “Prince hates the Internet” were heard. We defined “genius” as infinitely creative artists and producers (no executives) able to alter the course of music, and we posed scenarios like: If we plopped that genius in a studio solo, would he/she resurface with something radical? For the 50 Greatest Albums, we itemized the crème de la crème of the past two decades—from usual suspects to sleepers across genres—and got to Jinsu-ing. Even freshman LPs weren’t discriminated against if worthy (see: our two cover guys). We pressed play, assessed the questionable projects and sipped the classics with a teaspoon of nostalgia, giving flawless albums slot boosts. Those that proved groundbreaking ranked higher, and those with skippable tracks dropped low. Through the raucous debates, the body of work always spoke loudest. For other lists, the process was simpler, though no less contentious. The result is a stew of decisive lists, which we now invite you to discuss, cosign or deem blasphemous. We’ve already said our piece.

I l lu st r at i o n b y Robert Ball

05.13_VIBE_GENIUS LIST final rv1.indd 49

pg.50 20 Musical Geniuses

pg.61 The Hater Elite

pg.74 50 Greatest Albums

pg.79 10 Most Revolutionary Inventions

pg.81 Hip-Hop’s 3 Most Iconic Whips

pg.82 12 Life-Changing Movies 

pg.84 19 Most Lustable Celebrities

pg.90 20 Smartest TV Shows

A p r i l /M Ay 20 1 3 VIBE 49

4/9/13 5:08 PM


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4/9/13 5:08 PM


THE MIND OF a MAD GENIUS And for his next trick, R. Kelly will make you love country music. But before he dives into tragic love songs, VIBE talks to Chi-Town’s prodigal son about being brilliant —KEITH MURPHY

01.R. KELLY The genius of 46-year-old singer/songwriter/producer Robert Sylvester Kelly is in his otherworldly ambition. “I’ve really been writing a lot of country songs,” says the Chicago native. He’s serious. “I used to get criticized for doing a ‘Bump & Grind’ then turning around and doing a gospel song. But the truth is I’m glad I have a gift that allows me to switch lanes.” Kelly embracing his inner Johnny Cash should not be taken as some Snoop Lion switch up. Who is willing to place a bet against the man who struggled with reading only to become one of the greatest writers of his generation? Kelly’s money has always been on his talent. He had designs of penning his own brand of rhythm and blues: devilish admittances via gospel vocals (12 Play). And that should have been the end of the story, except we’d be stuck in 1993. Over the next two decades, Kelly would total nearly 40 million albums sold as a soloist, birthing some of the best R&B ever heard (ex. 1998’s R, 2001’s TP-2, and 2003’s Chocolate Factory). But world-beating stats do not make a genius. It’s breaking outside your comfort zone as the modern-day king of sex-drenched bedroom instruction to become an evolved studio visionary (Aaliyah, Changing Faces, Isley Brothers). It’s pulling off a seamless segue into the pop realm delivering monstrous hits for icons like Michael Jackson and Celine Dion; all while remaining a staple in the hip-hop sphere (his multitude of collaborations with Jay-Z and Biggie). Even when Kelly is at his most ridiculous—study the ‘hood-musical-meets-soap-opera saga “Trapped in the Closet”—it somehow works. The greatest musical mind of the VIBE era took time out to discuss his genius process, surviving pornography charges in 2002 and why his next album Black Panties will reclaim his freak flag. I l lu st r at i o n b y Jack Hughes

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VIB E:

What does genius mean to R. Kelly?

That’s a hard question, man. But I don’t consider myself a genius. When I think of musical geniuses, I think of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson and Prince. That’s who comes to mind. R. Kelly:

Your high school music teacher Lena McLin pushed you to sing Stevie Wonder’s “Ribbon in the Sky” during a talent show. And the legend goes you received thunderous applause. Was this the moment you realized you wanted to become a professional singer?

That sealed the deal! That was Peter Parker being bit by the spider [laughs]. That was my first time feeling the love from a crowd, like 500 kids in an auditorium standing up and screaming. I’m like, “What? Who is behind me?” [Laughs] How did being a struggling songwriter who performed on the Chicago L train station shape the hitmaker you’d eventually become?

It was a struggle, but it helped me to have a strong voice because singing over L’s and how loud they were [laughs]. You had to be a strong singer. You once said in a 1998 interview, “I’ve been boxed with one style of music. I want to show people that I’m a global writer and I can do “Half on a Baby” and turn around and do “I Believe I Can Fly.” Can you talk about your musical range?

My talent is more than just sexual songs. There was a time I desperately needed for the world to know that I was no category guy. My whole goal in life was to reach that certain success where people will say, “Hey, that (continued ON page 93) A p r i l /M Ay 20 1 3 VIBE 51

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02.

KANYE WEST • A s K a n y e W e s t ’ s music has grown in scope, so has his outsized personality: He’s one of the world’s most admired—and controversial—pop stars because even when writing his wrongs he refuses to be penned in. Years before he left jaws ajar with his game-changing debut, The College Dropout, when his penchant for wedding soulraising hooks with trunk-rattling beats landed him in the liner notes for some of rap’s most illustrious, it was clear West was bigger than the MPC. But he may have even surprised himself with his remarkable evolution into Auto-Tuned love songs, neon-lit dance tracks, dark twisted fantasies and greatest-to-have-ever-done-it conversations. With a 360-degree vision, half the excitement of Yeezy’s forays into fashion, fine art, and freaky videography is seeing where he’ll take himself (and us) next. He’s already relocated the heir to rap’s throne to Chicago. - Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Pete Rock, producer

“I think Kanye took inspiration from how to dress as a man and applied it to music: He’s dressing music in a way where it’s creative and undeniable. You never know what to expect from him; he’s displayed an ear for hip-hop, R&B and pop, then mixed all three together. That’s pure talent. He’s at the top of his MC game, as well. He actually asked me to rhyme on “The Joy,” but I knew I’d have to step my game up tremendously. What he brought to the table was something to admire. He definitely put the battery back in my back.”

03.

classic solo album (1999’s 2001) in the same decade as his first and has somehow kept the anticipation for his third album, Detox alive for 10-plus years. Cap off the icon’s rap sheet with him using his übersuccessful Beats By Dre line to upgrade the way fans hear music and you’ll understand how he catapulted to the top of the Forbes “Cash Kings” list. Who knew that selling chronic could be so lucrative? - Chris Yuscavage Kendrick Lamar, rapper and Aftermath artist

“I watched Dre start on a beat with nothing, just drums, maybe a snare hitting and just vibe out to it, come back an hour later and sonically, it feels like it’s 3-D; you’re actually seeing the music. That’s how sonically clear it is. I’ve been in the booth with him and he heard zones that I wasn’t even aware I was capable of doing. But when we found that and went in to explore that, he pulled those things out of me—certain cadences,

deliveries. And for him to hear that, that’s genius. I’ve never worked with anybody to this day that can match that ear.”

04.

Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs • T h at D i d dy i s a success is unremarkable. His backstory is well known: flashy Uptown Records A&R kid helps usher in hip-hop soul (Jodeci, Mary J. Blige), gets fired, only to rebound by launching one of rap’s most successful labels (Bad Boy) and lyricists (Biggie). Genius, right? What’s truly remarkable, though, is that Combs continued to push culture forward, introducing new acts (112, Shyne, MGK), new brands (Sean John, Cîroc) and new platforms (Revolt TV) to hip-hop as often

0 3.

Dr. Dre

• Y o u c o u l d d i s r e g a r d all the classic material Dr. Dre has produced before the beginning of the “VIBE era”—including his work with N.W.A—and his résumé is still unmatched. Dre has remained the nucleus for the best West Coast rap has to offer; he’s produced hits for everyone from Death Row label mates Snoop Doggy Dogg and Tupac to Game and Kendrick Lamar. He’s mined new talent like Eminem and 50 Cent into legends. He delivered his second 52 VIBE A p r i l /M Ay 20 1 3

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I l l u s t r at i o n b y S ta n l e y C h o w

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6 Clubs To Rock A Party

as he reintroduced himself (Puffy, Puff Daddy, Diddy). Combs not only diversified his portfolio, he branded his holdings as a lifestyle long before lifestyle was a marketing concept. Shawn Carter’s “All Black Everything” (black cards, black cars) wouldn’t exist without Sean Combs' “All White Everything” (white parties, white yachts). His timeless ability to forecast and mind trends has earned him accolades and Forbes’ prediction that he’ll be hip-hop’s first billionaire. Genius? Right.

Strobe lights up on night spots that rage when the sun goes down —Sarah Polonsky 6.

Las Vegas

All-star bookings—from Yeezy to Diplo—pool access, a staff too sexy for their shirts and a bill that will make you lose yours.

read like a star-studded rap sheet.

VIP CREDENTIALS:

- Jayson Rodriguez

Mark Pitts; President, RCA Urban Music and Diddy’s first assistant

“The most important thing I got from him was my hustle, because he never slept. Being with him all the time…He got in at 4 a.m.—I can’t go to sleep after him—and got up at 8 a.m. So I can’t get up after him. I lived through that: that hustle and that drive. It made me understand lifestyle and he sold lifestyle. He had his own rules and vision and he stayed true to it. There wasn’t a blueprint for how the next man did it. He was the first in his time.”

5.

Pacha

LOCATION:

Ibiza, Spain

Don’t be fooled by Pacha franchises, only Ibiza conjures true club magic. Just ask David Guetta and will.i.am, who first “had a feeling” at the isle’s dance labyrinth. VIP CREDENTIALS:

4.

05.

Marquee

LOCATION:

NYC

The glam warehouse transformed NYC nightlife with “Mission Impossible” door policies and patrons that VIP CREDENTIALS:

Notorious B.I.G. for Big’s genius is noting that he penned the greatest rap album ever (see pg. 74), the double disc on which his masterful devil-in-the-details storytelling became today’s unreachable bar. But deeper analysis finds Biggie’s brilliance residing between the worlds of psychology and sorcery. His inner-visions convinced brains to change eyesight—with an impeccable flow of clever observation, creative violence, and delicious humor (i.e. the Knicks game got rained out), Christopher Wallace eclipsed everyone’s original image of fat, nasty motherfucker with Big Poppa (for the ladies) and King of New York (for them niggas). Rap’s version of Quentin Tarantino had so many styles that he was a group (Junior M.a.f.i.a.), and a lady MC (Lil' Kim). So in the interest of accuracy, the

XS

LOCATION:

3.

1.

Miami

Twentyfour-hour liquor license? Sunrise-friendly terrace? All DJs—from trance legend Tiësto to hip-hop heavyweight Clark Kent— play the nonstop pleasure dome. VIP CREDENTIALS:

Ministry of Sound

2.

LOCATION:

London

Bumpin’ London disco attracts 5,000 clubbers every weekend, packing out the five party rooms and three dance floors with a legendary sound system. VIP CREDENTIALS:

NYC (closed) In the ’90s, every hip-hop menace, raver kid in glow paint and it-gal-possibletransvestite craved and hustled for entrance into Peter Gatien’s 80,000-sq.ft., mega club. Revelers like Biggie and Puff (the Bad Boy sound first reigned supreme here), Lil’ Kim, L.L., Hova and Foxy spent many nights-turned-mornings at the tunnel-shaped spot. With vet-spinner Funkmaster Flex on the decks, the late Chris Lighty at the door and nightly performers ranging from Juvenile to DMX to Junior Vasquez, there has never been a nightspot to breed and host so many music legends (and epic fights). VIP CREDENTIALS:

Space

LOCATION:

TUNNEL

LOCATION:

• T h e e a s i e s t q u a l i f i c at i o n

easiest qualification for Big ’s genius is highlighting that he authored both the illest rap album by a male and female (since '93). Consider us corrected. - Bonsu Thompson

Jadakiss, rapper and former Bad Boy label mate

“Big’s work ethic was crazy but he never made it look like work. Ninety percent of his studio sessions were like parties, and after the party’s over, when everybody’s wasted, he would go in and lay some magical, historical shit at like 6-7 in the morning. That was incredible to me. What’s even crazier is he did most of Life After Death sitting down, cause

Guest List

5 ELECTRIFYING DANCE AlbumS According to Steve Angello

his leg was broke. I never even came up with a whole verse sitting down, 'cause you want to keep a certain energy when recording. Can you imagine coming up with those kinds of bars, those types of flows sitting in a chair?”

06. JAY-Z

•At this point, Jay-Z’s mythical Rain Man

recording process seems secondary. His greatest skill has been his ability to simultaneously be everything to everyone: He’s

Alive (Daft Punk, 2007); 2. Come With Us (The Chemical Brothers, 2002 ); The Fat of the Land (The Prodigy, 1997); 4. You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby (Fatboy Slim, 1998); 5. Melody A.M. (Röyksopp, 2001)

1.

3.

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lyrical without zipping over your head too often, progressive without leaving you too far behind, flamboyant without leaving you depressed (thug aspiration 101). Jay has narrated his life and times so candidly that there’s a bar tailored for every life situation (adultery is for adults). On a larger scale, Hov knows a hit. That he’d lift Annie’s beautiful struggle for his own breakout anthem (“Hard Knock Life [Ghetto Anthem]”) is a testament to the New York King’s platinum-plated ear, the same lobes that helped the Neptunes, Kanye West and Just Blaze become household names. A godfather of East Coast trap rap, Jay's raps burrowed into the intricacies, ironic addiction and loneliness of a hustler’s psyche all the way to the top of Barack’s speed dial. Just imagine if he started writing this stuff down. - John Kennedy

yet overbearing balance of the Godzillian “Sock It 2 Me.” Tim’s vibrant compositions, with those Tourette’s drums, elevated his angelic muse Aaliyah to new celestial heights and even made Magoo’s raps tolerable. His arsenal is genre-deaf, allowing him to bounce between Ludacris, Nelly Furtado, Björk and Justin Timberlake. The latter, another (blue-eyed) soul mate, couldn’t bring sexy back for the first time on FutureSex/LoveSounds or beam the music world into another dimension again on the amazing The 20/20 Experience without Timbo’s vision copiloting. In short, Timbaland doesn’t just create music, he gives it new life. - J.K. Marcella Araica, Timbaland’s recording and mixing engineer

“One thing I always found amazing was how Timbaland could hear anything from the water dripping in the faucet to someone’s foot pounding the floor and immediately run with it. There would be times when he’d run into the studio from the car and just jump on his keyboard to start mimicking whatever he heard. He has no fear in his approach. He doesn’t go in with a kind of thought like, I need 16 bars here or this here. He just goes with it; and that’s what makes it fresh. I’ve never seen a producer that does it like him.”

Mike Shinoda, Linkin Park rapper/guitarist and Jay-Z collaborator

“Jay has a sensibility about him [ beyond] rap music. It’s probably from age—you use the tools you pick up along the way, and he has experience from working with Linkin Park, Coldplay, Rick Rubin. While we were recording Collision Course, Jay rolled the beat for ‘Numb/Encore’ and spit for eight minutes, all album-quality material. When most people freestyle, there’s an obvious moment when they leave the written and jump into stuff off the top; with Jay there was no telling where that began and ended. It was fucking crazy. I haven’t heard anybody do anything like that.”

08.

THOM YORKE

07.

• R a d i o h e a d ’ s o d d and iconoclastic leader, embodies chilly alienation; his haunted falsetto building on already lonely lyrics. Through the late 1990s, he positioned himself less rage-filled and more anomic than Kurt Cobain—much stranger, though. In his singularity was the spark of a star. As the years wore on, Yorke’s band became even more inventive with him at the helm, toying with elaborate song structures and unexpected electronics, while he proved himself a master storyteller with a huge heart that seemed to constantly break. He used his platform to be more creative (collaborating with the likes of Flying

TIMBALAND Timbaland’s mega mixing board. Virginia’s mad scientist can draw quirky-but-catchy inspiration from anywhere: a baby crying, croaking frog, his own beatboxing. His arrival in ’96 flipped R&B on its noggin, injecting a punch of naked energy and synthetic sexuality on records like Ginuwine’s pulsating “Pony,” while he and soul mate Missy Elliott’s hip-hop invasion was embodied by the fluorescent • T h e wo r l d i s

Guest List

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06.

Lotus, MF Doom, Björk and DJ Shadow), yet still held discontent for his influence. The vulnerability in his voice inspires a kind of trust, and he always seems to be hitting the exact cultural nerve. His brilliance lies in a paradox: His entire repertoire is about being an outcast, yet he's become the most relatable frontman in the world. - J.E.S. Bilal, soul singer

"Thom is just a soulful cat. Radiohead has no boundaries in their music. You can tell that they really come with a soulful edge, not just completely rock. Especially that In Rainbows album... It really created a cold vibe. I remember putting it on and [it] making me feel a certain way, like the start of a movie kind of feeling. Amnesiac, the way they flipped the beats, there was a bit of everything in there—hip-hop, soul, jazz, definitely wild future, Squarepusher, all of that. The way Thom Yorke thinks outside of the box and his approach... I just think he's the fuckin' dude, top to bottom."

09. RZA

• I f t h e o n ly thing RZA ever accomplished was injecting kung fu movie and soul samples into Wu-Tang Clan’s classic debut, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), there’s a good chance he would still be considered one of the best hip-hop producers ever. But the Clan’s Abbot didn’t stop there. In addition to producing a majority of the tracks on four more Wu-Tang albums, RZA also handled all production duties on classic Wu-Tang solo projects like Raekwon's

Things Fall Apart, The Roots (Designed by Gravillis Inc.) “It’s the first and only time a hip-hop release had five different front covers, my favorite set of all-time.”; 2. Paul’s Boutique, Beastie Boys; 3. Ready to Die, The Notorious B.I.G. 1.

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0 9. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… and Ghostface Killah's Ironman. Over the years, he also helped score a handful of films, including Kill Bill Volume 1, and, most recently, for his directorial debut, The Man With the Iron Fists. But, it’s his work on 36 Chambers that remains the pillar of his legacy, especially since Kanye West copped to copying RZA’s sonic style back in 2007. “The style I use,” Kanye West told MTV, “RZA has been doing that.” Beautiful minds think alike. - C.Y. GZA; Wu-Tang Clan recording artist

“RZA’s capacity for learning and his broad range of knowledge on many subjects make him rare. His ability to apply that knowledge to music is a beautiful thing. On 36 Chambers, he rewrote the scripture by combining kung fu, mathematics, Eastern philosophy, science, soul music, chess, love, peace, happiness, and struggle on one album. On [my 1995 solo debut] Liquid Swords, his production was like a tailor-made suit specifically designed for the lyrics. While mastering the

Guest List

3 Ratchet Club Anthems According to Talib Kweli 56 VIBE A p r i l /M Ay 20 1 3

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album, RZA sent an engineer to get a VHS tape of the movie Shogun Assassin, which became the album’s theme. He brings more to the table than just music.”

10.

Missy Elliott funky bent notes of her solo introduction “The Rain,” where a garbage bag-clad Missy Elliott declares that she’s “Supa dupa fly,” you knew she was special. Her arrival marked the coming turn of the century: Missy's and Timbaland's dominance were synonymous with the avant-garde production in popular music, new sounds for a new millennium. But of course, her output wasn't limited to her own: She wrote, produced, and sang on some of rap’s and R&B’s biggest releases, and would help craft Aaliyah's blueprint. Shifting boundaries was her second nature:

•From the first

Inching ever left across boundaries until they were obliterated, she brought electro back to hip-hop, put house into R&B, and paid homage to Michael Jackson while producing music in a fashion more like his mentor Quincy Jones. The prolific Miss E will forever be known as one of pop music's most experimental. If it's got next, Missy's already on. - J.E.S. M.I.A., rapper

"Missy changed the way we thought about female musicians. She was refreshing because she was confident in her music. Listening to her music made you feel sexy, but she didn't sell sex in a bikini. And she was the only female producer/rapper/visionary doing that. Obviously, to me the MissyTimbaland era was the most progressive and positive in terms of what you got out of it. When they made music, it just felt good. It made people happy, and cool shit happened. It didn't seem forced or calculated; it just came from the right place. She is an icon, because there is no one like her. Even now."

11.

PHARRELL that the sci-fi loving jazz nerd from Virginia Beach would propel hip-hop into a gravity-free zone. With Timbaland having led the sound of production into the future, The Neptunes took it to space, with Pharrell beaming in refined synth melodies that launched the careers of The Clipse and Kelis. But Pha-Real’s the whole package—his songwriting and masterminding is a product of his school-band past. His indelible falsetto melodies could seduce a nun into a series of bad habits, his rock-band acumen imbued funkiness into Fred Durst-inspired projects, his DonDraper-aloof raps even made Snoop sound enthused. And he's kept his cool the entire time. Always on the edge between uptown and downtown, Skateboard P bridges genres as effortlessly as his fashion style combines high art and street smarts. No wonder Jay-Z has called no other “genius” more than he has this N.E.R.D. - J.E.S.

• I t wa s i n e v i ta b l e

1. “Get

Low,” Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz Feat. The Ying Yang Twins (2003) "'Get Low' is great because you can sing along without knowing how to sing." 2. “Down 4 My Niggaz,” C-Murder Feat. Magic and Snoop Dogg (2000); 3. “Wild Out,” The Lox (2000) I l l u s t r at i o n b y Y u ko S h i m i z u

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Miguel, singer, songwriter, collaborator

“What’s crazy about Pharrell is his ability to take what he loves—jazz music—and incorporate it. “Grindin” is his only beat that didn’t have some remnants of jazz progression or chord structure, but still, he has the ability to really assimilate a lot of diligence on his programming. He’s one of those artists that always walked the line of commercial relatability without compromising artistic integrity. He’ll give you substance but make it palatable and desirable. That’s a shoe mark of genius: the ability to put a steak inside of a Happy Meal box. I love his shit.”

12. D’Angelo

• I t ca n b e said that the genius of Michael D’Angelo Archer began at age 3 when he was discovered tickling the family piano. Decades later, Virginia’s sugar man played and arranged his own percussion, keyboard, guitar and, of course, piano to introduce himself (with blunt between ear and cornrow) via one of the finest opuses ever. The music was such a higher power that competition remained off the radar. D would satellite hip-hop –the all-consuming “Lady (Remix)” with DJ Premier and

1 1.

I l lu st r at i o n b y Philip Burke

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AZ, GZA’s icey “Cold World”—and then, like many of history’s great music minds, vanish. Once reappeared, though, whether to elevate a Common or Snoop track, or deliver his own Grammy-acclaimed LP, the results were always extraterrestrial. It can also be said that D’Angelo was at his most genius when honoring genius. While in front of Paul Hunter’s lens, wailing like Prince, D put some skin in the game. His simplest decision ended up his smartest. - B.T. Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, bandleader of The Roots, producer, DJ, percussionist and collaborator

“D’Angelo’s a true artist at heart. No matter how much I try to bash him in the head with records, every day the conversation is, 'How did you let me make 13 albums to your one album?' But that’s him. He doesn’t create music unless he’s totally moved and motivated to. Like I’m a machine, I’m a worker, but music is a spiritual thing to him. He can’t be forced to make it come before its time. I’m not suffering like the rest of the world 'cause I know what the [upcoming album] will sound like. But I will say, it’s truly a work of art.”

13.

Rick Rubin • W i t h h i s w o o l ly beard and eccentric mannerisms, Rick Rubin may resemble a cult leader. But the veteran producer and American Recordings label head is really a music deity whose studio reach extends to hip-hop, heavy metal, country, rock, and beyond. As if the New York native’s groundbreaking '80s run as founder of rap’s most influential label Def Jam wasn’t enough to secure his legacy, the man who supplied Run-DMC’s signature guitar-fueled bigbeat and signed endless game-changing MC’s, starting with LL Cool J, clearly desired more. By 1991, Rubin switched it up, producing the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ commercial breakthrough Blood Sugar Sex Magik and 1994’s Grammy-winning comeback album by the Man in Black himself Johnny Cash. Nine years later the mercurial mind would supply Jay-Z with the throwback rock-rap mash-up “99 Problems,” then produce on 2012’s best-selling album, Adele’s 21, nine years after that. None of this should come as a surprise. - k.M. A p r i l /M Ay 20 1 3 VIBE 57

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3 Political Rap Geniuses Hip-hop gets good rap by both right and left wingers 3. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) Back in

March, when legislators were filibustering—actually yapping on the Senate floor to protest Barack Obama’s drone strike policies— Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) quoted Shakespeare and General Patton. In return, Rubio name-checked Wiz Khalifa and quoted lines from a rap giant. “That takes me back to another modern-day poet by the name of Jay-Z,” he said. “In one of his songs he wrote, ‘It’s funny what seven days can change, it was all good just a week ago.’ I don’t know if it was all good, but I can tell you things have really changed.”

2.

David Gregory

Moderator of Meet the

Press When CNN’s John King moderated a 2011 Republican debate, he asked a series of “Thisor-That” questions to the candidates. While the GOP prospects were blabbering on about their choices, Gregory offered a different take.“Question not asked in this or that: Black Sheep or Tribe Called Quest,” he tweeted. “Who gets the reference?”Apparently, his Twitter followers did, which prompted a debate on hip-hop that inspired a classic line from the ‘80s. “I got a treaty w Tahiti cuz I own a percent,” Gregory

1. President Barack Obama

At the White House Correspondents dinner in 2012, Obama announced that he switched his musical selection. “In my first term, I sang Al Green,” he joked. “In my second, I’m going with Young Jeezy,” he said, referencing the rapper who wrote “My President” in response to the first black president of the United States. “Michelle said, ‘Yeah,’” Obama continued. “I sing that to her sometime.”

rich synergy that goes down as easy as Susie Screw. While the group has grown apart internally, the gap will never be as wide as the distance it created outpacing contemporaries. - Maurice Garland Big K.R.I.T., Southern rapper

“They weren’t willing to be put into a box. They experimented in a time when funk and psychedelic music might not have been cool; that made me proud to be Southern, to do whatever I want creatively. Big Boi was more of the player, while Andre was the revolutionary. But they were able to talk about whatever they wanted to. Lyrically, they’re so in-tune with society; they made music for the people, dropping their own jewels of knowledge. And their wordplay was so clever that it never got old to listen to. That’s what makes them two of the top lyricists ever.”

15.

tweeted. “I got it made.”

Nas

DJ Premier, producer and DJ, one half of Gang Starr

“Rick Rubin’s range is genius. To be a white guy stepping into a black man’s world of ghetto music at that time was really unheard of unless you were an executive. But Rick was more than that. He was a guy in an [NYU] dorm room who believed that this new hip-hop sound was going to go places. [Then Rubin] stepping out of hip-hop and messing with Johnny Cash to Red Hot Chili Peppers to the Dixie Chicks is a no-brainer for him because he understands that there are no boundaries in music.”

16. Guest List

3 Genre-Bending Tracks According to DJ duo Bingo Players I l lu st r at i o n b y Dushan Milic

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14. OUTKAST

embodiment of a clash with conformity. Big Boi and Andre 3000’s collective name doubles as a mission statement, explaining why the Atlanta duo’s Southern-fried classics hover miles away from anything on the FM dial. They play hopscotch with genre boxes—colliding drum 'n’ bass with a gospel choir on “B.O.B.,” injecting ho-down harmonica into “Rosa Parks,” lifting Patti LaBelle with mammoth bass on “Ghetto Musick” (nearly a decade before Avicii and Flo Rida made Etta James’ vocals fist-pump appropriate). Yet ’Kast’s true brilliance lies in its dichotomy. Big ’s pimp juice purees smoothly with Andre’s Mars bars and courageous melodies (Kanye’s fully crooned 808s & Heartbreak is a direct descendent of 3 Stacks’ The Love Below), forming a

•OutKast is the

• L et ’ s j u s t g et this out of the way: Nas’ debut album Illmatic was not only a flawless, stark portrait of life in New York City PJ’s, it was one of the most important albums ever. Unprecedented since Rakim eight years prior, the artist, formerly known as Nasty Nas, taught rap how to rap. He’s danced for the street (“Made You Look”), backpackers (“Sly Fox”) and pop charts (“I Can”) with a ballerina’s grace, wrote songs from unchartered perspectives that were greater than average rapper’s entire LPs (“I Gave You Power”) and shared thug tales via intricate innovation, whether with reverse chronology (“Rewind”) or shots of adrenaline (“One Mic”). Yet the unpackaging of those lyrical gifts are half the fun. The masterful writings of Nasir Jones offer metaphor, foreshadowing, visuals, outer and inner conflict, irony and sobering social analysis about the plight of brown people across the globe. - j.k.

Common, rapper and collaborator

“I recognized Nas being genius when I

1. “Everybody In The Place (Fairground Edit)” (Prodigy, 1992) “It was so fresh. This tune sparked our interested in producing music.” —Paul Bäumer; 2. “Music Sounds Better With You” (Stardust, 1998); 3. “Around The World” (Daft Punk, 1996)

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heard him rap over some Large Professor beats on Stretch [Armstrong] and Bobbito [Garcia’s] show; some ended up being on Illmatic. The imagery he created with words put me in the mind-set of a James Baldwin or Maya Angelou, poets that I’d read to get inspired by. His storytelling is phenomenal. I’ve never heard anyone capture the essence of the ghetto and bring elevation and intelligence, and make it sound great. He led a generation of rappers that weren’t rapping like that until they heard him—including me.”

16.

Erykah Badu of Dallas, Texas, introduced herself to the world as Erykah Badu with her debut album, Baduizm, and assortment of ankhs, head wraps and incense, she was improperly cast as neosoul trailblazer. She was certainly fresh, but hardly new. Her voice channeled Billie Holiday, her artistic sensibility rivaled Ma Rainey’s and her sound was thrift shop (sorry, Macklemore) compared to Diddy’s shiny suit. Ms. Badu wasn’t a relic, by any means. One call to “Tyrone” would confirm that. Yet as the self-proclaimed analog girl in a digital world, the soultress not only eschewed Auto-Tune for pitch effect, she refused to hide behind a celebrity veneer. Her personal relationships (Andre 3000, Common, Jay Electronica) played out in public, she admitted to a bout of writer’s block (The Frustrated Artist tour) and her art—from Mama’s Gun to her New Ameryka series—was all the better for it. MILF’ing ain’t easy. - J.R.

•When Erica Wright

Gary Clark Jr., Rock ‘N Soul singer/guitarist and fellow Texan

“I don't really know where to start when it comes to the lovely Erykah Badu. I don't think anyone could have ever felt we needed to look to the sky to find an extraterrestrial source for holding listeners grounded into the soul of this earth. She is the Godmother of Soul these days, a neighbor and family. The way she has been able to hold it down in such a genuine way is something I've always looked up to. [My] entire crew has mad respect for her.”

The Science of Pop Music Prepackaged hitmakers like Britney Spears are noticeably absent here, yet does birthing a mainstream monster require genius—or merely a good marketing plan? Pop architect Dr. Luke dissects the art of making the whole world sing When I used to DJ, I’d put a classic record on—let’s say Prince’s “Kiss”—then mix my own songs in and think, Are people still dancing the same way or did they go get a drink? That was the most fascinating thing ever. The key was that people had to feel that they knew the song already, even though they’d never heard it. They had to be singing along quickly. If it’s unfamiliar for too long, you’ve lost ’em. You gotta hook somebody in the beginning. You need a great melody, a great beat and hopefully great lyrics, too— although great lyrics aren’t essential to a hit song. But they’re a lot better when they do have great lyrics. Sometimes you start on guitar. Sometimes it’s a melody. A chord. Drums. An idea. There’s really no

certain way to begin. But usually by the time you’re finished, you either hate the song or feel it’s a hit. There have been songs that I’ve been embarrassed of while making that have gone on to be No. 1. It’s not any easier than it was [in the beginning], but I think I’m good at recognizing and stumbling upon [hits]. A lot of times it’s trying a bunch of things that suck and then being like, “That was pretty good.” The formula is to keep trying. Accidents happen. We [originally] made Katy Perry’s “E.T.” for Three 6 Mafia. I opened that session up by accident, and she was like, “Whoa, what’s that?” At first it took a minute to wrap my brain around it being a Katy Perry song, but it ended up being one of my favorites.

17. EMINEM

• E m i n e m ’ s i n t r o d u c t i o n seemed friendly enough—“Hi, My Name Is”—with its cheap shots at pop stars and resentful digs at Momma Mathers. Yet his debut album’s “Guilty Conscience” more accurately carved out Slim Shady’s appeal: that trailer-park-bred mini devil hovering above either shoulder, whispering weenie jokes and ex-wife murder plots via manic flows and maniacal puns. The damage control of Vanilla Ice’s Caucasian credibility void was impossible

I was with Flo Rida working on “Right Round,” and there was a previous version of the track that was definitely not as good. We did ours, and Flo was like, “I like the other version.” I’m like, “Dude, are you serious?” A couple hours later, eight girls come in. I’m like, “Why don’t we let them decide?” We played the first one, and they were like, “Eh, cool.” Then I played the version that we all know, and all of them, instantly, their moods changed. They were happy. It worked. That’s a great way to tell: Get a bunch of girls. If something’s clearly better and has a dancey beat, their bodies will move. —As told to Adam Figman

without an MC of Em’s surgical syllable play and deep-end imagination. But Marshall’s stanzas are too hilariously audacious, too masterful, to discount. He’s beloved when playing underdog (i.e. “Lose Yourself,” rap’s new millennium Rocky theme), yet when the 8 Mile spitter owns his position as rap’s most polarizing figure since Tupac, he thrives (“Stan” and “The Way I Am” are both jarring explorations of Mathers’ afflictions with superstardom). Building on the tradition of Luther Campbell and Eazy-E with 24K bars, Em has become a once-every-generation antagonist. And that takes serious brainpower. - J.K. Yelawolf, Shady Records recording artist

“Marshall’s studio is littered with comic

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books. And I think that has a great deal to do with how he approaches lyrics: He’s focused on doing the impossible. He makes the most simple things sound complex. He takes everyday words and knows how to rhyme every single syllable. Anyone could do that and have it sound like gibberish. But to say something specific about a particular subject and add in punch lines and metaphors, it’s impressive. He has inhuman capabilities. When I was in a cipher with him and Slaughterhouse [at the 2011 BET Hip-Hop Awards], he was robotic, almost. He has pure what-the-fuck moments.”

18.

Tupac Shakur

was. Never afraid to hit ‘em up, Shakur repped the disenfranchised (“Pour Out a Little Liquor”), broke down the love of a son aware of his mother’s strengths and weaknesses (“Dear Mama”), and advocated social consciousness with stark realism (“Brenda’s Got a Baby”). ‘Pac got women to love his thug passion, and men to embrace his Thug Life. It was this universal love that allowed him to not only become the first rapper to release a full-length double disc (All Eyez on Me), but sell five-times platinum in two months. His body of work united and transcended generations across the globe, rippling from the favelas of Brazil to the MARTa Museum in Germany, where his statue stands. The Black Panther Party never made as great an impact. - N. JAMIYLA CHISHOLM SCARFACE, rapper and friend of Tupac

the world’s most controversial and beloved MC was as much an enigma as he was a Renaissance man (activist, thespian, poet). His writing was as brash, bold and brutally honest as he

• T U PA C S H A KU R ,

“I would be in the studio all day, all night. [Pac] would come in like ‘C’mon nigga, let’s go.’ And I’d be like ‘Pac I’m not going no where with you. I’m working on my shit.’ And he would get so furious because it took me so

long to make my songs. He’d say, ‘You taking too motherfucking long 'cause you’re trying to find singles. Just make records and the single would come.’ He’d say, ‘Brad, you got to get across to these bitches without offending them. And the niggas want what the bitches want.’ Pac had the perfect combination. He was a phenom; and he never really died.”

19.

Daft Punk trancy tracks like “Da Funk,” “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” and “Technologic,” French dance duo Daft Punk (Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter) fused house, funk, electro, and disco-derived techno to create its own brand of retro-futuristic robo rock. With a visual presentation (pulsing laser pyramid, robot costumes, Lite-Brite backdrop) as iconic now as the music it illuminated, DP produced some of the most

• W I T H F I S T- P U M P I N G

1 7. I L LU ST R AT I O N B Y KELSEY DAKE

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19.

memorable videos and tours of all time. Their strobe-like anthems are more than universal rave fuel; they helped shepherd house music from warehouse parties to the pinnacle of the pop charts. By the new millennium, both mainstream artists and the masses were embracing EDM’s arcade effects and spacey synths. Even more, Daft Punk revved up the Auto-Tune revolution and found its way onto countless hip-hop hits—from Busta’s “Touch It” to Kanye’s “Stronger” to N.E.R.D.’s “Hypnotize You.” Now that’s good aural. - Shanel Odum

ping case study for Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours theory. Music simply pours from Weezy’s pores, whether punch line jabbing (“A Milli), Auto-Tune crooning (“Lollipop”) or rock invading (Rebirth). Meanwhile, Wayne’s Martian eyes and ears have helped him scope out his own young brilliance, seeing Drake’s and Nicki Minaj’s visions perhaps before they’d seen their own. Clearly, the “g” in this genius is not silent. - m.G.

“Daft Punk is basically considered the birth of EDM. They were the first artists to go on full production tours, taking electronic music to the next level. They have truly inspired the current generation of EDM producers, including myself, in the widest form of the genre. Daft Punk has proven that electronic music can be integrated into multiple forms of entertainment, going above and beyond to break the mold of our music genre. As they continue to create tracks that blow audiences away, they’ll also continue being a driving force and legend behind not just EDM, but electronic music as a whole.”

20. LIL WAYNE

Lil Wayne’s brain being extraterrestrial came on December 16, 2010, when his comeback single “6 Foot 7 Foot” left rap heads in a collective stupor with: "Bitch, real Gs move in silence like lasagna." There was confusion, followed by a-ha’s, followed by dictionaries dusted off to confirm if the “g” in “lasagna” is in fact silent (confirmed). It’s this sharp inventiveness that’s elevated Dwayne Carter from Cash Money minor to lyrical miracle. He’s a real-life rap goblin whose home is the recording booth—a living, breathing, codeine-sip-

•An example of

“I always thought Lil Wayne had a good approach to rhyme. I was mainly impressed by his vocabulary. Early in his career, his mother didn’t allow him to curse on records, so he had to work very hard to get his point across. That helped contribute to his lyrical dexterity in the long run. When Wayne was younger, Baby would ask how Wayne could have a career with longevity and respect: How do we make him great? My answer was to let him live in the studio. The more time he spends there, the more everything else feels foreign. He’s stuck to that.”

The Hater Elite From feeding the flames of petty drama to stealing spotlights, meet pop culture’s 11 greatest antagonists —Stacy-Ann Ellis 1.

Afrojack, DJ

Bun B, rapper and collaborator

Bill O’Reilly

Fox’s perpetually outraged correspondent not only got Ludacris booted from his Pepsi deal, but also regularly spews venom at rappers (50 Cent, Nas, Cam’ron) for breakfast.

Rush Limbaugh

C. Delores Tucker

9.

The late political activist picketed music stores to protest the sexist lyrics of Death Row spitters and harbored a 17-year-long vendetta against gangster rap.

Those who aren’t fans of color-coded communities and overly aggressive sports culture should leave this northern metropolis—Google’s top search result for “most racist city in America”—off their vacation list.

Tonya Harding

2.

6.

Remarks from the political radio host—who has lovingly tagged feminists as “feminazi” and mocked sufferers of Parkinson’s disease—tend to skew just a tad insensitive.

This ex–figure skater was banned from the ice for life after her ex-beau made sure her rival went down for the count. While Nancy Kerrigan nursed a busted knee on the sidelines, Harding continued on with the competition, conscious free.

3.

Donald Trump

When he’s not adjusting his struggle comb-over, the part-time Twitter troll bullies anyone from little old ladies to talk show hosts to the president.

Wendy Williams

7.

Simon Cowell

The slick wisecracks and blunt criticisms of American Idol’s stone-faced ex-judge made optimistic singers drain their glasses half-empty.

4.

TV’s wig-obsessed diva has made a living out of throwing unhealthy doses of shade at celebs, no matter how iconic the target— even Whitney and Beyoncé weren’t exempt.

The City of Boston

5.

8.

Dan Gilbert

When LeBron James chucked the deuces to Cleveland, the Cavaliers’ owner disproved his psychic abilities by penning a memo promising his team would win a chip before ’Bron.

10.

Kobe Bryant

The Black Mamba and Shaquille O’Neal chummed it up as frenemies for nearly eight years, but in ’03 Bryant dug up the hatchet when he blabbed to reporters that Shaq quieted alleged mistresses with hush money.

Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie, aka The Mad Rapper

11.

Though you’ll now find him thumb-thugging on Twitter, D-Dot once sat atop the music world as part of Puff’s Hitmen production team, splashing Haterade on Bad Boy skits.

I l lu st r at i o n b y Ian Wright

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WITH TWO RESPECTIVE CLASSICS, MIGUEL AND KENDRICK LAMAR ARE PROUDLY WAVING THE TORCH FOR NEW-AGE HIP-HOP AND R&B. BUT CAN THEY CLAIM THE THRONE? THE L.A. PHENOMS PLOT THEIR TAKEOVER BY JOHN KENNEDY PHOTOGRAPHS BY STEVEN GEOMILLION & DENNIS LEUPOLD

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KenDrick Kendrick Lamar is floating on a high. There are no blunts being passed around as the rapper lounges in Top Dawg Entertainment recording studios in Los Angeles. Yet on this March afternoon you couldn’t kill his buzz with Elmer Fudd’s sawed-off shotty. Hours ago, the world heard the remix to “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe,” a mellow cut off Lamar’s universally applauded 2012 album, good kid, m.A.A.d. city, and the Black Hippy leader is still geeking over the revamp’s royal coup: a verse from rap idol Jay-Z. “I’ve always aspired to just come close to a Jay,” the 25-year-old MC gushes into his iPhone, between blurts of Hov’s lyrics. “I consciously said to myself, ‘Don’t let this moment pass you, homeboy.’” Miguel, 26, is actively building his own time capsule as he dials in from Houston, where he’ll open up for the seventh stop on Alicia Keys’ Girl on Fire tour tonight. His experimental 2012 sophomore LP, Kaleidoscope Dream—powered by the Grammy-winning impregnater “Adorn”—has become a critical darling that’s got the likes of Kelly Clarkson open. (“I don’t know who the hell you are,” Clarkson blabbered onstage during the Grammys in February, referencing Miguel’s steamy performance, “but we need to sing together. I mean, good God, that was the sexiest damn thing I’ve ever seen.”) And he's following up Nas and J. Cole features with another series of Art Dealer Chic EPs for this summer. Today’s phoner is a reunion of sorts since their first VIBE cover shoot in L.A.’s GNL Studios two weeks prior, Kendrick’s arm slung around Miguel’s neck like the chummiest of frat brothers. The pairing is appropriate—the pensive duo represents the coming kings of rap and R&B, the trailblazers to carry the baton for the next generation. The mutual respect is there: Kendrick loves Kaleidoscope’s bubbly “How Many Drinks?”—he'll hint at his official remix of the track—while Miguel has been stuck on good kid’s “Money Trees.” And they’re clearly not letting their moment blow by. VIBE doubled up with the two music prodigies to discuss their musical futures and becoming the new Best of Both Worlds. First off, congrats on being dubbed musical geniuses of the current generation. Had you two met before the shoot?

VIBE:

I never met Kendrick before this. Even though we’re both from L.A., we never met.

M i gue l:

Ke ndr ic k L a mar:

_

Wow, really?

[Laughs] He’s just joking around. We got to work before and chopped it up for a quick second. As much as I love the fact

M:

that we get to be on the cover, it’s cool when it’s people that you really fuck with and you’re a fan of. K L : Definitely, and it makes it easier when we do get back into the studio together. Because in the last couple of years I’ve [learned] you can’t really jump in a studio with everybody ’cause the energy is not there. To vibe with someone on a personal level makes the music sound so much better.

_ What was your first impression of each other’s music?

First time I heard Miguel, it was a video actually. What was the first video on BET? M: If it was the one with J. Cole, then that’s “All I Want Is You.” KL : It was the joint before that, early in the game. Whatever it was, it was dope. Something new, something fresh. When I found out that he’s from the town, that made him even more official ’cause we don’t get too many vocalists getting light and love on the actual talent. M: I gotta say that Section.80 tape was it. What I liked most is the perspective. There’s a song where Kendrick is like—I’m gonna fuck up the lyrics—“How do you talk about money, religion and street life all at the same time.” I know I fucked it up, Kendrick. My bad, bro. KL : Nah, you good. Exactly. That’s it. M: I just like that it’s an honest perspective. Sometimes you listen to MCs and you’re like, “This shit sounds cool, the verse and the cadence or whatever,” but when you look at the artist, it just doesn’t translate. I don’t get that from Kendrick. Younger artists, we’re all striving to be ourselves. He’s one of the best examples of that. KL : Likewise. As far as Miguel, one thing I said these past couple of years, from an R&B perspective, I always felt like it’s been missing the depth of actually telling a story. Everything on the radio has been cliché. But when you get a body of work like Miguel’s, you hear actual intricate details and lines where it’s not just saying, “Come here girl,” blah blah blah. M: [Laughs] KL : You’re hearing the steps to get there. And that’s the part of R&B that’s been missing for a long time. To actually hear somebody new doing it and taking pride in such intricate details that make the KL :

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<<

<<

Opening Pages miguel

Opening Pages Kendrick L amar

Blazer

Bu tton-up

Acne

Prada

T-Shirt

Jean s

Vintage

Simon Miller

Jean s

SNEA K ER S

Levi's 501

Air Force 1 Low

Shoe s

Jewelry

Pierre Hardy

JuJu

Jewelry

_

_

Great Frog; Cast of Vices

_

Sunglasses

This Page T- shirt

Cartier

Black Scale Jewelry

JuJu Gold

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_ Leather Jacket and Jeans

BLK DNM T-Shirt

Vintage JE WEL RY

Great Frog; Cast of Vices Sung l asses

Ray-Ban

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_ t-shirt

Barneys New York CO-OP H AT

CIVIL Gold Ci ga rette neckl ace

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_ Leather Jacket and Jeans

BLK DNM T-Shirt

Vintage JE WEL RY

Great Frog; Cast of Vices Sung l asses

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song that much better, it makes you wanna ride to it all day. I come from that world of oldies and gangster rap. My pops probably played more R&B and vocalists in the house than gangster rap, so I always listened for lyrics and the shit that make the women feel good. Once they like it, you know the dudes gon’ follow it right after, so you gotta be up on your shit. _

You’re both carrying the torch as the leaders of the new generation. How do you define musical genius?

Somebody that don’t really have any boundaries, that’s not confined to the traditional structure of a song or traditional sounds. When you listen to “Adorn,” it feels like he’s not even trying to structure a radio joint. He just felt the music, felt the instrumentation and wrote the track. M: Good looks, bro. My favorite artists always took whatever they loved out of music and made it their own. It was their take on it. Kendrick is one of those people where I can hear Ice Cube’s first two albums’ influence. I get the street edge, but then I hear like the poetic player, smoothness, creativity and smart street savvy of Andre on Aquemini. That juxtaposition is what I hear in Kendrick, but it’s his own take. If you listen to my shit, you’re gonna hear Prince, Marvin Gaye, Led Zeppelin or a little bit of the Beatles. That’s where I’m pulling from. KL:

_

Some of the most genius artists have thrived when taking chances and innovating. How important is that? Does that set up for the inevitable dud?

That’s the chance you gotta take. Who knew when Jay-Z sampled Annie that it would blow up? That could’ve been a disaster; you wouldn’t even be speaking about Jay-Z right now. But that was a chance he was willing to take. 808s & Heartbreak could’ve ruined Kanye, but he did it so smooth and different, it just felt right. And that’s one of his greatest albums. He wasn’t really rapping on it, but that was a chance he took to be ahead of the game. Those are genius minds. And that’s good for the culture of hip-hop, to know that we have people in the game before us that are willing to explore. It gives me a little more confidence in what I’m doing when I think back on all the emcees that have done that.

M: Shit, well this whole album—overall it doesn’t sound like any other R&B album that’s been put out in the past decade. The only album I would say sounds as alternative would be A Beautiful World by Robin Thicke, and that was like 2003. Since then, I haven’t heard a commercial album sound as alternative as this one. Including those psychedelic influences for R&B was a huge risk. I honestly was nervous to put it out. I remember having a conversation with Mark, my A&R, like, “Man, I don’t know if they’re gonna get this shit. It may be bad.” And he was like, “I love the album.” And I love it, too; I’ll be proud of it when I’m 80, because I know what I was going through when I was writing, producing and creating it. It’s really cool to get attention from outlets that never really paid attention to me or my music before this album. On the opposite end, risks that I didn’t even know I was taking—I look back on photos [from All I Want Is You] and the way I was dressed is not something I’d do again. If anything, when you do take

my music is another huge risk. When you think of the West Coast, you immediately think of crazy-type street credibility. To come from that place but not glorify it is a challenge in itself. _

Are there any intangibles that go into creating a classic album? M: A concept goes a long way. good kid, m.A.A.d. city was interlinked in the story line--there’s obvious things like the way the songs flow into the next one or tie together by dialogue. That’s what I loved about The Love Below; there was a story line. That made a huge impact. For me, being a huge hip-hop fan, back to Slum Village and J Dilla, digesting A Tribe Called Quest and Soula Misfits, underground shit, that shit made a huge difference, evolution-wise. Like Kendrick said, having a concept behind an album is almost, like, a lost thing. KL: Definitely, I think that was one of the ingredients that made this one so special. But I don’t think it’s one specific ingredient. I

“Kendrick is one of those people where I can hear Ice Cube’s first two albums’ influence. I get the street edge, but then I hear like the poetic player, smoothness, creativity and smart street savvy of Andre [3000] on Aquemini.” -Miguel

KL:

_

What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken artistically? One that went over surprisingly well and one that might’ve gone over people’s heads?

risks, you become either more confident because you’re going to be criticized and speculated, and those conversations are gonna cross you and you’re either sure of yourself and what you believe in or you’re torn down. KL: I definitely agree. Making good kid, m.A.A.d city was a risk in itself. The idea of a concept record has been lost for a long time—will that translate to 16-year-old kids in high school rather than the super energetic joint on the radio? I definitely had that in the back of my mind when I was creating this album. But having that thought process gave me confidence in knowing that ain’t nothin’ new under the sun. By me doing this, it can be fresh and something new to the kids that are not used to a record that has skits intertwined within the songs and a whole album breakdown. Overall, what I talk about in

don’t think everybody should have to make a concept record cause that might not translate. Do whatever feels right. Making a concept record felt right in my heart.

_

Describe your creative process. How do musical ideas form into songs? M: My dad used to take me to Cabrillo Beach, like where the projects started in San Pedro. It’s like a 10-minute drive but one thing I learned early on is that no waves are the same. They come at different speeds, from different directions. The waves break differently. I wasn’t necessarily big on surfing but it was something that you learn as a kid when you’re just playing in the damn ocean. So as I started to get into my creative process, I realized that the situations you’re in as a musician is very much like playing in the ocean. You never know where the inspiration is A p r i l / M ay 20 1 3 VIBE 71

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gonna come from. It comes from different directions, it comes at different speeds. You just gotta be ready to ride the wave when it comes, As big or small as it may be. My creative process normally starts with the guitar. Sometimes, it starts with a word, like “Adorn” did. Shit, there have been times where it’s literally been driving and seeing a billboard and something in the advertisement caught my eye, like, “Damn, that’s a good idea.” For me, I don’t know what the studio I’ma be in is gonna be like or if I’m gonna even be in a studio-whether it’s my hotel room or tour bus or if I’m just sitting down with Kendrick talking shit, it might be something I have to hold on to. As artists and musicians, we’re just trying to capture lightning in a bottle, that’s where the inspiration comes. Just ride the wave as it comes.

Miguel, you have any trend-chasing fails?

Man, all I have to say is Google “Miguel, ‘Getcha Hands Up’.” [Laughs] Just look at that shit, you’ll see. It was shit you wouldn’t expect me to do. I was just a little kid, impressionable. M:

_

As dominant as “Adorn” was for much of last year, it seemed like once Frank Ocean dropped the bomb on Tumblr about his past relationship with a man, that he was the new “It” guy. Did you ever feel eclipsed? M: I don’t know if the word is eclipsed. [Long pause] That’s a really tough question to answer, man. In all reality, Frank Ocean took a big chance the way that artists are supposed to. I mean, even his album doesn’t sound like mine or anyone else’s. So sonically and how he writes and what he’s writing about and how he chooses to

“808s & Heartbreak could’ve ruined Kanye, but he did it so smooth and different, it just felt right. And that’s one of his greatest albums. He wasn’t really rapping on it, but that was a chance he took to be ahead of the game.” -Kendrick Lamar Very true. When me and Dre are in the studio, we don’t even listen to rap. Some of his favorite groups are rock and alternative. I’ve seen him draw inspiration from some of the craziest music outside of rap.

KL:

_

What’s the most regrettable trend you’ve found yourself following?

Prior to Section.80, I was following what was on radio and TV. Then I came to realize that I didn’t stand out at all. So even though it was a regret, it kinda molded me into the artist I am today. There were specific records that were spinning on the radio a whole bunch, and I went to A&R meetings and they were like, make this song. I’d come back next week and a whole ’nother sound would be out. I think it was Field Mob “Sick of Being Lonely.” You remember that record?

KL:

_

[All laugh] Wow, a K Dot version of that song?

And that was a good record, too. It felt good.

KL:

_

express himself vocally, all his choices are very unique, and I appreciate that about him. Not only did his announcement overshadow my music, but it overshadowed his as well. The general public was in awe and championing him for being brave enough to make that announcement publicly. I congratulate him for his successes. I would love to hear more of his music. He’s one of those artists that’s being himself and pushing boundaries. I gotta celebrate that. _

Who’s the artist that keeps you on your toes? Pushes you to go harder?

My partner J. Cole is always keeping it to the point where you have to show and prove. My partner Drake kills it. M: What’s fucked up about R&B is that that camaraderie doesn’t exist. I don’t really know why. KL: It definitely don’t. M: I wish I could be like “my partner” or “my homie,” but it’s not really like that. You could have a 2 Chainz, Kendrick Lamar, Drake and A$AP Rocky record; KL:

they’re all different, but they’re new and dope. You can have that and everyone’s confident in their own uniqueness and appeal. I hope we can do that. In R&B, I have to pay attention to every male artist. Usher is a friend. Vocally there’s no one fucking with Usher right now in mainstream R&B. I’m always paying attention to his riffs, ’cause he’s always pushing himself. I’ve never heard Usher do one take of vocals the same. He’s insane. Obviously I’m paying attention to Frank or the Weeknd. Jesse Boykins, who is a friend as well, is another artist who’s doing something different, fresh and new. _

Kaleidoscope Dream and good kid, m.A.A.d city were both masterpieces, but was there anything you didn’t get to do that you have in mind for next go-round? M: There’s definitely a feature or two that I wish I could have had the time to put on there, but overall, I set out to create an album that sounded like what makes me love music. Next time around, I intend on pushing the boundaries. Just traveling, you start having conversations with new people, seeing new things, hearing new music and finding new things that inspire you. Naturally those things make their way into my music. I can’t tell you exactly what the next album would sound like, but it’s gonna be different from this one. Just like this one was different from the last. That’s just a way of documenting my fucking life. KL: Yeah, I agree. I think it’s just a feature thing. The idea was to have Nas on “Sing About Me.” M: That would’ve been ill. KL: I never got a chance to reach out to him. I was so wrapped up in getting the music done and samples cleared and mastered. I didn’t wanna rush the process; I actually wanted to sit in the studio and vibe with him. [It was] the only thing that I had a vision for that I sought out to accomplish, but in due time. God willing, for sure.

_

What did you envision him adding to that song?

It was really one of those things where I just wanted to go into the studio and play him the record and whatever inspiration he had drawn from it, I’d just have him there, and he’d just go. He’s a genius. The record is self-explanatory, but he may have heard something different that might take it to the next level. That’s what makes a great feature and a collab for me, somebody that could take the song to the next level. (continued ON page 92)

KL:

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_ hat

CIVIL t-shirt

Barneys New York CO-OP pants

Dolce & Gabbana SN EAKE RS

Adidas Superstar ne c klac e

JuJu Gold

additional credits

Studios

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the best of the best LPs reside here. Consider this our gold-embossed stamp

THE GREATEST 50 ALBUMS O1. LIFE AFTER DEATH (1997) Artist:

The Notorious B.I.G. Production: The Hitmen, Sean Combs, DJ Premier, RZA

You never knew what to expect when the Notorious B.I.G. stepped inside the recording booth. Engaging humorist. Underworld fabulist. Swaggering seducer. The overweight kid from Brooklyn was the Swiss Army knife of MCs, and Life After Death is a thorough exhibition of that versatility, as the 24-year-old Bad Boy broadened his perspective beyond Bed-Stuy. ¶ Unlike Nas’ Illmatic or D’Angelo’s Brown Sugar, both efficient 10-track landmarks that flawlessly target their niches, Life After Death revealed Biggie as a master of every trade. Utilizing Puff Daddy’s polished ear, he parties (“Hypnotize”), spins popcorn-worthy narratives, makes bad singing sound good (“Playa Hater”) and hosts one of R. Kelly’s most hilariously obnoxious hooks (“F#@$ You Tonight”). While there are slight chinks (“Going Back to Cali” is symbolically significant, but sonically mediocre), Life After Death is so diverse that its 24 songs play as fluidly as 13, setting a double-disc bar that’s tempted—yet evaded—greats like Jay-Z and Nas.¶ So we’re crowning Big Poppa’s second LP as the greatest to drop since Clinton’s first term. And in honor of our own 20-year anniversary, we’ve rounded up music editors of VIBE’s past— Erik Parker (2003-2006) and Jon Caramanica (2006-2008)—to wax reflective on B.I.G.’s (second) classic. Consider this a Life After Death postmortem. —John Kennedy, Music Editor (2009-present)

vib e

02.

What made Life After Death so great?

E r i k Pa r ke r ( M u s i c News & C o n t e n t P r o d u c e r , CBS Ra d i o) :

It was an adventure for an East Coast artist because he looked into different places and made an album that appeals to fans across regions. It’s a major puzzle piece in the unification of hip-hop. Jon Caramanica (Music critic, the New York Times):This album is [made of ], deliberate statements about hip-hop in its fullness. Biggie is saying, I like Bone ThugsN-Harmony, Miami bass, West Coast music, so why shouldn't I make a record that includes those things? Life After Death isn’t adversarial; it’s inclusive. Regionalism starts to die. E P : Jay-Z putting UGK on [“Big Pimpin’”] wasn’t an obvious choice. But Biggie kicked in the door and collaborated with different sounds. No one as prominent with New York roots made a record that didn’t feel so regional [before Life After Death]. J C : Right. This is something that made people uncomfortable. But it was also the most necessary. So many times innovation comes from fringes.

_

This record is saying the guy who’s in charge, the number one or two, can be a star, but also an innovator and push boundaries.

Life After Death transcended New York rap at the time, but it also catered to those roots, particularly with its storytelling.

The thing about Big is he never sounds like he’s trying hard. There are records that are so coherent, so elegantly rendered, that you almost lose track of the fact that it’s an [actual] story. He did it so casually. There is no Kendrick Lamar without Biggie; his songs wouldn’t gain as much traction or historical weight if Biggie hadn’t done them so well. E P : Prior to that, people heralded Slick Rick as rap's greatest storyteller. But Biggie [made] Slick Rick’s stories seem outdated. Big’s are funny, street, hard, gangster. You can follow them cohesively. J C : Storytelling is important—and he’s really good at it—but he’s also good at party records. He’s also funny. Listen to “Playa Hater”—that’s a hilarious fucking hook. “Hypnotize” is as good an upbeat JC:

Brown Sugar (1995)

Artist:

D’Angelo

D’Angelo, Raphael Saadiq, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Bob Power Acclaim: Smokey Robinson covers ("Cruisin") meet hip-hop influenced beats. On his debut disc, D possessed himself with the black church, blues, jazz and R&B then let his cocoa voice and vintage pen write the soul album (no neo) of a generation. Peak moment: The out-ofbody revenge murder on “Shit Damn Motherfucker” always kills. Production:

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_

bragging record as you can get from that era. Basically, he’s disrupting the idea that to be great you need to tell stories. He’s saying, actually, you need to tell stories, make party records, be funny and be dark. That’s how you know I’m great.

What moment on Life After Death stands out most?

“Notorious Thugs” speaks to the album's direction. He co-opted Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s style. I remember thinking, What the hell is this? Damn, this sounds pretty good. Why am I hating on it? j c : At the beginning of “What’s Beef,” he’s like, “Haha-ha-ha-ha/Check out this bizarre/Rapping style used by me/The B.I.G.” It’s this self-aware moment: He’s rapping about how he’s rapping weird. He’s saying, “Not only do I know I’m doing something strange, I’m talking about it in this strange style. But it’s so seamless that it’s not going to register that it’s strange, even though it’s emphatically strange and I’m telling you.” EP: That was a Biz Markie rip, at that. j c: Absolutely. But it shows the depth of his skill. EP:

_

Nas’ Illmatic is obviously another rap magnum opus from

this period. How do those two albums compare?

Nas is pretty one-note on Illmatic. He’s one aspect of what Life After Death is, that Biggie was never really able to capture. He’s an observer—above it all, but on the ground at the same time. Bird’s-eye view and worm’s-eye view. Biggie gives you so much more. Life After Death is one of the few albums that actually delivered on “I’ve got something for every fan.” If you care about the streets, poetry, East Coast beats, then [Illmatic] has something for you. Then his conversation stops. Illmatic’s spectrum was smaller, but Nas mastered it. Biggie broadened the spectrum—Life After Death can be dark, happy. j c : You need Illmatic to get to Life After Death. The thing Nas did so well on Illmatic was be this very clear-eyed storyteller, but subsequently [in his career] he didn’t imbue that with humor or musical variety. That's a sober motherfucker right there! [Laughs] It literally got harder to listen to Nas the better that Biggie [got]. It’s like falling in love with the hottest girl in some small town and going to the city like, Are you serious? How could I ever have been with the small town girl? That’s the difference between Illmatic and Life After Death.

03.

EP:

Illmatic (1994)

Artist

: Nas

DJ Premier, Q-Tip, Pete Rock, Acclaim: This quintessential hip-hop classic plays like a Queensbridge surveillance video, capturing street strife from the view of an adolescent author who’d seen way too much, way too young. Peak moment: Nas delivers a park bench sermon to a smoking young gun on verse three of “One Love” with HD visuals. Production:

04.

My Life (1994)

Artist:

Mary J. Blige

Sean Combs, Chucky Thompson Acclaim: Mary’s perfectly imperfect vocals over rhythm-hop production provides enough space for Mary’s transparent depression. Her tones are those of a suffering soul. Production:

Peak moment:

“Be Happy,” where MJB self-reflects, “How can I, love somebody else/ If I can’t, love myself enough/To know/When it’s time, time to let go.” Sad. I l l u s t r a t i o n b y D a n i e l N ya r i

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T

05. Greatest Of The 2000s (So Far) FutureSex/LoveSounds (2006)

Justin Timberlake’s second solo album, FutureSex/LoveSounds, musically propelled the pop&B genre with audio novellas, interlude twists, Timbaland’s weirdo sound effects and that irresistible falsetto. VIBE runs back the classic to which contemporaries are just now catching up

06.

07.

08.

09.

10.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

TP-2.com

The Blueprint

The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill

Confessions

(2010)

(2000)

ARTIST:

R. Kelly

R. Kelly ACCLAIM: There’s a difference between Prince’s sexual frankness and Robert Kelly’s humpin’ banter. TP-2.com voids fairy-tale lovemaking scripts. It’s aggressive, blunt and full of hardcore penetration. Men related, while women salivated. PEAK MOMENT: Kelly puts neglectful men up on G with the cautionary tale “A Woman’s Threat.” Don’t let someone finish your porridge. PRODUCTION:

ARTIST: Kanye

West

PRODUCTION: Kanye West, No I.D., Jeff Bhasker, Mike Dean ACCLAIM: The rapperin-distress stages his own hip-hopera with different strokes of ego, emotion and more ego. It’s Kanye’s Mona Lisa, a musical culmination of all his works prior. PEAK MOMENT: An intense 38-second game of piano tap tap on “Runaway,” is amped with “Look at ya!” chants.

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(2001)

ARTIST: Jay-Z

Bink!, Just Blaze, Kanye West ACCLAIM: A pristine marriage of chipmunk soul and top-grade lyricism, Hov wittily toasts to his abundance of money, cars, haters and love for girls (a decade before Blue Ivy’s birth). PEAK MOMENT: Eminem applies religious imagery during the final verse of “Renegade,” declaring war on Mormons (a full decade before Mitt Romney’s presidential run).

(1998)

(2004)

ARTIST:

PRODUCTION:

Usher

Jermaine Dupri, Dre & Vidal, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Lil Jon, Just Blaze ACCLAIM: Usher airs out his sins in a heady mix of ballads and bangers that Adam and Eve could get jiggy to. The touching, sexy moments (“Do It to Me”) are perfect for horizontal sinning. No lie. PEAK MOMENT: That orgasmic falsetto scream at the 3:56 mark of “Can U Handle It?” PRODUCTION:

ARTIST:

Lauryn Hill

PRODUCTION: Lauryn Hill, Vada Nobles ACCLAIM: Inspired by the best of brown music— R&B, reggae—Lauryn and her jazzy vocals add to an evergreen dialogue: how to love (parentally, romantically, self ). PEAK MOMENT: It’s been decades since the ache to be liberated from love has been expressed as painfully poignant as on “Ex-Factor.”

I L L U S T R A T I O N B Y D A N I E L N YA R I

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T

THE 21ST CENTURY is rife with outstanding albums: Eminem’s American idol ascension The Marshall Mathers LP; Kanye West’s brash My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy; Jay-Z’s cocksure The Blueprint. But unlike many of the epic post-Y2K works that literally pent the music world in a freeze-frame, Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds pressed fast-forward, in the process remaking much of the pop landscape in its image. And for that reason, J.T.’s sophomore set reigns supreme. FutureSex/LoveSounds’ hybrid of sexy and sincerity, of droid-pop and upfront intimacy—crafted in large part by Timbaland—resulted in a record that is as soft as it is steely. It pushed boundaries more forcefully than works by fellow crooners R. Kelly and Usher, whose TP-2.com and Confessions, respectively, fit neatly within hip-hop soul’s cubby. Timberlake’s music straddles the millennial divide

effortlessly, thanks to Timbo’s deft touch. Its popsoul obviously owes itself to early ’80s superstars like Michael Jackson and Prince, and while Hov’s Blueprint dusts off vintage samples, FutureSex swallows those influences whole and belches out something all-together new. The album embraces the hardsoft duality implied by the title to thrilling effect— and because of their mastery of that balancing act, FutureSex/LoveSounds would go on to influence, if not define, much of the pop music that came after it. Matched in ambition only by, perhaps, Kanye’s aforementioned Fantasy, Justin’s masterpiece is more cohesive, with its melded transitions and synthesized atmospherics. It’s also more pivotal. Once the former *NSYNC frontman punctured the disco ball on the cover of FutureSex/LoveSounds, he created the template for post-millennial Growing Up As a Musical Artist: Don a suit and skinny tie and hook up with members of pop’s vanguard, but don’t forget to show the vulnerability that gained you all those admirers in the first place. (And keep the sneakers, so you can keep dancing.) Seven years after the idea of “bringing sexy back” entered the pop-cultural lexicon, the album from which that catchphrase sprung remains an era-defining statement. —MAURA JOHNSTON

15.

Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite (1996)

ARTIST:

Maxwell

Maxwell (as MUSZE), Stuart Matthewman, P.M., Federico Pena ACCLAIM: Neo-soul’s def poet slays everyone softly with deep, falsetto-fueled mood music for frisky adults. PEAK MOMENT: Alley-ooping clueless fiancés-tobe with the matrimony anthem “Suitelady (The Proposal Jam).” PRODUCTION:

16. 11.

Only Built For Cuban Linx...

12.

Doggystyle (1993)

13.

Ready To Die (1994)

(1995)

ARTIST:

Raekwon

RZA Paired with Wu-Tang brother Ghostface Killah, Rae exhibits various cinematic crime scenes in Scorsese-esque style. Original slang, fashion cues and cement-hard beats overflow. PEAK MOMENT: Raekwon marshals a journey through his criminal mind in stream-ofconsciousness fashion on “Incarcerated Scarfaces.” PRODUCTION: ACCLAIM:

ARTIST:

ARTIST: The Notorious B.I.G.

Snoop Doggy Dogg

Sean “Puffy” Combs, Easy Mo Bee, DJ Premier ACCLAIM: Biggie’s maiden LP is the perfect mix of rugged raps and radio grooves with charm, humor, creativity and cold-blooded themes. PEAK MOMENT : Puff futilely talking his protégé off the ledge in the outro, an eerie suicide note that climaxes with a gunshot and 300-plus pounds of Brooklyn’s finest hitting the deck (“Suicidal Thoughts”).

Dr. Dre Doggystyle was revolutionary in bridging West Coast G-Funk tunes with East Coast’s wordy rhymes, in the process flaunting a gangsta/pimp aura, hazy bong hits and his homies on Death Row. PEAK MOMENT: Dre’s ingenious flip of Funkadelic's “(Not Just) Knee Deep” for the bass line of Snoop’s megasingle “Who Am I? (What’s My Name?).” PRODUCTION: ACCLAIM:

14.

Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993)

PRODUCTION:

ARTIST:

Wu-Tang Clan

RZA Kung fu flick obsessions; hood-fueled street drama—the Staten Island rhyme clique is as inventive as it is lyrically frightening.

PRODUCTION: ACCLAIM:

PEAK MOMENT:

The Wu’s most slept-on MC Inspectah Deck eloquently describes ghetto life as, “Living in the world, no different from a cell” on a chilling “C.R.E.A.M.” verse.

Late Registration (2005)

ARTIST:

Kanye West

Kanye West, Jon Brion, Just Blaze ACCLAIM: Kanye graduates to a grander orchestra on his sophomore LP, with all his loveable wit, conspiracy theorizing (“Crack Music”), bombast and society questioning intact. He still makes you dance, too (“Gold Digger”). PEAK MOMENT : The dramatic piano-MPC-andstrings segue of “Gone,” which sets up a passionate 16-bar encore from Mr. West. PRODUCTION:

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17.

19.

21.

23.

25.

The Marshall Mathers LP

good kid, m.A.A.d city

Midnight Marauders

2001 (1999)

Watch The Throne

(2000)

(2012)

(1993)

Artist:

Artist:

Eminem

Dr. Dre, Eminem, Mel-Man, Bass Brothers Acclaim: Eminem’s most realized and laugh-inducing album captures the Detroit lyricist at the peak of his offensive brilliance. Peak moment: Slim Shady’s “Stan” effortlessly depicts the stalker narrative, stripping it down to a cautionary tale about the darker side of celebrity.

Artist:

Kendrick Lamar

Artist:

Hit-Boy, Pharrell Williams, Sounwave, Terrace Martin, Just Blaze Acclaim: K Dot Illmaticly narrates a real-life Boyz N the Hood episode on this conceptual carpool around Compton, Calif.Peak moment: Kendrick channels multiple personalities on the first two stanzas of the haunting “Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst.”

Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad Acclaim: The apex of ATCQ masters a mellow blend of their trademark jazz and hip-hop aesthetics for a live jam session feel. Peak moment: Phife Dawg forces you to press pause with his clever innuendo on “Electric Relaxation” (“Bust off on your couch, now you got Seaman's Furniture”).

18.

20.

22.

Reasonable Doubt

Aquemini

janet.

Production:

Production:

A Tribe Called Quest Production:

(1998)

(1993)

Artist:

Jay-Z

Clark Kent, Ski, DJ Premier, Big Jaz, Irv Gotti, Knobody Acclaim: Before this classic, never had the glitz and emotional complexities of a drug dealer’s day-and-night been articulated with such premium, though coded, lyricism. Peak moment: Verse two of “D’Evils,” where the tale of a friend-turned-foe is spun with sinister brilliance . Production:

Dr. Dre,

Mel-Man Acclaim: Andre Young’s glorious comeback obliterated the hip-hop bar for super-producer orchestration. Peak moment: The late Nate Dogg breaks into the memorable line— “When I met you last night baby…”—on the flawless “Xxplosive,” a nod to his star-turn on Snoop’s classic “Ain't No Fun (If the Homies Can't Have None).”

24.

OutKast

Organized Noize, OutKast, David “Mr. DJ” Sheats Acclaim: From the offbeat coolness of “Rosa Parks” to the spoken word, ska-inflected “Spottiedopaliscious,” ’Kast not only went beyond Southern rap, but rap itself. Peak moment: The mighty tandem's brace, straight-no-chaser rebuke of gangsta groupthink on “Return of the 'G'.” Production:

Artist:

Jay-Z and Kanye West

Artist:

Kanye West, Mike Dean Acclaim: Sociopolitical challenging or merely luxury rap? Whatever the case, The Throne's epic long player threw stadium set lists for multiple loops. Peak moment: Hov absolutely blacks out during the final 60 seconds of “Who Gon Stop Me,” boasting his corner come-up over an erratic Flux Pavilion flip. Production:

26. The Emancipation of Mimi (2005)

(1996)

Artist:

(2011)

Dr. Dre

Production:

The Infamous (1995)

Janet Jackson

Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis Acclaim: On her fifth album, MJ's little sister drops the coy act and transforms into America's sweetest horndog. The result: a bangin' soundtrack. Peak moment: Janet speaks to exhibitionists on “Any Time, Any Place,” quietly crooning: “I don’t wanna stop just because/People walking by watching us.” Poetry in motion. Production:

Artist: Mariah

Carey

Artist:

Mobb Deep

Production:

Production:

Jermaine Dupri, Mariah Carey, James “Big Jim” Wright, The Neptunes Acclaim: Falsettos take a backseat on the chest-pounding revival project, empowered by Mariah's pen game and inner MC. Peak moment: Finger wagging at haters on “It's Like That” (“Them chickens is ash, and I'm lotion”).

Q-Tip

Havoc,

Acclaim: Prodigy and Havoc make violent tales of dangerous drug deals, Hennessysoaked beat downs and Queensbridge, New York, housing projects shoot-outs sound unusually elegant. Peak moment: The harrowing “Shook Ones (Part II),” on which Havoc declares, “For every rhyme I write it's 25 to life.”

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The 10 Most Revolutionary Inventions Producer Just Blaze breaks down the god mp3 player’s mass appeal; plus nine other products that made giant leaps for mankind 1.

Apple iPod

VIBE: Before Apple reinvented the track wheel, some people were still shoving Discmans in their backpacks. Do you remember purchasing your first iPod? Just Blaze: I got one the first day it was out. It’s hard to believe it was just a few months after 9/11. But I went down to J&R for mine—there were no Apple stores yet.

How did the iPod affect your recordcollecting regimen? I had a few CDs, but I mostly bought albums on vinyl. Then all of a sudden it’s like, wait a minute, I can have all my music, all these crates and stacks on a device that fits in my pocket? There was no iTunes store, so I went on a CD buying binge, almost daily. No joke. It became an obsession. I would go to stores like J&R on Park Row in New York and buy out the entire rap section. Few days later, I’d go to the old Virgin Megastore at Union Square, and do the same thing. I amassed this massive CD collection to build my iTunes library for my iPod.

2. 7.

What makes it the greatest invention of our generation? It single-handedly changed how we interface with music, how music is consumed, how it’s made, how it’s released. The iPod started it all. Apple is now a part of our daily lives—we all know who [Apple cofounder] Steve Jobs is. It started a revolution. Plus, the iPod begat iTunes, another life-changer. That’s the thing. The iPod helped create this whole ecosystem that includes iTunes and now the iPhone and iPad. It also transformed Apple from this specialized, almost niche computer company into this iconic, consumer electronic company, a music company and a leading design company. Think about those mp3 players on the market when it came out. They were bulky, and the operating systems were complicated. Then the iPod drops, a beautiful, sleek white player and the iconic track wheel and such a simple operating system that flat-out worked better. Better battery life, better storage. Better everything. They won big.

injecting rock with a much-needed shot in the bicep. PEAk moment: The ethereal opening notes to Kid A’s sparse warning shot, “Everything’s in Its Right Place.”

Shakur in a nutshell (“I ain't a killer but don't push me/Revenge is like the sweetest joy next to gettin' pussy”).

31.

29. Toni Braxton (1993)

Baduizm (1997)

Artist:

Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu, Madukwu Chinwah, The Roots, Richard Nichols Acclaim: Badu’s Zenlike ambiance and “message!”-driven drawl mommied the neo-soul crusade. Peak moment: Erykah picks on nappy busters via open mic: “Pick yo’ Afro, Daddy/Because it's flat on one side.” (“Afro”). Production:

30.

Artist:

Toni Braxton

Babyface, L.A. Reid, Darryl Simmons Acclaim: Toni Braxton loves hard as hell on her debut. It's endearing when she sings about candlelit nights, downright scary on the clingy “Breathe Again.” Peak moment: A cheating man gets reamed out with a chorus he won't soon forget: (“Love should have brought you home last night”). Production:

32.

Smartphone 3. Debit Card 4. Viagra 5. iTunes 6. GPS Truvada, HIV Prevention Pill 8. TiVo 9. Pager 10. Bluetooth

27.

Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ (2003)

Artist:

50 Cent

Dr. Dre, Eminem, Sha Money XL, Mike Elizondo, Rockwilder, Mr. Porter

Production:

Gangster threats are candied with radio-made hooks and pseudo-Southern drawls, comprising a street album suitable for all coasts—and everywhere in between. Peak moment: Fiddy’s miracle nine-shot survival story is candidly waxed on “Many Men (Wish Death),” a sincere yet unflinching open letter to an underworld boss and his murdered hit man.

28.

Acclaim:

The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (1996)

Artist: Tupac (as Makaveli)

Kid A (2000)

Artist:

Radiohead

Nigel Godrich, Radiohead Acclaim: The British band embraces underground electro, Production:

Hurt-MBadd, Makaveli, Big D Acclaim: Tupac’s final testament is a seething blueprint on anger, retribution and angst aimed at all opposers. Peak moment: The mythical first bar of “Hail Mary” sums up Mr. Production:

Hard Core (1996)

Artist: Lil’

Kim

The Hitmen, Jermaine Dupri, Ski Acclaim: Rife with F-bombs and frank sex talk, its XXX-rated feminist bars flexes the power of the P. Peak moment: The Queen B’s first couplet, um, spit—“I used to be scared of the dick/Now I throw lips to the shit”—serves as the album’s eyebrowraising thesis statement. Production:

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33.

35.

37.

39.

Back To Black

Only By The Night

Faith

Continuum

(2006)

(1995)

40.

112

(2006)

(1996)

(2008)

ARTIST:

Amy Winehouse

ARTIST:

Mark Ronson, Salaam Remi ACCLAIM: Intensely bleak, slightly snarky, Amy’s ’60s-derived memoir claps back at cupid with AA-worthy anecdotes (“Rehab”). PEAK MOMENT: Amy gets deep on “Wake Up Alone” with finger-snapinducing metaphor (“Soaked in soul, he swims in my eyes by the bed”).

Angelo Petraglia, Jacquire King ACCLAIM: The absolute finest offering of newmillennium rock, the Kings’ crown jewel scores A’s on all fronts— molasses-rich base lines to sweet sinful writing. PEAK MOMENT: The band comes together to form molten lava on “Sex on Fire.”

34.

36.

PRODUCTION:

ARTIST:

Kings of Leon

PRODUCTION:

Faith Evans

Sean Combs, Chucky Thompson, Poke of The Trackmasterz ACCLAIM: As pure vocalists go, Faith Evans demonstrates that she’s amongst the elite on this pitch-perfect debut. PEAK MOMENT: The clever flip of Isaac Hayes’ “Walk on By” on “No Other Love,” which allows Faith to effortlessly flex her striking, angelic vox. PRODUCTION:

ARTIST:

John Mayer

ARTIST:

Jay-Z

Just Blaze, Kanye West, The Neptunes ACCLAIM: Mr. Carter’s pseudo sayonara is perhaps his most candid LP; aside stadium rockers and street nostalgia Jay cleans out his closet (and puts on a button-up shirt, while he’s at it). PEAK MOMENT: Jay-Z reintroduces himself, as somber keys give way to a raucous guitar on “Public Service Announcement.” His name is Hov! PRODUCTION:

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R. Kelly (1995)

ARTIST: R.

Kelly

R. Kelly Kellz slightly scales back the sexual seduction of 12 Play, peppering this sophomore work with gospel influences and suggestive lyrics likening a woman to an SUV (“You Remind Me of Something”). PEAK MOMENT: R. dims the lights on the certified panty-dropper "Tempo Slow," with hot-andbothered fornication ("As our bodies connect, and those juices start to flow…"). PRODUCTION:

Who Is Jill Scott? Words And Songs Vol. 1 (2000)

ACCLAIM:

Sean Combs, Stevie J, Tim & Bob ACCLAIM: Bad Boy continues its impressive run of R&B statements with arguably the strongest showcase for a male vocal group since Jodeci’s heyday. PEAK MOMENT: Biggie Smalls turns in a songstealing appearance on the club-aimed track “Only You.”

41.

ARTIST: PRODUCTION:

(2003)

112

PRODUCTION:

B’Day (2006)

38. The Black Album

ARTIST:

John Mayer, Steve Jordan ACCLAIM: Mayer’s mellow second LP exhibits musings about love and sociopolitical issues amidst soft guitar licks. PEAK MOMENT: He begins “Dreaming With a Broken Heart” with a reality check (“When you’re dreaming with a broken heart/Then waking up is the hardest part”). PRODUCTION:

Beyoncé

Beyoncé, Swizz Beatz, Rich Harrison

BEYONCÉ'S TURNT-TO-THE-MAX second LP possesses enough high-powered vibes to sweat out an entire club’s worth of weaves. While much of the tracklist still dwells in DJ playlists (“Upgrade U,” “Freakum Dress”), the pinnacle, when stilettos are swapped for flats, is “Get Me Bodied,” a sing-along twerk-off that serves as pesticide for pesky wallflowers. Now do an old-school dance... —JOHN KENNEDY

: Jill Scott Dre & Vidal, James Poyser, Darren Henson, Keith Pelzer ACCLAIM: Jilly’s debut is a love supreme; her classically trained chords climb skies, burrow the earth, and spit spoken word. PEAK MOMENT: The poetry and vocal performance on “He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat)” separates Jill from her contemporaries. ARTIST

PRODUCTION:

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42.

44.

46.

Hip-Hop’s 3 Most Iconic Whips These frequently namechecked rides left tire marks on the game —WILL GOCK

Travelling Without Moving

Be

(2005)

The Recession (2008)

(1996)

Artist: Artist:

Jamiroquai

Production:

Jason Kay,

Al Stone This U.K. funk/ acid jazz crew drops the most infectious dance record since the disco '70s revolution. Peak moment: At the two-minute mark, the title track's driving groove transitions into a bass-line-paced workout that'd even give Bootsy Collins the funk face. Acclaim:

43.

Common

Production:

Kanye West,

J Dilla Acclaim: Common and Kanye connect for a hearty soul soup seasoned by chopped samples, captivating concept records and weighty musings that make you go hmmm. Peak moment: Kanye’s title track symphony explodes from solitary bass strings to all-out, grown-up band camp on the album’s opening seconds. And the grooves never taper.

Artist:

Young Jeezy

Midnight Black, Drumma Boy, Shawty Redd Acclaim: Jeezy’s trap raps grows up. On his lyrically enhanced third LP, the Snowman addresses government fuckery while boasting a black president. He still pledges allegiance to the white, of course (“What They Want”). Peak moment: Kanye’s impassioned AutoTune-warbled final verse of “Put On.” Production:

47 .

45.

1.

Land Rover Range Rover

“Verbal AK spray/Dipped attaché, jump out the Range/ Empty out the ashtray” —Nas, “The Message” 2.

Bentley Continental GT Coupe

“What type of nigga fly Bentley coupes/Aim for the sky, cop the shit then shoot” —Shyne, “Bad Boyz” 3.

Lamborghini Gallardo

“I’m in the Gallardo, laughing like Ricky Ricardo” —Fabolous, “Gangsta”

48.

like the result of Mozart being bred in the school of hard knocks. Peak moment: The dramatic crescendo breakdown on “Fallin’.”

50.

American Idiot (2004)

Artist:

Green Day

Rob Cavallo Punk rock’s finest ventures outside its thrashy garage norms for a sobering take on the American dream. Peak moment: The Son of God is personified in “Jesus of Suburbia.” Production: Acclaim:

21

(2011) Artist:

Adele

: Jim Abbiss, Paul Epworth, Rick Rubin Acclaim: We can’t see it coming down her eyes, so she’s gotta make a whole album cry. This Grammy sweeper pieces Adele's loveshattered heart by leaving it all on the music. Grab a Kleenex. Peak moment: On the chorus of “Someone Like You,” atop a hypnotic piano, Adele finally finds closure. Or does she? “Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead.” Production

Kaleidoscope Dream

Where I Wanna Be (1999)

(2012)

Artist: Artist:

Miguel

Miguel, Salaam Remi, Pop & Oak, Jerry “Wonda” Duplessis Acclaim: Psychedelic, experimental and bold, Miguel’s sexy second LP pulls from Marvin Gaye, Prince and the Beatles for a colorful update on modern R&B. Peak moment: Lead single “Adorn”—the 2000s “Sexual Healing”— always gets you in the mood. Production:

Donell Jones

Production: Donell Jones, Edward “DJ Eddie F” Ferrell Acclaim: Buoyed by soft mid-tempos and guitarplucked instrumentals, Jones offers sophisticated R&B that warms you like a mug of hot cocoa. Peak moment: The iconic breakup ballad “Where I Wanna Be,” a relationship escape hatch for cold-footed dudes for 14 years (and counting).

Aijuswanaseing (2000)

Artist:

Musiq Soulchild

Songs In A Minor

Dre & Vidal, Carvin & Ivan Acclaim: Over sunny neo-soul grooves, Musiq makes love sound so innocently simple. Peak moment: A clichéd concept becomes a matrimonial favorite on “Love,” thanks to Soulchild's delicate falsetto.

Artist: Alicia Keys

Clover Hope, John

Alicia Keys, Krucial Keys Acclaim: Its classicalR&B coupling sounded

Kennedy, Keith Murphy,

49.

Production:

(2001)

list By:

Production:

Jermaine Hall,

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CINEMA FROM THE LAST 20 YEARS THAT FOREVER ALTERED THE WAY WE WATCHED FILM AND VIEWED OURSELVES

12 MOST LIFECHANGING MOVIES 01. The Matrix (1999 |Warner Bros. Pictures)

GENIUS: On the surface, it was a sci-fi film with out-of-this-world martial arts choreography and first-of-itskind special effects. Beneath riveting fight scenes and shiny CGI, Neo (Keanu Reeves) saving mankind from machines ignited a philosophical conundrum: What is reality, really? WHAT WE LEARNED:

Ignorance is bliss. Knowledge is power.

02. Love Jones

(1997 | New Line Cinema) GENIUS: Nina (Nia Long) and Darius (Larenz Tate) gave hope that black love was still possible (in Hollywood). The chemistry during the couple’s on-againoff-again courtship was an enthralling watch, but it was the script’s refreshing examination of love that lived in our hearts and minds way after the credits. WHAT WE LEARNED: Love is love.

03. Forrest Gump

(1994 | Paramount Pictures) GENIUS: Having American history recapped

through the eyes of a well-meaning idiot savant who stumbles clumsily from one pivotal moment to the next is A-plus storytelling. Motivated by finding his true love Jenny, Forrest’s trek to nowhere leads him to inspire people everywhere. WHAT WE LEARNED:

Life is less about the destination than it is the journey.

04. The

Shawshank Redemption

(1994 | Columbia Pictures) GENIUS: During a period in Hollywood when the post-’80s tycoon normally represented some shade of evil, banker exec Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins)—wrongfully sentenced to double life—and fellow inmate Red (Morgan Freeman) showed us how to remain Godly despite hellish surroundings. Unfortunately, Forrest Gump rained on this gem’s Oscar chances. WHAT WE LEARNED: With immovable hope and will, one could crawl through a river of shit and make it to the other side clean.

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Gangster Love

05. Philadelphia (1993 | TriStar Pictures)

Hollywood’s first major exploration of AIDS took an eye-opening look at the physical and initial social impact of the disease (hysteria, ignorance). Andy Beckett (Tom Hanks) debunked stereotypes on what gay looked like, even as he deteriorated in front of our eyes. Through Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), Beckett’s homophobiclawyer-turned-enlightened-friend, we also saw ourselves change. What We Learned:

HIV, AIDS and homosexuality are relative, not synonymous.

06.

The Usual Suspects (1995 | Gramercy Pictures) Genius: The ensemble crime drama of the last 20 years; the greatness of this classic rests on fully developed, yet mysterious, characters, which were brilliantly embodied by their thespian portals; an ingenious script; the jaw-dropping ending of our times and arguably the greatest villain in cinematic history. Kevin Spacey’s first Oscar makes complete sense. What We Learned:

Never judge a crook by his cover.

07. Pulp Fiction

(1994 | Miramax Films) Genius: It’s all about the dialogue—a densely layered mix of sardonic

humor, riveting truths and counterpunching that rival a 15-round bare-knuckled slugfest. Quentin Tarantino’s epic ode to the crime noir not only broke screenwriting rules, it ignited John Travolta’s dormant career and transformed Samuel L. Jackson into a household name. What We Learned:

In Paris, a Quarter Pounder is called a “Royal (with) Cheese.”

08. Gladiator

(2000 | DreamWorks) Genius: Ridley Scott’s visually stunning epic features a dedicated soldier, Maximus (Russell Crowe), who despite being betrayed by his own army, having his wife and child murdered, then sold into slavery by evil emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) manages to become the greatest gladiator in all of Rome. It’s Malcolm X B.C. What We Learned: Never doubt the man who has nothing to lose.

09. Fight Club (1999 | Regency Enterprises)

Genius: Edward Norton narrates this cult classic as an unnamed workaholic who discovers his true self through a self-employed salesman named Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). The more their antagonistic relationship evolves via an underground fight

Larenz Tate dishes a few ingredients that went into cooking his most memorable characters. On Darius in Love Jones

On O-Dog in Menace II Society

The Scene

The Scene

[Darius and Nina] hooked up on the first night and then started dating. But she put the brakes on my man. So there were ad-libs I added to react [naturally]. When Nia is like you can’t have it tonight, my immediate reaction was, “Why not? We already did this. I don’t wanna wait. I want mine right now.” It’s like, “C’mon, we had a great night. We should end it off real. Let me smash that.”

All that stuff in the car scene when they’re going to retaliate Caine’s cousin getting killed wasn’t in the script. I just started ranting: “They just killed your cousin…” I was going in because that’s how I would’ve felt if it was my family. Like when the store owner said something about my mother, Larenz would’ve reacted, “What you say about my momma?” I’m still that way. Now I wouldn’t go that far but…[laughs].

Behind The Scenes

Behind The Scenes

Often you see actors falling in love on the set. I’ll tell you, it’s easy to fall in love with a Nia Long. She’s smart, sexy… At the time, I don’t know if she was dating someone. I actually had a girlfriend. Needless to say that ended right after that movie [laughs]. Those are the great moments as an actor when you find someone you enjoy being around. It doesn’t hurt that you’re attracted to them on some level.

When they were casting O-Dog they [were envisioning] your typical swole dude with tattoos. When I auditioned I was 16 (17 when I filmed). I walked in there and I [had] a fade with little designs in the back of my head. I did not look life threatening. So by the time we got to film I had grown my hair out and put braids in because I felt I needed something [edgy]. It became signature.

club, the closer the protagonist and viewers discover themselves. What We Learned:

Embrace dormancy and a Tyler Durden may shove a gun in your face and demand that you dream grander.

10. Menace II

Society

(1993 | New Line Cinema)

Released while the City of Angels still recovered from the ’92 race riots, the Hughes Brothers bravely banked a film on South Central’s misunderstood and misguided youth. The flick manGenius:

With this film, released while the City of Angels still recovered from the ’92 race riots, the Hughes Brothers bravely banked on South Central’s misunderstood and misguided youth. —Menace to Society I l lu st r at i o n b y Robert Ball

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aged to both humanize and demonize Caine and company without glorifying nor condemning their activity. A much needed respite in the aftermath. What We Learned:

In the end, it all catches up with you.

11. Higher Learning

(1995 | Columbia Pictures) Genius: John Singleton’s college tale laid its foundation with familiar tropes (the naive girl, awkward loner, pompous athlete), but brilliantly flipped the script with characters that dealt with the pressures of race, class and sexuality. The film closed Singleton’s early 90's trilogy (Boyz N the Hood, Poetic Justice) and established the young filmmaker as a

Tinseltown titan. What We Learned: 8 a.m.

calculus classes aren’t the only reason college is tough.

12. Waiting to Exhale

(1995 | 20th Century Fox) Genius: Black women hit theaters in droves to see Terry McMillan’s best seller about four single ladies looking for love in various places. It was as endearing a display of sisterhood as it was a vicious critique of modern dating. What Did We Learn:

Everyone deserves love; no one is owed it. List By: Jerry Barrow,

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Get between our sheets and experience the stars of your devilish desires like never before

19 Most Lustable Celebs 01. Jennifer Lopez T h e r e h a s n ’ t b e e n a moment over the last 20 years where Ms. Lopez wasn’t a sexual fantasy (we’re grading that Marc Anthony period on a curve). Whether her 34-26-38 frame was pushing George Clooney or Fiats, J.Lo consistently used her business brains and boricuan assets. If there’s a starlet who’s done it bigger, she hasn’t done it longer. And if she’s earned more cash, she definitely doesn’t own this ass. There can only be one uno.

dreams as the Inside Man. What’s Your Fantasy: Denzel is wearing both his pilot’s suit and your birthday suit. You’re in his ummm cockpit. You’re shaking, but he’s cucumber cool, controlling all the turbulence from behind. Money Shot: Naked in ’91’s Ricochet, barely covered by that hatin’-ass bottom locker door. Ugh.

18 Reasons Why She’s our Murda Mami

04. Sofia Vergara

Built like a retro Coke bottle (even her Pepsi endorsees would agree), Sofia is rack city’s reigning queen, empress and alderman. The impossibly 40-year-old Modern Family MILF defines (and translates) “sex” with a Colombian accent that’s equal vocal aphrodisiac. What’s Your Fantasy: You’re blind to the blue Pacific water and glaring sun as your entire face is buried in Sofia’s bosom—you’re motorboating on a motorboat! Money Shot: Spread-eagle in Soul Plane’s cockpit, teaching the sexiest aviation lesson ever. Heels up! Justify My Lust:

1. Original B-Girl—birthplace is the mecca of Hip-Hop: de Bronx, my friend! 2. Of 100 percent uncut Puerto Rican descent. 3. That smile + those cheekbones = Money; as in “Take it all, mami.” 4. Every dance scene in her homage video to Flashdance “I’m Glad.” 5. Thighs of supple perfection. Beats By Dre has nada on these earphones. 6. Butter pecan skin. Should be endorsed by a Wu-Tang

02. Halle Berry

classic. 7. Hips that double as handlebars for when it’s

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Grammys. 14. Hairstyles for days

“Debo” time.

(dais?). Señora got

8. Those white pants she wore to MTV’s 2000

her own! 15. Walked into the new mil-

VMAs.

lennium $100 mil strong.

9. Diddy wifed that! 10. She got rid of wifey Marc

Señora got her own! 16. That nude leg outside of

Anthony.

her Anthony Vaccarello

11. August 1999 VIBE cover: Living With La Vida Loca.

2013 Grammy dress. 17. Three years in the

12. July 2003 VIBE cover:

40/40 club and still muy

Sexy issue.

caliente!

13. The legendary green silk

18. Ass but not least…

chiffon Versace dress

For over two decades, Berry has stood on our mantle as a bronze paragon of the perfect woman (wifey!). Her 360 of flawless—that smile, skin, legendary cropped coiffure—has kept both father and son at full attention since she was poking Eddie Murphy in the forehead. What’s Your Fantasy: Halle is on your couch! What do you do now? That’s when she turns to you slowly and whispers, “I just want you to make me feel good…” Justify My Lust:

she wore to the 2000

Money Shot: Berry was at her absolute peak in 2001’s Swordfish—rocking black lace lingerie, a spiked ’do and fully loaded phallic symbol. Bang! Bang!

03. Denzel Washington

Whether via VHS or Bluray, the leading man of our generation has kept nipples as hard as his two Oscars. That smile turns blues mo’ wetter; his stare marks an X on G-spots; and a 6-foot tailored swag keeps him starring in your

Justify My Lust:

05. Beyoncé

Justify My Lust: With a single eyelash bat, her gaze shifts from suducer star to girl-next-door. Not even her husband can resist smacking that ass in public. And when she isn’t shaking tail feathers she’s running the world on two of the longest, loveliest pieces of caramel. What’s Your Fantasy: You’re in a Pepsi commercial dressed like a vending machine. Beyoncé, looking to quench her thirst, reaches down and uncorks your bottle top. Ahhh! Money Shot: While seducing Terrence Howard on the 2005 BET Awards stage, in a benevolent cinnamon dress, Bey drops her bootylicious on his zipper. Uh oh! Uh oh!

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most beautiful—her willingness to wear the highest of stilettos and be filmed and photographed nude makes her the digital pinup of the new millennium. What's Your Fantasy: Y’all are in a swanky hotel room. She’s wearing a white robe; you’re in a wife-beater. You pick up the video camera; she starts checking the mic for feedback… wait… Money Shot: The very X-rated home movie that launched an empire.

10. D’Angelo

Justify My Lust: In his prime, Michael Archer possessed a body that resembled craftsmanship by Godiva’s finest artisans. His edible smile and glistening six-pack, which ended with that lickable Ken-doll V-cut, heightened solo bath time for women across the world. What’s Your Fantasy: He bends you over his piano stool and “provides everything that you desire,” as promised. Money Shot: Of course in the “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” video, wearing only a Jesus piece and mischievous smile asking, “How does it feel?” Deep.

< 11. Janet Jackson

06. Brad Pitt

Brad’s numerous “Sexiest Man Alive” selections can’t solely be attributed to his teal optics, perfect imperfection of facial scruff or vanilla rocky road of chisel. Credit must first go to the gods who decided to give this beautiful sculpture a pulse. What’s Your Fantasy: You and Brad are a two-person-only fight club. Preparing for a delicious beating, he pulls out his big guns and python. You two then lock horns. Money Shot: In 1991’s Thelma & Louise as the original naked cowboy, rocking only a blow dryer and dungarees. Ride ’em! Justify My Lust:

07. Rihanna

She’s like the Russian roulette of sexual fantasies. With each new hairstyle or tattoo added to her creamy frame, the Bajan beauty becomes more lethal. Her long leggy form fits into any role it pleases. Audiences are encouraged. What’s Your Fantasy: You, Bad Gyal Rih Rih and a bottle of Patrón attempt to re-create Biggie and Lil’ Kim’s “Fuck Me (Interlude).” Justify My Lust:

Money Shot: Any of those nude photos that landed on the Internet in ’09. Cheese!

08. Idris Elba

His burnt sienna skin, chiseled cheekbones and towering height make him a god among men. Yet, his big hands (perfect for grasping), expansive chest (ideal spot to be held) and… hell, his entire existence supports the theory: God is a woman. What’s Your Fantasy: You arrest him and discover he’s holding. While driving to the precinct, he insists there must be “something” he can do to avoid jail. He’s right. You pull over. Money Shot: On The Wire: Stringer Bell nimbly unzips the jacket of his lieutenant’s “baby mama,” clutches her chin and succulently tongues her down. Slurp. Justify My Lust:

09. Kim Kardashian

This curvy ArmenianAmerican is the very reason Google image search exists. Not just one of Earth’s

Justify My Lust:

Justify My Lust: She’s got killer abs and ass, but it’s not just her stacks that make this Jackson so bad; it’s the freak in her. A seamless blend of demure and dominatrix; she was rocking latex, embracing exhibitionism and cracking whips before your girlfriend could spell S&M. What’s Your Fantasy: You normally like to command the bedroom reins, but for Miss Jackson (if you’re nasty), you relinquish control for a leather-cuffed, hands-free tour inside her rhythm nation. Money Shot: Her carnal Rolling Stone cover—a topless 27-year-old Janet, with bare breasts cradled in her then-hubby’s hands. Milky.

12. Angelina Jolie

She’s flirted with every sexual archetype: lesbian, sadomasochist, bombshell (Oscar leg, anyone?). But make no mistake: Brad’s bish is one of the baddest because of them lips. Those plush soup coolers have powered the rise of her Hollywood star… and our zippers. What’s Your Fantasy: Ask Angelina to put on her Tomb Raider costume, but lose the faux accent. Hike to the top of the hills, then plant your tent on her mound. Money Shot: On the 2000 MTV Movie Justify My Lust:

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Awards’ red carpet rocking postcoital sheen. Her and then beau Billy Bob Thornton were fresh off a quickie atop their car.

13. Morris Chestnut

His smile hints at choirboy charm, but his broad brownness inspires only devilish thoughts. Wide, sturdy shoulders crown his bulging chest; his abs compete with a high, pronounced ass for sculpted supremacy—all gift-wrapped in velvet cocoa. The chestnut never looked this delicious. What’s Your Fantasy: You guys remix the church scene from The Best Man (you’re Taye Diggs). You cling to his enraged body, tearing at his shirt. He drags you down the aisle to happily ever after. Money Shot: The first time he appears in The Best Man. Who knew Ricky would grow up this fine? Justify My Lust:

14. Stacey Dash

Stacey Lauretta Dash is a walking wet-dream sequence. Stacked from front to back, the time-defying 46-year-old actress owns emerald eyes that further bejewel the wifey treasure she’s been her entire career. You’d be clueless to think otherwise. What’s Your Fantasy: Perched on a sink inside a Beverly Hills High janitor’s closet, Stacey pretzels her legs around you, sploJustify My Lust:

oshing your mop in-and-out of her bucket. Slippery when wet, indeed. Money Shot: Baring all between the sheets of Playboy’s August 2006 issue.

15. Reggie Bush

That SOBE heat gorgeously radiates off this dark knight’s superhero proportions. An edifice of bone-crushing beauty, the 6-foot NFL star can ripple his delectable pecs and titanium eight-pack for you topless or in a jersey. His Colgate smile is just a warm-up. What’s Your Fantasy: Locker room escapades rival the Super Bowl. Spoiler: Both teams win. You bench him; he tackles you, punches it through your end zone, then runs it back. Money Shot: The March 2009 GQ cover with ex Kim K demands a ménage à trois. Justify My Lust:

Her bikini-clad and tongue wagging 2008 GQ cover. You thirsty?

Money Shot:

17. George Clooney

Justify My Lust: Clooney’s urbane charm and executive suite looks are capable of making a whole bloodline of women unhook their bras—and it only intensifies with age. Whether clean-shaven or bearded up, the Academy Award winner’s salt-and-pepper swagger remains top shelf. What’s Your Fantasy: Your presence is requested in Mr. Clooney’s office. He locks the door behind you, then insists you unzip your dress—that impish gaze-nsmirk ever present. Money Shot: In ’98’s Out of Sight, playing ping-pong seduction with Jennifer Lopez before stripping to his boxers. My eyes!

18. Tyra Banks

16. Megan Fox

She has zero fucks to give and it’s not an act. Sure, she’s what Angelina and Katy Perry’s lovechild would look like. Yes, she’s inked in hard-to-reach places. But bold enough to insult Hollywood’s elite? She had us at fuck off. What’s Your Fantasy: Place knives, rope and candle wax into an overnight bag and escort Megan into a pitch-black hotel suite. Place her hand inside bag. Whatever she pulls out, it’s on! Justify My Lust:

Justify My Lust: Highlighted by gravitydefying mammaries, this runway legend is a 5’10” monument to sex. Accessible as she is seductive, Tyra first filled our mailboxes via Victoria’s Secret as well as she did their bras, then used her talk show to introduce television in 3-DD. What’s Your Fantasy: You’re drowning in a tub of Jell-O and Tyra comes bouncing along in slow motion—Baywatch-style— eager to add whip cream. Money Shots: Her 2006 “Panty Party” episode, where she drops robe to reveal a little blue lace and a lot of skin.

< 19. Eva Mendes

Justify My Lust: The Miami mami got her start in the modeling world, where her full lips, Marilyn Monroe–esque mole and sun-kissed skin helped her flourish. It wasn’t until Eva started showing off her sandwiches on screen that her career (and our lust) rose. What’s your fantasy: Since Mendes has never been shy about taking it off for the camera, you let her seduce you via Skype, slyly hitting record to enjoy her on-demand. Money Shot: Training Day: Ethan Hawke bursts into the bedroom to find Denzel’s naked lil’ mami on the bed, face down and culo up. List By: Jerry L. Barrow, N. Jamiyla

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These competitors did more than break records. They redefined greatness in their sport —Thomas Golianopoulos

10 Game-Changing Athletes 01. Michael Jordan 6-time NBA champion & Finals MVP (1991–1993, 1996–1998) Defining Moment: June 11, 1997, Game 5 of the NBA Finals—Fatigued, dehydrated, and a little vomity, JorCred:

dan shook off a stomach virus or food poisoning (or, as Jalen Rose recently claimed, a nasty hangover) and scored 38 points in what will always be remembered as the “Flu Game.”

When it comes to Accomplished Mikes, this one sits alone on the sports throne. Jordan’s credentials are staggering (see, above). He’s the prototypical team player. But he’s also the ultimate personification of Randian Objectivism. He’s a winner and a hero. He’s obsessive, and so damn competitive that he can come across as kind of a prick. More than anything, he casts a shadow over every athlete on this list. Forget the obvious examples like LeBron and Kobe (the latter of whom famously aped some of Jordan’s idiosyncrasies). But when guys like Floyd Mayweather talk about building a brand, they are following in Jordan’s footsteps. When an athlete’s toughness and “will to win” are cited (Serena, Kobe, again), it’s Jordan who’s the benchmark in that category. And when a foreign champion (Federer) is poised to break out in America, they’re usually referred to as the “Michael Jordan of (insert sport here).” Things like that used to be reserved for Babe Ruth. Like Jordan, Ruth was so great, his name became an adjective —“Ruthian”— synonymous with greatness. But that was nearly a century ago. Things change. Icons change. Besides, Babe Ruth never three-peated or (for better or worse) made kids buy $150 sneakers. And doesn’t Jordan-esque sound so much cooler anyway?

02. Roger Federer 03. Floyd

Record 17 Grand Slam singles titles Defining Moment: July 8, 2012—Five-hour matches and neverending rallies are the norm for men’s tennis these days. But Old Man Federer is the sport’s version of the Seven Seconds or Less Phoenix Suns. Playing his trademark fan-friendly überaggressive style, Federer, 31, captured his seventh Wimbledon title over Scotsman Andy Murray. Cred:

Mayweather

Cred: 8-time World

Champion ; 43–0 May 5, 2012—There's a reason why Money Mayweather earns the big bucks: He’s the greatest defensive fighter of all-time but can also go toe-to-toe. He never got to prove it against slugger Manny Pacquiao. But ask Miguel Cotto about Mayweather's punching power. Better yet, look at Cotto's face post-fight.

Defining Moment:

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04. Kobe Bryant Cred: 5-time NBA

Champion (2000–2002, 2009–2010) Defining Moment: January 22, 2006—Even after scoring 81 points, one of the most polarizing players in NBA history was criticized for taking too many shots—28-46 from the field and 18-20 at the free-throw line, to be exact . Well, what would you do if you were playing alongside Kwame Brown, Chris Mihm and Smush Parker?

05. Jerry Rice

Cred: All-time leader

in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown receptions Defining Moment: January 29, 1995—Super Bowl XXIX—Showing off some nimble footwork years before he signed on to Dancing With the Stars, the NFL's greatest wide receiver caught 10 passes for 149 yards and three touchdowns in the 49ers 49–26 rout over the Chargers.

06. Usain Bolt

Cred: 6-time Olympic

Gold Medalist, World Record in 100 meters: 9.58 seconds

Decision and the Dallas series, for example— LBJ silenced critics in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, winning his first championship in style— with a triple-double.

08. Tiger Woods Cred: 14-time Major

winner Defining Moment: June

15–18, 2000—Tiger Woods used to collect majors like they were Hooters waitresses. His most dominant performance? Winning the 2000 U.S. Open by 15 strokes.

09. Michael Phelps Cred: 18-time Gold

Medalist

Defining Moment:

Defining Moment:

August 17, 2008—At the Beijing Olympics, it took Usain Bolt only 9.69 seconds to prove he’s the fastest man on the planet. The scary part? It could have been closer to 9.5 seconds if he didn’t slow down near the finish line—or if both of his shoelaces were tied.

August 2, 2012—Phelps left his goofy grillwearing rival Ryan Lochte in the dust in the 200-meter individual medley.

7. LeBron James

Cred: 3-time NBA MVP (2009, 2010, 2012) 2012 NBA Finals MVP Defining Moment: June 21, 2012—Putting to rest a host of missteps and choke-jobs—The

10.

Serena Williams

Cred: 15 Grand Slam singles titles Defining Moment: June 8, 2002—Scoring one for little sisters everywhere, Serena defeated big sister Venus 7–5, 6-3 in the finals of the 2002 French Open, beginning a streak of four consecutive Grand Slam singles titles.

I l lu st r at i o n b y andre carrilho

4/1/13 10:38 PM


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Programs that served the most quality brain cuisine —MILES MARSHALL LEWIS

20 Smartest TV Shows reality foolery may give TV a bad rep, but it’s not all a dumbeddown dump yard. For every serving of junk food, there’s a bowl of Caesar salad in the form of programming like The Wire (1), Chappelle’s Show (11) and Breaking Bad (3)—shows that have turned average fans into drooling addicts. What exactly makes for smart TV? Literary references, stellar penmanship and movielike character development are staples, for sure. But the formula for brainy television can be distilled into one simple element: presuming viewers’ intelligence. Mad Men (10) rarely spells out the time frame of events raging in the background (it’s the ’60s, Einstein), but that subtext is always as vital to the show as Don Draper’s after-hours highball. And if The Colbert Report’s (12) writers didn’t presume a certain amount of sophistication beaming from sofas, loads of irony would glide like drones over people’s heads. Ultimately, it’s what viewers bring to the table—a craving for meatier content—that makes clever shows work. Remember that next time a TV-less hipster tries to judge you.

01. The Wire

(HBO)

Its scholarly story line—a sweeping indictment of broken systems (education, politics, justice) from the eyes of Baltimore’s finest crooks and cops— should be part of every college syllabus. IQ:

02. Seinfeld

(NBC)

IQ: Four snarky, semi-

immoral Manhattan BFFs proved a sitcom about nothing could be hysterical just by mining everyday scenarios.

03. Breaking Bad (AMC)

Challenging the concept of bad meaning good, a cancer-ridden chem teacher becomes a meth dealer with hopes of leaving his kin a dinosaur-sized nest egg in the form of a drug empire. IQ:

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04. The Sopranos (HBO)

IQ: Its stratospheric level of writing and acting—coupled with its modern-versustraditional take on gender roles, crime and domestic bonds—define this mob drama.

05. The Simpsons (Fox) IQ: A literal caricature of America, Homer’s dysfunctional family laid a donut-smudged blueprint for future cheeky animated series.

06. Law & Order (NBC) IQ: TV’s justice league cribbed plotlines from the papers and put a thinking man’s cap on the legal-drama genre.

07. The Office (NBC)

IQ: At its best, Michael Scott and company captured the eccentricity and familial nature of corporate cube life.

08. 24

(Fox)

IQ: The post-9-11 ter-

11. Chappelle’s

16. Family Guy (

IQ: The deftest satirical eye this side of Richard Pryor used racially charged wit to hold a mirror up to viewers.

between The Simpsons and South Park, it never found a sacred cow it couldn’t tip as the brunt of Seth MacFarlane’s surreal humor.

Fox)

Show (Comedy Central)

IQ: Straddling the fence

12. The Colbert Report

(Comedy Central) IQ: Leave it to The Daily With Jon Stewart crew to create a conservative spin-off as a counter for its own liberal perspectives, and still frame the right wing as a bunch of boobs.

13.

The Daily With Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)

rorist thriller dropped literal and figurative bombs (lead characters die) as plots progressed in real time.

IQ: Smarty-pants host Jon Stewart probes current affairs by cutting through political bullshit.

09. Curb Your

14. South Park

IQ: While Seinfeld saw

IQ: Crude fourth grad-

the humor in life’s niggling details, that sitcom’s co-creator Larry David struck comedy gold by getting annoyed at the same daily minutiae.

ers ether pop-culture figures and moments, exposing nuggets of truth behind the absurdity.

10. Mad Men

(HBO)

Enthusiasm (HBO)

(AMC)

IQ: Adman Don Draper plays point, but social turmoil becomes an invisible character.

17. Lost

(ABC)

IQ: Mix Survivor with

The Twilight Zone, shake hard, and you end up with this supernatural brain-challenging drama about plane crash survivors.

18. 30 Rock

(NBC)

IQ: Satire lived at 30

Rockefeller Plaza, where creator Tina Fey parodied her own stint as an SNL comedy writer through silly schemes and over-thetop personas.

19. ER

(NBC)

At the height of its relevance, this OG medical drama put a spotlight on Darfur and introduced the world to George Clooney. IQ:

(Comedy Central)

15. Six Feet Under

20. The Real World (MTV)

Eclectic housemates were thrown together to inevitably debate— and throw ’bows over—sex, drugs and prejudice. Evil genius. IQ:

IQ : Based on the trials

of the Fisher family’s funeral home, this door-die dramedy combats mortality head-on.

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continued FROM

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pg.

kendrick/miguel

He would’ve done just that. It’s a great record now, but to have his expertise on it would have been crazy. _

Eminem could’ve been another great collabo. It sounds like you pay homage to him toward the end of “Backseat Freestyle.”

You could listen to my whole album and see that it pays homage in my cadence and my flow. But at the same time, it’s still me. When I have that aggression in the record like that, that’s tricks that I learned being in that studio and dedicating myself. Being a student. Eminem was definitely a sought-out player that I always respected and looked up to.

KL:

_

Miguel, you’ve looked up to Usher, living in his shadow as a writer for years. Was it validating to be in the same Grammy category as him? And how badly did you want to beat your mentor?

Not necessarily, and it’s only because I don’t measure my success up to the next individual. That’s not the gauge for me. I have so much respect for him and the amount of creativity that he has. I’m humbled that he knows my story and is rooting for me as much as I’m rooting for him. I do look at it as a benchmark saying, “Okay, you are moving forward as an artist, this is a blessing, this is a new level for you.” I’m a firm believer that we have to be the best people that we can be as individuals; it’d be a sin to measure ourselves up otherwise. M:

_

When it's all said and done, what do you want to accomplish?

Kendrick is poised to be the next staple in hip-hop and I certainly intend on becoming that for R&B, working my ass off and taking risks. KL: Definitely. The biggest goal is to say, “Damn, we did it.” Think about Jay-Z and R. Kelly and everything they accomplished. I don’t know if they’re on talking terms now, but I’m sure they’d say, “Damn, we did it,” 20 years down the line. That’s the ultimate high—to accomplish what you sought after, just like those two did. M:

51 R. KELLY

guy can do anything. He’s the Evel Knievel of music. He’s jumping over 15 buses!” You’ve written for everyone from Michael Jackson (“You Are Not Alone”) to Celine Dion (“I’m Your Angel”). How do you get in the mind frame to write for acts that differ so much from your style and sound?

as, then you have to [break those barriers]. You can’t hate on that. You have to respect a person willing to sacrifice their career to try something new. You can say a lot about “Trapped in the Closet.” But the one thing you can’t say is it’s not entertaining. And aren’t we in the entertainment business?

I really know how to tap into certain characters and artists. Like when I did Michael Jackson, to prepare for writing [“You Are Not Alone”], I put all of his pictures on every wall in my studio. I had Moonwalker playing on all my screens. And I didn’t listen to any other music but Mike’s. I would ask, “What would Michael Jackson say?” Not what would R. Kelly say. And it just felt like Mike would say [Kelly does a spot-on MJ impression], “You are not alone, I am here with you, though you’re far away, I’m here to stay…”

You’ve reached triumphant heights, but you’ve also dealt with a very dark period that threatened to end your career. If you could talk to that R. Kelly back in 2002, what would you say to him?

Now an example of you giving away material that seemed perfect for you is Maxwell’s “Fortunate.” When you were penning that song, did you think, Man, I might have to keep this one for myself?

Absolutely. I’ve done the sexual songs. But after you do all of these songs you start hearing the younger generation and they’re kind of mimicking what you’ve done. The younger generation of fans are listening to it, while you just retired from your last album, to see what’s going on. So what I decided to do is back up a little bit, switch lanes and do something creative that throws everything off and gives the older generation props. Then I’m going to come back and do what I’m missed for.

No. And I’ll tell you a quick little story about Maxwell. I had to actually talk him into taking that song. He really wanted to do another song on that Life [soundtrack] album; the title song that K-Ci & JoJo did for the movie. But I was like, “Nope, I don’t believe you did one day of jail, ever.” [Laughs] “When a Woman’s Fed Up” is one of your finest creations. From where did you pull the line, “She was raised in Illinois, right outside of Chicago… Some of the best cooking you ever had”?

I knew people would love it. My mother always told me if you write about life you will always be in the game. Just don’t write songs… write life. I decided to take her up on that. That lyric is a part of real life. Your “Trapped in the Closet” stands as perhaps your most polarizing work. Some critics have called it brilliant, while others have said it’s all laughs with no musical substance. Did you realize it was going to cause such a stir?

You are always going to have the negative and the positive. “Trapped in the Closet” is something I didn’t even expect. It is strange. But if you are going to be called a genius, which again I don’t think of myself

I would say, job well done… Now rise above this. Job well done… Now do better. Job well done… Now move on. So you don’t regret anything?

I wouldn’t change anything that has happened in my past. There’s a throwback soul to your latest album. Did you go into this project thinking I want to make an album my mom would love?

Where will your next album, Black Panties, take us?

If you liked 12 Play, and if you liked TP-2 and Chocolate Factory, it’s pretty much all three albums combined. What is the biggest misconception about R. Kelly?

Shit, you don’t have time. What are you doing next month? [Laughs] I mean there are so many things, because I’m very mysterious to a lot of people because you don’t find me out here or at the awards shows. You don’t see me in the club. And the reason is because I would rather be in the studio mixing these musical potions. Now sometimes they blow up in my face and there’s a lot of smoke. But that’s who I am. Music is what I do.

I l lu st r at i o n b y Robert Ball

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4/2/13 12:17 PM


20 questions

Shouldn’t Drake’s “Started From the Bottom” be a theme song for TomTom GPS?

01

02

03

3 ASK THE MUSIC EDITOR BY JOHN KENNEDY

04

05

If “ain’t nobody got time for that,” what does viral YouTube sensation Sweet Brown make time for?

06

07

Could Kendrick Lamar’s Black Hippy crew rival G-Unit’s early days? Remember when hiphop actually had ownership of the “Harlem Shake?” And now that Miley Cyrus is twerking, will that dance staple be repo'd next?

08

Will J. Cole abandon his Simba moniker and finally mature into Mufasa on his sophomore LP, Born Sinner? Which pasties were most epic: Lil’ Kim’s purple shell shockers at MTV’s 1999 VMAs or Nicki Minaj’s golden starbursts in French Montana’s “Freaks” video?

10

11

12

Did Rihanna’s “Pour It Up” completely erase its predecessor “Bands a Make Her Dance” from your ratchet memory? Will reptilian baller Chris Bosh make his big-screen debut in the next installment of Jurassic Park?

Now that Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-un are BFFs , can North Korea exercise chill on the nuclear testing?

14

15

Could you imagine Lil Wayne recording a daddy-daughter remake of “Just the Two of Us” with YM’s newest signee, Reginae? 16

13 09

Why haven’t you learned how to pronounce the name of Oscar-nominated 9-year-old actress Quvenzhané Wallis yet?

Will the new XBox 720 cause a relapse in your video game addiction?

17

Black Hippy posseses some parallels to G-Unit of a decade ago (What up, Dre!). Kendrick kicked in the door like 50 Cent with a hard-knocking major label debut. Schoolboy Q recalls Young Buck; two high-energy street disciples with heart. Ab-Soul brings Lloyd Banks’ cool and clever lyrical premium, while slept-on soldier Jay Rock’s intangible presence—like Tony Yayo’s—glues the gang together. Gotta wonder if the Game would agree...

18

19

20

In the midst of the reality TV era, aren’t you surprised that the new pope wasn’t chosen via Idol-esque competition, judged by Lady Gaga, Mel Gibson and Trinidad James? While ’90s small-screen wonder Boy Meets World is making its return via a spin-off, will TV producers spare us butchered remakes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Family Matters? Did Justin Timberlake take cues from Ciara’s “Promise” with his similar inflections on “Spaceship Coupe”? And with J.T.’s dapper rapper anthem and Psy’s horse-dance in a tux both catching fire, are you scouring the racks of Men’s Wearhouse? Which rookie social site is infiltrating your daily Internet routine next: Pheed, Keek or Vine? Will Kanye West pair his bejeweled Yetti mask with scrubs during the birth of his child with Kim Kardashian? Where is Tila Tequila?

09

17

10

07

01 19

06

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props

Ego Trip's Book Of Rap Lists

Hip-hop journalism’s funky five—Elliott Wilson, Gabriel Alvarez, Brent Rollins, Chairman Mao and Sacha Jenkins—put their minds together to create a book forever pumping rap debates. Mao recalls the making of a music nerd’s bible

THE BOOK OF

Rap Lists was the ultimate hip-hop fan’s book. We had been doing ego trip magazine from ’94 to ’98 and stopped because the density of the ’zine felt bookworthy, but the shelf life was relatively short. The inspiration was journalist Dave Marsh’s Rock Lists: Hip-hop deserved its own version of that book. We used that book as a framework

and created ideas that were outside the box. We didn’t want to do something academic; at that point in the late ’90s there were college classes on hip-hop by people who were never actual fans like we were. We made specific buying trips to random CD stores in Boston, because nobody was buying this stuff in the 99-cent bin.

That was really helpful for our list of 100 songs with the N-word [in the title]CK. Someone would literally sit down at a wall of CDs and go through every single one. Someone would go through books, rap magazines, Village Voice clips and Spin to marshal trivia. There was no ability to fact-check because the Internet wasn’t like it is now. A lot of the documentation

wasn’t out there. It took a lifetime of fandom to write that book. All the information we’d absorbed over the years were on automatic recall because we were so immersed in it. This book is essentially a blueprint for the rap Internet. What we were doing was frankly ahead of its time. —AS TOLD TO MIKEY YI

96 VIBE A P R I L /M AY 20 1 3

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Audition issue 1