Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Former Game's Manager Confesses To Tupac Shooting

During a "Queen For A Day" proffer session last year Jimmy Rosemond confessed to his involvement in the 1994 shooting at Quad Studios.

Although there has been much chatter about James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond’s involvement in the 1994 ambush at New York City’s Quad Studios that left rapper Tupac Shakur shot five times, up until now there has been no direct evidence linking him to the crime.

But an official transcript obtained by The Village Voice, Rosemond’s drug trial includes statements made by a U.S. prosecutor who refers to Rosemond admitting to his involvement in the 1994 shooting.

The attack on Tupac triggered a bicoastal rampage that played out in songs and videos generating billions of dollars for global music corporations and left a trail of body bags from Manhattan to Beverly Hills, culminating in the murders of both Tupac and his nemesis, the Notorious B.I.G.

Before he was assassinated, Tupac recorded a song called "Against All Odds," in which he blamed Rosemond for orchestrating the assault at the Quad: "Jimmy Henchman. . . You set me up, wet me up... stuck me up. But you never shut me up."

“Now, in particular, there are some statements where the defendant Rosemond spoke about acts of violence Mr. Shargel made comments about the origin of the Chuck Phillips article, which has to do with the shooting of Tupac Shakur in 1994, in particular, the defendant has made admission that he was involved in this particular shooting,” said prosecutor Soumya Dayananda in a sidebar testimony according to official transcripts.

Rosemond admitted to his part in the shooting during a “Queen For A Day” proffer session with the government last year. Rosemond’s confession allegedly came shortly after Dexter Isaac came forward as the ringleader of the attack.

Rosemond’s drug trial which began last month stems from his involvement in a drug ring involving millions of dollars’ worth of cocaine.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The 25 Best Hip-Hop Documentaries

Allow rap to reintroduce itself with our list of The 25 Best Hip-Hop Documentaries.

Hip-hop's rich, colorfully history makes it a supreme subject for a documentary. It has an arc, an unstoppable momentum that humbly sprouts from the streets of the Bronx, birthed from a hunger for a true sense of originality. It has its forefathers (Grand Wizard Theodore, Grandmaster Flash, and Melle Mel) and its ground breakers (Afrika Bambaataa, Doug E. Fresh, and N.W.A.). And yes, it has strife in spades, but it also has something pop music will never truly comprehend—community. Thanks to complex, here are what they think are the best doccies.

25. Wu: The Story of the Wu-Tang Clan (2007)

The Staten Island hip-hop group's history is told with flair; All of the crews's dips and rises are illustrated through old interview footage with the members, new footage with minor characters on the Clan's periphery, and punctuated by tasty sound bites of ODB spouting offbeat wisdom.

The film doesn't give much new insight, instead it outlines the Clan's career (with a particular focus on OBD); It's a refresher course more than it is a history lesson. But when the subject matter is Wu-Tang, we're paying attention.

24. And You Don't Stop: 30 Years of Hip-Hop (2004)

And You Don't Stop originally aired on VH1 as a five-part series that gets its name from the moment Grandmaster Flash started splicing together records on his turntable so that the break played in an endless loop, a phenomenon that set the stage for the advent of break-dancing.

It's those light bulb moments that And You Don't Stop gives weight to, telling hip-hop's history through the little epiphanies that were, in actuality, momentous, like Grand Wizard Theodore in his room accidentally discovering scratching. Unlike most documentaries, here, there's no narration to tell you how to feel, instead terrific, grainy footage does the job, articulating hip hop's early days better than words ever could.

Also to its credit, with a beastly running time of 300 minutes, And You Don't Stop is able to covey an almost complete history of early hip-hop. The film even captures how the Bronx's unease at the time was a driving force behind the music, a concept that eludes most projects of this nature.

23. Welcome to Death Row (2001)

Why does a rap empire fall? That's the question Welcome to Death Row attempts to answer for its audience, taking us on a rollercoaster ride complete with rises, falls, thrills, and spills. Suge Knight, by the film's contention, is responsible for most of the spills, and it shows us how Suge would giveth West Coast gangsta rap and then taketh via shady business practices.

The film focuses on rap music's business and profitability and how that set the stage for deception among the company's affiliates. There are also warmer and fuzzier sentiments about how the label help thrust many young artists into fame and success. Thankfully, we're not handed these ideas; instead, they're delivered from the voices that count, with original interviews with Vanilla Ice, Snoop Dogg, P. Diddy and, naturally, Dr. Dre, along with the label's outlying affiliates and employees.

Welcome to Death Row offers a sad image of corruption, or if you look at it another way, a failed business model that any entrepreneur should take notes on. Rule number one: Don't hire gang members and criminals.

22. Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes (2006)

Byron Hurt takes on a daring task in the course of his 56-minute documentary: deconstructing sexism, violence and masculinity in hip-hop. Hurt goes well beyond the scope of most hip-hop documentaries, choosing to expose a tender nerve that desperately needs prodding.

The filmmaker's aim is ambitious, and his methods are undeniably effective. In a key scene, Hurt asks Busta Rhymes about his thoughts on homophobia, and Busta says, "I can't partake in that conversation." When further prompted about whether hip-hop culture could ever accept a gay rapper, he walks out.

It's not just what isn't being said that the film exposes; ultimately, Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes seeks to bring awareness to the existing issues in hip-hop cultures that will be stumbling blocks in its future, particularly in the way it's viewed by the world.

At least one rapper agrees. "We're [shown] throwing money at the camera and flashing jewelry at the camera that could give a town in Africa water for a year," observes Public Enemy's Chuck D. But if the first step to change is acknowledging the problem, Hurt has given hip-hop a positive push in the right direction.

21. Notorious B.I.G: Bigger than Life (2007)

It's been years since we lost Biggie, but his memory lives on through the emotional recollections of his many friends, including narration by Big Daddy Kane Diddy and musings by Method Man, Easy Mo Bee, Matty C, E-40, Raekwon, and Common.

What truly makes this film a must-watch, though, isn't the freestyle footage (though we always enjoy that) or the many interviews, but, rather, the never-before-seen clips of B.I.G. just prior to his murder. Watch for that, in addition to remembering what a charismatic, irreplaceable force Biggie was, and always will be.

20. Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap (2012)

Hip-hop rules the world. At least that's what Ice-T purports in his new film. The former gangsta rapper makes his point by tracing the evolution of rap and its rise from urban to universal in the most honest way possible: by having intimate, one-on-one conversations with the people that have propelled it there.

Chats with legends old and new, including Dr. Dre, KRS-One, Doug E Fresh, Yasiin (Mos Def), Eminem, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, and Common give a fresh take on a now far from view history, but also, more effectively, into the mechanics of rapping.

Each artist seriously delves into how rhymes are structured and how techniques evolve, and the "art of rap" is demonstrated through powerful freestyles, most notably those from KRS, Kanye, and Eminem, all of whom give quite the tutorial.

19. 2 Turntables and a Microphone: The Life and Death of Jam Master Jay (2008)

Stephan Watford's and Guy Logan's documentary is one part tribute to Jam Master Jay and one part murder mystery. Throughout its duration, as much gets devoted to praising the Run-DMC disc jockey as attention is paid to delving into the fateful night when he was shot in his Queen's recording studio.

As such, every interview subject (running the gamut from Rev Run and Russell Simmons, to Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Ja Rule, 50 Cent, LL Cool J, Method Man, Swizz Beatz, and Kid Rock) serves to not only give insight into Jay's life and legend, but also his untimely death. Piecing together the facts may prove fruitless, but you're still left with a real sense of Jam Master Jay's remarkable impact on hip-hop, and, undoubtedly, a serious case of 1980s nostalgia.

18. Beat This: A Hip-Hop History (1984)

One of the original hip-hop docs from the Style Wars era, this BBC film clearly attempts to show hip-hop to a world that, at the time, couldn't yet make sense of it on their own. So, yeah, it's a little cheesy (thanks in part to narrator Gary Byrd), but that doesn't discredit what it does well. Beat This acts an untouched time capsule of an exciting time in the genre and in the city, with enough vintage footage of a graffiti-covered NYC to make it an exciting discovery.

Since Beat This is, basically, a history lesson, is not without its teachers. We're guided through hip hop's inception (and through the Bronx) by Malcom McLaren (the man behind bringing rap to the U.K.), The Cold Crush Brothers, Jazzy Jay, The Dynamic Rockers, and more. The film's strongest attributes, however, are its glimpse into DJ Kool Herc's infamous dance parties, which provide a lively offset to Byrd's dull voice-overs.

17. Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme (2000)

Freestyling will always be the litmus test that tells the truly gifted from the studio-crafted wannabe lyricists. Fittingly, director Kevin Fitzgerald's doc does a great job of using archival footage to capture how off-the-cuff rhyming began in black churches when pastors gave improvised sermons, and spilled over into cyphers on the streets and more formal MC showdowns.

The Art Of Rhyme features gifted artists is spades: Mos Def, Supernatural, Cut Chemist, ?uestlove, and Black Thought, amongst several others. And all of the included talent give performances that showcase their impromptu skills. That's what Fitzgerald's film best communicates: Essentially free flowing is done just for the joy of competing and demonstrating personal creativity, no other incentives required.

16. Scratch (2002)

While other filmmakers on this list chose to zero in on rappers and MC's, Scratch director Doug Pray opted to focus on one of the men behind the music: the turntablist. The film traces the history of the DJ, from the idea's inception to those manning the wheels of steel supplying the breaks to the B-boys of the '80s.

Scratch outlines the technique behind the craft as much as it illustrates the skill and passion of the turntablists, cutting from interviews and performances from DJ Shadow, the X-Ecutioners, and Afrika Bambaataa, with special attention paid to explaining why Grand Mixer DXT's scratching on Herbie Hancock's "Rockit" was so influential.

The result is a lively hip-hop history lesson that will leave you wishing you had the skill to stitch samples together like Qbert and Mix Master Mike once did. You'll be left in awe over the immense, and largely under-appreciated, talent that turntable manipulation requires.

15. Backstage: A Hard Knock Life (2000)

In Backstage: A Hard Knock Life, the concert footage is just as electrifying as you'd expect that of a groundbreaking rap tour to be, and the off-stage antics are just as riveting. Not to mention, you're immersed in it all, from DMX's standoffish, diva-like antics to Dame Dash passionately playing the role of mother goose. Also, the consummate bonding backstage with fans, and a different kind of affection parceled out to the most devoted groupies. Cue Jay-Z's "Girls, Girls, Girls."

Backstage, ahem, action aside, Jigga also discusses the current state of hip-hop's (negative) perception by the public, an idea that is opposed to what we're being shown, like Jay-Z announcing that the proceeds from Denver's concert will go to the victim's families of Columbine on the very day the shootings occurred. In the end, the affection between the rappers and their fans positively shines through; then again, rap's detractors probably wouldn't be watching this film anyway.

14. Tupac Shakur: Thug Angel (2002)

Most hip-hops fans see Tupac Shakur as a messiah, but is he worthy of the adoration?

In an effort to answer that question, celebrated documentarian Peter Spirer gives us plenty of never-before seen footage, and an early glimpse into the rapper's young life when he was a writing poetry and honing his acting skills, as well as interviews with fellow artists and friends, including Suge Knight, Snoop Dogg, Shock G, Treach, and Big Syke. Plus, there's footage of 2Pac at the tender age of 17, which alone makes the film worth the watch.

Shakur's rise to fame is painstakingly charted in Spirer's experienced hands, who does a good job of showing the multifaceted artist's humble beginnings and how the Black Panther movement weighed heavily on his beliefs. There's also attention drawn to how 2Pac's insistence on being authentic (being the man he claimed to be on his albums) lead to his death.

Angel? Maybe. Hip-hop's savior in a time of need? Undoubtedly, a fact that Thug Angel ably illustrates.

13. Dave Chappelle's Block Party (2006)

Dave Chappelle's Block Party is just as awesome as you'd expect it to be, and even more hilarious. For one, the enigmatic comedian has cooler friends than you (Kanye West, Mos Def, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, The Roots, and The Fugees), and his invitees, various people he hands "a golden ticket" to in Brooklyn's Clinton Hill (where he throws the unannounced bash), are far more psyched for the festivities than anyone you gave an invitation would ever be.

On hiatus from The Chappelle Show, Dave takes his comedy to the streets, recruiting people for the upcoming performance while entertaining us by just, you know, being himself. Jokes aside, we also see a different side of Chappelle, his passion for the people in the neighborhood and the easy warmth he has with everyone he meets, from school children to old ladies on the street.

You can tell the beloved funnyman is affected by the overall sense of community and the genuine appreciation the residents show for his concert/comedy show hybrid. Maybe that's why he walked away from the $50 million he was offered to do a third season of The Chappelle Show a few months after, possibly to get back to those community roots. Conjectures aside, Block Party is an event you shouldn't miss.

12. Uprising: Hip-Hop & the L.A. Riots (2012)

According to Uprising,  N.W.A.'s 1988 hit "Fuck tha Police" wasn't just a rebel's anthem—it was an intimation of what was to come, and when it finally came, a battle cry.

Through a series of thought-provoking vignettes of news reports, archival footage, and interviews with actual participants in the riot, including Rodney King (the man who was brutally beat by four police officers on camera), we get a fresh glimpse into the horrific violence that overtook South Central L.A. in 1992 and the civil unrest that motivated it all.

Snoop Dogg narrates Uprising (which he also co-produced), and with the help of interviews both old and new with John Singleton, Too Short, KRS-One, and Nas, he gives fresh insight into how hip-hop anticipated and possibly precipitated that turbulent time 20 years ago. One final question looms: Has the animosity that spurred that explosion disappeared or is it doomed to reignite once again. By the film's end, it's not answered, yet after watching Uprising you'll certainly have a strong enough evidence to form your own answer.

11. Rock the Bells (2004)

Rock The Bells is a film that shows hip-hop promoter Chang Weisberg's efforts to carry out the arduous task of reuniting Wu-Tang Clan for the first time in six years, for the now legendary 2004 Rock the Bells concert.

If for some reason you aren't a Wu-Tang fan (If so, what are you doing here?), you should still feel exhilarated watching this documentary. Much of the drama happens behind the scenes, as you see the immense effort expended to organize the event and the difficulties that arise on show day dealing with a crowd 10,000 strong and Ol' Dirty Bastard obstinately remaining in his hotel room. Will the show go on?

At points it doesn't seem so, but, ultimately, the answer is yes. ODB does take the stage, and it's his final performance before his death four months later, a fact that lends a sense of urgency and supreme importance to each scene in the film. In the end, it reads as both a posthumous love letter to ODB and an important tribute to a truly legendary hip-hop group.

10. Beef (2003)

"Beef" is the dramatic thrust behind hip-hop, an addictive back-and-forth between big personalities and even bigger egos that's as intrinsic to the art-form as rhythm, which is why director Peter Spirer was wise to have made it the focus of a film.

Spirer's classic hip-hop doc illustrates the colorful history of rap's feuds, from the clash between KRS-One and MC Shan, to the more recent animosities of Jay-Z and Nas. The director employs interviews, archived footage, and artist performances to tell an in-depth story of how rivalries arose and grew from simple street battles to full-fledged MC showdowns.

The film's success spawned two sequels and a BET series by the same name, which served to fuel our hunger (for, uh, beef), and, as of late, have also made us wonder: When will we get a new Beef, and will it focus on Drake and Chris Brown's recent altercations? So many questions...

9. The Carter (2009)

"I'm going to quit very rich, very successful and the game is going to be begging me to come back," Lil' Wayne boasts to the camera in this fascinating doc. But, clearly, quitting doesn't seem to be on his agenda, a notion The Carter only serves to solidify.

Adam Bhala Lough, along with producer Quincy Jones III, focuses our vision of Wayne, following the rapper at a pivotal point in his career, the seven months before he drops his triple-platinum Tha Carter III, in addition to several months after. Using a self-described "fly on the wall" style of filming, Lough gives us an unrivaled glimpse into the rapper's work ethic, illustrating him as an obsessive lyricist who writes rhymes constantly, a focus that is contradicted by Wayne's equally ardent drug use (which consists of mainly marijuana and sizzurp).

Despite everything being purple for Lil' Wayne, the documentary still shows a full-spectrum glimpse into his genius that demands respect. Above all, Wayne's dedication to his craft is apparent, which why the rapper's lawsuit to stop its release was so puzzling.

Wayne may have lost his case for creative control over the final product of the documentary, but he did allow the cameras in, and the final product, by any rap fan's measure, is far from unflattering. The filmmakers entered into Wayne's life without a particular point to prove, aside from showcasing the truth, and in doing so allowed us to discover it for ourselves.

8. Fade To Black (2004)

Hov dropped The Black Album, then he backed out of the game, saying he'd retied... And we got an amazing documentary out of the (temporary) deal. Seriously, though, Jay-Z's retirement may have been been short-lived, but within the context of a "final performance" we truly get to see the rapper at his best and brightest.

The incredible energy behind his now-legendary show at New York City's Madison Square Garden in 2003 (which included the likes of The Roots, R. Kelly, Beyoncé, Mary J., ?uestlove, and Diddy, just to name a few) is brilliantly captured. There's also behind-the-scenes action featuring Hov and a fresh-faced Kanye West in the studio (Yeezy was mostly a beat-maker back then, remember?).

But perhaps the documentary's most fulfilling aspect is the insight we're afforded into the legendary rapper's meticulous creation process. But a farewell? The Black Album being his final record? We didn't believe that shtick for a second.

7. Beats, Rhymes & Life (2011)

An alternate title to this documentary could have been Growing Pains. Director Micheal Rapaport, in his directorial debut, follows the legendary '90s rap group from its birth to its very messy breakup, thanks to the perennially rocky, complex relationship between Q-Tip and Phife Dawg.

The documentary is as much about that tenuous bond between two rappers as it is about the music; while their music evolves and their fame grows, their relationship deteriorates. But, like any relationship, history plays a large part in its future, and Rapaport does a great job of projecting both questions and hopes of what their future might hold, both as friends and as artists.

Also excellent is all of the included concert footage, which captures the seminal group in all of its trail-blazing, '90s glory. It's all very sentimental, and you'll probably play "Bonita Applebum" on repeat for weeks after watching.

6. Public Enemy: It Takes a Nation - The First London Invasion Tour 1987 (2005)

Not even ultra-grainy footage could stop this account of Public Enemy invading London in November 1987 from becoming a classic. Flavor Flav's energy is far too frenzied, he has too many over-sized clocks in rotation, and Professor Griff has too many stoic faces. All of it is just too much to bear, and we mean that in the best way possible.

"Everything is real. Real real real real...", Flavor Flav contends, and we're inclined to agree. Both on-stage and backstage antics from the crew, appearances from Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, Whodini and LL Cool J, and PE frontman Chuck D.'s musings all exceed expectations. And, of course, Flav uttering "Bass for your face, London," in its appropriate setting, amps up our enjoyment, re-creating an authentic energy.

5. Tupac: Resurrection (2003)

Tupac Shakur manages to extend his lifespan just a little longer and somehow finds a way to tell his tale from beyond the grave… Well, at least that's what crafty director Lauren Lanz would have us believe. By painstakingly editing together a slew of sound bites, previously unseen video clips, and unaired archival footage of 2Pac's life, Lanz allows the late rapper to tell the story of his life, and even comment upon his untimely, controversy-laden death to great effect.

A stitched together, hodgepodge expression of one of the greatest rappers to ever live seems like it wouldn't do him justice, and certainly couldn't bring anything new to the rapper's legacy. But somehow, it manages to weave 2Pac's world together, creating a cut-and-paste truth of his significance to hip-hop, almost like one of those big pictures that are made up of 100's of tiny images—step back and you'll see how the old can somehow create something new entirely.

3. Rhyme & Reason (1997)

Peter Spirer was behind many of the notable hip-hop documentaries on this list, but none are as ambitious as Rhyme & Reason. It's not even that Spirer interviewed over 80 major artists for the film—it's the subject matter he includes that other documentaries fail to acknowledge.

Yes, Spirer gives us the requisite history tutorial, but he takes it to a new place, examining hip-hop's standing amongst other culturally significant types of music (like jazz and gospel), as well as their shared ties, namely a desire to be original and to give pain a voice. And while you're still thinking over the last connection he drew, he's on to another, splicing together potent scenes so that they play in an endless loop, like the break in the hands of a capable DJ.

But the film's greatest strength is in pulling on your nostalgia-inclined heart strings by following inner city kids, and then presenting questions about where hip-hop is heading by talking to the shortcomings embedded in the music. Such as, what does hearing women being called "bitches" and "hoes," as Lauryn Hill points out, do to a child's sense of respect for women? Big questions are posed by Rhyme & Reason and presented with such passion that we're inspired to find the answer to them ourselves.

2. Big Fun in the Big Town (1986)

Dutch filmmaker Bram Van Splunteren's doc was filmed for Dutch TV in 1986, but it was only released on DVD a few weeks ago, more than 25 years after Big Fun in the Big Town was first shot in NYC. And, honestly, we'd be mad that we've been without it this long if making the discovery this much later didn't feel like unearthing treasure the way it does.

Van Splunteren's passion for hip-hop shines in his earnest representation of his subjects, from a hungry LL Cool J and a very fresh-faced Biz Markie, to a boastful Doug E. Fresh confidently displaying his beatbox skills, all shown in crisp cinematography with a still-gritty New York City in the background.

There are also plenty of original interviews with Mr. Magic, Marley Marl, Grandmaster Flash, Run-DMC and Jam Master Jay, Roxanne Shante, Russell Simmons, the Last Poets and more. It's like finding a forgotten $20 in your winter coat pocket.

1. Style Wars (1983)

More than any other film on this list, Style Wars manages to communicate the essence of hip-hop music without overtly focusing on the music itself. Instead, the film sets its sights on graffiti and break-dancing, centering on how the evolution of these expressions became vital to the vibrant roots of hip-hop culture spreading across the streets of New York.

Style Wars, which originally aired on PBS in 1983, follows several street artists, notably one-armed graffiti writer Kase 2, who is famous for his signature form of wild style called "computer rock" as much as for his boundless devotion to expressing his art.

If he was writing in his room, this wouldn't be the film it was; instead, we have an educational-sounding voice-over (this is PBS, remember?) describing the great risks he took to write on subway cars, and gorgeous visuals of graffiti-enveloped trains weaving throughout NYC. Kase 2's art is not just about aesthetics any more than Rock Steady's devotion to breaking is just about physical movement. It's about capturing a certain spirit, expressing something otherwise inexpressible, and ultimately making something your own. And that's all hip-hop really is, at it's heart, isn't it?

A film like this is not without accolades: Style Wars was deservedly awarded the Grand Jury Prize in documentary category at the Sundance Film Festival, and is widely viewed as a indelible declaration of hip-hop's commitment to originality at a fundamental time of its development.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Hustle by any means

Range of wallpapers coming soon

The 25 Best Rappers 25 And Under

Hate it or love it, the game changes. Some old cats refuse to let go of the Red Alert era (younglings probably going Red who), and still maintain that that’s the true Hip-Hop. That's an argument for another day but in the meantime Complex compiled according to them the best under 25 rappers. Now some I agree and some well maybe shouldn't be on the list.

Rap is a young man's game. Hip-hop has always been consumed and created by young people. It's that youthful exuberance that leads the culture into exciting new directions. To put things in perspective, consider the fact that 2Pac, Big L were killed at 25 and Biggie at 24, Nas wrote Illmatic before he was old enough to order a drink, and Lil Wayne coined terms like "bling" and "drop it like it's hot" while still in his teens.

Sure, as hip-hop has gotten more established, some of its biggest stars are still making hits by age 40. But at Complex we're forever in search of the next wave, that new sound coming from young upstarts.

They range from Billboard chart-toppers to Internet sensations, but all have that special x-factor that tells us they're going to be in the game for the long haul. While a few of today's best young rappers narrowly missed the cut (J. Cole, Wale, and Waka Flocka are all over 25 now), this list represents the best and brightest rappers the genre has to offer.

25. Diggy Simmons

Age: 17
Label: Atlantic/Violator
From: Queens, New York
Active Since: 2009
Best Known Song: "Copy, Paste" (2011)

Diggy Simmons has the blood of hip-hop royalty in his veins and he's stuntin' like his daddy. It may be a bit of a struggle for the teen sensation to earn his street credentials—everybody watched him grow up on Run's House—but Simmons isn't just resting on the power of his industry connects. His three masterful mixtapes were enough to land him a spot on XXL's Freshman cover. His debut album may have flopped, but don't count Diggy out. He wouldn't have gotten co-signs from Pharrell and Kanye West if he didn't have a legitimate shot at blowing up.

24. Iggy Azalea

Age: 21
Label: Grand Hustle
From: Mullumbimby, Australia
Active Since: 2011
Best Known Song: "PU$$Y" (2011)

"PU$$Y" was the wave in 2011. Australia-born Iggy Azalea turned heads with her controversial video for "Two Times" and had those same heads bobbing with "PU$$Y" and her mixtape, Ignorant Art. The combination of her catchy music and stunning looks was good enough to land her a spot on XXL's Freshmen list and a deal with T.I.'s Grand Hustle imprint. Despite a little friction with similarly named Azealia Banks, Iggy remains dedicated to trillness in 2012, as evident in her single, "Murda Bizness." She's preparing to release her debut set, The New Classic, this year.

23. Big Baby Gandhi

Age: 21
Label: Greenhead
From: Queens, New York
Active Since: 2010
Best Known Song: "Blue Magic" f/ Das Racist

BBG is something like the Bengali Meek Mill, mostly because BBG spends all his time screaming into the mic. With a co-sign from Himanshu aka Heems of Das Racist (he's signed to Heems' label), Gandhi got a big buzz going this year, culminating with the release of his NO1 2 LOOK UP 2 mixtape. The funny part about all this is—despite his penchant for putting together ill rhymes—he's still just a student studying pharmacy at J. Cole's alma mater, St. Johns University. We're not sure if BBG will pursue a career in rap, but we'd hate it if he didn't try.

22. Casey Veggies

Age: 18
Label: Peas N' Carrots International
From: Los Angeles, California
Active Since: 2007
Best Known Song: "Ridin' Roun Town" (2010)

After releasing his first mixtape, Customized Greatly vol. 1, Casey Veggies decided to break off from Odd Future and do his own thing. While that decision may have deprived him of some of the buzz that the OFWGKTA has achieved, it allowed his creativity to flow. With strong fan support generated from his five mixtapes-and talks underway with Roc Nation among others-the young Inglewood MC seems well set up for future success.

21. Machine Gun Kelly

Age: 21
Label: Bad Boy/Interscope
From: Shaker Heights, Ohio
Active Since: 2006
Best Known Song: "Wild Boy" f/ Waka Flocka Flame (2011)

As his namesake suggests, MGK is known for spitting bullets. The Ohio native first turned heads with his rapid-fire delivery and dynamic stage performances-and since then he's been stacking up the accolades. MTV named him the Hottest Breakthrough MC of 2011; he won the MTVu Breaking Woodie Award; he was featured on the latest XXL Freshmen cover; and he may have the greatest name for a home recording studio ever-The Rage Cage. Now the Wild Boy is backed by Bad Boy Records, and his fans are patiently waiting for his debut album Lace Up to drop this summer.

20. Ab-Soul

Age: 25
Label: Top Dawg Entertainment
From: Carson, California
Active Since: 2009
Best Known Song: "Illuminate" f/ Kendrick Lamar (2012)

Referred to as the genius of the Black Hippy crew by fellow members Schoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul has been getting shine because of his sharp wordplay, his ability to speak on real topics, and just all-around being "that dude." He's been releasing material for years, and his most recent effort Control System is one of this year's highlights.

The album finds him speaking on world politics ("Terrorist Threats"), spitting braggadocio ("Illuminate"), or doing both at once ("Black Lip Bastard" (Remix)). His other verses are nothing to sleep on either (check "Ab-Soul's Outro" on Section.80). The Black Hippy crew are all young, gifted, and still on the rise, which fortunately for us means more Ab-Soul.

19. Tyga

Age: 22
Label: Young Money/Cash Money/Universal
From: Compton, California
Active Since: 2007
Best Known Song: "Rack City" (2011)

With everybody from Vanessa Hudgens to your Grandmother on his dick, Tyga has taken over the airwaves with his hit, "Rack City". But even though he officially blew up with that single, Tyga has been kicking verses with Young Money for years-starting with their 2009 hit "Bedrock." The Cali MC is still riding the success of Careless World: Rise of the Last King.

18. SpaceGhostPurrp

Age: 21
Label: 4AD Records
From: Miami, Florida
Active Since: 2010
Best Known Song: "The Black God" (2012)

Many have made comparisons between SpaceGhostPurrp's Raider Klan and the Odd Future collective, but a closer listen to the music reveals just how much he and his team stand out on their own. While his name may suggest otherwise, SpaceGhostPurrp's tracks are far from cartoonish.

His production has an extremely dark, eerie aesthetic and his lyrics pretty much follow the same tone. In addiiton to crafting his own sparse and brooding tracks, he's produced tracks for A$AP Rocky and Wiz Khalifa.

His latest release, Mysterious Phonk: The Chronicles of SpaceGhostPurrp-a blend of new and remastered tracks-is currently streaming online and should be on your summer playlists. Now that SpaceGhostPurrp has signed a deal with 4AD Records, we're expecting big things from him and his crew.

17. Joey Bada$$

Age: 17
Label: Cinematic Music Group / Creative Control
From: Brooklyn, New York
Active Since: 2012
Best Known Song: "Survival Tactics" f/ Capital STEEZ (2012)

Although he's not even old enough to buy Lotto tickets, this Brooklyn MC is as real as they come. Since dropping the single and video for "Survival Tactics," Joey and his Pro Era crew have been developing a loyal contingent of fans, and everybody's been taking notice of his skills. Joey Bada$$ opened for Mac Miller in NYC and is featured on the song "America" with Mac and fellow under 25 MC Casey Veggies. Joey is only gonna get bigger with the release of his mixtape, 1999.

16. Wiki

Age: 18
Label: N/A
From: New York City, New York
Active Since: 2011
Best Known Song: "Wikispeaks" (2011)

We just discovered Wiki and his video for "Wikispeaks" a few months ago but right from the start we were blown away. After digging deeper, we got into his 1993 EP (1991, 1993, 1999—jeez, kids these days sure did love the '90s) and later got down with him and his RATKING crew. Wiki hasn't blown up on a major scale just yet (though we hear he may have inked an indie deal) but there's no denying his skill as he hurls syllable after syllable at listeners in a barrage of bars. We're still waiting for that RATKING EP to drop—it's due this summer—but based on Wiki's track record thus far we're confident that this kid's here to stay.

15. Azealia Banks

Age: 21
Label: Interscope
From: Harlem, New York
Active Since: 2006
Best Known Song: "212" (2011)

This Harlem rapper vocalist caught our eye as soon as she released "212" and we've hardly turned away since. Banks has released a number of singles since her signature hit, each one sounding totally different from the next-one minute she's spitting bar after bar over a tropical beat on "Jumanji," the next minute she switches to prima donna mode on 1991.

Banks apparently has many more styles to hit us with; she's planning to release her mixtape, Fantasea, on July 4th, and her debut Broke With Expensive Taste in September.

14. Chief Keef

Age: 16
Label: N/A
From: Chicago, Illinois
Active Since: 2012
Best Known Song: "I Don't Like" f/ Lil Reese (2012)

Rap fans were still catching up on A$AP and the Black Hippy wave when out of nowhere a 16-year-old straight out of Chicago started catching national attention. There's no doubt that Chief Keef's mixtape Back From The Dead is made for the streets. But his aggressive songs and "Bang!" ad-libs didn't make industry heavyweights shy away from the young spitter.

When Kanye co-signed him and remixed his song "I Don't Like," for G.O.O.D. Music, Campaign Sosa really started catching on. Now he seems to be on the verge of scoring a label deal with Birdman or Young Jeezy. Now there's something to like.

13. Theophilius London

Age: 25
Label: Warner Brothers
From: Brooklyn, New York
Active Since: 2008
Best Known Song: "Humdrum Town" (2009)

While he may not be everybody's cup of tea, the bottom line is that Theophilus London makes great music. Plus he stays all over the blogosphere-whether for his songs, his clothes, or his kicks, so by this point Theophilus has developed quite a following.

His genre-bending blend of sounds and styles has made him impossible to pigeon hole, and he's shown the ability to croon on pop records like his Mark Ronson–produced hit, "Humdrum Town," or get grimy with his verses like on the single "Big Spender" with A$AP Rocky. Whatever type of music Theophilus chooses to make, his overall talent is more than enough to cement him a spot on this list.

12. Big KRIT

Age: 25
Label: Def Jam
From: Meridian, Mississippi
Active Since: 2005
Best Known Song: "Country Shit (remix)" feat. Ludacris & Bun B

As soon as Big K.R.I.T. dropped his debut album, Live from the Underground, he immediately solidified the reputation that he'd been developing since first venturing onto the mixtape circuit in 2005. K.R.I.T is one of the most original artists in the game, and few-if any-rappers can touch his skills on either the mic or the boards.

He blessed his fans with three mixtapes-K.R.I.T Wuz Here, Return of 4Eva and 4Eva N a Day-that sounded more like full albums than free mixtapes. With four impressive projects under his belt, he's established himself as a career artist who promises to give us more music for man years to come-all while maintaining his distinctive swag.

11. Earl Sweatshirt

Age: 18
Label: Odd Future Records
From: Los Angeles, California
Active Since: 2009
Best Known Song: "Earl" (2010)

There have been a lot of questions about Earl ever since he first gained attention as the most mysterious member of the infamous Odd Future outfit. However, one thing has never been disputed: his skill on the mic. Of course his 2010 release Earl took vulgarity to absurd levels, but the fact that a 16-year-old could could spit this hard earned him props.

One trip to Samoa and a thousand "Free Earl" chants later, we're still waiting to hear what else this young prodigy has to say now that he's got his own Tan Cressida label deal through Columbia Records. We've got a feeling that his verse on "Oldie" was only the beginning and that the best is yet to come.

10. B.o.B

Age: 23
Label: Grand Hustle/Rebel Rock/Atlantic
From: Atlanta, Georgia
Active Since: 2006
Best Known Song: "Nothin on You" f/ Bruno Mars (2010)

B.o.B has had more commercial success than most other MCs on this list. And while this may have soured some rap purist's perception of him, just because he's your little niece's favorite rapper doesn't mean he isn't sick on the mic. While making multiple appearances on the Top 40 chart, B.o.B has also kept rap fans laced with mixtapes like B.o.B vs. Bobby Ray and EPIC, which are both stacked with serious hip-hop tracks.

While his debut album, B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray, may lean more toward pop than hip-hop, there is no denying the fact that B.o.B has serious skills and, at age 23, he's got the commercial clout to do whatever he pleases.

9. Tyler, The Creator

Age: 21
Label: Odd Future Records
From: Los Angeles, California
Active Since: 2007
Best Known Song: "Yonkers" (2011)

At the age of 21 Tyler has accomplished what most people his age have only dreamed of doing. He won Best New Artist at the MTV Music Awards, released two solid albums, owns his own record label, and stars in his own televsion show (Loiter Squad) on Cartoon Network. The list of people he's pissed off in the process is enormous, and he clearly does not care in the slightest.

But Wolf Haley hasn't peaked and neither has his number of critics. The rapper/producer/designer/director/actor is currently working on his third album Wolf, and that's just the one we know about. When it comes to Tyler, expect the unexpected.

8. Mac Miller

Age: 20
Label: Rostrum Records
From: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Active Since: 2007
Best Known Song: "Donald Trump" (2011)

Mac Miller already built a strong following via his thorough mixtapes, but there is one achievement that sets him apart from all the other rappers on the list. His full-length debut, Blue Slide Park, was the first independently-distributed record to top the Billboard albums chart since Tha Dogg Pound's Dogg Food in 1995. But the young Pittsburgh sensation didn't ease up after this historic success-he's since released his seventh mixtape, Macadelic, finished up The Macadelic Tour, and is currently prepping his collarboration with Pharrell entitled Pink Slime. If "Onaroll" was any indicator, this one should be a treat.

7. Schoolboy Q

Age: 25
Label: Top Dawg Entertainment/Interscope
From: Los Angeles, California
Active Since: 2008
Best Known Song: "Hands on the Wheel" f/ A$AP Rocky

The year is past the halfway mark and Schoolboy Q's Habits & Contradictions is still among this year's best, even though it was released way back in January. The quality wasn't much of a surprise, either. Ever since his independent album, Setbacks, Schoolboy Q has been killing his numerous guest verses, particularly with Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky ("Brand New Guy"). With Black Hippy coming up and Top Dawg Entertainment's deal with Interscope/Aftermath, there's no reason not to be up on Schooloy Q.

6. Big Sean

Age: 23
Label: G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam
From: Detroit, Michigan
Active Since: 2005
Best Known Song: "Dance (A$$)" f/ Nicki Minaj (2011)

There's dozens of reasons to hate on Big Sean: his confidence, his swagger, the fact that he could screw your girl if he wanted to. But why hate when this Detroit native has so much charisma on the mic? His strong following has been growing since the Finally Famous mixtape series, and the hype reached fever pitch when he finally released his debut album last year.

The wait was well worth it-2011 wouldn't have been the same without a little "Marvin Gaye & Chardonnay" and of course who doesn't like "Dance (A$$)"? Big Sean still should have many more hits left in the tank, especially with such a strong team on his side. Watch for Sean to play a Big role on the G.O.O.D. Music album, Cruel Summer, when it drops this summer.

5. Wiz Khalifa

Age: 24
Label: Taylor Gang/Rostrum Records
From: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Active Since: 2005
Best Known Song: "Black and Yellow" (2010)

With all the WTF moments he's had with Amber Rose lately, some folks may have forgotten that Wiz Khalifa is the same man who put Pittsburgh rap on the map. Remember when you couldn't go a day without hearing that "Black and Yellow"? And what about when Kush & Orange Juice was your daily breakfast of champions? While the Taylor Gang leader has continued to drop radio-friendly hits—like his Snoop collab "Young, Wild & Free"—look for him to refresh everybody's memory with his sophomore effort O.N.I.F.C (Only Nigga In First Class, which is scheduled for an August 28 release. Until then, Wiz fans have the Taylor Allderdice mixtape to hold them down.

4. Meek Mill

Age: 25
Label: Maybach Music Group
From: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Active Since: 2005
Best Known Song: "Ima Boss" f/ Rick Ross (2011)

We're not sure if it's his high-volume delivery or the aggression of his hooks, but when Meek Mill starts rapping, everything just gets turnt up. The MMG soldier had a solid 2011 and he's continuing the momentum this year. His Summer Jam performance was almost good enough to make us forget all about the Nicki Minaj fiasco, and his mixtape Dreamchasers 2 was one of the hardest releases of the year. Plus, "Ima Boss" and "House Party" are still on constant rotation on the DJ deck. You best believe Meek Mill's going to bring the drama on MMG's upcoming Self Made Vol. 2.

3. Kendrick Lamar

Age: 24
Label: TDE/Aftermath/Interscope
From: Compton, California
Active Since: 2003
Best Known Song: "A.D.H.D" (2011)

Ever since he was a relative unknown who went by the name K. Dot, Kendrick Lamar has been steadily tightening his grip on the game. And Lamar's grown by leaps and bounds since he dropped the alias-which is a scary thing considering he had enough lyrical ammo to kill dozens of MCs from the start (see Training Day). His mixtapes, Overly Dedicated (2010) and C4 (2009), still hold weight, and Section.80 ranks among 2011's finest.

His multiple big features (Drake, Meek Mill) arebe just a hint of what's in store. Lamar is currently working on his major label debut, Good Kid in a Mad City, one of the most highly anticipated releases in recent memory. It's not just hype either-Lamar has some of the sharpest flows and on-point lyricism in the game.

2. A$AP Rocky

Age: 23
Label: A$AP Worldwide/RCA
From: Harlem, New York
Active Since: 2007
Best Known Song: "Pe$o" (2011)

A$AP Rocky exploded onto the rap scene in 2011 like a grenade with braids. Rocky and his Harlem-based A$AP Mob officially formed in 2007 but it was just last fall that we were asking who is A$AP Rocky?. Rocky's buzz grew out of his singles "Peso" and "Purple Swag" and the hype around the A$AP movement reached ridiculous heights with reports of a $3 million record deal.

Last October, Rocky dropped his much-anticipated debut mixtape, LiveLoveA$AP, and all the hype was validated. That, combined with his presence on Drake's Club Paradise tour and the promise of his debut album, LongLiveA$AP, have made Rocky one of the hottest newcomers in the game-a rapper who's sure to have a real, lasting impact on the rap game. And let's not forget about that swag either.

1. Drake

Age: 25
Label: Cash Money/Young Money
From: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Active Since: 2006
Best Known Song: "Best I Ever Had" (2009)

Since he is one of the biggest rappers in hip-hop in general, it should come as no suprise that Drake tops this list. Even if he's got tons of haters who feel that the swag don't match the sweaters, it seems that no amount of hate (not even bar brawls with Chris Brown) can knock Drizzy out of the hip-hop stratosphere.

Drake's catalog and accolades would be impressive for a rapper of any age-but the fact that he's accomplished so much before hitting 26 is simply mind blowing. With mega mixtapes, endless features, and two platinum albums in his rearview mirror, Drake's road ahead is looking like a long and successful one.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Weezy Explains Why He Pulled Nicki From Hot 97's Summer Gig

Lil Wayne says that he honored Nicki Minaj's feeling of being disrespected by pulling her from the show.

Shortly before Nicki Minaj was scheduled to take the stage at Hot 97's Summer Jam, Lil Wayne tweeted that he pulled her from the lineup. It was later revealed that radio personality Peter Rosenberg had made comments about her single "Starships" being "bullshit," and that she felt disrespected and decided not to perform.

Weezy broke his silence on the matter during an interview with MTV News, stating that he was honoring his associate's feelings by canceling her appearance.

"First of all, I approached the situation like this: that's a female, first and foremost," he said. "Nicki Minaj is a female. I don't know what anyone else believe, but I believe that females deserve the ultimate respect at all times no matter what, where, when or how. So as soon as she called me and said she felt disrespected, I just declined everything and pulled her from the show because first of all, no person that works with me - because no one works for me - no person that works with me will be disrespected in my presence as long as I'm on this planet."

He also said that he has no hard feelings towards Hot 97, but that he stands by his decision.

"And like I said, she's a female, first and foremost, so I expect the red carpet - in her manner, the pink carpet - to be laid out for her. But like I said, it's just an executive move, no bad feelings, no hard feelings. It's just like I said, in my opinion, she says she was disrespected. That's a woman. I feel like a woman is supposed to be respected at all times. Therefore, I feel like I made the right decision."

Monday, 4 June 2012

Chance for 25 wannabe stand-up comedians

As part of the launch of Soweto Theatre and Youth Month celebrations, 25 young people will be given an opportunity to kickstart careers in stand-up comedy.

Did you know: SA's top and experienced comedians earn R30 000 per show when doing corporate shows, R5 000 per performance for festivals and R2 000 per performance for club performances?

The Soweto Theatre together with Joburg Promusica Theatre is committed to youth development through the arts; as part of the launch of Soweto Theatre and Youth Month celebrations, 25 young people will be given an opportunity to kick start careers within the ever growing stand-up comedy Industry.

The South African Comedy Academy has helped launch the careers of some of the top comedy talents in the country. Comedians such as Trevor Noah, Eugene Khoza, Kedibone Mulaudzi and Tumi Morake amongst others, all started their careers using the Academy's comedy development initiatives.

As part of the Youth Month celebrations SACA will give 25 young people between the ages of 18-35 an opportunity to carve their paths in the comedy industry. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity as all costs are covered by Joburg Promusica Theatre and Soweto Theatre.

Note to all budding comedians and funny people, auditions are on June 4 at Soweto Theatre from 10am. 25 will be chosen, and put through their paces at various classes. The South African Comedy Academy Showcase will be on June 14 at 8pm where these successful comedians will be on show.

The classes will be run by the SA Comedy Academy founder and one of SA's top comedians and SA's top comedy developer Kedibone Mulaudzi. Prepare a funny 5-minute comedy set and come audition for your spot.

Venue: Soweto Theatre.
Address: cnr Bolani Road and Bolani Link Road, Jabulani, Soweto. Next to Jabulani Mall, just off Koma Road.
Contact Details: SA Comedy Academy - Facebook Follow us on Twitter @sacomedyacademy or @kedibonemulaudz
More info - 011 070 7089
Audition date: 4 June 10am
Class dates: 5 - 13 June
SACA Showcase: 14 June 8pm.