Results for Nas

interviews

Jeff Chang

Jeff Chang, author of Can‘t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation, joins Jim and Greg in the studio this week. Jeff, who co-founded the Quannum Label in San Francisco, was on the show previously when his book first came out, and he and our hosts engaged in a discussion of hip-hop's history. Now that Jeff's book has come out on paperback, Jim and Greg welcome him back to the show to discuss where hip-hop is today and where it is going. In order to get a sense of hip-hop's diverse makeup, the three music journalists decide to embark on a geographical tour of the genre, beginning with Chicago and working their way through the United States, and even the U.K.

Go to episode 15

Kelis

R&B singer/songwriter Kelis has been making music since her debut release in 1999…longer if you count her time at the "Fame" school (New York's LaGuardia High School of Music, Art & Performing Arts). But it wasn't until 2003's breakout hit "Milkshake," that Kelis really brought all the fans to the yard. That song, produced by Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams of The Neptunes, went gold. But, Kelis' next step was surprising. She released 2006's Kelis Was Here and then took a big break…to go to culinary school! By this time she had married rapper Nas, and in 2009 they publicly announced their split while Kelis was 7 months pregnant with her son. All of that—motherhood, family and food—has made its way on to the new record, aptly titled Food. It's a focused reinvention of sounds, produced by TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek. Kelis stopped by our studio to performed songs from Food and talk about the pitfalls of stardom, her breakup with Nas, and how Jerk Ribs found its way into a song title.

Go to episode 454
specials

SOOPie Awards

As 2006 comes to end, Jim and Greg take a look back at the year in music — the good, the bad, and the ugly — and give out their annual“Soopie Awards.” Here are this year's winners:

  • The 14:59 Award: Kevin Federline. The dancer turned husband turned wannabe rapper started off this year with a new single, "Popozao," and a new hope for a better, bill-free, life. Now K-Fed is a soon-to-be twice-divorced father of four who was dumped via text message and booed by fans on the same night. The clock is ticking…

  • The Most Clichéd Criminal Act Award: Snoop Dogg. Rapper Snoop Dogg was arrested a number of times this year, but the final criminal act really took the cake. He was stopped after an appearance on The Tonight Show with what must be the gangsta rap starter kit — pot, cocaine and a weapon — soon to be available at a Wal-Mart near you.

  • The Award for Rock Aging Gracefully: The Sex Pistols. Upon receiving an invitation to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Sex Pistols responded thusly. Sound Opinions H.Q. is glad the punk spirit is still alive somewhere.

  • The Award for Rock Aging Poorly: CBGB's. One place the punk spirit isn't alive is Las Vegas. Yet that's exactly where the original Lower East Side punk headquarters is relocating. We just hope Patti Smith doesn't join Celine for an extended residency.

  • The Best New Sheriff in Town Award: Eliot Spitzer. 2006 was a big year for the Attorney General. Mr. Spitzer not only won the office of Governor of the State of New York, but he also brought down some of the giants in the music industry who continued the practice of payola. He received his largest settlement from Universal Music (which checked off all major record labels) and is now moving on to radio.

  • The“Hootie”the F** Are You? Award*: three-way tie between Rascal Flatts, The Fray & KT Tunstall. No one seems to know who you are, but your names continue to appear on the charts. Jim and Greg can only blame this on the Hootie effect.

  • The Politics Paying Too Big a Price Award: Dixie Chicks. After telling a British audience that she's ashamed the President is a fellow Texas native, Natalie Maines and her fellow Dixie Chicks have been boycotted by country radio stations and have been forced to cancel many tour dates. Jim and Greg wonder whatever happened to free speech?

  • The Politics Not Paying Enough of a Price Award: Barbra Streisand. Maybe we'll rethink that free speech thing… On her recent tour, the always liberal Barbra Streisand decided to incorporate political satire and sketches into her performance. After paying hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars for tickets, many audience members wished Babs would just stick to singing. Jim and Greg agree.

  • Award for Best Rock Couple. Nominees: Paul McCartney and Heather Mills; Kim and Marshall Mathers; Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson. The Winner: Jay-Z and Nas. They've been“beefing”for years, and made their careers dissing one another. But now pure friendship (aka Def Jam and profit-sharing) have brought them together. Thank God those two kids worked it out!

From all of us at Sound Opinions, Happy New Year!

Go to episode 57
reviews
Hip Hop Is Dead (Bonus Track Version)Illmatic available on iTunes

Nas Illmatic

Rapper Nas had the number one album last week entitled Hip Hop is Dead. While Jim and Greg don‘t agree with that sentiment, there wasn’t much about the album that would prove otherwise. In fact, Jim muses that this record is "hip hop on life support." Nas first broke out with his album Illmatic when he was only 20 years old. He has only come close to topping that debut with singles like "Ether" that played on his rivalry with fellow New York rapper Jay-Z. Now, after what must have been epic peace accords, Nas has been signed to Jay-Z's Def Jam label. His new boss even appears on the track "Black Republicans." Both rappers have tremendous deft and flow, but Jay-Z has always been able to remain popular with songs of very little substance. Nas, by contrast, is better when he is using language to say something, not make party music. Both critics found Hip Hop is Dead empty, boring, and at times, a little schticky, and subsequently, it gets a double Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 58
NasNas available on iTunes

Nas Nas

The first album up for review this week has been making headlines for some time now. Nas first announced that his new album was going to be titled N-gger, but months later he made the album untitled, presumably because of pressure from record stores and racial leaders. With or without the title, Greg explains that there are big statements about race all over the record. But, that's not such a good thing. He asks how“rebellion can sound so dull?”Jim agrees that Nas blows it lyrically, but likes the beats. He gives it a Try It while Greg goes for a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 138
Kelis Was HereKelis Was Here available on iTunes

Kelis Kelis Was Here

Kelis scored a big hit with her 2003 single "Milkshake," and this week she tries to do it again. Kelis Was Here is the R&B singer's first album since splitting from former collaborators The Neptunes and marrying rapper Nas. Our hosts are split on their opinions. Jim is happy to see Kelis working with a variety of producers, including Scott Storch and Will.I.Am, and is glad that her sexual self-empowerment remains intact. The album earns a Buy It from him. Greg finds this record to be pretty generic, though, contending that all of the producers have buffed her personality out. He describes Kelis Was Here as“milkshake leftovers,”and only gives it a Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 39
dijs

Jim

“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”Iron Butterfly

For his first Desert Island Jukebox pick of 2007, Jim makes a surprising choice. Inspired by Nas' use of the song in his latest single "Hip Hop is Dead," Jim decides to go with the epic rock track "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" by Iron Butterfly. Not many music critics will defend this song, but Jim stands by it — the single version, that is. He can't defend the 17-minute album version with an unnecessary drum solo. There are rumors that“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”was supposed to be“In the Garden of Eden,”as interpreted through… LSD. Then some say it refers to the Bhagavad Gita. The most common explanation is that it was a lack of communication between band members and their headphones. However the song got its name, Jim is looking forward to sitting on his deserted island and rocking out to the classic guitar and bass riff, or ostinato.

Go to episode 58
news

Music News

Web developers have finally created a way for iPhone and iPod Touch users to share files. Similar to the p2p file-sharing program Soulseek, iSlsk allows fans of the Apple phone to wirelessly swap music at fairly high speeds. This news comes just months prior to the release of the highly anticipated new 3G iPhone. While consumers are waiting, Steve Jobs is working to extend Apple's lead in online music sales to the mobile market. Jobs would like to get into the ringtones and ringbacks business, but in order to do so he may have to work out a deal with record labels. According to speculation, Jobs may agree to a variable pricing plan in exchange for mobile delivery. Now we'll have to see if digital music consumers are willing to give up low prices for convenience. We predict they will.

Boy band mogul Lou Pearlman was sentenced to 25 years in prison for swindling investors and major U.S. banks out of more than $300 million. Pearlman made his mark in the music industry after launching the careers of *N Sync and The Backstreet Boys. Pearlman's legal team was looking for more leniency, but Jim and Greg don't think the judge was harsh enough. Jim would tack on a few more years just for kicking off the boy band craze.

Earlier this year rapper Nas raised eyebrows after announcing plans to call his upcoming album "N*gger." He saw it as a way to re-appropriate the word in a positive way. But now, the hip hop artist has decided to remove the provocative word from his release. Nas has suggested that he received pressure from his label to give the album a more retail-friendly title, but both Jim and Greg smell a publicity stunt.

Go to episode 130

Music News

While CD sales are down, vinyl sales are up this year, and labels are looking to cash in on this trend. A number of major artists, from Coldplay to The Raconteurs, are releasing vinyl versions of their albums. Jim and Greg talk with Tom Biery, a VP at Warner Bros./Reprise who is heading up the label's vinyl initiative. Tom explains that the resurgence there really began with Neil Young. The veteran WB artist explained to label executives how important sound still is, and that sparked something with Tom. Now a number of major albums are being re-released in high-quality vinyl, and according to Biery, it's not just the audiophiles who are buying.

Even though CD sales continue to plummet, new research is showing that major label artists can remain successful. Eric Garland is the co-founder of Big Champagne Online Media Measurement, which researches piracy and file-sharing sites. Jim and Greg talk with Eric about how distributors are facing the facts of the digital era and looking for ways in which they can use leaks to the industry's advantage. Leaks can even be viewed as promotional tools today, Nas‘ manager believes that the latest leak has helped the rapper’s new album, which Jim and Greg review later in the show. Evidence shows that the artists that have the highest album sales also see the most illegal downloads. Eric admits that piracy isn't the only factor in the consistent drop of CD sales, suggesting that alternate forms of media may take a priority today; competitive products like video games and DVDs are more popular now than ever.

Go to episode 138

Music News

It's been a rough week for digital music. First Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich openly criticize Spotify and boot Atoms for Peace songs from the streaming service. The, the Musicians' Union in the U.K. threaten a boycott if Spotify doesn't raise its royalty rates. And now Aimee Mann is suing MediaNet, which provides millions of songs to dozens of music services. She's seeking damages for "willful copyright infringement."

Sure, we could imagine Bono going for an “EGOT,” but "Commander"? The Irish rocker was recently awarded the country's highest cultural honor: Commander of Arts and Letters in recognition of his contributions to the arts and to charity. Rapper Nas was also given an unusual honor. Harvard University has established the Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellowship as part of its Hip-Hop Archive and W.E.B. Du Bois Institute.

Since its launch in 2008, Record Store Day has become something music fans eagerly anticipate. And now they'll also have…wait for it…Cassette Store Day! True, there aren't many stores that solely sell cassettes, but on September 7, a number of bands will release special cassettes and artists like The Flaming Lips, Deerhunter and At the Drive-In will reissue albums on cassettes. So breakout your Walkman and get ready.

Go to episode 400

Music News

Lady Gaga has cancelled her "Born This Way" tour due to a hip injury. Millions of little monsters will be deprived of 22 national shows. And the Gaga camp might be out $35 million. With all the dancing and acrobatics, it's surprising more pop artists aren't wiped out by injuries which gives Jim and Greg a new appreciation for Tina Turner.

In other concert news, Paul McCartney will be headlining the Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee. He'll be joined by Mumford and Sons and Tom Petty, but also Wu-Tang Clan and Nas-some surprising additions to the traditionally roots and jam festival. Concertgoers will also be excited to hear about the Firefly Festival's plans for its second year, including theYeah Yeah Yeahs and Kendrick Lamar. Here in Chicago, the Pitchfork Festival has booked Bjork and in perplexing move, controversial hometown artist R. Kelly.

Finally, Jim and Greg bid farewell to songwriter and producer Shadow Morton. He was instrumental in bringing the Shangri-Las to fame with hits like "Leader of the Pack" and "Remember" that compressed teen angst dramas into three-minute pop operas. Shadow also later worked with Janis Ian and The New York Dolls.

Go to episode 378