What started as a punny nickname for Da'Shan, transformed into a media writing legacy and a new brand building slowly but surely. 

Charting Black Excellence | Revisiting Toni Braxton's "countless bops" because Beyoncé said so

Usually when Beyoncé does a digital drop on any social platform, it’s like no other and you feel obligated to listen. On Halloween 2017, Bey took the internet by storm by recreating a few iconic and cult-favorite looks from Lil’ Kim. This past Halloween Eve, Instagram timelines were blessed by the singer dressing as one of her other idols: Toni Braxton. According to the artist who most hail as “Queen Bey,” Braxton is “one of our talented legends (who serves) countless bops.”

How Amerie's '4AM' EPs recall Prince's 'Purple Rain' soundtrack

One of the perks of listening to any solid music project—in the case, Amerie’s double-disced 4AM EPs—is pinpointing possible influences. On the first of the EPs, 4AM Mulholland, that eureka moment of tracing back happens during the three-track stretch starting with “The Wall,” followed by the EP’s titular track, and ending with “A Heart’s For The Breaking.” It’s at the heavy dosage of electric guitar in “The Wall,” the concept of driving around to find love (with a hint of 80s new wave noir) on “Mulholland,” and the etherealness existing on “A Heart’s For The Breaking” that rings truest to the vibes of Prince’s Purple Rain.

On Post Malone being a "rapper," and why genres still matter to music

Last week, music industry source HITS Daily Double interviewed Post Malone and discussed the upcoming Grammy season. Post seems like a guaranteed frontrunner considering his massively successful run with beerbongs & bentleys on streaming, radio, and the Billboard charts. However, genres are not meant to place artists in boxes. So it’s understandable when a genre debate does reach that point, where an artist can be frustrated. However, artists should be more proud of recognizing what forms their music take in relation to hip hop (and all its subgenres), rock (and all its subgenres), R&B, or pop—just to name a few.

Charting Black Excellence | Ella Mai & all the other current faces of R&B

Due to her recent series of success, Ella Mai is being called almost every honorific name in the book. The one that stuck out to the London import the most is “The New Face of R&B,” as she’s told Beats 1’s Julie Adenuga, last month. And while many will have their opinion on this notion (with some stans even championing their own favorite artist as such), the charts and radio airplay is proving her newly found moniker as fact. But what we all know for now is R&B is finally back back. And better yet, our black artists are getting the shine they deserve.

Charting Black Excellence | Rihanna & the Super Bowl's declining power

For a while, Rihanna as the headliner of one of the world’s most annually viewed television performances seemed like a no brainer, especially considering the magnitude of her career in the past 13-14 years. Rihanna would have had one of the most unpredictable set lists based on the infinite number of global-spanning hits in her discography. There’s also the notion of Rihanna being one of the only female pop artists of excellence from the 2000s that still hasn’t graced the Pepsi-sponsored stage. And when #R9 is released, all of her respective navy members will most likely be championing her on a worldwide tour, if she so chooses to have one. So, the last thing on her mind is catering to the NFL’s bullshit for a brief 15-minute set.

Charting Black Excellence | Why Migos’ AMAs win in a pop category makes sense

As awards season continues, the music industry is simultaneously recalculating what is considered “pop music.” It's a debate that’s persisted in recent years, extending beyond decades, since the conception of charts and radio programming. Migos’ victory on Tuesday, Oct. 9 at the American Music Awards highlighted just how far these conversations are going in award shows' nomination committees. And somehow, the trio’s classification as pop confused some, but also addressed a reality.

Beyoncé and JAY-Z's 'On The Run II Tour' stop in Vancouver was full of lessons

For the past 11 days, I embarked on my first journey through the west coast of the U.S. Since the Carters announced their "On The Run II Tour," I had the bright idea to see them outside of my home base of New York City. Recently, I developed a new hobby of attending concerts in different cities because I was somewhat tired of the same event humdrum the Big Apple had to offer. I thought Vancouver would be the perfect location to witness the royal American music couple, while simultaneously immersing myself in foreign culture. What originally had been an excuse to finally vacation in Canada expanded into a more grand musical journey.

Why Lil Wayne and Swizz Beatz's "Uproar" is a meaningful single for the culture

Cue up the Diddy voice 'cause, “let’s go!!!” That’s just how fire Lil Wayne’s “Uproar” is. Coming in at the fourth track of his Tha Carter V, “Uproar” stands ready to rumble. It’s a warning and (simultaneous) call-to-arms to the haters of Weezy—or his doubters, if you will—as he continuously asks throughout the track “What the fuck though? Where the love go?” Simply put, “Uproar” has the potential to be an anthem tailored for the streets.

Charting Black Excellence | Cardi B's three No. 1's & her genuine love for female hip-hop

Exactly a year ago (Sept. 24), Cardi B's debut lead single "Bodak Yellow" reached No. 1 on the Hot 100. It had been 19 years since a woman earned that accomplishment by herself, without guests, standing on her own grounds. Now, Cardi B has three No. 1 singles thanks to Maroon 5's "Girls Like You." Through earning these accomplishments, here's how she paid homage to the women in rap that preceeded her reign.

Revisiting Queen Latifah's 'Order In The Court' 20 years later

Just as 1998 experienced R&B in the midst of its renaissance, hip-hop had analogous momentum on its side—but with more monumental stakes. DMX growled and hyped up the scene on his debut and sophomore albums seven months apart; Lauryn Hill's solo start would eventually nab Album of the Year at the 1999 Grammys; and JAY-Z, Busta Rhymes, and Outkast were on their third project each, further shaping their signature sounds, while simultaneously indicating a new legion of emcees were taking over the game.

Revisiting how Jeezy's 'The Recession' brought hood politics to the forefront of trap music

When conversations take place about who the Kings of hip-hop are—particularly of those starting in the 21st century—Jeezy rarely gets his full props, more so regarded as a footnote. As one of the leading emcees that defined southern hip-hop and trap music as we know it today, Jay Wayne Jenkins—who used to have a “Young” modifier at the beginning of his rap name—continued his hustla statement, providing the game his third studio album, The Recession, on September 2, 2008.

This Black Music Month, Kanye West and G.O.O.D. Music reset the gears of hip-hop

This June of G.O.O.D. Music Fridays was meant for the contrarians, which might have been the point of all Kanye West's publicity stunts leading up. Lately, fans of various artists have been finding themselves questioning the extent of their investment in music— from the "Mute R. Kelly" movement to the recent murder of XXXtentacion to participating in Drake's #ScorpionListeningParty knowing "you are hiding a child." Idols have transformed into false role models for some, and who you listen to in your personal music library has now become the new "what you do behind closed doors."

It's been five years, and no one has truly lived up to Kendrick Lamar's "Control" verse yet

If hip-hop had a timeline of milestone dates that placed the game in disarray, it would have to include August 14, 2013. If hip-hop had a list of lyrical giants that shook the table, then give that crown to Kendrick Lamar. If today's hip-hop needs to find a way back to the real competitive nature that first built this genre, they've got to start following the example of his "Control" verse.

Why Nas' "Not For Radio" deserved more recognition this summer

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. As summer officially winds down and seasonal recaps start to finalize, I feel the need to express gratitude to Nas—who also celebrates his birthday today (September 14)—for making "Not For Radio" the opener of NASIR. It's the regal attitude of "Not For Radio" that makes it stand out as one of summer's best.

A Rap Playbook: 26 great examples of lyrical wordplay

Wordplay: The sport of a wordsmith. In hip-hop, the greatest rappers to have ever touched a mic and spit their truth have dabbled in this art. Some have done it more smoothly than others, who—in their own right—have made the obvious a bit more clear. Wordplay can come about in a multitude of directions, but the overall goal is to execute a pun or pop culture reference through word alterations and the flipping of meanings. A few methods include: internal rhyme schemes; varying pronunciations; synonyms; synonyms juxtaposed by antonyms; syllable breakdowns; double, triple, and even quadruple entendres; and spelling.
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