Friday night saw the debut from another exoteric declaration from Jay-Z: “You rappers singing a bit much/ return to rap, you T-Pain-ing too much/ I’m a multi-millionaire/ So how am I the most backbreaking n—a here?”
Upon New York’s Hot 97 radio post, Jay premiered afresh song from his approaching Blueprint 3 LP called, “D.O.A.,” or “The Death of Auto-Tune.”
“This is anti-Auto-Tune, demise of the Ringtone,” Hov starts rapping over a track co-produced through Kanye West and No I.D. Hard beats and horns glare as Jay arouses figures of a black John Dillinger holding a fuming Tommy Gun, making a chump ignorant enough to stand in his way. Jay is back to shoot down biting MCs.
“This ain’t for iTunes, this ain’t for singalongs,” he raps afterward in the song. “This is Frank Sinatra at the opera, get a blonde … My raps don’t bear melodies/ It should make jackers commit felonies/ This ain’t a #1 record, this is practically assault with a deadly weapon.”
Last month, Kanye West told MTV News about Jay-Z’s stance against Auto-Tune, the vocal effect used extensively by T-Pain and by West himself on his latest album, 808s and Heartbreak.
“We actually removed all the songs with Auto-Tune off of his album,” West said, “to make the point that this is an anti-Auto-Tune album, even though I released an album that has all Auto-Tune!”
Later on Friday night, Jay called into Funkmaster Flex and Mister Cee at Hot 97’s studios to explain that he’s taking aim at artists who use Auto-Tune as a crutch. He also compared the vocal enhancement usage by rappers to wearing throwback sports jerseys back in the day: Everybody started to wear them and they got played out.
“I think I said something important,” he said, adding that he spoke out “only on the aspect of moving [the conversation] forward,” and elaborated about who he was not going at.
“The guys who did it, did it great,” he explained. “T-Pain, he does great melodies. If you listen to Kanye, great melodies. If you listen to [West's] ‘Say You Will’ or ‘Heartless,’ great melodies. [Lil Wayne and T-Pain's] ‘Lollipop’ was a fantastic melody. Everybody can’t do it. Let them guys do it. They got their little niche, let’s move on. That’s just my opinion. I don’t know if everybody feels the same way.”
The Brooklyn MC said his intention with the record was to “draw [a] line in the sand.”
The Jiggaman confirmed that his long-awaited Blueprint 3 is coming out via a new partnership with Atlantic Records; the album is expected to be released on September 11. They will handle the distribution for the album, which is housed on Hova’s Roc Nation.
“I got the foundation and I’m ready to blast off,” he said.
“I bought my album back — I overpaid for it,” he added about recently ending his long stint with Def Jam Records. “I believe at this point in my career, I wanted to be totally independent and free in what I wanted to do. Def Jam and Universal, they did a beautiful thing in letting me pay. They overcharged me a little bit, but I appreciate all the years they put into my career … I could never have a [traditional] record deal. I’m working with Atlantic, they gonna distribute the album and they’re doing a fantastic job. I get a chance to connect with the people I started my career with. It’s almost like poetic justice.”
Expect more from Jay soon. DJ Skee took to Twitter to say that the first official single from Blueprint 3 will be “On That,” featuring Drake. Jay wasn’t asked and didn’t speak on that song, but he did talk a little bit about the album’s feel.
“The vibe I’m on is, stripping it down and bringing it back classic,” Jay said. “I hear people, I gotta get back in my square and really let people know what time it is really quick.”
Even as the third incarnation of Black Sabbath - now doing business as Heaven & Hell - prepares to tour to promote its new album, “The Devil You Know,” a battle is raging over who should own the Sabbath name.
Frontman Ozzy Osbourne, who left the band in 1979 and returned in 1997 for periodic touring and a live album, is suing guitarist Tony Iommi, accusing him of falsely assuming ownership of the Sabbath name in a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The suit contends that Osbourne’s “signature vocals” were responsible for the band’s “extraordinary success,” noting its decline in popularity after he left the first time. Osbourne is demanding a 50 percent share of the name for himself as well as a split of monies earned while he was not in the band.
Iommi has not yet responded to the suit, but prior to that he acknowledged to Billboard.com that a desire to avoid “legal issues” was behind adopting the name Heaven & Hell for the currently active lineup that includes himself, original bassist Terry “Geezer” Butler, singer Ronnie James Dio (who replaced Osbourne in 1979) and drummer Vinnie Appice. And whole he acknowledged that having another name for a band that had recorded as Black Sabbath “does get confusing,” he maintained that it portrays the current group’s repertoire more accurately.
“I think if we went under the Black Sabbath label it would cause problems along the line,” Iommi said. “People would expect us to be playing ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Paranoid’ and other stuff from (the Osbourne era), and that wasn’t the idea with this lineup. The idea was to play all the stuff we’ve done with Ronnie, and that’s why we’re using the different name.”
Heaven & Hell, which reunited in 2007, is currently on tour in Europe and begins a 15-show North American swing on Aug. 7 in Vancouver.
Osbourne has also reached out to Iommi in a public statement released by his publicist, which reads:
“Since 1997 when Geezer, Bill (Ward, the group’s original drummer) and myself rejoined the band, Black Sabbath has returned to its former glory as we headlined sold-out arenas and amphitheatres playing to upwards of 50,000 people at each show around the world. We worked collectively to restore credibility and bring dignity back to the name ‘Black Sabbath,’ which lead to the band being inducted into the UK and US Rock & Roll Hall of Fames in 2005 and 2006, respectively…Tony, I am so sorry it’s had to get to this point by me having to take this action against you. I don’t have the right to speak for Geezer and Bill, but I feel that morally and ethically the trademark should be owned by the four of us equally. I hope that by me taking this first step that it will ultimately end up that way. We’ve all worked too hard and long in our careers to allow you to sell merchandise that features all our faces, old Black Sabbath album covers and band logos, and then you tell us that you own the copyright. We’re all in our 60s now. The Black Sabbath legacy should live on long after we have all gone. Please do the right thing.”
Who says clothes don’t make the girl?
Miley Cyrus has just landed a deal with Wal-Mart to produce a clothing line with designer Max Azria of Hervé Léger, BCBG and Max Azria fame. And thanks to the the megastore, tweens can sport their Mileyware at her fall tour.
Hot on the heels of Taylor Swift’s Wal-Mart line of l.e.i. sundresses and the Jonas Brothers’ sweatervests, the “Miley Cyrus & Max Azria” label will include tops, pants, graphic tees, shoes and accessories all priced allowance-friendly and under $20. The goods will hit shelves, as well as Walmart.com, just in time for back-to-school shopping in early August—and her tour kickoff a few weeks later.
Wal-Mart is sponsoring the Miley Cyrus Live in Concert tour, launching Sept. 14 in Portland, Ore., and winding up 45 stops later in Miami.
As for those duds…
“We’re really excited,” BCBG Max Azria Group rep Patrick McGregor tells E! News.
“I love creating looks that are all about personal expression and individuality,” the recently reupped Hannah Montana said in a statement. “Collaborating with Max Azria has been an amazing experience, and I’m really excited about launching this line with Wal-Mart. There’s even more to come!”
In case the idea of Cyrus coming together with the designer sounds familiar, the pair shared a segment during the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards this year that had the starlet and Duane “The Rock” Johnson donning the same red frock. Miley also wore Hervé Léger to the Grammys in February and the London premiere of her movie last month. (Get a better sense of the Disney diva’s style in our Fashion Spotlight: Miley Cyrus gallery.)
“Miley Cyrus is talented and approachable, so working with her sparked a line that is authentic and vibrant,” the demure fashionisto said in a statement.
Susan Boyle, who became a global star after appearing on a British television talent contest, has left the London clinic where she was being treated for exhaustion, her brother said on Friday. The 48-year-old amateur singer from Scotland, whose performance on “Britain’s Got Talent” in April was downloaded nearly 200 million times on the Internet, was admitted to the Priory clinic on Sunday amid concerns for her mental health.
“She’s much happier,” her brother Gerry told GMTV.
“She seems a lot more like herself. I think things are becoming clearer now and she’s much more content. I believe she’s in the middle of London, in a flat in London.”
Dowdy and unglamorous, the unemployed church volunteer challenged viewers’ notion of what a star should be.
Boyle was thrust into the media limelight with camera crews camping outside her home and Larry King and Oprah Winfrey inviting her to appear on their U.S. chat shows.
But as Saturday’s final of the popular talent show approached, Boyle, who was starved of oxygen at birth leading to minor brain damage, began to show signs of strain, bursting into tears regularly and threatening to leave the show.
When she failed to win the final, despite overwhelming odds in her favor, she was admitted to the private clinic suffering from emotional exhaustion.
Boyle’s financial future is seen as secure despite coming second to dance troupe Diversity, as Britain’s Got Talent creator Simon Cowell and his Syco music label are expected to sign her up for an album.
There has also been talk of a Hollywood movie.
“The way forward now is to talk about where her career goes from here,” Boyle’s brother said.
“She’s absorbing the fact that America has a huge appetite for her and she’s now beginning to believe that yes, indeed, I will be a singer and there will be a recording career beyond it. It’s all she ever wanted to do.”
He backed Cowell to manage Boyle’s recording career.
“Simon Cowell — he’s been around the dance floor a few times hasn’t he? I’m sure that he knows that he’s got someone who has broken down the barriers in America before she even gets there and I’m sure Simon will do a good job for her.”
Boyle’s brother also confirmed reports that Boyle was expecting to perform in front of U.S. President Barack Obama.
For nine weeks now, I’ve been meaning to write this column, but I kept getting distracted by stuff like the Keyboard Cat and Pretty Ricky’s latest round of furniture-humping histrionics. And that’s somewhat fitting, given that this column is about Cobra Starship, a band that has turned messing around on the Internet into an absolute art form.
And I’m not saying that to be dismissive of their success or because hyperkinetic party machine/ frontman Gabe Saporta sort of dresses like a blog, but rather, because, well … it’s true. Cobra Starship are a musical meme, the band equivalent of every groin shot, epic fail and outrageous bit of bodily harm you’ve ever watched YouTube or e-mailed to a million co-workers. Theirs is a brilliance reserved for the zeitgeist-grabbing Tay Zondays or Chris Crockers of the world. It’s stupid smart. Genius dumb. And this is something to be proud of.
Witness CobraCam.tv, an episodic site they launched nine weeks ago to promote their upcoming Hot Mess album (due August 11). This is a very clinical description of it, however, as it is “promotional” only inasmuch as it features the members of Cobra Starship. More correctly, it’s a sort of sketch-comedy showcase/ pop-culture blender/ “WTF is going on?” bonanza. It’s the kind of thing a million bands (and a billion kids on YouTube) try to do but always fail miserably at, because they are simply not funny — or stupid or clever or dedicated — enough to pull it off. Cobra Starship are all those things, and then some.
Over the course of nine sublimely silly installments, they’ve spilled gallons of blood, poked fun at Lil Wayne’s prodigious face tattoos, grown fake beards, harassed their merch guy, assaulted steaks with axes, attempted to grow ******* (keytarist Vicky Asher won that one by default), hawked cleaning products and cologne, performed surgery, rode a jackalope and wore more costumes than Lady Gaga. They’ve poked fun at the industry, British people, their fellow bands and, most importantly, themselves. None of it makes very much sense, and lord knows how we’re supposed to be gleaning any information about Hot Mess, but none of that matters. Because it’s all hilarious. And because, well, it’s Cobra Starship. The music is almost secondary.
And if that last line comes off as harsh, well, I’d be willing to bet the guys (and gal) in CS would agree with me. With Cobra, the comedy is the thing. And that’s more than evident on CobraCam.
There’s a deft comic touch on display here — truly some of the funniest moments come in the throwaway lines or the odd cutaway shot — and a fondness for the bizarre that recalls stuff like “The Kids in the Hall” or the British version of “The Office” (or even, to blaspheme a bit more, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”). There are smart, subtle references to stuff like “The Big Lebowski” and Vince Offer and “St. Elsewhere” and Wes Anderson’s slo-mo tracking shots (there’s even a nod to “Goodfellas” in episode six, though I’m not sure the band even realizes it). And, of course, a collegiate dedication to getting wasted: Cobra Starship are, at the end of a day, a party band.
But here’s another one to throw at you: Cobra Starship are also a comedy troupe. Each member has a role (Saporta is the boozing lout, Asher the silent straight-woman, etc.), and as is the case with all great troupes, there is one breakout star. In Cobra’s case, it’s guitarist Ryland Blackington, a gangly, rubber-faced combination of “SNL”-era Chevy Chase and “Kids in the Hall”-era Kevin McDonald who positively carries the majority of the CobraCam stuff (check episodes two, six and nine for proof). Of course, bassist Alex Suarez and drummer Nate Novarro are pretty good too. Say what you will about Cobra Starship, but they definitely have the funniest rhythm section in the business.
And that’s sort of the point of all this, I suppose. As a band, Cobra Starship are a really great sketch-comedy troupe, and CobraCam is the proof. Their dedication — and, make no bones about it, to keep churning out episodes of quality stuff takes dedication — to the stupid, the insane and the subtle is what sets them apart from their contemporaries, and it’s all on display here. I’m not sure how any of this will help Hot Mess (do “funny” bands sell records? We Are Scientists sure didn’t), though that probably doesn’t matter. Love them or **** them, CS have always been fun-first, music-second, and that’s why kids pack their shows and throw the fangs in the air. In fact, it’s a sort of brilliant niche they’ve carved out, if you think about it. They’ve quietly become the court jesters of pop music. More proof that you’ve got to be pretty smart to be this stupid.
It’s one of the darkest, goriest songs on an album positively oozing with dark and gory songs. That’s why Travis Barker knew he had to record a version of Eminem’s “3 A.M.”
“I first heard it on some blogs, and right away, I was like, ‘Oh, damn, this is demonic,’ and I love stuff like that.” Barker laughed. “So I spoke to [Blink-182 and Eminem manager] Paul Rosenberg and said I wanted to do a remix of it, then Em and I spoke and discussed putting a rock twist on the song, and I got to it.”
So, over the course of four very short days — during breaks from rehearsals for Blink’s upcoming tour — Barker and a pair of his engineer pals laid down live guitar and bass tracks (and, of course, a healthy dose of his patented precise-yet-pounding drums). He sent them to Em for some tweaking, then put the finished product up on YouTube, and the rest is history.
“There’s not many songs I hear and trip out on, but this was one of them. The song is really dark and moody, and so that’s what I wanted the remix to be,” Barker said. “And it was cool, because I got to work with Eminem the producer, which is something that I don’t think a lot of people get to do. He listened to it, made some tweaks and gave it the OK.”
And for Barker, it was a welcome return to the world of remixing — a world he’s dominated over the past years with his takes on Flo Rida’s “Low” and Soulja Boy’s “Crank That.” He had to take a break from remixing while recovering from the dozens of surgeries he endured after walking away from a fiery South Carolina plane crash last year.
“I hadn’t done one since I was out of the hospital, so it was time, you know?” Barker said. “This was a dope-ass song, and when things come at me that I love, I pursue them. I was due for one, and it won’t be the last.”