When it comes to collaborations in music, DJ Khaled holds the crown for orchestrating the most monstrous.
So hip hop aficionados are salivating over which cultural juggernaut will be appearing on his latest musical offering “Suffering From Success” to be released on Oct. 22.
Enter Barack Obama.
“Obama’s on my album,” said Khaled, quite assured, lounging recently in his North Miami studio. “I’m not lying. You’ll see.”
We’ve all seen the Potus get down to Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win”, at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, even calling it his new theme music.
So could Khaled, arguably hip hop’s biggest show man, rivaled only by his burly Miami brother Rick Ross and close ally Diddy, somehow got in a call to the White House?
“The President ran and got me. He came out to All I Do Is Win’,” says Khaled.
In whatever capacity, Obama appearing on Suffering From Success is sure to appease the Miami show stopper’s ever-growing fan base.
As for what he thinks of Obama’s second term?
Says Khaled: “We got a great President. Any time you can get the whole country to like somebody it’s good. I feel like he really cares and he does.”
“Pop & Love”
Dating a fellow star can be taxing, but Jason Derulo’s found the happy median to make sure egos don’t collide.
“I’m the cool head,” he explains on dating Jordin Sparks. “In our relationship. Outside of our relationship I’m not a cool head at all. I got a bad temper.”
America’s newest pop sensation is so comfortable with his real life romance with the American Idol star that he’s using it as fodder for his upcoming album “Tattoos”.
Take a listen to his new smash “Marry Me”.
Sitting a top Highbar Dream South Beach on this recent evening, the Hatian-American Miami native dished on it’s obvious ode to possibly wedding his star soulmate.
“Honestly, “Marry Me” is possibly the most open that I’ve ever been,” says Derulo. “It’s definitely something I’m looking forward to when the time is right.”
But he’s letting fans know there’s a grittier unabashed side to him on his newest offering with songs like “Talk Dirty” featuring 2 Chainz.
Says Derulo: “I have a lot if different sides. I think people will get to know who Jason Derulo is on this album. I have a lot of different faces.”
“Heart & Soul”
It’s ok to be yourself.
At least that’s what Janelle Monae would like you to comes to terms with.
“I discover new things about myself all the time,” explained Monae, one recent evening sitting atop Highbar at Dream South Beach. “I’m not going to be a slave of my image or interpretation of what I think that I can be, nor will I allow myself to be a slave to anyone else’s interpretation of who Janelle Monae is.”
With a plethora of sounds flooding your airwaves, it’s the harmony of self the Kansas City, Kansas wants you to tune in to.
Monae has quickly emerged as the cause célèbre of sorts to breathe life into rhythm & blues, a genre many feel is on life support.
“With this album I wanted to make sure that rhythm and blues stayed very prominent in my music,” she explained. “Soul music is just a part of my DNA…that’s what sticks.”
Her new musical tour de force, “The Electric Lady” is an anthem of sorts for self-realization as she continues her crusade to empower the “other” and re-awaken black soul.
She enlisted the help of Prince, Miguel and Erykah Badu as well as inspiration from legends like Bo Diddley.
“He [Bo Diddley] was one of the pioneers. He was a black man,” explained Monae. “R & B music from the beginning inspired rock-n-roll artists and acts like The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Elvis Presley. This man inspired them. It’s only right we continue on that legacy.”
“Pain & Profit”
On the hip hop landscape, a scene too often outlined in gimmicks and trends, a few artist choose to tread authentic terrain.
“For me to say I can’t let you down means that I can’t put myself in a situation where I ain’t talking about the things that are culturally relevant to us,” explains Plies.
Those things which include racial and judicial injustice have made the Fort Meyers emcee a cause célèbre for thousands living on the margins whether they be prison inmates or single working-class mothers.
“I know what my purpose is and what I got in the game for and that’s to stand on my square and to speak for the people who got a bad shake in the prison system that will never be provided an opportunity to be understood and have their story explained, ” says Plies.
One song “100 Years”, an unabashed assault on the prison system, caused petitions for his use of the word ‘cracker’.
“I got a call and the ‘cracker’ word was asked to be taken out the song and I said ‘damn I just said nigga 36 times in the same song, but no one asked me to take that out like it was cool,” Plies remembers. “That term just means anyone dealing with law enforcement.”
Then his song “Bruh Bruh” left some culture enthusiasts believing the Fort Meyers emcee was exploiting the inner-city’s slang and it’s pain for his own gain.
Not true, it’s his way of carrying his culture to the mainstream and merging conflicting worlds, a union that could have prevented the Trayvon tragedy says Plies.
“Maybe if he [Zimmerman] had gotten an opportunity to know him [Trayvon] we probably wouldn’t be addressing that situation how we’re addressing it,” he explained.
With a new album on the horizon, Plies hopes to keep finding common ground.
Regardless, one thing is clear and it’s that Plies won’t be moved off his square and this sometimes jaded culture enthusiast finds that sort of conviction downright refreshing.
“Blue & Red Lights”
With fame bright lights are usually a welcomed introduction to stardom, but the flashing blue
and red variety are becoming a nuisance for 2 Chainz.
They’ve become blinding in his rear view.
“I want it to be behind me. It just becomes a point to where it’s overwhelming, especially like the last time when nothing was on the bus, nothing was done,” explains 2 Chainz about his recent arrest in Oklahoma. “We were just following our civil liberties as far as just requesting for things.”
In this, his first interview in response to his highly publicized stand-off with Oklahoma police who argue they stopped the Atlanta superstar’s tour bus for possible marijuana, Chainz affirms there was no wrongdoing.
“It takes up a lot of time and money from taxpayers who are the actually entertainers,” says Chainz. “At the end of the day we’re supposed to be kind of on the same team. I’m not a bad guy. I’m only in town to entertain people. Once they know I’m not trying to excite riots. I’m not trying to be disrespectful. I’m only trying to feed my family and entertain.”
The “No Lie” star didn’t let the incident damper the festive mood inside Prive Atlanta Monday night where hundreds packed inside to savor offerings from his newest tour de force of hip hop revelry “B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time”.
They savored every musical moment of Atlanta’s current rap king, who reveals a new soulful side with an Estelle featured “Black Unicorn”.
“That’s fun for me. I love the other side,” says Chainz. “I’ve been through a lot. A lot of people have been through a lot. I feel like everybody has their own story. It just depends on what violin is in the background”
It’s why he’s asking fans to continue to share his void of the recent run-ins with authorities.
Says Chainz: “I’d like to apologize to my fans, because it makes me look like I make poor decisions. When I go to jail the media pays a lot of attention to it, but it’s so minute I try not to glorify it.”
“Smiles & Cries”
The brightest comic will grudgingly admit that their most memorable jokes are inspired during the darkest moments.
So are we ready to make Zimmerman the fodder for comedic therapy?
Mike Epps thinks so.
“It’s been really fresh in the media so it’s been hard for me to crack jokes about,” said Epps. “But I still found a couple of jokes people are gonna like.”
On this recent Sunday night, sharing a NiteCap onstage at his sold-out show inside the Miami Improv he decided to test his theory.
“The reason why Zimmerman is so fat is because he hasn’t been able to come out the house,” affirmed Epps. “He’s been sitting in the house eating everything.”
Classic Epps, but more reminiscent of the comedic icon Richard Pryor he’s gearing up to immortalize in the upcoming Nina Simone biopic.
“I have much props for Richard Pryor the Wizard for paving the way for us,” said Epps.
He’s confident his fans who pack venues nationwide will enjoy his transition from stand-up to more dramatic acting roles.
“Most of my audience members have been following me for so long that they’re gonna transition with me,” says Epps.
So who makes him laugh?
“Regular people. I really get a laugh out of just everyday normal folks. I think everyone’s funny, but everyone doesn’t have a set-up delivery punch line.”