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What’s Behind Rap’s Love Affair With Cryptocurrency 

 

For about a month, 50 Cent was rap’s first Bitcoin millionaire. In January, it surfaced that the 700 or so coins he’d made selling his 2014 album, Animal Ambition, via the leading form of cryptocurrency had increased wildly in value, from a few hundred apiece to $10,000 each. Suddenly his stake was worth over $7 million. Underscoring how much of an afterthought (or a punchline) Bitcoin had been just a few years ago, the rapper wrote on Instagram that he’d forgotten all about “that shit.” But by February, 50 denied he still owned any cryptocurrency so that he could file for bankruptcy. 

Part of the beauty of Bitcoin is that there’s little way to know who has it, how much, and what they’re spending it on; it’s why crypto has been used widely to sell and buy drugs. In that sense, crypto’s values seem to align with rap’s: there is no snitching. Quickly 50’s story captivated the public imagination. Here was the kind of absurd get-rich scheme chronicled in rap songs, playing out in real life. 

Even with cryptocurrency still in its infancy, rap has already had a hand in shaping its perception. Whether it’s 50’s windfall, Nas’s push for crypto legitimacy, or Martin Shkreli’s further punchline-making (he claims he was scammed out of $15 million trying to buy The Life of Pablo in Bitcoin), the connection between the digital currency and hip-hop culture has grown and flourished over the last five years. Their relationship is built on shared interests in privacy, protection, and self-promotion. It is shaped by rap’s ongoing obsessions with hustling and trend-setting, so much so that cryptocurrency has quietly crept into the music itself. In an ecosystem where the concept of “new money” is widely celebrated, perhaps it is not surprising at all to see the currency banking on the promise of the future take hold. 

Rap’s relationship with crypto began in 2013, before the currency had captured the public imagination. Snoop Dogg expressed interest in taking Bitcoin for an upcoming album. Donald Glover, doing promo behind Because the Internet, endorsed Bitcoin as the currency of the future: “Being backed by gold seems very old and nostalgic to me. Being backed to a Bitcoin, which takes time to actually make and there’s this equation that has to be done, that feels realer to me and makes more sense,” he told Time. By the following year, there was Coinye West, an altcoin designed after a “South Park” skit using the rapper as a punchline; West was less taken with the Bitcoin alternative than the media was, naturally, and successfully sued.While other rappers dabbled, Nas positioned himself at the center of the cryptocurrency push. At SXSW in 2014, he hosted a panel championing digital currency alongside Ben Horowitz, the leading venture capitalist whose friendship with the rapper could be described as a well-known bromance. It is through Horowitz that Nas has become more involved with Bitcoin specifically, helping to raise millions in funding for BlockCypher, a startup that provides services for Bitcoin developers. Nas went as far as telling Coindesk, “Bitcoin will evolve into an industry as big, if not bigger, than the internet.”In the years since Bitcoin’s rise, rappers have leveraged their personal currency into actual currencies. The hip-hop brand most eager to see its emblem on the digital coin is Wu-Tang Clan, seemingly bringing the "Chappelle’s Show” Wu Financial skit to fruition. Ghostface Killah created a cryptocurrency called CREAM (named for the Wu-Tang song of the same name), and through his firm Cream Capital, is looking to raise $30 million in funding and take over “more than half” the global cryptocurrency market by 2020.

In March, Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s estate announced, in honor of the late MC, the “Dirty Coin,” which allows fans access to ODB’s catalog, exclusive merchandise, and more. Half the charm of these lesser-used rap cryptocurrencies are the very rap marks they bear.Cash in its physical form is an important symbol in rap, but hip-hop is just as obsessed with being forward-thinking and enterprising. Cryptocurrency speaks to rap’s fixation with future fortunes, offering an at-times-false promise of fairer wealth distribution ungoverned by Wall Street or national politics, truly democratized online. In turn, the cryptocurrency community has embraced rappers: Who better to push their financial technology into the mainstream than the world’s most flamboyant and immoderate spenders?While many rappers use cryptocurrency to diversify their portfolios, some in the indie world see potential for change beyond their own bank accounts. They believe that cryptocurrency can affect how artists get paid, and even how future generations use money. Rappers like Mims and Nate Kodi have advocated for the use of hyper-secure blockchain technology as a means to achieve financial transparency in songwriting and royalty disputes. Big Baby Gandhi, who started accepting Bitcoin for his music on Bandcamp in 2013, sees rap as a crypto entry point for other people of color. “If rap exposes [cryptocurrency] to a different part of the population, then you’ll have people who have this chance to make money that wouldn’t have,” he told KQED.

Meanwhile, outspoken cryptocurrency enthusiast Nipsey Hussle purchased an ownership stake in Follow Coin, which connects crypto novices with experienced traders in an attempt to build financial literacy.For every idealistic crypto advocate in hip-hop, there is at least one rapper—probably someone who could be described as “very online”—using the idea of Bitcoin as a mere prop. On his debut mixtape, Amen, former Vine star Rich Brian (fka Rich Chigga) brags about investing in Bitcoin. YouTuber-turned-novelty-rapper RiceGum has a song called “Bitcoin,” a Bhad Bhabie diss track in which web clout is weaponized and Bitcoin is the currency of choice. These are rappers you’d expect to value digital money, but references are starting to pop up among less web-centric rappers as well. Wale (on “Staying Power”), Open Mike Eagle (on Czarface & MF Doom’s “Phantoms”), and Royce 5’9” (on PRhyme’s “Era”) have all rapped about cryptocurrencies in recent months, with each mention positioning the rapper as an idiosyncratic crypto magnate.Thriving as well is the subgenre of crypto-rap, with its faux-hard verses detailing cryptocurrency financing. Chief among these mostly white rap bros are CoinDaddy, who left a career in commercial real estate to rap about Bitcoin, and Lil Windex, who released the unofficial anthem “Bitcoin Ca$H.” The subtext of these characters is that crypto and rap agendas naturally dovetail—a belief the altcoin companies are cashing in on as well. The blockchain and currency exchange SparkleCOIN recently celebrated a successful launch with a party featuring Snoop Dogg, Bow Wow, Trinidad James, and Drake’s dad, Dennis Graham.

In exchange for a DJ set and privatemeet-and-greets with VIPs, Snoop walked away with a 1,500 SparkleCOIN donation (currently valued at $55,500) for his youth football league.Between crypto companies eager to align with rappers and rappers eager to shift the culture in new ways, there are some stars who inadvertently end up shilling bad product. Lil Uzi Vert endorsed something called Drip Coin on Twitter, which seemed to really be an unsupported cloud mining service. The Securities and Exchange Commission actually warned against following celebrities like DJ Khaled into suspect crypto deals. The DJ was apparently being paid to promote a shady Miami Bitcoin company called Centra that was sued by investors and more recently charged with fraud, playing himself in the process. In the never-ending game of one-upmanship that is rap, and in the post-Diddy hip-hop landscape that prioritizes perceived business acumen, it makes sense that rappers would use a provocative resource to get a leg up on their peers—even if they don’t totally understand how it works. The pressure to be a vanguard of everything is real.Wherever cryptocurrency goes, rap will likely be close by. They make for an odd couple, but they suit each other. The digital asset is in need of powerful voices to shout its praises and downplay its uncertainties, and rappers never stop looking for ways to build fortunes. There’s no telling, but maybe one day rap empires will be measured in cryptocurrency—in Bitcoin, or Litecoin, or Ethereum, or whatever’s next on the blockchain. After all, when 50 Cent said get rich or die trying, he didn’t specify how.

LL Cool J Raising Money for Cancer Research, Inspired By Wife 

 

LL Cool J is raising money for cancer research thanks to his better help. The Hip-Hop legend’s wife has battled the disease, and serves as his inspiration. 

The “I Need Love” rapper, whose wife, Simone, survived bone cancer, was at the BCRF Hot Pink Party, which annually raises funds for breast cancer research. 

“Economics is always a big issue . . . and that is a bigger issue that affects everything — health, food, nutrition and education,” Uncle L told Page Six of finding a cure. “That is a much bigger discussion that I can’t do in a sound bite right now. But I will say this is really important that we do research — because that is the only way that we can find a cure — and if we find a cure, then we can figure out to make sure all the people who need the cure have it.” 

This year’s gala reportedly raised $5.5 million. 

Recently, LL Cool J announced that he launched a Classic Hip-Hop channel on SiriusXM.

Dame Dash reveals Biggie Smalls was leaving Bad Boy to sign with Roc-A-Fella 

 

Dame Dash shared a snippet of a interview he did and in that snippet he spoke on Biggie Smalls. In the clip Dame spoke on the honor it was to have Biggie rap his name in a verse. Also Dame revealed that Biggie was going to leave Bad Boy after he delivered the 3 albums he owed and sign with them at Roc-A-Fella. 

Dame said “Biggie’s plan was give Puff and them like three more albums then come sign with us, and we was gon’ do The Commission,” Dame stated in the interview. “That was what was gonna happen, or at least that’s what was talked about very seriously. I think that’s why he did a double album. He was gonna do a triple album, and he was gonna be out his contract, and then he was gonna come f**k with us. I tried to sign The Firm but then Steve Stoute snaked us for that.” 

Check the video snippet below and tell us what you think! How dope would it have been to have Jay Z and Biggie Smalls on the same label?

T.I. challenges Floyd Mayweather Jr to a boxing match on Show time 

 

One would have thought that the T.I. and Floyd Mayweather Jr. beef was over because it was silent on both fronts. Well it seems T.I. was lowkey getting himself right and ready for war (Boxing War). T.I. via his facebook page posted photos which show him sparring and looking a little more muscular. In the caption T.I. calls out Floyd challenging him to a boxing match. This fued dates back for some years and almost got deadly. Who do you guys think would win this match? T.I. or Floyd?

Migos Sign On To Judge China’s Hottest Rap Competition  

 

The Migos have a new gig lined up. The rap trio are reportedly heading to China to serve as judges on season 2 of the biggest hip-hop competition series in the nation, The Rap of China, PR Newswire reports. 

The Migos have reportedly signed on to be “star producers” on the show. They will reportedly step in to train and guide the rappers through the competition, sort of like the judges do on The X-Factor. Each producer will manage a team of contestants. 

The new deal comes shortly after Chinese government officials issued a rap ban in the country. The rap ban was reportedly in response to the success of season one of the series. Officials warned hip-hop fanatics with ties to the culture and tattoos to not be broadcast on TV. The ban upset not only fans by several artists within the industry, prompting many to speak out publicly. Despite the government’s warnings however, season two was greenlit by oniQiyi.com. 

The Rap of China will reportedly air this summer and include contestants from five cities in China, Australia, Malaysia, and North America. 

In other Migos news, the boys are reportedly gearing up to go on a North American tour with Drake this summer on the Aubrey and the Three Amigos Tour. The tour will kick off in July 2018. We already know the Migos can kill it on the stage, but it will be interesting to see how they do behind a judge’s table.

Post Malone’s “Rockstar” Featuring 21 Savage Wins Top Rap Song at 2018 Billboard Music Awards 

 

Post Malone is truly living up to the name of his hit song. The chart-topping artist's smash hit "Rockstar" featuring 21 Savage earned the award for Top Rap Song at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards Sunday night (May 20). 

Dressed in a gold and black ’fit, Posty walked onstage to accept the award with 21 Savage right behind him. "This is pretty cool stuff, man," Post Malone said while holding his new trophy. "Thank y'all so much. This is my first award by the way... I just want to say thank you to everybody for supporting me, to my fans, Savage for doing this song with me. I guess my mama, my daddy. Everybody else, thank y'all so much... y'all rock. I don't know what to say, man." 

The song from the Beerbongs & Bentley creator came out ahead of Cardi B's "Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)," DJ Khaled's "I'm the One" featuring Justin Bieber, Chance The Rapper and Lil Wayne, French Montana's "Unforgettable" featuring Swae Lee and Kendrick Lamar's "Humble." 

"Rockstar," which has catapulted Post even further into the mainstream sphere, topped the Billboard Hot 100 for eight weeks straight upon its release. Earlier this year, Post's track also broke the Spotify global record for the longest No. 1 run on the brand's Global Chart. 

Watch Post Malone's acceptance speech for Top Rap Song at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards below.

 

 

 

Osothecrew Entertainment announces new radio station! 

 

Osothecrew Entertainment is an independent boutique record label that caters to millennials like no other. If you love all things Rap and Hip Hop with a little R&B, you may want to check out their flamboyant roster. National recording artist ĀR RÄ, who started the label back in June 2017, began his journey with the labels first signee, Oso Steezy. Steezy dropped his debut track titled  "Gas Pak" in May 2016. The track did very well and gave him a serious platform. Since then, he has dropped his latest release 'Arcane', which debuted back in March 2018. The project gave listeners a walk in the shoes of a  rebellious teenager on the city streets of Richmond, Va. ĀR RÄ has also lead the label with his very prominent release titled "Girls" and the album that followed, 'Don't Forget The Ra', which has done tremendously well since it's May 2017 release. Poochanelli, Teddie G, Fly Reek, Fettucini Trill have all been making names for themselves as well. Poochanelli released the upbeat track "Bust Down", after being featured on ĀR RÄ's "Stepped On" in 2017. He has since been featured on "Sun Chips" off of ĀR RÄ's first full studio album titled, 'The Sun Tape', scheduled to release on June 21st , 2018. Fly Reek has also had some very favorable features with ĀR RÄ, such as "Untitled" & "Witness", in addition to releasing his very own 'Holiday Season' & 'Forfeit' EP's 2016 and 2017. There is no question that this label is definitely going to give the music world a run for it's money. Oso Radio will be launching tomorrow May 19th. Tune in to check out new music from the gang along with some of your favorite hits from your favorite artists! #EverythingOso

Playboi Carti’s Radical Die Lit Expands the Parameters of Soundcloud Rap  

 

 

A chunk of modern hip-hop, much of it made following the ascents of Chief Keef and Young Thug, is often described as post-verbal, or some synonymous term. Thinking along these lines has resulted in pejorative descriptive terminology, such as the near-ubiquitous “mumble rap.” It’s rare that such readings don’t feel, on some level, myopic. Often moored to outdated value sets, they undervalue, among other things, the pleasures of a fractured and improvised punchline and the joys of creatively deployed slang. In the case of the Atlanta-reared 21-year-old hypebeast icon Playboi Carti, it is tempting to talk about his style as an exercise in destructing language—more than just about any other current hip-hop luminary off Soundcloud or on. But perhaps it’s most accurate to say that Carti’s music represents a radical and consummate collaborative vision, shared between him, his star-studded circle of sympathetic collaborators, and his strangely unimpeachable team of chosen producers. Together, they explore how musical space in a rap song can be filled without the traditional signifiers of hip-hop proficiency being foregrounded. When a cogent quip or metaphor cuts through a Playboi Carti verse, it sounds as if it’s arisen naturally from repetition of a small collection of yelped phonemes that just sound good together, and is placed that way in the songs. 

On Carti’s long-awaited self-titled mixtape from last year—delayed long enough to seem potentially apocryphal—the appeal of the music was as much based on what wasn’t there as what was. The amount of negative space in the songs was a provocation that, in many cases, became its ultimate appeal. In the Keef mold, verses in the traditional sense were simply lightly permuted, sometimes illegible variations on the hook. The distended low-bit beats maintained one dynamic; ad-libs functioned as both part of the beat and the central rapping. To some seasoned, conservatively-minded rap listeners, Playboi Carti sounded something like a series of extended mic warmups. 

On Die Lit, Carti’s newest 19-track tome, he takes the methodology of his previous release to new elemental and experimental extremes. The album is an even more sonically daring scramble of all the street rap styles he’s internalized over his Internet-facilitated come-up over the past three years. He builds his songs around wispy vocal rinds whittled down from stock trap flows, with lyrics that are often yelped and pitch-shifted out of intelligibility. The songs do not build in density, lacking the redemptive arc one instinctively expects of a rap record or verse. Many of the songs on Die Lit simply rattle and clink on the treble end of things rather than punishing the subwoofer, contributing to a pervasive impression that we are waiting for a drop that never comes. But instead of sounding like a half-baked aberration or a tedious, overlong experiment, Die Lit broadcasts a refreshing and well-developed aesthetic–one that feels like Carti’s specific achievement. Its appeal feels distinctly corporeal, like it’s inducing some swag-rap equivalent of ASMR through exploring a limited and tightly EQd collection of sounds. Like 21 Savage’s 2016 breakthrough tape Savage Mode, Die Lit’s appeal is not unlike ambient or easy listening music. The gradual pleasure of hearing the counterpoint of the voice and backbeat develop and complicate on songs like “No Time” or “Right Now” might make a Soundcloud rap fan out of a Steve Reich head. 

From its opening moments, it’s apparent that Die Lit marks a detour for Carti—deeper into the proverbial Weird. There are fewer clear singles than on his self-titled project, but the record is nonetheless as immediate as his first, with an even sharper stylistic signature. Its charm lies partially in Carti’s eminently chill composure. His pleasantly impersonal charisma shines whether he is digitally twisted into sounding like a human or an alien (“Flatbed Freestyle”). On the tracks, he comes in and out of focus, sometimes fading into the background to foreground a beat or resorting to pure, bleating onomatopoeia. On tracks like “Foreign,” “Pull Up,” and “Poke It Out” (where the eponymous line quickly becomes “polka dot” and then “po-ka-da”) Carti’s central exercise seems to be trying to cut the length of any given vocal sound in half until the limbo pole gets too low. When the strength of his vocal concepts wane a bit, the production picks up the slack. All of these songs are based around attention-grabbing, often uncharaterisable synth textures, from the breathy, Suspiria-soundtrack pads of “Lean 4 Real” to “No Time”’s celestial mallets. Together, they sustain the album’s narcotic power. His chief collaborator Pie’rre Bourne’s beats, especially, have a singular, haphazard-sounding beauty, operating in a dreamy harmonic space between dark and light. 

Generally, the best thing a Carti collaborator can do is try to sound more like him—to throw out a need to flex their chops, defer to his grander vision, and feed off his hot-potato energy. Sometimes the guest appearances on Die Lit feel underbaked—features for the sake of features. The Travis Scott creeper “Love Hurts” is a relative snooze, and though Nicki Minaj’s “Poke It Out” verse on its own is appealing, its more traditional arc and Young Money-schooled lyrical barbs don’t exactly compliment Cardi’s impressionistic landscape. Indeed, the best guest spots on this album come from artists who more instinctively understand and have even influenced Carti’s vision. Lil Uzi Vert’s appearance on “Shoota” makes for the album’s clearest moment of pop appeal, with Uzi’s bell-like tenor roping Carti into a brighter, more pristine sonic universe. Later, the grin-inducing goof of a Young Thug collaboration “Choppa Won’t Miss” pulls Carti in the exact opposite direction, but it’s just as effective: a staccato barrage devolving into a series of “pew pew pew”s that are just air blown gently into the mic. 

If there is any single figure who has made Playboi Carti’s current music possible, it is likely Chief Keef, the hermetic drill expat who is just one year Carti’s senior. Look no further than Carti’s playful, overstuffed chantalong “Old Money” for a bit of idol worship. Keef himself also appears on Die Lit on “Mileage,” supporting his acolyte while demonstrating his own singular progress as an artist. When juxtaposed with Carti, Keef’s verse makes him look like 2pac: “Your hoe on automatic, put her on manual,” he jokes. “She can’t handle me, handle me and Betty Boop.” Carti’s contributions outside of the sticky half-joke of a hook sound like involuntary muttering during sleep: “Ooh yeah, Kylie, Kylie / Ooh yea, Calabasas / Ooh yeah, Kendall, Kylie / Adidas deal / Ooh, shoutout Kanye.” The package, barely held together by a backfiring and gently demented drum loop, makes for one of the album’s most dynamic moments. 

Despite the heavily ATL-derived signifiers, Playboi Carti feels rather like a man without a country—or rather a region—in rap music. He’s been mothered by two crews of blog-rap polyglots operating on different tiers: Father’s Awful Records cadre in his Atlanta hometown, and following an aspirant move to New York, the A$AP Mob. Like Rocky, Carti was always fashion-minded, literally and figuratively, eager to amalgamate trends and textures that seemed au courante: the traditional trap of his hometown, the starker drill music of Chicago, the based meanderings of Lil B, “cloud rap” of any stripe, and other genre-agnostic Soundcloud anomalies. “It’s a cultural movement, man, and once you get that buzz… it’s global, you know what I’m saying?” Carti told i-D last year. Ironically, Carti’s holistic approach has yielded something very specifically his, rather than an centerless collage of ideas; by now, his music feels like a breath of fresh air in an overcrowded field.

Lil Baby Is Destined for Rap Greatness 

 

 

A few days ago, Lil Baby bought a car that most people not only can't afford but probably don't even know exists. The 2019 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 convertible costs around $85,000 for the cheapest version and goes up from there. It features a carbon-fiber racing body, a 6.2 liter V8 engine that reaches 650 horsepower, and a 0-60 time of under three seconds. It comes with a seven-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. The 23-year-old rapper drives automatic, which costs extra. The Chevrolet marketing materials boast “a dry-sump oil system, Direct Injection and Continuously Variable Valve Timing.” I do not know what this means. The marketing materials add, “this supercharged powerhouse is engineered for extreme speed and acceleration.” I do know what this means. It means that when Lil Baby pulls up, you hear him before he arrives. 

The sound is a deep, baritone rumble, and it is why you drive this car. “It's motivation,” Lil Baby told me. We were in the parking lot behind the Atlanta studio owned by Baby's label, Quality Control, and we had to speak up over the comparable roar of his friend Ced's Chevrolet SS, a car that the car website Jalopnik has described as a “roided-the-fuck-up monster sedan.” The two of them were running the engine and examining a spot above the exhaust pipe on the car's body, which appeared to have melted away from the heat below. 

“If you're a young black dude from the hood you want to come through the hood in a car that makes a lot of noise,” Baby explained. His first car that fit that description was the Dodge Hellcat, a behemoth of American muscle that comes with one key for driving in regular 500-horsepower mode and another for jacking it all the way up to its full 707-horsepower potential. There is a line in one of Lil Baby's songs, called “Trap Star,” where he describes the moment of pulling up to his old block by Atlanta's West End mall in that car, and it sounds like a daydream, like literal magic. The Corvette was too new to have found its way into any songs yet, but it already looked ethereal. Lil Baby wants to have it painted blue. “You're really just paying for the motor,” he said, looking at it. 

I asked if I could ride in it with him. We were getting ready to head to the West End mall, to see more or less that exact scene. He looked me up and down, then asked, “You know how to shoot?” Since we'd met, he'd been chastising me for not bringing a video camera to document his lifestyle better. He repeated the question, making a gun with his hand. Then he laughed, answering for me, “then you can't get in the coupe!” He said it again, “Don't know how to shoot, you can't get in the coupe!” He told me to write it down, spelling out the story: “And then he said, 'if you don't know how to shoot, you can't get in the coupe,' whatever that mean. Make sure you say that: 'whatever that mean.'” 

He hopped in the Corvette with his friend Steve, a.k.a. G-Five, a.k.a. the guy he's talking about when he raps “free G-Five on the G5” in “To the Top.” Then he reversed aggressively, spun the car around, revved the engine, whipped the steering wheel, fishtailed in the few feet of asphalt at his disposal, and peeled out of the parking lot, leaving tire marks in his wake. 

It has been just over a year since Lil Baby started rapping, and he is already one of the hottest new rappers in Atlanta. Since last April, he has released four mixtapes, starting with a project called Perfect Timing. On May 18, he'll continue that run with a new project, Harder Than Ever. With each release, he's improved, mastering new styles and honing a sound that is already fully his own. 

His breakout song, “My Dawg,” which arrived last summer on the mixtape Harder Than Hard, is a lilting anthem with an indelible hook. His biggest hit, “Freestyle,” from last fall's Too Hard, is a hookless two and a half minutes of slightly melody-inflected rapping. Another Too Hard single getting radio play right now is “Suddenly,” a bruising but fun back-and-forth with Memphis rapper Moneybagg Yo that features no melody at all. Each independently feels like a logical progression of the Atlanta trap sound as it evolves in the wake of the success of the generation that birthed stars like Young Thug, and Migos. Lil Baby has songs with those guys, naturally, since they're his friends. He also has a song with Gucci Mane. This week, he put out a song with Drake. It’s called “Yes Indeed.” It’s good. 

“People in Atlanta look up to him. They dress like him, everything. They want to be him,” Quay Global told me. Quay produced “My Dawg,” as well as the bulk of Too Hard and Harder Than Ever. “He's the wave. I can't say it enough. Bruh is the wave. He got that shit on lock. Like, the swag he come with, that shit fuck the game up.” 

From the time Quality Control's founders, Pee and Coach K started the label, they saw Lil Baby's potential as an artist, even if Lil Baby didn't. Pee had known Baby since he was a teenager, coming up under the same OG in the streets as Pee himself had a generation or two earlier. 

“Everybody know Lil Baby from being in the hood, doing what he do, at a young age, getting money, at that age, he's dealing with a lot of people,” Pee explained. “And he was always in the studio, like gambling against the rappers and all this stuff, hanging out with everybody. Coach used to always say, like, 'Lil Baby got that swag, he the definition of a real Atlanta dude.'”It wasn't until Lil Baby landed in prison on a two-year drug sentence that the message started to get through, or at least that Lil Baby showed an interest in diversifying his income stream. Coach and Pee kept talking to him, and when he got out, he started coming around the studio again, this time to make music. Pee had producers feed him beats, and Baby started to find his sound. 

“You could tell that he was new to it, but the songs they were actually pretty decent,” Pee said. “Because I told him, 'the only thing you gotta talk about is your life. You done seen everything.'” 

"Coach used to always say, like, 'Lil Baby got that swag, he the definition of a real Atlanta dude.'" —Quality Control CEO Pee 

Perhaps an hour after we were supposed to meet for the first time, I got a phone call from Lil Baby's manager, Rashad, letting me know that Baby had just left the Benz dealership and was on his way to a video shoot. Could I meet him there instead? Lil Baby showed up to the shoot literally skrrrting into the warehouse parking lot in the Corvette—the dealership was still finalizing the paperwork on the white G-Wagon he'd just bought and would deliver it to the shoot when they were done. He made a beeline for Rashad, who palmed him a stack of cash for appearing in the video. 

“Baby too explicit for a write-up,” Lil Baby told me immediately, bouncing past and onto a new thought, engaging with his friends before circling back to continue his ribbing. His friends—who introduced themselves as Hotboy Nunk, Baby Gangsta, 4PFDT, Lil Tiger, and G-Five—piled onto this sentiment before personally writing their names in my notebook just in case the article did turn out to be worthwhile. Pictures, including the ones he posts on his own Instagram, often make Lil Baby out to be stolid, contemplating the middle distance with a flat expression on his face. He’s frequently in motion and constantly animated—good, with his broad smile and quick banter, at being the center of attention, and equally good, with a tighter smile, at keeping strangers at a remove. 

True to his name, he is small, with a light frame off of which pants sag in natural protest of his diminutive belt size. He changed from one seemingly fine white Polo T-shirt into another brand new one. Someone came by and complimented his song with Drake, a snippet of which had made its way onto Instagram the day before. A group of men worked on getting a Lamborghini from the parking lot into the warehouse for the shoot. Three models in stilettos and revealing leotards loitered before drumming up the nerve to ask for a picture. Lil Baby agreed—who wouldn't!—and delicately wrapped his arms around their waists, avoiding even the semblance of inappropriate touching. Then, in a moment so mundane that Lil Baby might tell me not to put it even in the blooper reel of my nonexistent video, I watched as Lil Baby and three half-naked models were nearly hit by a Lamborghini reversing its way into the warehouse. 

“Every video Lil Baby doin', we in the hood,” G-Five told me when I asked how this spectacle compared to Baby's own video shoots. “No security, though,” he added. “We don't need no security.” After the photo op, we'd watched quietly together as the shoot proceeded, with money being thrown in the air. While Lil Baby's life smoothly fit the contours of all this cliché rapper stuff, it also was clearly not of a part with it. 

Lil Baby might be living in a world of fast cars and models, but his version of it isn't about the image. It's not about bragging. It's about a night out after the Moneybagg Yo show, performing for a crowd that knows every word to Lil Baby's songs despite it being another rapper's show, then peeling out of the venue in a caravan—G-Wagon, Corvette, Hellcat—screaming through the streets of downtown Atlanta, running red lights, sending plumes of rocketship noises into the air. It's gleefully telling your manager the next day about all those lights you ran—“The whole Peachtree, the whole way home, nigga, no stops!” 

“People tell me, 'This is the new Atlanta right here,'” Pee said. “I don't feel like it's been an artist that came and took the lane from Atlanta as far as, like, what's real. When I listen to Lil Baby, it put me in a mind of where it was with Gucci Mane and Young Jeezy and T.I. Back to the trap. It put me back in that space. Like he's the new version of that.” 

All of Lil Baby's exploits might make him look like a perfect rapper, but they wouldn't mean nearly as much if Lil Baby weren't also making incredible rap music. And yet, in just a year, Lil Baby has managed to end up with not only the career of someone far more experienced but also the technical ability. His music works within the expanded dimensions of vocal manipulation and melody Future and Young Thug injected into Atlanta trap over the last half decade, but his own style tends toward a nimble-tongued sing-song that naturally matches the quick patter of his conversation. 

“I owe it all to God, and I believe, you know, it was already in me,” he told me. “I just had to bring it out of me. It had to be. There's no way.” Still, practice was essential. He basically spent 2017 locked in the studio making music, and in a chronological tour through his mixtapes you can feel the slow grind of him improving. 

“I created a passion for it,” he told me, comparing it to getting better at basketball. “Like, over time it was just going to the court. If you went to the court the first time and had a good game, and that shit was kinda fun, then you start going everyday. And then next thing you know you just start getting better and start hittin' it and you're balling. You love it.” 

That instinctive talent plays out in the way Lil Baby will effortlessly dash through lines like he's hanging around recapping wild stories or talking shit with his friends. “Dawg I ain't know that was your sister,” he raps, for instance, on “Money,” almost apologetic before adding, “If I did I still woulda hit her.” He is particularly good at quick runs of lines that pile onto an idea like he's brainstorming new conclusions. On “Hurry,” he quickly escalates a series of threats, rapping, “I ain't gonna put your name in a song / I'ma put your face on a shirt / I'ma put your body in the dirt / Nigga you a pussy where your skirt?” The fan favorite lines of “Freestyle,” which he held the mic to the crowd for when performing it live, bounce along as they go, “If she won't fuck I won't make her / I don't like bitches with makeup / If she want titties I pay for 'em.” (“It's true,” he said of the first line, before adding, about the makeup line, “ That's a lie. I don't care about makeup. It's just something jammin'.”) 

The beats Lil Baby gravitates toward tend to be unshowy, which has the effect of highlighting his words and his delivery. For the last few bars of “Freestyle,” his voice casually meanders into melody. Or on his new single, “Southside,” after rattling off a series of lines about drug deals at a speed that would leave most rappers breathless, he drifts into a series of off-kilter conversational pauses, as he asks, “What happened? / I thought you was a real one. / Solitary stones in my ear. / These the clear ones.” The way he continues down this thread about diamond earrings and shootouts is somehow dreamy, dismissive, disappointed, and inspiring all at once. And then he's right back on the main cadence of the song. 

“A lot of people not gonna come on the song how Lil Baby gonna come on the song,” Quay said. “Like Lil Baby gonna sit there and tell you a story. Most rappers won't even tell you a story. They'll sit there and just say anything until the chorus comes back. Lil Baby gonna sit there and tell you something.” 

The sound of Lil Baby's music fits comfortably into the current music landscape, where trap beats are a foundation for arabesques of experimental melody. But once again, the substance is slightly different. He is a preternaturally gifted songwriter not only in terms of melodies and hooks but also in the way his songs will wheel around so that verses complete full ideas and occasionally bring out gut-punching conclusions. His music doesn't sound the way it does just because it's a cool aesthetic but instead because that's what music someone coming from where Lil Baby comes from is going to sound like. 

“The young generation ain't knowing no more, I feel,” he told me. “And I know 'em 'cause I'm around the young generation, but ain't too many of the young generation know what I'm on.” 

Rap, like the music industry as a whole, is increasingly focused on all kinds of dumb shit that gets attention in this celebrity-obsessed, attention-addled moment. But it's not supposed to be about the clout, the tweets, or the viral gossip. It comes from something more grounded than that, and Lil Baby is a part of that tradition. 

“Lil Baby he's not no internet rapper,” Pee said. “He didn't catch no song that just jumped on Soundcloud. He actually out here and was in these streets building it step by step.” Lil Baby confirmed this. “I don't really know the logistics of a Soundcloud rapper,” he told me. 

While the claim that Lil Baby restores the classic trap feeling might seem bold at first—after all, his name is Lil Baby, while Young Jeezy raps like he was born with a kilo of cocaine in both hands—it makes more sense when you consider what those guys represent. Trap music may literally be about selling drugs or whatever, but it's really about motivation. It's about being a hero to the hood. Nearly everyone I talked to about it described Lil Baby's music to me as “no cap rap” or “reality rap,” and at first it seemed like a familiar claim. Every artist wants to claim they're real. But Lil Baby is more concerned that you understand the reality of what he represents. What's real about Lil Baby, beyond what he literally says in any song, is the inspiration that comes with it. 

He raps, “Lil D with me on the road to riches,” and, sure enough, right there in the Oakland City West End Apartments, a.k.a. Lil Cali, there is Lil D, rolling a Backwoods, explaining to me that Lil Baby is “really a good person on the inside... He help out. He give back.” He raps “free G-Five,” and there is G-Five, free, telling me his “pockets so fat you ask how much he's got in his pockets,” that the answer is 25K in each. 

“Baby made a way for everybody,” G-Five told me, turning more serious. “Everybody he around, he changed everybody's life.” 

And sure enough, not only did Lil Baby rap about “selling nicks and dimes to the fiends at the West End Mall / came through in that brand new Hellcat I had 'em hatin' all,” but there we were, me and my accompanying photography crew, tearing after him through Atlanta as he led us to the West End Mall, revving the Corvette through rush hour, Atlanta United gameday traffic. He sped down back roads and through Morehouse's campus, zooming—literally zooming—a block or two at a time before some obstacle or sign slowed him down. At one point he made a roaring turn past a cop, leaving the officer looking down the road in consternation, speaking into his radio, baffled like he'd just been sent spinning in a Roadrunner cartoon. 

At the mall, Lil Baby sauntered in and headed for Lids to buy a new hat, an all-black Atlanta Braves fitted, size 7 5/8, all polite “yes ma'am”s to the saleswoman. Two little girls, no older than eight or nine, shyly filtered in, hoping to get a picture, and soon it came out that one of them had just had her phone stolen in the mall bathroom. Before I figured out what was going on, Lil Baby led the girls to a store around the corner that sold phone cases and asked if they sold phones. No luck. He walked back out into the hall and explained the situation to the girls. Then he told G-Five to pull out three hundreds, and he added two more from his own pocket, handing the girl $500 in cash for a new phone. He didn't stop to comment on this; he just did it. He did, as we headed for the opposite side door, stop for pictures with three more groups who asked. Everyone who didn't still pulled out their phone to take his picture. 

The street outside was Lil Baby's old block. There was the convenience store, he explained, where he would go sit to rest after long hours of working up and down the length of the sidewalk. He bought a few candies, but the guy behind the counter was new, didn't recognize him. Everyone else did, though. One guy driving by shouted out for Lil Baby to go check out his new wig shop, a few doors down. A couple shirtless guys chatted up Ced and G-Five, giving updates on people they knew. Some girls hung out the moonroof of an SUV across the street and yelled Lil Baby's name in excitement. 

“No other rapper would bring you to the block like this, just walking around, no security,” Lil Baby said, almost offhandedly, as we shot some photos. Ced and G-Five nodded. It was hard to imagine, in that moment, anyone having it out for Lil Baby. As we'd arrived, he'd yelled up to the corner, where a middle-aged guy in a skullcap greeted him and came down to chat. They traded a few updates, and as we turned away, Lil Baby explained that the man was the true hustler on the block. 

“He sells everything,” Lil Baby explained, adding that he used to invest in the man's sales schemes from time to time. For the Super Bowl, which is set to take place in Atlanta next year, he'll be selling bootleg T-shirts for $50 a pop. Also, “he sells turtles,” Baby added. By this point, I'd watched Lil Baby tear off through downtown Atlanta running every red light; I'd seen him nonchalantly record video of his diamond-encrusted jewelry to show it off to his Instagram followers; I'd listened to him roast my entire profession for hours on end. But for the first time, I got the sense he was trying to impress me, as he got caught up in the excitement of this business proposition. The turtles are $20 normally, but for the Super Bowl, Baby explained, they would cost $40. In other words, if you find yourself in the West End of Atlanta in need of a turtle, buy now because the price is going up. He gazed up the street in admiration at the turtle guy, then we turned to head back toward the Corvette.

Video of Trippie Redd beating up another man slamming him to the ground 

 

In wake of the on-going Trippie Redd and Tekashi 6ix9ine beef we found a video which shows Trippie Redd beating up another young man. In the video you can see Trippie slamming the man and then punching the man out. If Tripie and 6ix9ine were to fight who would you have your money on to win the fight. Would it be Trippie or 6ix9ine? Check the video below and tell us what you think...

 

J. Cole Admits His Song “False Prophets” Is Partially About Kanye West 

 

After an anticipated wait, J. Cole finally released his lengthy interview with Angie Martinez today (May 16), which dives into a slew of important topics, including his recent conversation with Kanye West. 

The "1985" rapper sat down with the radio host for an hour-and-a-half-long interview at Salaam Remi's studio in Miami, Fla. just before his set at Rolling Loud this past weekend (May 12), and they cover tons of bases that fans have been itching to know about. From the themes and stats behind his recent KOD album, which led to him joking about an "I hate you" text he received from Drake, to his social media addiction and how the youth use it, Cole doesn't hold back in the conversation. 

One of the highlights of the lengthy interview comes when Martinez mentions Kanye and the super producer believing that Cole was dissing him on his "False Prophets" record from 2016. If you recall, Yeezy tweeted a screenshot while he was on the phone with the rapper, but Cole believes that making the phone conversation public news felt insincere to him. 

"Nah, he called me, but I would've never posted that or tell him to post that," he says. "That made me feel a certain type of way. I told him that. He apologized, for the record. I told him that it felt like you just used my name in that very quick conversation for social media and to keep your thing going or whatever you were doing. It felt like it wasn't sincere because of that." 

Martinez also asks Cole about his thoughts on West's tweets and controversial thoughts, which includes him showing praise to Donald Trump and calling slavery a "choice." At the time of Kanye's slavery comments going viral, Cole coincidentally tweeted what appeared to be a subliminal quote from Nas that read, "These are our heroes." The rapper also says that Yeezy told him to hold him accountable for his actions and words during their phone call. 

"It's touchy because I don't like talking about other people," he admits. "If this is me and you on a microphone, I'm gonna keep it 100 with you. I'ma go in on the whole situation, but I feel hesitant to go in for the public. So I'll tread lightly if possible, but the only reason I'd feel comfortable taking it any distance is because I didn't even ask...you put that out there. When he called me he said, 'I need you to hold me accountable. Keep me in check. Say whatever you gotta say. I need that. I feed off that.'" 

Even though he is hesitant to talk about Kanye in the interview, he does confirm that "False Prophets" applies to the hitmaker. 

"First of all, [I'm] just a fan," he continues. "Really, I don't know you. I'm just like a dude that was a fan back in the day, and when I'm writing 'False Prophets,' which that song wasn't about him. There's one verse that applies to him for sure, but if you listen to that song, that song is about what this shit is exposing. What I gotta check myself about. And I check myself on that song as well...We're worshipping celebrities." 

The Fayetteville native also dives into his past addictions, which includes his relationship with alcohol and feeling "tugged" by wanting to drink, as well as his use of social media. The rapper believes he had a social media addiction, and despite taking a long hiatus from using it, he only felt as though his time away was a break, but not taking away the addiction. 

"With social media, I was off it so long that I thought I had beat this addiction." he admits. "Then I got back on it and I realized, 'Oh nah, you just took a break.' I didn't face it head on...I'm dealing with it right now...I feel like with social media, it's like, what's this pull? Why do I keep checking this shit every five minutes?" he describes. "Just being conscious that there's an urge to be on my phone. I don't like something pulling my strings. I want to be in charge of my own decisions...I feel like I'm allowing other people's thoughts to be my own. I feel like I'm diving into other peoples' business." 

Martinez also asks Cole who "KiLL Edward" is, to which he responds with a smirk on his face. If you recall, fans originally believed that KiLL Edward is simply an alter ego played out by Cole on his KOD album. The rapper confirms that KiLL Edward is, in fact, him. 

"He's an artist," he jokes. "He's an artist. He's fire though...What do you mean he's me? [laughs] Nah, he's me. I wanted to make it weird, at least for 10 seconds just to say I did." 

Cole then describes what made him want to create an alter-ego, which is named after his step-father. 

"It first started after Forest Hills Drive," he admits. "It started to feel like J. Cole, which sounds weird even saying that in conversation...that name started feeling like a box. I had told so much of my story from The Come Up, The Warm Up, Born Sinner, Forest Hills Drive. It was always about me, my aspirations, my dreams, my pains. It was a box. I started feeling limited. I had been telling my story for so many projects. So many songs...I don't want to talk about myself no more, which eventually would birth 4 Your Eyez Only. It wasn't like I was aware...all of this was subconscious. Another thing that came out of that was I started experimenting with the music. The production, my voice, and I started doing these songs in this KiLL Edward style. I didn't have a name, I just had these songs...I needed a fire name." 

Cole says that the "Kill" part of the name doesn't come from wanting to place harm on his stepfather, but from wanting to kill the parts of himself that he believes he got from him. He says there's "some shit in me" that he doesn't like that relates to his step-dad. 

The two also discuss into Cole's return to Twitter, where he talks about his first tweets praising Cardi B last month. He says that he wanted to show her some encouragement through all of the pressure people were putting on her. 

Watch Cole's full interview with Angie Martinez below to hear them talk about a slew of important topics.

Wale Signs to Warner Bros. Records 

 

After spending a number of years with Atlantic Records, Wale is taking his talents to Warner Bros. Records. On Wednesday (May 16), the Washington, D.C. rapper announced he has signed a deal with Warner. Bros and is gearing up to release his sixth full-length album this year. 

“This is an exciting step for me," Wale said. "I am thrilled to be at a company that is willing to showcase my artistry, while supporting my entrepreneurial spirit. I felt their passion, commitment, and enthusiasm from day one. They believed in my vision wholeheartedly, and I am ready to show and prove.”

Warner Bros. Records' co-chairman and COO Tom Corson also celebrated the move and praised Wale as an artist. “I am delighted that Wale has joined Warner Bros. Records,” Corson said. “He is a pillar in the hip-hop community and beyond; with his cultural relevance and lyrical prose, he continues to elevate the game. Wale is truly a force to be reckoned with and we look forward to a successful partnership for years to come.” 

Along with the signing announcement, the "Staying Power" rapper also shared the Jacquees-assisted song "Black Bonnie" which is featured on the previously released It's Complicated EP. The four-track record also includes the songs "It's Complicated," "Effortless" and "Let It Go." 

Earlier this month, Wale dropped his Self Promotion EP, which he teased would be his last independent record. "This will be my last indie project .. it’s been fun (and lucrative) but I have goals to accomplish outside music. New chapter," he tweeted on May 8.

Kevin Gates Drops Three-Song Release ‘Chained to the City’ 

 

New Kevin Gates is officially here. Today (May 16), the Baton Rouge, La. artist unleashes the three-song release Chained to the City, a short but sweet effort that marks the rapper's first new effort since getting out of prison on Jan. 10. 

Checking in at just three tracks, "Change Lanes," "Vouch" and "Let It Sing," Chained to the City gives fans exactly what they want while offering a tantalizing listen of what else Gates could have in store. The new songs arrive five days after Gates uploaded an Instagram post with the hashtag, "#ChainedToTheCity."

He also uploaded some family videos, the captions for included some lamentations about the things he's missed while dealing with his current legal ordeal. "Miss 4 birthdays - 2 graduations but I never complained - fuck it #imHim," he wrote in the caption for one video. Gates even previewed some new songs through his Instagram account on Sunday (May 13). Now, the new music is here. 

Check out Chained to the City for yourself below. 

Kevin Gates' Chained to the City Tracklist 

1. "Change Lanes" 
2. "Vouch" 
3. "Let It Sing"

Q Da Fool Signs to Roc Nation 

 

Q Da Fool has officially gone major. Today (May 14), the folks at Billboard report that the Largo, Md. rapper has signed on with the label Roc Nation.

Q now joins a roster that includes the likes of J. Cole, Belly, Vic Mensa and many more. With a knack for melody and strikingly ruthless bars, the rapper's artistry should make him a strong contributor to the Roc.

Q's happy to be joining the squad, "My team and I been grinding hard for a long time now," Q tells XXL. "It's a blessing and a good feeling for artists from Largo, Md., and the DMV overall, to get this national exposure. And I want to thank the whole team at Roc Nation!"

Now, Q's gearing up to drop off 100 Keys, a new EP with Zaytoven, whom Q has been working with a for a while now. In last week's edition of XXL's The Break, the 21-year-old rapper dropped off "Not Playin," a strip club anthem that marks a departure from the more straightforward, street tunes he usually supplies.

Speaking with XXL, Q made it clear that working with other artists from the DMV was near the top of his priority list.

"Something I did, I think [that stands out is] I work with everybody in my city," he explained at the time. "Like Fat Trel, Shy Glizzy, Wale—that don't happen where I'm from. That just don't happen. People don't work together. It's a lot of hate out there. I'm the first one that did it. I worked with everybody, I linked up with everybody, I don't got no problems with nobody, like—it's all love. So I think that's a standout moment because you can't even get nobody to do that in our city."

Watch Q's new visual for "Not Playin" below.

2 Chainz Has Officially Retired "Hair Weave Killer" 

 

A man goes by many names. We may recognize him as Tity Boi. Or 2 Chainz. Or Hair Weave Killer. The trifecta of monikers have come to embody 2 Chainz since his arrival in the rap game. While the first two stand out as actual hip-hop monikers, Hair Weave Killer was something of an extension, an Instagram alter ego for the ages. It soon became an integral component of 2 Chainz' personality, becoming synonymous with the Atlanta legend. Not only is the name memorable, but it also serves as a warning; should any woman find herself in 2 Chainz' bed, she may very well find her hair weave destroyed by the morning. 

Now, it would appear those days are behind him. Perhaps 2 Chainz is simply growing up; after all, the man is recently engaged, and it's entirely possible that the fiancee was the catalyst for the transition. Perhaps he simply felt that weaves have suffered enough under his reign. Either way, the rapper has officially retired the moniker. He made the announcement on Instagram, where he now goes by "2chainz." Check out the announcement below. 

It's interesting to read some of the accompanying comments, which range from messages of support to straight up denial. I suppose he'll always be Hair Weave Killer to some. Perhaps it will still come out on occasion. In the mean time, 2 Chainz will be going forward with his most recognizable name. Time heals all wounds.

 

 

I RETIRED HAIR WEAVE KILLER

A post shared by 2 Chainz Aka Tity Boi (@2chainz) on

Big Sean & Puma Are Dropping A Second Collection This Month  

 

It looks like Big Sean & Puma are getting ready to drop off a few more collaborations soon. Following the success of their debut collection back in March, Puma has decided to rolled out 3 new sneakers for the Summer time. 

Similar to their debut collection, this capsule takes inspiration from neighborhood barbershops, and it also includes three new takes on the Suede, Suede Mid, and Clyde. The suede shoe comes in a “melon” color way and uses the three-tone heel tab striped in blue, green, and white, which has become a signature of Big Sean's Puma sneakers. Next, is the Suede “mid” that comes in a vibrant "Jelly Bean" green, and lastly is the Clyde, which offers an all-black leather upper, and a white midsole. 

In addition to the sneakers, Puma & Big Sean are also rolling out another pair of slides this time around too, which reads “Puma” across the front stamped in black suede. 

Look for this upcoming Puma capsule to hit stores Saturday, May 26 alongside some new apparel as well. Check out the photos of the shoes in the gallery (above) and let us know if you're copping anything.

Rapchat raises $1.6M for app to produce, share, discover hip-hop tracks  

 

A fast-growing recording and sharing app that puts a hip-hop studio in your pocket has raised $1.6 million in venture funding – so creators can let the beat drop without dropping a beat. 

Rapchat Inc. raised the round with participation by Columbus-based Rev1 Ventures and Ohio TechAngel Funds (which Rev1 manages); Base Ventures in Berkeley, California; Chicago-based M25 Group and TechNexus; and 500 Startups, in Mountain View, California. 

Co-founders Seth Miller and Pat Gibson grew up in Central Ohio before leaving for college and out-of-state startups; Gibson was in Chicago before both moved around Silicon Valley and Los Angeles. They created Rapchat in 2015 and completed the 500 Startups business accelerator program in early 2016 before moving back to Columbus that fall. 

Gibson is a professional musician who drums and raps under the name P-Holla. Miller was an IT specialist and self-taught coder who likes to freestyle (make up a rap on the fly) while driving around. Miller came up with the idea for an app to record and share tracks. 

“Pat is a real musician; I’d call him and say, ‘We need beats,’ and he said, ‘You understand this is big for the industry, too,’” Miller said. “It’s for two audiences: people like me who want to rap for fun, (and) the really hardcore users are like Pat.” 

Users can control their audience, either sharing a track privately with friends or leaving it open for anyone to discover. Users can collaborate on a song, adding verses from different accounts. 

“We’re disrupting the way music is being made,” Gibson said. “We’re disrupting the way music is being distributed and the way people are being discovered.” 

It’s also a focused hip-hop community, he said, so “you’re not competing with cat videos.” 

The investment marks a departure for Rev1 and OTAF: Rapchat is pre-revenue, staking its future success on building a huge devoted audience before monetizing, like other social platforms. Eschewing ads, the free app makes money with in-app purchases; for example, today it offers free beats (the backing track under a rap), but the company's working with producers to add premium ones. 

Rev1 has invested in consumer product companies, like Print Syndicate and a gluten-free bakery, but its focus largely has been on revenue-producing business-to-business software, medical devices and biotech. 

“We were hearing they’d always wanted to make a consumer play,” said Gibson, chief marketing officer. “We’re right here. We had strong numbers and they believed in me and Seth as founders." 

Miller and Gibson kept in touch with Rev1 since returning. Today more than 17,000 raps are recorded via the app daily, and the collected works have attracted 100 million listens. 

“They got to see our progress over a long period of time,” Miller said. “We had so much traction and went through one of the best accelerators.” 

Rev1's motivation is to seek technology startups with the highest growth potential, including consumer technology, Ryan Helon, executive vice president of investment funds, said via email. 

"Rapchat has impressive momentum and is being led by a strong team," he said. 

Along with the round, Rapchat added a new board member: Alex Hofmann had been North America president for musical.ly, an app for creating and sharing music videos that was acquired in November for $800 million. 

Miller and Gibson first tried to grow Rapchat in Los Angeles, close to the music indutry. They stretched the $100,000 from the 500 Startups accelerator for 14 months before moving to Columbus. Just over a year later, the company has eight employees total in an office on South Front Street behind the Huntington Center. 

“We’ve seen a lot of startups fizzle and burn, spend too much money just to be in Silicon Valley or in New York,” Gibson said. “This is your one shot. We wanted to be smart. In this digital age, geography isn’t as important as it was five to 10 years ago.” 

Capital stretches much further in the Midwest, Miller said, but they also want to make a success story in their hometown. 

“There needs to be a consumer startup in Ohio, in Columbus, that succeeds,” Miller said. “There’s no ecosystem, if you’re not a SaaS (cloud-based software) company or a health company, to get started. ... 

"We believe this is a huge industry and a huge opportunity – and it’s a lot of fun."

Pharrell Williams Set To Open Restaurant In Miami 

 

One of Hip-Hop’s greatest minds is taking his talents to South Beach. Pharrell Williams is opening a up lounge in Miami. 

In partnership with nightlife impresario David Grutman, owner of Club LIV, Skateboard P is taking a stab at the service industry. He is set to open the Swan and Bar Bevy restaurant this year. 

Located at 90 N.E. 39th Street, the establishment will be a eatery and cocktail lounge hybrid spanning 17,000 square feet. Apparently the project has been in development for the last two years. 

Grutman sounds confident it will make an impact in the already hot spot heavy city. “[Pharrell] has some great ideas and visions. I think it’s going to the be the most beautiful restaurant in Miami.” 

The Swan and Bar Bevy is set to open this fall.

Drake and Migos Announce ‘Aubrey and The Three Amigos Tour’ 

 

Drake is back on road this summer, and he’s bringing Migos with him. 

The Canadian rap superstar has announced dates for the “Aubrey and The Three Amigos Tour.” He will be joined by his “Walk It Talk It” collaborators on the North American run, which extends through November. 

Billed as a “hand-picked dream team,” the 41-date trek kicks off July 26 in Salt Lake City and travels across the U.S. and Canada, with stops in Toronto, New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Boston, Miami, Vancouver, and more. 

Aubrey & The Three Amigos. 
Pre-sale starts tomorrow and on sale Friday https://t.co/NzxCT5F37t pic.twitter.com/ibDsMRtGkb 

— Drizzy (@Drake) May 14, 2018 

A pre-sale for American Express card members begins May 15 at 10 a.m. through May 17 at 10 p.m. Tickets go on sale to the general public starting May 18. 

The tour comes in anticipation of Drake’s fifth studio album Scorpion, which is due in June and has spawned the chart-topping singles “God’s Plan” and “Nice for What.” Migos’ latest album Culture II topped the charts upon its release January. 

Aubrey and The Three Amigos Tour Dates 

July 26 – Salt Lake City, UT – Vivint Smart Home Arena 
July 28 – – Denver, CO – Pepsi Center 
July 31 – Kansas City, MO – Sprint Center 
Aug. 1 – St. Paul, MN – Xcel Energy Center 
Aug. 10 – Toronto, ON – Air Canada Centre 
Aug. 11 – Toronto, ON – Air Canada Centre 
Aug. 14 – Detroit, MI – Little Caesars Arena 
Aug. 17 – Chicago, IL – United Center 
Aug. 18 – Chicago, IL – United Center 
Aug. 24 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden 
Aug. 25 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden 
Aug. 30 – Brooklyn, NY – Barclays Center 
Aug. 31 – Brooklyn, NY – Barclays Center 
Sept. 4 – Montreal, QC – Bell Centre 
Sept. 7 – Boston, MA – TD Garden 
Sept. 08 – Boston, MA – TD GardenSept. 12 – Washington, DC – Capital One Arena 
Sept. 13 – Washington, DC – Capital One Arena 
Sept. 15 – Philadelphia, PA – Wells Fargo Center 
Sept. 18 – Nashville, TN – Bridgestone Arena 
Sept. 21 – Miami, FL – AmericanAirlines Arena 
Sept. 22 – Miami, FL – AmericanAirlines Arena 
Sept. 24 – New Orleans, LA – Smoothie King Center 
Sept. 26 – Dallas, TX – American Airlines Center 
Sept. 29 – Houston, TX – Toyota Center 
Sept. 30 – Houston, TX – Toyota Center 
Oct. 5 – Las Vegas, NV – MGM Grand Garden Arena 
Oct. 6 – Las Vegas, NV – MGM Grand Garden Arena 
Oct. 8 – Phoenix, AZ – Gila River Arena 
Oct. 12 – Los Angeles, CA – STAPLES Center 
Oct. 13 – Los Angeles, CA – STAPLES Center 
Oct. 16 – Los Angeles, CA – The Forum 
Oct. 17 – Los Angeles, CA – The Forum 
Oct. 26 – Oakland, CA – Oracle Arena 
Oct. 27 – Oakland, CA – Oracle Arena 

Nov. 1 – Seattle, WA – Tacoma Dome 
Nov. 3 – Vancouver, BC – Rogers Arena 
Nov. 4 – Vancouver, BC – Rogers Arena 
Nov. 6 – Edmonton, AB – Rogers Place 
Nov. 16 – Atlanta, GA – Philips Arena 
Nov. 17 – Atlanta, GA – Philips Arena

Meek Mill Teases the Possibility of Working With Drake Again  

 

The "Free Meek" movement had a staggering list of supporters throughout hip-hop, with one of the most notable advocates for Meek Mill's release being Drake, even though he engaged with the Philly MC in a memorable rap beef back in 2015. With a refreshed outlook on life since gaining his freedom, Mill is willing to put the feud behind him, and has hinted that the possibility of them doing new music together is on the table. 

The 31-year-old stopped by Hot 97 for a lengthy chat as part of his comeback press tour. "It's possible. Everything is possible," Meek said regarding a potential collaboration with Drizzy. "I don't have hate towards him, and I don't believe he has hate towards me. When I was in that situation, I seen in the media, he said, 'Free Meek Mill.' That's when I was at my down point, when I don't have anything going on with music." 

Prior to their dispute, the "Amen" artists were actually good friends. "Before we had a little rap issue. I knew him as a person, and he supported. And that goes for anybody. Drake is the biggest thing in music right now," he says.

The MMG rapper is looking to use his platform to invoke change throughout the criminal justice system in his home state of Pennsylvania. Meek sees himself as a "voice for the voiceless" if you let him tell it. 

Check out Meek Mill's interview in its entirety with Hot 97 below.

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