3TM Year In Review: Best Hip Hop Videos – Jay-Z & Raekwon

Image: Roc Nation/MTV

Mainstream Pick: Jay-Z – Run This Town

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVA-xTBeHyM]

Rather reminicsent of 2pac and Dr. Dre’s classic anarchy-rich 1995 ‘California Love’ video, Jigga’s ‘Run This Town’ was probably the most talked-about video of 2009. Littered with Illuminati references and sybolism, the release served to respark interest in the already saturated Freemasons in Hip Hop discussion. Whether or not the video managed to live up to the elevated expectations, a display of chaos, rebellion and pure, unadulterated ego, ‘Run This Town’ certainly reflects the typical 2009 Hip Hop mentality.


Alternative Pick: Raekwon – House of Flying Daggers

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHVCQc6cbSw]

For those that prefer to shy away from the mainstream, Raekwon’s latest offering Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt. II represented a beacon of hope for Hip Hop of substance. The animated video for the J.Dilla-produced ‘House of Flying Daggers,’ seemingly inspired by the cult Kung-fu movie ‘Five Deadly Venoms,’ captures the mood and concept of the album to perfection.

BET Hip Hop Awards 2009: Congratulations Allhiphop!

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Congratulations to Allhiphop.com on winning the Best Hip Hop website at the 2009 BET Hip Hop Awards! I am so proud to be a part of the AHH team. So without further ado, here is a full list of the BET Hip Hop Award Winners:

People’s Award – Fabolous ft. The Dream (Throw It In The Bag)

Best Collabo – TI ft. Rihanna (Live Your Life)

Best Live Performer – Jay-Z

Lyricist of the Year – Jay-Z

Video Director – Hype Williams

Best Producer – Kanye West

Best Track – Young Money (Every Girl)

CD of the Year – TI (Paper Trail)

Rookie of the Year – Drake

Best Video – TI ft. Rihanna (Live Your Life)

MVP – Jay-Z

DJ of the Year – DJ AM

Hustler of the Year – Jay-Z

Made-You-Look Award – Kanye West

Best Site – Allhiphop.com

Allhiphop.com

Jay-Z reacts to MTV’s Hottest MCs 2009 List

Image: Roc Nation/MTV News

Image: Roc Nation/MTV News

Shortly after earning the top spot on MTV’s ‘Hottest MCs In The Game’ list, New York Hip Hop giant Sean ‘Jay-Z’ Carter shared his thoughts on the list, both thanking MTV but also questioning their choice.

Artists like Kanye West, 50 Cent, Lil Wayne and relative newcomer Drake were also featured but failed to top Jigga. Whilst appreciative for the recognition, in a recent statement Jay also openly questioned why Detroit rapper Eminem had been overlooked from the list.

The MTV 2009 ‘Hottest MCs’ List panned out as follows:

1. Jay-Z
2. Lil Wayne
3. Drake
4. Kanye West
5. Rick Ross
6. Gucci Mane
7. Young Jeezy
8. Fabolous
9. 50 Cent
10. Raekwon

In his statement Jay wrote: ‘MTV, Thanks for this nod of appreciation. Although I don’t strive to be ‘hot’ for any particular year, I thank you for the acknowledgment. My whole goal is to be recognized as the best ever. I created the term ‘best rapper alive’ as a sign of respect to my fallen comrades (Biggie and Tupac). I believe I’ve allowed a significant grace period, and I believe I would not be respecting myself if being the absolute best was not my goal, and that’s why I continue to push myself until exhaustion … salute.’

He then continued by joking, ‘Sidebar: Kanye moment if I may … Eminem?!?! I think you do the credibility of this list a disservice if you don’t thoroughly explain his omission. As of this second he has the highest selling rap album of the year and a scene stealing verse on the best ‘posse’ cut of the year . (*Hands mic back to Taylor Swift … and nobody was harmed, I apologize in advance.)’

Jay has done his best to make light of the Kanye VMAs situation since the surprise outburst and in typical Jigga fashion attempted to maintain a devil’s advocate approach, displaying a level of maturity that many of his peers are lacking.

MTV then responded to Jay’s comments, explaining that unlike than the other artists who made the list, Eminem has spent the entire season working on his forthcoming Relapse 2 project rather than ‘generat[ing] week-to-week heat with mixtapes, guest appearances, performances and Web activity.’ They also maintained that the list was finalised prior to the release of Drake’s noteworthy Forever that featured Em, Kanye and Lil Wayne.

In related news, according to Soundscan Jay-Z’s latest offering Blueprint 3 finished last week only a couple of thousand units shy of platinum and should certainly be on track for platinum status this week.

Jay-Z Talks 9/11 Tragedy

New York rapper Jay-Z yesterday recalled the 9/11 tragedy in a press conference for his ‘Answer the Call’ charity event. The rapper’s classic ‘Blueprint’ album also dropped that day.

The concert, which will take place in Madison Square Garden, is not only intended to honor the memory of those who died in the 9/11 attacks eight years ago, but also to raise money for the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s fund.

Jigga, who was filming his music video in LA at the time of the attacks, stated that the images of the tragedy ‘looked like a movie.’ He continued to explain that ‘It didn’t look like anything that could be real,’ claiming that his album was the ‘last thing’ on his mind.

The rapper recalled how proud he felt watching the ‘heroic actions’ and the ‘strength of New York’ the following day. He explained that he felt that ‘Blueprint 3’ was a good opportunity to ‘revisit the day’ and ‘do something to help out.’

Ticket holders should expect at least four tracks from his new album ‘Blueprint 3’, which is due for release on September 11th, to be performed. Jay-Z mentioned that any guest appearances would remain a surprise but hinted that some could be expected.

Does Jay-Z’s Video Run This Town?

Jay-Z’s latest video for the second single from ‘Blueprint 3’ has premiered on MTV today. ‘Run This Town,’ which features Kanye West and Rihanna, is certainly a statement from President Carter, who is asking fans to ‘pledge allegiance to Roc Nation.’

Whilst the video is hardly groundbreaking, the use of pyrotechnics and edgy attire ensures that much like the song it is a statement to thehip hop world; 3 of the biggest figures in urban music saying ‘we’re here and we run this!’  The video certainly captures the essence of the track and frankly its nice to see a hip hop video that doesn’t rely soley on scantily-clad women and supercars, although the amount of symbolism may end up reigniting the Illuminati in Hip Hop conspiracy talk!

SO does Jay-Z Run This Town? Well, that is surely a question that is best left until ‘Blueprint 3’ drops next month.

run this town

Jay-Z Blueprint 3 Tracklist

With Jay-Z’s much-anticipated album ‘Blueprint 3’ due to drop next month, the full tracklisting has been announced, giving an insight into what fans can expect. Despite the relative disappointment following his last studio offering ‘Kingdom Come,’ the release of the first two singles has raised expectations from the project. Although it is likely that Jigga fans may be disappointed with the high number of features on the album.

1. What We Talkin’ About (ft. Luke Steele)
2.Thank You
3. D.O.A (Death of Autotune)
4.Run This Town (ft. Rihanna & Kanye West)
5. Empire State of Mind (ft. Alicia Keys)
6. Real As It Gets (ft. Young Jeezy)
7. On To The Next One (ft. Swizz Beatz)
8. Off That (ft. Drake)
9. A Star Is Born (ft. J. Cole)
10. Venus Vs Mars
11. Already Home (ft. Kid CuDi)
12. Hate (ft. Kanye West)
13. Reminder
14. So Ambitious (ft. Pharrell)
15. Young Forever (ft. Mr Hudson)

With the first two singles, ‘DOA’ and ‘Run This Town,’ having shown a lot of promise, hopefully ‘Blueprint 3′ will live up to both its hype and fans’ expectations.

‘Blueprint 3’ is due to drop on September 11th 2009.

Jay-Z’s Third Blueprint for Brilliance?

There has been much anticipation surrounding the forthcoming Jay-Z album ‘Blueprint 3.’ For many fans that felt ‘Kingdom Come’ was a disappointment, this project marks the return of the passion and hunger that was once characteristic of the hip hop star.

Following the buzz surrounding ‘D.O.A,’ and The Game’s attempts to draw Jigga into a war of words, the already high-profile rapper has become a hot topic in the media. The latest glimpse at his latest project, ‘Run This Town’ featuring Kanye West and Rihanna, has only increased the anticipation for the project further. Not only does the single prepare for the return for Jay-Z but also serves as a return to rapping for West and a return to the limelight for R&B songstress Rihanna.

Although it could be argued that Jay was outperformed by Kanye on this record, ‘Run This Town’ looks set to intensify the ever-increasing desire for the album, which is due to drop on September 11th 2009.

 

Video: Rap Radar

Hip Hop vs Spirituality

I am currently researching a feature article on spirituality in hip hop and if religion and rap may coexist without compromise.  Issues I am dealing with (respectfully) include alleged Satanism, Occult and Freemason influences in the genre, juxtaposed with the Christian influences in hip hop.  Artists that will be researched include primarily Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, 2pac, Kanye West, Diddy, Nas and a number of others.

I would appreciate if you could provide any insights or thoughts on the subject, which is a controversial one.  Either drop some knowledge in the comments below or email me direct hanoconnor@3threatmedia.com.  This will be a long, ongoing project but should help to really shed some light on the subject. I’m hoping to publish the project in a major publication and therefore any feedback and comments on the idea will be a great help.

Auto-tune Hip Hop Is Dead?

When Nas proclaimed that hip hop was dead, protests rang from all corners of the urban music world; it would seem, however, that few artists are quite so keen to speak up for Auto-tune after hip hop giant Jay-Z called for its immediate demise. Auto-tune, originally intended to correct slight pitch inconsistencies, is often used by hip hop and r’n’b artists to achieve an ‘over-tuned’ digitalised vocal effect. This practise was popularised by artists, such as Akon, T-Pain, Lil Wayne, The Dream and Kanye West, but after becoming a trend in the urban music scene, many feel it has been over-used.

In his battle-cry to the seemingly Auto-tune obsessed hip hop world, Jay-Z expressed his distaste for not only the ‘over-tuned’ style but also iTunes, ringtone sales and the general commercialisation of hip hop. It could be argued that Jigga’s street anthem ‘D.O.A. (Death of Auto-tune)’ is particularly hypocritical, especially considering that his forthcoming album ‘The Blueprint 3’ will be produced almost entirely by self-proclaimed Auto-tune fanatic Kanye West. Although it is questionable whether or not Jay’s track will have any true impact on the trend, it is likely that the influence of one of hip hop’s biggest names will separate the urban music community when it comes to Auto-tune usage. Many r’n’b artists will most likely continue using the technology to varying degrees, whereas the majority of rappers may now attempt to distance themselves from the style.

Whilst there are many who feel that the Auto-tune phenomenon has been predominantly a curse for the hip hop world, rather than a blessing, it must be said that initially some classic, innovative sounds emerged from it. T-Pain’s pioneering use of the over-tuned vocal style provided an exciting and distinctive new sound, which many rappers were keen to incorporate into their work, leading to a number of collaborations. A shared love of Auto-tune sparked the highly-anticipated ‘T-Wayne’ project between T-Pain and Lil Wayne, which is reportedly scheduled for release later this year.

Love it or hate it, another prime example of this unique strain of hip hop is Kanye West’s masterwork ‘Heartless.’ West’s haunting melody coupled with his robotic over-tuned vocals perfectly mirrored the cold, metallic feelings of heartbreak. Released after a number of personal disasters, the album ‘808s & Heartbreak,’ which received mixed critical response, succeeded in providing a rare insight into his vulnerability, a theme that has become a taboo for many rap artists. His so-called ‘heartbreak effect’ was a refreshing break from the swagger and ego usually associated with Kanye and also hip hop in general.

Whether or not you agree that Jay-Z should have the right to condemn Auto-tune to death, it is clear that the sound has become a gimmick in the urban music industry. In a recent interview with a Chicago radio station, Jay stated that it was ‘time to move on’ from the trend, which is currently just contributing to evidence for the age-old argument that hip hop ‘just sounds the same.’ When will hip hop artists learn that evolution is the key to success in the music world? Surely it would be better to move on from current trends and develop new styles than to fall prey to the stagnant cycle of tedium that Nas warned about. Therefore, perhaps the real question should be, is it hip hop that is in danger of dying rather than Auto-tune?

© Hannah O’Connor (3threat Media)