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Is Drake ‘Too Soft’ For Contemporary Hip Hop?

As one of Hip Hop’s more ground breaking acts to date, Young Money Prince  Drake can often be found at the center of heated Rap centric debate.

Loved by some while loathed by others, his arrival and subsequent success on and in the scene has made him the  undisputed figurehead of Contemporary Rap/Hop Hip Hop.

Of course, with such attention comes just as much criticism.

With Lil Kim stating that ‘he just wasn’t built for this hood sh*t’ and Common revealing  his upcoming release ‘Sweet‘ was written all about him, the suggestion that Drake’s singing has made him ‘less of an MC ‘ is one estimation that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon.

So,  ever eager to bring attention to the topics you are most passionate about, That Grape Juice asks the question:

Is Mr ‘Marvin’s Room‘ ‘too soft’ for Contemporary Hip Hop?


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How To Solve Ciara’s Career Problem?


Beautiful. Talented. Personable.

While the above are all words  oft used to describe Epic diva Ciara, the last few years have proven that not even these desirable qualities have been enough to secure the success and notoriety she has struggled to achieve on a number of occasions.

For, despite the critical acclaim her first four LP’s have garnered over the years, her latest studio effort- ‘Basic Instinct‘ left many fans wondering if she would ever be able to match or better the commercial heights  the likes of Rihanna  seem to remain atop of.


Now That Grape Juice weighs in.

Answering the question:

Just how do you solve a problem like Ciara’s career?


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Nicole Scherzinger: Product vs Promotion

To say that former Pussycat Doll frontwoman Nicole Scherzinger may be nearing the end of her 9 musical lives would be a fair assessment.  For a singer whose bids to fame have boasted killer looks, discernible talent, and (not to mention) multiple sturdy platforms for lift off yet no solid launch, begs a striking question:  where is the miscalculation with Miss Scherzinger?

Initially brought to the public’s eye during the infancy stages of the now-common ‘reality talent show’, Scherzinger was one of 5 finalists for the American Idol copycat ‘Pop Stars’ (on WB).  The pop collective, called Eden’s Crush, saw an impressive beginning on Billboard with both a top 10 single and album. Yet, after a record label folding and no follow-up in sight, Scherzinger fell from public view until landing her next (and most successful gig to date) – Pussycat Doll frontwoman.  ‘Doll Domination’ would prove to not only be an understatement, but also the purr-fect set up for its leader as the pop composite conquered Billboard charts with hit after hit.  Millions sold and in the bank (not to mention a real lick of ‘celebrity’), Scherzinger leaped from her sturdiest post yet to pursue a solo career.

2007 saw the Hawaiian beauty attempt to make her first solo splash on charts with ‘Her Name Is Nicole’.  Led by the thunderous T.I.-assisted, Polow Da Don-produced ‘Whatever You Like’, the debut single from ‘Her Name’ surprisingly left her name nowhere to be found on Billboard charts.  With the record later shelved, Scherzinger seemed to have lost yet another footing on Billboard charts.

…until 2010 saw yet another attempt to return to charts with ‘Killer Love’.  Marked as the official debut album of her solo career, the album boasted production from heavy hitmakers like RedOne and others and lifted the sex kitten to her highest heights on UK singles charts (#3 and #1 for singles ‘Poison’ and ‘Don’t Hold Your Breath‘).  And, joining media mogul Simon Cowell‘s judging panel for the (once) highly anticipated ‘X Factor USA’, Nicole finally looked to board the vehicle that relaunched Jennifer Lopez’s once failing career.  That is…until the ‘Try It With Me’ maestra actually…umm…tried it.  ‘Poison’, ‘Don’t Hold Your Breath’, and ‘Wet’ barely made splashes on the ‘Bubbling Under Charts’ in the U.S. and quickly fizzled out.  Add their parent album’s ‘Killer Love’ pushback after pushback, these shortcomings collectively all but indicated ‘Love’s’ death sentence.  And, of course, Scherzinger is slipping right back into a wash, rinse, and repeat of album #1.

With killer looks, dance moves, marketable music, stage presence, and three major platforms, the singer may have hit the nail on the head when she sang ‘I got that poison’ as U.S. record buyers are sleeping on this beauty’s every musical venture.  Could Nicole simply be missing the very X Factor she hopes to help Simon Cowell find?

Now you weigh in:  Has Nicole’s career been just a monstrous musical misstep or a mixture of marketing mishaps?

Your thoughts?


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Blacklisted; Has The World Been Too Harsh On Chris Brown?


As was to be expected, it is apparent that Chris Brown‘s team have found restoring his public image to be an tough and tedious struggle.

For despite enjoying a number of commercial successes with his latest album ‘FAME‘ and receiving critical acclaim for a number of well choreographed award show appearances, ‘the incident‘ remains an inconvenient stain that neither he or his publicists know how to get rid of.

Now we want you to weigh in.

Hasn’t Chris Brown suffered enough?


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Is Christina Aguilera ‘The Wicked Witch’ Of Pop Music?

With a career spanning over a decade, Christina Aguilera remains one artist whose life and music remain just as topical today as they were when she first started out.

Enjoying her fair show of highs and a number of unforgettable personal lows, to say her public image has been bitter/sweet would be an understatement.

Loved by many, loathed by some, we here at That Grape Juice want to know.

Is Christina Aguilera the performer people just love to hate?


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Why Can’t Rihanna Score A #1 Album?


Days ago, fans of Pop belle Rihanna received an open handed slap to the face when it emerged that the singer’s latest album ‘Talk That Talk‘ is to debut with less than stellar first week sales.

Yes, quite unfortunately,  this means that for the sixth consecutive time she will fail to nab a #1 album on the Billboard 200 ,even with the success of the project’s lead single ‘We Found Love‘.


Now That Grape Juice is answering the question Island Def Jam will be sure to be asking this week.

Why is it so difficult for Rihanna to nab a #1 album?



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Adele: Pop’s Unlikely Warrior Queen

The last few years have seen Pop’s arena welcome a troupe of fresh faced Gladiators all competing in tandem to win the affections of the  record-buying public.

There is Rihanna, whose weapon of choice changes with the sway of public opinion. Ever ready to vaguely adapt to what she believes will help her win the fight.

Then there is Katy Perry and Ke$ha, with swords forged deep in the pits of Dr. Luke‘s imaginirium. Satisfied with receiving whatever spoils of war a certain Britney Spears is too pre-occupied to claim for herself.

From the realm of Rap comes Nicki Minaj, with a battle axe stolen from Lil Kim‘s weapons cabinet.  Slicing through Hip Hop’s archaic code and conventions to carve her name in the sand as Rap’s first Pop Empress, ready for battle at any given moment.

Then of course is the reigning champion Lady GaGa, equipped with a glitter stained double edged sword. Controversy on one edge and undeniable talent on the other.

And while these assassins battle each other, hoping to out-perform one another in the pits of Pop’s amphitheatre, an unlikely contender watches from the crowd.

A lone voice amidst the noise that is Contemporary Pop.

She is Adele. Pop’s unlikely Warrior Queen.


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The King Of R&B Is…

You voted in your thousands, all in support for who YOU feel is the Ultimate King Of R&B.

Now, after all the debate, the results are in.

Find out who you crowned the King Of R&B below…


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Mya: Product vs Promotion

The 90s R&B teen scene was already well occupied by the Brandys and Monicas of the world by the time then-18-year-old Mya came into play.  Sporting a soft soprano and street savvy dance moves, fans were introduced to what looked like Aaliyah’s distant R&B cousin.  However, time would prove Ms. Harrison to be more than a spinoff.

With her debut single boldly professing ‘It’s All About Me’ with fellow diva-in-training Sisqo, Mya blasted onto charts with a slew of R&B top 10 hits.  Then after her 2000 sophomore smash ‘Fear Of Flying’ soared up charts and yielded her signature #1 hit ‘Case of the Ex’, the ‘Movin’ On’ songbird was quickly moving into becoming a formidable force across multiple genre tallies – still following Aaliyah’s archetype of harmonizing with hip hop hitmakers (see: Jay Z, Jadakiss).  But, it would be her enlistment on 2001’s remake of ‘Lady Marmalade’ featuring then-rising Pop starlets Christina Aguilera, Pink and Rap queen Lil’ Kim that cemented the R&B star’s view on the Pop telescope.

And while the song’s tenure on charts did raise ‘Mya awareness’ in other arenas, it ushered in a dilemma as well.  Could she follow-up the joint effort with her own solo success?  The subsequent ‘Mizzaundastood’ and ‘Stripped’ eras of Pink and Christina‘s respective careers may have lifted them to new heights, but Mya’s ‘MoodRing’ failed to strike a similar chord with fans.  Its respectable chart entry and ‘My Love Is Like Whoa’ intro set it on the ground running initially, but just a few weeks later it had ‘fallen’ off charts faster than its second single – struggling to secure Gold status.

After a brief hiatus, the songstress returned with the Lil’ Wayne-assisted ‘Lock U Down’ from her fourth album ‘Liberation’ – which freely fell into obscurity.  This Japan-only release, followed by other albums of similar suiting, all indicated that Mya had lost her footing on US Pop charts.

So what’s the problem? Her sheer talent has kept her in mention with today’s top Urban divas, while movie and talent show appearances have, to some degree, kept her ‘celebrity’ alive.  But what we want to know is: were her previous chart shortcomings marketing mishaps or musical missteps?

You weigh in.  Product vs. promotion:  Have we seen the best of the ‘Best of Me’ songstress?  Or will the right product and/or promotion bring Mya back?

Your thoughts?

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Do Record Labels Endorse Negative Stereotypes Of Black Men?

Black men in the music industry have never been hard to find.

In today’s musical climate, there are very few genres of music that haven’t been touched by the black male, from Jay Z and Lil Wayne in the world of Hip Hop, to British boy band JLS in the realms of Pop.

For years, the issue of how black men are portrayed in the music industry has remained a well discussed one.

With even the likes of Rapper Game airing his thoughts on why many of his own contemporaries are presented in a light  contrary to their  actual realities , this is one hot topic very  few have little to say about.

Now we here at That Grape Juice HQ want you to weigh in…

Do Record Labels Endorse Negative Stereotypes Of Black Men To Help Boost Sales?


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Jazmine Sullivan: Product vs Promotion

The 2008 debut of Missy Elliott’s Pennsylvanian protégé Jazmine Sullivan was indeed an introduction to some. But given her songwriting resume (see: Christina Milian, Monica, Jennifer Hudson) and already established Youtube following long before ‘Fearless’ hit shelves, by the time ‘Need U Bad’ blared from Urban radios, her unmistakable contralto was already a celebrity.

Showcasing a maturity in tone and technique far beyond her years, many would be forgiven for not knowing the ‘Bust Your Windows’ beauty was only 21 the year her debut LP arrived on record shelves. Heralded by many as the second-coming of Lauryn Hill, Sullivan’s soulful servings instantly gained her mainstream notoriety – some even christening her as R&B’s long-awaited messiah. Four hit R&B singles would follow ‘Fearless’ as it made an impressive top 10 debut. And, with Jazmine garnering an impressive 5 Grammy nods for the album, it appeared she was on her way to the same heights once held by Hill. Unfortunately, that trek to compeer Hill quickly turned uphill.

For, while her singles (that never made much noise on Pop charts anyway) were losing ground on home fronts, the singer was unceremoniously snubbed at the 2009 Grammy’s. This, of course, only furthering fears that the ‘Fearless’ follow-up would suffer a sophomore slump.

Enter ‘Love Me Back’ – ‘Fearless’ unsuccessful successor headed by R&B hit ‘Holding You Down (Goin’ In Circles)’. And, though marginally besting the first week sales of her first album, ‘Love Me Back’ wasn’t getting much love from record buyers. Consequently, many believe, leading the soulful songstress to ‘retire’ from the industry indefinitely.

That Grape Juice wants to know – what is the problem? Clearly one of this generation’s leading talents, the promo from her introductory hype alone helped float her first album sales. Albeit very deserved, could the lack of such her second-go-round have played a role in its successor’s sink? Lack of singles? Bad videos? Some may even argue weight gain, but the successes of the Adeles of the world could counter that argument.

Or, regardless of Jazmine’s mega-talent, was the material from ‘Love Me Back’ too dated and unappealing to garner mainstream success?

You tell us. Product vs. Promotion? What’s Jazmine Sullivan’s shortcoming?

Your thoughts?

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Album Wars: Who Will Come Out On Top?

2011 has certainly been the year of groundbreaking albums.

From Adele‘s ’21’  at the start of the year  to Lady GaGa‘s long awaited ‘Born This Way‘ in May which was then followed by Beyonce‘s ‘4‘ in June, it is fair to say that the earlier quarters of the year proved to be a bountiful one for Pop fans everywhere.

Now it seems the final four months of the year are looking to be just as competitive, with the likes of Drake, Rihanna, Jason Derulo, Leona Lewis ,Nicole Scherzinger and Mary J.Blige all releasing new LP’s before the year ends.

Who do YOU think will come out on top?


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