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Diva Mariah Carey was spotted while out and about this weekend. The songbird was enjoying her annual trip to Aspen, Colorado with friends and family. Check out more pics of Mariah and her shoes below:

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What do you think of the pics?

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That Grape Juice recently conducted an exclusive interview with super producer Rico Love. In our discussions with the hit-maker, who originally broke into the industry as a rapper signed to R&B phenom Usher, elaborated on some of his current projects. Included in his extensive list of works are records for Kelly Rowland, Nelly, Jamie Foxx, Pleasure P and Usher’s highly anticipated forthcoming album, ‘Raymond vs. Raymond’ which hits stores on March 1st, 2010. Peep an excerpt from the interview below:

Which abum have you worked on thus far that you feel has produced your best work (released or unreleased)?

I don’t know but I’m really confident about this Usher project. I did like 6 records on the ‘Raymond vs. Raymond’. This is 360; this is bringing it back to where I got my start. I put everything into every artist I work with – new or old, legend or newcomer – but I go above and beyond for Usher because I have so much to prove. This is the guy who gave me my start, so this album I gave some of my best work; I wrote some of my biggest records.

It goes without saying that Usher’s had a hard time recapturing the success of the ‘Confessions’ era for one reason or another. What can we expect from his upcoming record?

I just want people to know that he sings better than ever. His vocals are better than ever. He is doing innovative, new-sounding music; just a new vibe. Also, he’s not neglecting the classic ‘Usher’ sound. I feel like that’s what happened before. I wasn’t involved in the ‘Here I Stand’ album. I thought it was a great record. I feel like now he’s just capturing what made Usher so great; those classic melodies that we’re tackling; just having him sing like he’s never sung before.

Usher goes in hard; he does vocal training still! After all these years, he still gets his vocal coach and gets better; he works out his voice still. I just feel like he’s got his mind right; he’s ready for war; he feels like his back is against the wall and that’s sometimes the best feeling; the feeling that makes the best records.

This is certainly some welcome news. As an advocate of many of Usher’s earlier records, I am enthused to hear that he is pushing himself both musically and sonically to new heights. Given the current tumultuous nature of the industry, and the fact that his last LP was generally underwhelming, Usher is going to have to give everything that he’s got if he hopes to make a major impact on the charts. With many of his younger contemporaries including Chris Brown and Ne-Yo vying for his top spot, the crooner is truly going to have to prepare for “war”.

Thoughts?

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In a rather unexpected turn of events, hit-makers The-Dream and Jermaine Dupri seem to have become involved in a public feud. Last evening, the studio titans, who are both probably best known for their work with diva Mariah Carey, took to Twitter to vent their frustrations surrounding the success (or lack their of) of Carey’s ‘Memoirs of An Imperfect Angel’ LP. Seemingly instigated by some of the songbird’s infamous ‘lambs’, the argument began on Dupri’s official Twitter page with the following post:

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The-Dream, who was engaged in a heated argument with a group of Carey’s fans,  then released the following statements about the situation via his own Twitter account:

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Well blow me down! This has to be one of the most random arguments of the year. Although there have been rumblings of dissent amongst the critics and Carey fans alike about her decision to let The-Dream and Tricky Stewart handle her entire project, I don’t believe anyone expected Dupri to get involved, especially in a fan-lead dispute. In fact, many may wonder if this situation is merely a glimpse into the unseen tensions that exist within the industry politics.  Is it that Dupri is upset that his material was not included on the ‘Memoirs…’? Or is this just a clash of the egos of two of music’s biggest hit-makers? Who knows.  Either way, it would be interesting to see how events unfold.

Sidebar: Is anyone else itching to hear Carey’s thoughts on the matter?

Thoughts?

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R&B crooner Usher has been very busy with the preparations for his new album, ‘Raymond vs. Raymond’. One of the songs surfacing from his studio sessions is the Polow Dan Don-produced track entitled ‘Little Freak’ which features ‘it’ rapper of the moment, Nicki Minaj. ‘Raymond vs. Raymond’ hits stores on March 1st, 2010.

This is the first track from the Usher’s project that I hands down enjoyed from beginning to end. Usher really recaptured that sexual flare that made him one of R&B’s premiere acts of the decade. Nicki’s verse also ties in well, with both acts providing raw swagger over the production without getting lost in the mix. Polow did such a good job with the beat that I was happy that he let it play for over a minute by itself at the end. Great job!

Hit or Miss?

As reported earlier, Que has been kicked out of Day 26, the reason, as cited by former band mate Willie, being his lack of commitment to scheduled appearances. However, the heated singer has responded to the accusations, claiming that the problems in the group  stem from their manager, Screwface, who was appointed by Willie. The YBF has confirmed that Que will continue to pursue his music career with Soul World Entertainment.

As someone who observed Day 26 throughout the ‘Making The Band’ series, I find this news rather disappointing. The young men are all quite talented and had the potential to be a major force in the industry. Furthermore, they seemed to have their career paths more organised than their Danity Kane counterparts, and even voiced that sentiment several times when interviewed about the tensions that erupted amongst the ladies. Nonetheless, it seems that the infamous curse of ‘Bad Boy’ has struck again. Another one bites the dust.

Sidebar: Does anyone else think that this may just be another marketing ploy to attract interest to the group?

Thoughts?

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UK singer Alexandra Burke brought some high fashion to the Holiday season in these photographs. The images were shot for Sunday’s issue of UK periodical ‘News of the World’. Check out more of her winter wonderfulness below:

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What do you think of the pics?

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Hip-Hop icon Jay-Z and his apprentice Rihanna took the stage last evening at the Rockefeller Center in New York City. The event was filmed for ‘NBC’s New Year’s Eve with Carson Daly’ and will air on December 31st at 10pm on the network. Peep more photos of the performances below:

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What do you think of the pictures?


This week’s classic From The Vault video is Britney Spears‘ 2003 smash collaboration with Madonna – ‘Me Against The Music’. Directed by Paul Hunter, this epic clip really encapsulated on-screen the monumental nature of Spears’ and Madonna’s joining of forces (the Princess and Queen of Pop). Moreover, this really showcases Spears’ at what IMO was her peak in terms of swagger, presence and choreography, while at the same time proving ol’ Madge still had ‘it’. Great song, even better video.
Tidbit: Did you know the song was written and produced by a then-little-known production duo called The-Dream and Tricky Stewart?!

Your thoughts?

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As the thousands of votes are being tallied for the 3rd Annual That Grape Juice Awards, we here at your favourite site are taking the opportunity to reflect on an amazing decade in music history. In a period that saw the industry reach all-time highs and lows, there is no denying that there has been an eruption of quality material in the last 10 years.

We here at That Grape Juice are eager to hear your picks for the top 7 best artists, singles, videos and albums of the 00s. Here are our selections below (in no particular order):

Trent’s choices

Artists

Beyonce

Kanye West

Alicia Keys

Jay-Z

Mariah Carey

Missy Elliot

Eminem

Singles

Mariah Carey – ‘We Belong Together’

Beyonce – ‘Crazy In Love’

Jay-Z – ’99 Problems’

Britney Spears – ‘Me Against The Music (Ft. Madonna)’

Kanye West – ‘Jesus Walks’

Missy Elliot – ‘Work It’

Coldplay – ‘Clocks’

Videos

Lady GaGa – ‘Bad Romance’

Beyonce – ‘Single Ladies’

Rihanna – ‘Disturbia’

Missy Elliot – ‘Get Ur Freak On’

Kanye West – ‘Jesus Walks’ (the desert version)

Coldplay – ‘Viva La Vida’

Aaliyah – ‘We Need A Resolution’

Albums

Mariah Carey – ‘The Emancipation of Mimi’

Jay-Z – ‘The Black Album’

Kanye West  – ‘The College Dropout’

Alicia Keys – ‘The Diary of Alicia Keys’

Jay-Z – ‘The Blueprint’

Ludacris – ‘Chicken-n-Beer’

Missy Elliot – ‘Under Construction’

Sam’s choices

Artists

Destiny’s Child

Fantasia

Janet Jackson

R. Kelly

Beyonce

Usher

Lady GaGa

Singles

Beyonce – ‘Crazy In Love’

Michael Jackson – ‘Butterflies’

Janet Jackson – ‘Feedback’

Mariah Carey – ‘We Belong Together’

Destiny’s Child – ‘Lose My Breath’

Mary J. Blige – ‘Be Without You’

Ciara – ‘Promise’

Videos

Michael Jackson – ‘You Rock My World’

Toni Braxton – ‘He Wasn’t Man Enough’

Lady GaGa – ‘Bad Romance’

Ciara – ‘Promise’

Beyonce – ‘Single Ladies’

Missy Elliot – ‘Work It’

Beyonce – ‘Crazy In Love’

Albums

Fantasia – ‘Fantasia’

Teedra Moses – ‘Complex Simplicity’

Tamia – ‘Between Friends’

Mariah Carey – ‘The Emancipation of Mimi’

Amerie – ‘Because I Love It’

John Legend – ‘Get Lifted’

Usher – ‘Confessions’

*Sorry…but had to add another…*

Lil’ Kim – ‘The Naked Truth’

Your picks?

Holding true to our promise of keeping things fresh here at That Grape Juice (v.2.0 baby!), we bring you ‘Cover Star’. Completing our current feature-list (From The Vault, Back In The Beat etc), Cover Star will each week showcase regular folk’s rendition of your favourite tracks. Recent history has shown the web to be the place to discover new talent – talent which is undeniably out there in abundance. So what better way to give shine to undiscovered talent than on your favourite site and mine – That Grape Juice!

This week’s Cover Star(s) are 17 year old sisters Ivana and Jessica‘s  from Fontana, California. The talented duo serve up their own unique version of Lady GaGa’s ‘Bad Romance’ – which fuses together tight vocal harmonies and beat-boxing. Check it out:

Once word…FIRE!

For more on Ivana & Jessica, check out their Youtube page

Your thoughts?

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While Heidi, Amelle, and Jade, otherwise known as the Sugababes, continue to tweak their serially delayed ‘Sweet 7’ LP, their rendition of Christmas hit ‘Santa Baby’ has surfaced in full. The song is set for an iTunes release on December 21st.

Despite my reservations about the group, it’s hard to deny that the nailed it on this one. Great vocals (especially Jade), tight harmonies and an all-round refreshing take on an old classic. Good stuff.

Hit or Miss?

R&B diva Mary J. Blige appeared a guest appearance on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’ last evening. The singer performed ‘I Am’ from for upcoming ‘Stronger With Each Tear’ LP which hits stores on December 21st. To date the track has peaked at #67 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #18 on the Hip-Hop/R&B chart. Check out her interview with Jimmy  Kimmel below:

Thoughts?

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