Lifted from Missy Elliott’s 2002 LP ‘Under Construction’, this week’s From The Vault video is her worldwide smash ‘Work It’. A true pioneer of modern music video, Missy really brought her A-Game with this – arguably her best effort to date. Great song, even better vid. Check it out:

In an industry that seems bent on rehashing the same video/song formulas over and over, Missy continues to stand as a creative rarity.

Your thoughts?

50 Cent Launches Verbal Attack On Keys Following Alicia Keys controversial comments on ‘Gangster Rap’ recently, the ever-outspoken 50 Cent has launched a scathing verbal attack on the singer:

“I don’t like Alicia Keys no more. If she thinks what they consider gangsta music is [made] to bring black people down then I think my sh*t falls into that category. I don’t like people who don’t like me. I don’t like her then because that’s what provides the life for me.

I think if you ask Ice Cube the same shit, he’ll tell you, “F*ck Alicia Keys” for even saying that. Because the success he’s had as an actor and a businessman, there was no opportunity for that sh*t without N.W.A. But I don’t think that [her] classical sh*t is cool. I don’t give a f*ck if you can classically play the piano. I haven’t been classically trained, because my upbringing, nobody put me in front of a piano at that time. If they did, I would know how to do it as well as she does. I could learn how to play the piano if I was passionate about it right now.

That’s obviously my perspective evaluating what she does, and I could f*cking care less about the sh*t. So she don’t like the music that embodies the harsh realities because they’re not her realities. She hasn’t been subjected to the same things”. {Source}

While 50 does present some valid points, his argument ultimately sinks when considering the wider picture. Yes, he’s had tough experiences, however it’s hard to see what he, himself, is doing musically (or otherwise) to bring about a change in how these ‘realities’ are depicted by the media and rappers themselves. Instead, 50, and others – having long risen above their ‘hood’ beginnings – oft use their platform to release music that a) glorifies a lifestyle they are no longer lead and b) allow it to be used to, as Alicia put it, ‘government forces’ to continue to oppress young black men who aimlessly get caught up in it.

Lol, this is all getting a little wordy and essay-like, however it’s all in the name of healthy debate – something 50 should have considered when articulating his point, as this just seems like another case of 50 running his mouth.

Your thoughts?

Omarion Dropped From Record Label According to our good friend Jawn Murray over at AOL Black Voices, R&B singer has been unceremoniously dropped by his label Columbia Records. Check out the report below:

A source at the label confirmed to the BV Buzz that the Sony imprint decided to drop the former B2K lead singer.

Omarion (real name: Omari Ishmael Grandberry) signed as a solo artist to Columbia Records after B2K broke up in December 2003. His boy band was actually signed to Sony’s Epic division.

The 23-year-old singer released two solo CDs for the record company, including 2005’s ‘O’ and 2006’s ’21.’ Both albums were certified gold.

In December of 2007, Omarion partnered with rapper Bow Wow on the CD, ‘Face Off.’ To date, the set has sold 341,137 units according to SoundScan.

No word on what the singer’s plans are for life after Columbia Records.

My source speculated that if former Sony executive David McPherson fills the late Ronnie Johnson’s job as Executive Vice President and head of Urban Music at Capitol Records, its likely Omarion could end up there. McPherson was influential in B2K’s success at Epic.

Another option could be Motown Records.

Omarion’s management and production company, The Ultimate Group (TUG) has a deal with that label and released Omarion’s good friend and business partner Marques Houston’s last two CDs through Motown.

Ouch. Having noted the poor performance of his solo albums as well as the atrocity of a joint album he dropped with Bow Wow, I can’t say this is surprising. IMO it was always a case of ‘when’. Not to be fatalistic, but finding success elsewhere is still going to be a tough feat for Omarion; after all, unlike some (*cough* Kelly Rowland *cough*) Columbia did a great job promoting Omarion’s releases as well as footing the bill for the top-notch producers enlisted on his albums. Yet, all of this, and he still flops. I’m thinking it has more to do with the domination of ‘that’ market by the likes of Chris Brown and Usher, leaving the pretty indistinctive Omarion without much of a chance. Anyway, good luck to him – he’s going to need it.

Your thoughts?
Winehouse's 'Close' To Marriage Break-UpAccording to reports, controversial singer Amy Winehouse has started making plans to end her 11 month marriage to Blake Fielder-Civil:

The singer is waiting for her partner to be released from jail before she breaks the news to him, according to The Sun.

Fielder-Civil is currently awaiting trial at Pentonville Prison on charges of assault and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Winehouse has apparently missed several visits to the North London prison and is behaving like a “single woman” with friends.

“Amy does everything she can not to visit,” said a source. “She forgets she is married half the time. There are a few men she is close to and Blake can’t stand it.”

The Back To Black star’s father commented: “It wouldn’t surprise me if Amy and Blake had broken up.” {Source}

Evidently, they weren’t good for each other; so I guess this is a good thing. Maybe now she’ll be less of a train-wreck and concentrate on the music.

Any thoughts?
New Usher Promo Pics Check out these new promotional snaps for Usher’s highly anticipated new album ‘Here I Stand’ – due May 27th.
New Usher Promo Pics New Usher Promo Pics

What do you think of the pics?
Janet Jackson Readies New SingleAfter halting promotion for her latest LP ‘Discipline’ due to illness, Janet Jackson is set to release the next single from the set ‘Can’t Be Good’. Unlike previous single LUV which was only released to select formats on radio, ‘Can’t Be Good’ has a tentative radio ad date of June 9th – impacting all formats. {Source}

Whoever made the call for this must be smoking that good stuff, as this is a recipe for disaster IMO. With an album, Janet’s most promising in years, currently in free-fall on the charts, it’s hard to see the logic in releasing the most adult contemporary track on the record and hoping for a hit. Granted I’m not a fan of serving any old rubbish to radio in order to enjoy chart success, ‘Discipline’ genuinely possesses some surefire hits i.e. ‘LUV’, ‘The One’, ‘2 Nite’, as well as the title track.
In any case, with several sources confirming that Def Jam are looking to refocus their efforts on promoting her upcoming tour as a means of selling the album, I’m hopeful that things begin to pick up soon.

Any thoughts?
New Amerie Photo ShootCheck out these edgy new promotional pics of Amerie. Shot by noted photographer Derek Blanks (the same man behind the ‘Alter Ego’ shoot from earlier this month), the ‘Take Control’ singer looks great. It’d be even better, though, to have some news on her current label / project status. Here’s hoping things work out for this criminally underrated talent (I still have ‘Because I Love It’ in heavy rotation).

{Click pics to enlarge}
New Amerie Photo Shoot New Amerie Photo Shoot New Amerie Photo Shoot

What do you think of the pics?

Whitney & Ray J Spotted Out Together
Prior to now, many had assumed the stranger than strange ‘relationship’ between singing diva Whitney Houston and Ray J had ended. However the pair were snapped last night in Atlanta entering HOT 107.9’s Hip-Hop fashion show. Word has it that Houston, who at 44 is 17 years older than Ray J, held hands with the ‘Sexy Can I’ singer and that the pair were ‘all over each other’.
Whether this is a publicity stunt (for Ray J, of course) or actually genuine, it’s not a good look for Whitney. I mean, its Ray J…
Whitney & Ray J Spotted Out Together Whitney & Ray J Spotted Out Together Whitney & Ray J Spotted Out Together

Your thoughts?
Raven Covers JET MagazineActress/singer Raven-Symone features in the latest issue of JET magazine. As well as talking about her forthcoming album, she spoke about being proud of her ‘voluptuous’ shape:

‘”I have to stay true to who I am’, says Disney star Raven-Symoné, 22, regarding her new self-titled CD, which is slated for release April 29. ‘I am not going to sing about sex, drugs and violence, that’s just not who I am’, she continues. As she prepares for the CD’s release and a 55-city Pajama Party concert tour, the confident and talented entertainer hopes this project will fill a void in today’s music. We need some music that will open people’s minds up and give them other things to think about other than the same things we have been giving them for a while. Maybe my album can do that.’

While the 5-foot-2-inch singer-actress stays true to her music, she’s also staying true to her image by being comfortable with her size. ‘When I look in the mirror and see how voluptuously fabulous I am, I can’t even worry about it. I am just fabulous.’”

It’s always good to see artists going against what has, sadly, become the industry’s norm – looks over talent. Random tidbit: Irrespective of how hard I try, I can’t seem to shake the ‘Disney’ association with Raven; the odd look she has on her face doesn’t really help matters.

Any thoughts?
Foxy Brown Released From Jail Rapper Foxy Brown was released from prison today, after serving eight months of her 12 month sentence:

“As soon as she was released from prison, she was greeted by her mother Judith Marchand and lawyer New York City Councilman Charles Barron, as well as hundreds of reporters and fans, some with posters and pink balloons, others with ‘Free Foxy Brown’ T-shirts. Brown wore a leather jacket, jeans, a black shirt, designer pumps and a stylish Fendi designer doo rag over her hair.

Brown’s entourage arrived in a fleet of luxury vehicles that included three Rolls Royce’s, a number of SUV’s and a Maybach, that was filled with clothes. Her family, friends, managers and a hair stylist and makeup artist were all part of the group of people that greeted Brown.” {Source}

Here’s hoping she fixes up now that she’s free. Click here to watch the video of her release

Foxy Brown Released From Jail Foxy Brown Released From Jail Foxy Brown Released From Jail

Your thoughts?

R&B star Ashanti performed her current single ‘The Way That I Love You’ last night at Hot 107.9’s Hot on The Runway Fashion Show in Atlanta. Check out how she did below:

Despite not doing much stage-wise, I really enjoyed her performance.Yes, she isn’t the best vocalist, but I’ve never understood the claims that she can’t sing. This performance really highlights her improved live vocals. Good stuff.

What do you think of the performance?

Hudson's Debut Due In September According to Billboard, Jennifer Hudson’s long-awaited debut album will be released on September 30th via Arista.
Granted it’s commendable that they didn’t rush the album out to capitalize on her Oscar success, this date really has to stick this time, so as for people not to lose interest. What’s more, the longer it’s held back, the higher the expectations – something that may count against her. Here’s hoping she delivers with this album.
In related news, industry veteran Clive Davis – the man behind Whitney Houston’s success and more recently Jennifer Hudson and Leona – has been replaced as chairman over at Sony BMG (the parent label of J Records etc). Davis has been appointed a creative role in another part of the company (click here to read the full story). I wonder what implications this may have for Jennifer’s project – considering Davis has been overseeing it since signing the ‘Dreamgirls’ star in 2006?

Any thoughts?
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