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Atlanta rapper T.I, who is currently on house-arrest, features on the double cover of Rap-Up magazine’s December/January issue along with Nicole Scherzinger.
T.I, real name Clifford Harris Jr, discusses his luxury lifestyle, his plans to marry and start a family with girlfriend Tiny, staying out of trouble (ironically), his friendship with Suge Knight and Jay-Z, as well as retiring from rap.
Pussycat Doll front woman Nicole Scherzinger talks about going solo, her admiration for Beyoncé and Gwen Stefani, getting close with T.I. on ‘that; video, being a nerd in college, and dealing with the paparazzi.
The magazine is on newsstands across the US now.

What do you think of the covers?
Check out this pretty interesting video about the ‘video chick’ industry:

Hmm…On the one hand it reinforced the pre-conceptions about that industry, but it also offered a fresh insight as well.

Any thoughts?

{More pics and a video below}

R&B singer Mario played the 2nd of a three-date tour stop at London’s famed Jazz Café last night. Following our recent interview with the star, ThatGrapeJuice.net was cordially invited as one of Mario’s guests for the evening. Backed by an energetic four-piece band, the ‘Go!’ singer showed just why he is heralded as one of R&B’s few remaining genuine talents. Raw, passionate and, above all, entertaining; Mario delivered on all fronts.

It was shortly after 9pm when opener, Irish soul singer, Laura Izibor took to the stage at the near-packed venue. The 20 year old’s laidback set was well-received by the increasingly growing audience, most notably the funk-inspired ‘From My Heart to Yours’. There was, however, a collectivized feeling of ‘Ok, so where is Mario’ in the audience. After all, doors did open at 7pm lol…

The wait was over when, just before 10pm, Mario emerged to a thunderous reception – opening his set with a rousing performance of his first hit ‘Just A Friend’. Working the stage effortlessly with a level of showmanship well beyond his 21 years, Mario set the scene for the rest of, what was to be, a high-octane show.

Of the show’s many highlights, current single ‘Crying Out For Me’ really stood out. From the ballad’s opening instrumentation, the entire audience were captivated – singing the whole of song in unison. Mario’s rapport with the largely urban ‘Teen-20 Something’ crowd was an integral part of his set; with the singer often bringing out female audience members to whine and grind with him.

The acoustic styled performance of ‘Music For Love’ was a personal highlight. Whereas, much of the audience listened on intently, somewhat unfamiliar with the track, I – for that moment – came off my indefinite ‘vocal rest’ and broke into song lol. A fantastic track and an even better live rendition. A tidbit: backing vocalists – not a feature of his band – may have been a good addition here as the demanding nature of the track saw him adlibbing (albeit, well) through quite a bit of the song.

Despite the presence of new material on the set list such as a stirring performance of ‘Go’ and ‘How Do I Breathe’ (which, I must say, sounds a lot better live), the show was, no doubt, a treat for the ‘true’ Mario fans. For, the singer delved deep into his back-catalogue and performed a few album cuts from his self-titled debut as well as 2004’s double Platinum ‘Turning Point’. Included were ‘Braid My Hair’ and ‘Directions’ – both of which much of the very vocal crowd recited word-for-word.

The intimate, stripped down nature of the show made for a great experience. Absent were the backing tracks and stage theatrics that so often hide the lacking talents of those who use them. In its place were raw emotion and a rare connection to an audience who, for the most part, had grown with Mario on his journey in the music industry. Deemed ‘underrated’ by some, if yesterday was any indicator, Mario’s story has only just begun.

Random Points:

• UK rapper Kano was in attendance
• Crowd energy was on a high for the whole night
• The band was made up of two bassists, a keyboard player and a drummer. They were on-point!
• We were lucky to enough to chill with Mario for a little while in his changing room after the show. He said he was glad that most of you enjoyed the interview.

Mario performing ‘Let Me Love You’

Your thoughts?

{More pics and a video below}

R&B singer Mario played the 2nd of a three-date tour stop at London’s famed Jazz Café last night. Following our recent interview with the star, ThatGrapeJuice.net was cordially invited as one of Mario’s guests for the evening. Backed by an energetic four-piece band, the ‘Go!’ singer showed just why he is heralded as one of R&B’s few remaining genuine talents. Raw, passionate and, above all, entertaining; Mario delivered on all fronts.

It was shortly after 9pm when opener, Irish soul singer, Laura Izibor took to the stage at the near-packed venue. The 20 year old’s laidback set was well-received by the increasingly growing audience, most notably the funk-inspired ‘From My Heart to Yours’. There was, however, a collectivized feeling of ‘Ok, so where is Mario’ in the audience. After all, doors did open at 7pm lol…

The wait was over when, just before 10pm, Mario emerged to a thunderous reception – opening his set with a rousing performance of his first hit ‘Just A Friend’. Working the stage effortlessly with a level of showmanship well beyond his 21 years, Mario set the scene for the rest of, what was to be, a high-octane show.

Of the show’s many highlights, current single ‘Crying Out For Me’ really stood out. From the ballad’s opening instrumentation, the entire audience were captivated – singing the whole of song in unison. Mario’s rapport with the largely urban ‘Teen-20 Something’ crowd was an integral part of his set; with the singer often bringing out female audience members to whine and grind with him.

The acoustic styled performance of ‘Music For Love’ was a personal highlight. Whereas, much of the audience listened on intently, somewhat unfamiliar with the track, I – for that moment – came off my indefinite ‘vocal rest’ and broke into song lol. A fantastic track and an even better live rendition. A tidbit: backing vocalists – not a feature of his band – may have been a good addition here as the demanding nature of the track saw him adlibbing (albeit, well) through quite a bit of the song.

Despite the presence of new material on the set list such as a stirring performance of ‘Go’ and ‘How Do I Breathe’ (which, I must say, sounds a lot better live), the show was, no doubt, a treat for the ‘true’ Mario fans. For, the singer delved deep into his back-catalogue and performed a few album cuts from his self-titled debut as well as 2004’s double Platinum ‘Turning Point’. Included were ‘Braid My Hair’ and ‘Directions’ – both of which much of the very vocal crowd recited word-for-word.

The intimate, stripped down nature of the show made for a great experience. Absent were the backing tracks and stage theatrics that so often hide the lacking talents of those who use them. In its place were raw emotion and a rare connection to an audience who, for the most part, had grown with Mario on his journey in the music industry. Deemed ‘underrated’ by some, if yesterday was any indicator, Mario’s story has only just begun.

Random Points:

• UK rapper Kano was in attendance
• Crowd energy was on a high for the whole night
• The band was made up of two bassists, a keyboard player and a drummer. They were on-point!
• We were lucky to enough to chill with Mario for a little while in his changing room after the show. He said he was glad that most of you enjoyed the interview.

Mario performing ‘Let Me Love You’

Your thoughts?

{More pics and a video below}

R&B singer Mario played the 2nd of a three-date tour stop at London’s famed Jazz Café last night. Following our recent interview with the star, ThatGrapeJuice.net was cordially invited as one of Mario’s guests for the evening. Backed by an energetic four-piece band, the ‘Go!’ singer showed just why he is heralded as one of R&B’s few remaining genuine talents. Raw, passionate and, above all, entertaining; Mario delivered on all fronts.

It was shortly after 9pm when opener, Irish soul singer, Laura Izibor took to the stage at the near-packed venue. The 20 year old’s laidback set was well-received by the increasingly growing audience, most notably the funk-inspired ‘From My Heart to Yours’. There was, however, a collectivized feeling of ‘Ok, so where is Mario’ in the audience. After all, doors did open at 7pm lol…

The wait was over when, just before 10pm, Mario emerged to a thunderous reception – opening his set with a rousing performance of his first hit ‘Just A Friend’. Working the stage effortlessly with a level of showmanship well beyond his 21 years, Mario set the scene for the rest of, what was to be, a high-octane show.

Of the show’s many highlights, current single ‘Crying Out For Me’ really stood out. From the ballad’s opening instrumentation, the entire audience were captivated – singing the whole of song in unison. Mario’s rapport with the largely urban ‘Teen-20 Something’ crowd was an integral part of his set; with the singer often bringing out female audience members to whine and grind with him.

The acoustic styled performance of ‘Music For Love’ was a personal highlight. Whereas, much of the audience listened on intently, somewhat unfamiliar with the track, I – for that moment – came off my indefinite ‘vocal rest’ and broke into song lol. A fantastic track and an even better live rendition. A tidbit: backing vocalists – not a feature of his band – may have been a good addition here as the demanding nature of the track saw him adlibbing (albeit, well) through quite a bit of the song.

Despite the presence of new material on the set list such as a stirring performance of ‘Go’ and ‘How Do I Breathe’ (which, I must say, sounds a lot better live), the show was, no doubt, a treat for the ‘true’ Mario fans. For, the singer delved deep into his back-catalogue and performed a few album cuts from his self-titled debut as well as 2004’s double Platinum ‘Turning Point’. Included were ‘Braid My Hair’ and ‘Directions’ – both of which much of the very vocal crowd recited word-for-word.

The intimate, stripped down nature of the show made for a great experience. Absent were the backing tracks and stage theatrics that so often hide the lacking talents of those who use them. In its place were raw emotion and a rare connection to an audience who, for the most part, had grown with Mario on his journey in the music industry. Deemed ‘underrated’ by some, if yesterday was any indicator, Mario’s story has only just begun.

Random Points:

• UK rapper Kano was in attendance
• Crowd energy was on a high for the whole night
• The band was made up of two bassists, a keyboard player and a drummer. They were on-point!
• We were lucky to enough to chill with Mario for a little while in his changing room after the show. He said he was glad that most of you enjoyed the interview.

Mario performing ‘Let Me Love You’

Your thoughts?

Following the success of her most recent singles ‘Let It Go’ and ‘Shoulda Let You Go’, R&B songstress Keyshia Cole debuted the video for her latest single ‘I Remember’ on BET a couple of hours ago. The song is one of my personal highlight on her ‘Just Like You’ LP and feel the video did it justice.

What do you think of the video?

Some six or so months after being filmed, the video for Kelly Rowland’s new single ‘Work’ premiered today on So-Urban.com. As previously reported, the track is set to serve as the next UK single (release date: January 28th). About the video: I like it – for the most part. This is, arguably, the first vid from the ‘Ms. Kelly’ singles in which Kelly really flaunts her inner ‘diva’. My only complaint is that during the dance break (when she dons the red outfit), she doesn’t really dance – which kinda takes away from the scene, as the song is definitely a ‘performance’ track. Still, its good to finally see some progression with this project.

What do you think of the video?

———————————
I was fortunate enough to conduct a phone interview with R&B star Mario this past November. Now on the verge releasing his third studio album ‘Go!’, the singer spoke frankly on a number of topics including his mother’s cocaine addicition, record label drama and comparions to other R&B artists. It’s a long, yet great read. Enjoy. {Drop a comment and let me know what you think} 🙂
———————————

Sam: Hey Mario, how are you doing?

Mario: I’m good. How are you?

Sam: I’m great. Just got this interview here I wanted to get done with you.

Mario: For sure, I’m glad we’re able to do it.

Sam: It’s great to finally be able to catch up with you.

Mario: Thank you. I’m currently on the East Coast at the moment. I’ll actually be back in Europe next month (December).

Sam: Cool. So let’s crack on. Having signed your first deal at the tender age of fourteen with the legendary Clive Davis; how does it feel to still have your records anticipated – especially in light of the ever-changing nature of the music industry?

Mario: I mean, I think it’s about making classic records; and I think it’s because I’ve made great records that people are, definitely, anticipating more success and great music – as they should, because I’m going to give it to them. But it feels good; this is a dream of mine. When I go and sit down and talk to Clive and look at the pictures he has with some damn near early 70’s/late 60’s (artists), it hits me how he has been in the game for so long. To be signed with him and to be on his label, it’s great. So we’re gonna keep making some great records.

Sam: Your new album ‘Go!’ sees you embrace a much more ‘adult’ sound compared to your past efforts, for example ‘Lay In Bed’ and the CD’s title track. Was there a particular reason for this? Did you have any doubts considering your fan-base?

Mario: To be honest with you, I’m 21 now, so a lot of the fans that were coming to my shows then are 21 or possibly older now; in general, I think I have a wide fan-base. I feel this record shows natural growth. It’s not talking about literally bending a chick over or doing all that (laughs). It does hint at that intimacy and shit that we go though everyday. Even a record like ‘Go’. (‘Go’) is a very assertive record; talking about just really having fun and being young and not being one of them cats always trying to ‘game’ chicks or play games with them – just really letting them know what it is. I’m letting people know how I feel about what I’m seeing. It’s all fun. It’s music; we create music for entertainment, yet at the same time we also give a hint of who we are as well.

Sam: Let’s talk delays. ‘Go!’ has experienced several changes in its release date, having initially been set to drop back in 2006. Why has it taken so long to release the record?

Mario: Well, first of all, the initial date for the album was the label’s date. I wasn’t ready. You know, the album wasn’t done; it took an additional three to four months to get certain records done. Then we just kept finding great records as the album got close(r) to release. It’s a fight that the artist has with the label. I’m not asking people to understand the politics of the game; but, it’s some shit that we deal with. It hurts. To be honest with you, it hurts me more than it hurts my fans because I am disappointing some of my fans and I really don’t like to disappoint them. It’s the nature of the business, you know. But the album is coming out December 11th and that’s the final date, so I’m very excited about that. {Click to listen to Mario’s response}

Sam: That’s great. What producers and guest features can we expect to hear on the album?


Mario: As of right now, I’ve got Rich Boy, Juelz Santana on the project. I’ve got a lot of producers that I’ve worked with on the project; from Pharrell to Timbaland to Polow Da Don – who we have the single out right now ‘Crying Out For Me’ – Akon and my production team the Knightwritaz.

Sam: Yes, I’ve heard about Knightwritaz. Could you tell me a little about the Knightwritaz?

Mario: For sure. We got two records on this project. We’ve been working together for about a year now. Knightwritaz is a team that when I met them, I just jumped into partnership with them and started helping them write. I just like the vibe that they’ve got going on. Everyone is real young and hungry; Sterling (Simms) is an artist and Marsha Ambrosius (of Floetry) is an artist. Just a very talented group of people. Like I said before, I came in a little later; they all knew each other and were a collective already. I came and started working with them – the chemistry has been pretty good since.

Sam: Are there particular moments that stick in your mind about the recording process (i.e. funny, emotional etc)

Mario: Probably recording ‘Go’ because that record kinda came about in a real life type of way. We were in the studio on South Beach- me and Pharrell- coming up with the idea of how we wanted the track to be. We look out the window and we can see chicks running down the street and everybody getting crazy. We, then, decided to take a break from the studio; the song’s hook had been done already. So we went on South Beach and chilled, partied it up. It kinda gave us a different vibe to go back into the studio with to make the record and it just came out dope. That was just real fun, because a lot of the time when you go into the studio, you don’t have that vibe, it’s real quiet and has a studio atmosphere. But not on South Beach, with everything going on. It was real cool.

Sam: Your current single ‘Crying Out For Me’ has been a fan favourite since surfacing last year. Which track(s) from the album are your personal favourites and why?

Mario: Ah man, ‘Crying Out…’ is definitely one of my favourite records – it’s a very passionate record. I always make passionate records, but ‘Crying Out…’ has that edge to it, a little more swagger to it. It’s not your regular Stargate ‘radio-sounding’ record; it’s more hard-hitting, more musical, different instruments, different sounds. Very entertaining to the ear.

Sam: Can I ask you something? Stargate produced ‘How Do I Breathe’, was it your choice for it to be the album’s first single or would you have preferred, perhaps, something like ‘Crying Out…’ instead.

Mario: I definitely wasn’t on board with ‘How Do I Breathe’. That was a Clive Davis call.

Sam: In terms of future singles, what can we look forward too?

Mario: Yeah, ‘Music For Love’ and ‘Skippin’’. It may change, but as of right now..

Sam: Moving on, many were surprised to learn of your mother’s 20 year addiction to heroin during your recent MTV special ‘I Won’t Love You to Death’.
– How do you feel that has affected you growing up and development into a man now?

Mario: It’s had its negatives and had it’s positives in terms of just being responsible, making good decisions and staying away from drugs. I saw it firsthand, so it was always something I wasn’t interested in.

Sam: Did you have any reservations about coming open with the situation?

Mario: I did, but at the same time I didn’t because it was already out there – people just didn’t talk about it much. To me you can’t be ashamed of where you come from. Where you come from and what you’ve been through is what makes you. No one can tell ‘your’ story better than you. It’s not a reality show, its real talk, real shit. 87% of the households in America, be it upper class, middle or lower, are suffering from substance abuse. {Click here to listen to Mario’s response}

Sam: How is your mother doing now?

Mario: She’s doing great. She can tell you herself; she’s writing a book.

Sam: That’s great.

Mario : Yep

Sam: What do you think separates you and your music from that of other male R&B artists out there?

Mario: What separates me, (is that) I am who I am. Nobody could ever be me and I can’t be anyone else. I hate when people ask me that question…

Sam: (laughs)

Mario: …what do you mean “what separates me”. Many couldn’t walk in my shoes. Don’t even let me get started. I can’t be compared to other artists. Musically, I just feel like a lot of the music I make is timeless, whereas a lot of other artists have ‘right now’ songs. My music is timeless. I make timeless records. When you hear my records, you know it’s me right off the bat. Whereas with someone else, you might sit there wondering who it is for a second. With me, you know my records, you hear that passion, that drive. Also, the way I do my records, the way I do my songs, the way they feel. Vocally, they’re very creative. It’s a lot of things a lot of detailed things.

Sam: With a significant number of tracks from your album having hit the net already, what’s your take on the internet and its effect on the music industry?

Mario: To be honest with you, the first time I saw one of my songs on the internet, I was very upset. I wanted to fire somebody, I wanted kick somebody’s ass, break some fucking walls and windows. What you’ve got to realize is that there’s a whole other world out there. That’s my take on it. I can go on the internet in my hotel room and stay on that shit for hours. I even go on there to listen to new music sometimes, but I still go out and buy the albums. So I think that it creates the awareness of what’s out there, what he/she is doing. I can do something right now and, if I want people to hear it, put it up on the internet.

Sam: So would you say its impact has been more positive or negative?

Mario: I think it’s an even cut. It’s just as positive as it is negative.

Sam: Having already stared in the critically acclaimed film ‘Freedom Writers’, as well as dance flick ‘Step Up’, do you have plans to do more movies?

Mario: Yeah I have a lot more plans. I’m just working towards them and wielding through the all projects to find that one project for you and the project that they want you in. It has to be a mutual thing between me and the studio making the movie.

Sam: Ok, several of our female readers wanted to know if you currently have anyone special in your life. Do you?

Mario: Well, I don’t have a girlfriend, but I do date. (I’m) just finding time to do the personal thing.

Sam: Apart from ThatGrapeJuice.net (laughs), do you log onto other music blogs, forums etc?

Mario: ThatGrapeJuice.net that’s where it is! I go to Youtube, Concrete Loop and Google is one of my favourite sites.

A few quick random questions:

Sam: What’s on your iPod right now/ what are you listening to right now?

Mario: I’m listening to Jay-Z’s new album (‘American Gangster’), The Beatles, the Bee Gees, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder…

Sam: Any Michael Jackson?

Mario: Absolutely. (You can hear) Michael is definitely on the album (laughs).

Sam: Who would you want to work with on a dream collaboration?

Mario: I want to do a record with Kanye. I’ve got a record that I want Jay-Z to get on called ‘Give It To Me’, its not on this album though. Beyonce also; I’d like to do a duet with her. Quincy Jones too.

Sam: So on an ‘off-day’, what do you do to relax?

Mario: Probably, surf the internet.

Wrap Up:

Sam: Describe ‘Go!’ in three words?

Mario: Eclectic, soulful and… fly!

Sam: Do you plan on touring with the album? I know heard something about you touring with Kelly Rowland.

Mario: We’re not going to get into that. She, erm…(long pause). It was supposed to happen…

Sam: (laughs)

Mario: I’ll be touring Europe and Australia through December and coming back to the States in February.

Sam: Any message for the fans?

Mario: Act out of choice, rather than out of habit. Go buy my album December 11!

Sam: Thanks very much for your time. Best of luck with the album.

Mario: Thank you.

———————————

Be sure to pick up ‘Go!’ when it hits stores on December 10th (Europe) / December 11th (US)

———————————

What do you think of the interview?
Story via Contact Music:

Rapper PIMP C has been found dead in a Hollywood hotel room. He was 33. The UGK member was discovered in bed by paramedics answering an emergency call at the Mondrian Hotel on Sunset Boulevard on Tuesday (04Dec07) morning. Pimp C – real name Chad Butler – was one-half of rap duo UGK.

R.I.P.

Your thoughts?
This is beyond a joke now, she needs help – fast:

If Amy Winehouse’s fans were hoping she might be trying to get her act together, these pictures will not provide much reassurance.

Barefoot, and clad only in her bra and jeans, the troubled singer emerged from a friend’s house in Bow at 5.45am on Sunday looking distressed and agitated – as her mother-in-law says she taking more drugs than ever.

Onlookers said she appeared disorientated as she wandered around on the pavement for several minutes in the freezing cold before disappearing back inside.

Quite why she came outside only half dressed in the early hours is unclear. One onlooker said she looked up and down the road as if she was waiting for someone, but no one arrived at the house.

“She came out of the house, walked down the drive and wandered around on the pavement for a bit.

“She looked upset and agitated but there was no obvious reason for her to have come outside. It was weird.”
{Source}

SMH…

Any thoughts?

Although Amerie’s third album ‘Because I Love It’ has seen it’s release here in Europe several months ago and spawned 2 top 10 singles, fans in the US have yet to get their hands on the album (legally, that is).

Things, however, seem to be on the up for the ‘Take Control’ singer. Word has it that her label in the US, Sony BMG, are working overtime -behind the scenes – to make sure the album is a success. Yet the fact that much of it is available online has meant that instead of releasing the European version in the US, select tracks from it will be kept and newer recorded tracks will be added. It has been said that Amerie will be heading into the studio with Pharrell of the Neptunes shortly.

Meanwhile, ‘Crush’ is still on-course for release here in the UK early next year. The video has been shot already and was directed by Scott Franklin.

Amerie fans: Which tracks would you keep on the US version?

Your thoughts?

The video for Jennifer Lopez’s new single ‘Hold It, Don’t Drop It’ premiered exclusively on MTV yesterday. Directed by Melina (who also directed many of the vids from the ‘B’ Day Anthology’), the video actually turned out pretty good. Considering she is several months pregnant, I didn’t expect to see her moving like that. Having said that, the song is still garbage and, without sounding too fatalistic, I don’t really it rescuing the album’s (‘Brave’) terrible sales.

What do you think of the video?

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