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According to our friends over at Rap-Up.com, Mariah Carey has been added to the performer line-up at the MTV Video Music Awards 2009. The show airs live on September 13th at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. More performers are to be announced in the coming weeks.
No doubt this will be Mariah’s moment to sell her ‘Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel’ LP, which hits stores 2 days later. For her sake, lets hope she doesn’t sound like crap. This performance and the one’s which launch the album really need to be on-point; no “stop singing my part now baby” moments this go round! Gone are the days where I felt I was the minority that loved Mariah, yet noticed something was up with her voice (basically a lot of the ‘Emancipation’ era). Casual listeners are starting to catch onto the fact that Mariah not only doesn’t sound like how she once did (understandable), but actually sounds straight shot (not acceptable). Fans, stans and Lambs can quote how much she’s sold till the cows come home, but it doesn’t change the fact that crap will always sound like crap – whoever the artist. We are in a day and age where live vocals are scrutinised a lot more. So my dear Lambs, Mariah doesn’t automatically get a pass because of who she is. She has to come correct just like anyone else. Otherwise it’s like saying ‘I know she sounds like she’s on the toilet, but I’ll buy it because she’s so amazing’. I mean, honestly….
Your thoughts?
Chris Brown Makes Chart Comeback
In what comes as quite a surprise considering Chris Brown’s current ‘predicament’, the 20 year old star is once-again riding high on the charts – thanks to a Youtube video. The clip, which sees a couple make a ‘unique’ entrance during their wedding to Brown’s hit ‘Forever’, has become an internet sensation, racking up 8 million views in just 7 days! As knock-on-effect, ‘Forever’ has rocketed to #7 on the iTunes after not even being on the chart anymore and will almost certainly re-enter the Billboard Hot 100 next week at a relatively high position. Who said second chances can’t happen?
Check out the video below:
Your thoughts?
Mary J 'Stronger' On New LP
The Queen of Hip-Hop/Soul Mary J Blige is set to release her 9th studio album, the title of which has been unveiled as ‘Stronger’, on November 24th via Geffen Records.
Preceding the record is buzz single ‘The One’, which currently features in the latest AT&T commercial (click here to watch). While the next single to be lifted from the set is the title track, the unmastered version of which you can hear by clicking here. ‘Stronger’ will also feature on the soundtrack to ‘More Than A Game’, a basketball documentary about NBA star LeBron James, which arrives in theatres in the US on September 22nd.

Speaking on the album, Mary said:

“The album represents who and what I am right now. I’m a stronger human being after all the growing pains. It’s about life, love, change, strength—mostly really knowing who you are and being confident in that.”

I know I may catch some flack for this, but I’m gonna need Ms. Blige to start humming a new tune when it comes to what her albums are about. Lord knows that quote could and has been used to describe her last album ‘Growing Pains’, the one before that ‘The Breakthrough’, and others before that. While every artist has their ‘lane’, it just looks a little creatively-starved on Mary’s part, you know…as if she’s just going through the motions. Couldn’t she hit us with a concept record or something fresh? What’s more, the new material seems kinda ‘just there’.
Little rant aside, I hope what Mary serves up this go round appeases the doubt I currently have in my mind, because she really is an asset to the industry and it would be a shame if she made the mistake so many continue to make – getting too ‘comfortable’.
Your thoughts?
That Grape Juice To Interview Wendy Williams
That Grape Juice has received word that we have interview time with none other than shock jock Wendy Williams!
Having hung up her mic for the last time recently, the famed radio host is turning her attention to her new day-time talk show – which airs nationally in the US – full time.
I guess here’s the part where I say “only *reasonable* questions will be considered”, right? WRONG! With Ms. Williams being straight-talking, no holds-barred, and admittedly “a bitch” (her words, not mine) we want to make sure we conduct the best interview possible. So please drop any questions you have for Wendy in the comments section below….
“How you doiiin?”
This week’s classic From The Vault video is Patra and Aaron Hall’s sensual 1995 duet ‘Scent of Attraction’. The song serves as the Jamaican star’s biggest crossover US hits. Check it out:
This brings back memories! I vividly remember being about 7 years in the school playground singing Aaron’s part at the top of my lungs, being totally unaware that the lyrics were very…’adult’ LOL LOL. Being a music lover for as long as I can remember (largely thanks to my older sister who listened to this and so much more), this really takes me back to a great period in my life and more generally a great period in music (the 90’s). Good stuff.
Your thoughts?

Check out Diddy formally introducing the world to his new ‘group’ Dirty Money, which consists of former Danity Kane star Dawn Richard and newcomer Kaleena. The duo are working with the mogul on his forthcoming LP ‘Last Train To Paris’. In what capacity, I don’t know, as I’ve yet to see Diddy explain the Dirty Money concept in a way that makes much of any sense. I’m assuming he’s hoping it will be something that will make sense when we see it in action.
Tidbit: Lord knows I hope this works out for Dawn, for her sake. I mean seeing her up there smiling and hanging in there with Diddy only to get sh*t on like most of Bad Boy’s various rosters over the years would be so sad. So sad.
Your thoughts?
That Grape Juice Interviews Keri Hilson

Last week That Grape Juice caught up with R&B star Keri Hilson. The talented singer-songwriter spoke candidly about many a topic, including the slow start of her ‘In A Perfect World’ project, going from underperforming singles to hit singles, an album re-release, being labelled ‘cocky’, Michael Jackson and much much more. As ever, we don’t shy away from the questions you *really* want answers to. A great read, I must say 😉 Enjoy.
Interview by: Sam // Transcribed by: Wendi Bekoe
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Sam: Hey Keri, how are you?

Keri: Very good, thank you.

Sam: You’re currently out on tour with Ne-Yo here in the UK. How has that been so far?

Keri: So far, so great! I’ve got to say the crowds over here have been receiving me very well and of course Ne-Yo. He’s got loyal fans, but I never would have guessed I have as many as I have. I see people singing my lyrics, and every night I can see the fruits of my labour.

Sam: That’s awesome. Congratulations on the success of ‘In a Perfect World.’ Personally I find it to be one of the most consistent R&B efforts I’ve heard in a long while.

With that said, were you a bit worried about some of the initial singles not necessarily sky-rocketing as you’d perhaps hoped – namely ‘Energy’ and ‘Return The Favour’?

That Grape Juice Interviews Keri HilsonKeri: I am always pleased with anything – any time my video plays on the TV, any time it plays on the radio, everything counts. I think of it as really paying your dues, and eventually awareness of you will grow, and now we’re at a very good place. So I think everything in due time.

Sam: Was going with ‘Turning Me On’ a conscious effort? It has a markedly different sound to anything else you’ve previously released or that was on the album.

Keri: Absolutely! I mean, there’s another side of me. I’m from Decatur, Georgia and that is a predominantly black neighbourhood with a lot of lower-class and some middle-class neighbourhoods. I guess that is the song that probably properly describes the type of girl I am, in relation to where I’m from. So yeah, it was definitely a conscious effort to make sure that I stay close to home on some records.

Sam: I like to describe this album as one of those where almost every song could be a single. What are the next singles we can expect to hear from the album?

Keri: After ‘Knock You Down’ here (in Europe) it is ‘Energy.’ In the States we’re going with ‘Slow Dance.’

Sam: I love ‘Slow Dance’. Will you be shooting the video for it any time soon?

Keri: I’ve already shot it! Paul Hunter directed it.

Sam: What can we expect from the video? I’ve seen the live performances of the song, they’re very…sensual (laughs).

Keri: Yeah. It is a bit of that, but it’s a bit toned down for the video, because you got so much censoring, I can’t do everything I do on stage (laughs). So when people come out they’re probably still gonna be a bit surprised to see it live, after seeing the video. But I’m very pleased with the video. I love the colours and it’s reminiscent of the whole late 70s early 80s era in music.

Sam: There have been some murmurings about a re-release of ‘In a Perfect World’, is that something we can expect anytime soon?

Keri: Yeah, by the end of this year I’d love to throw on some tracks that I wanted on there initially. And of course I’ll also be recording a couple new tracks with Timbaland and with Polo (Da Don), so yeah, look forward to a re-release.

Sam: Cool. A lot of your fans wanted to know if unreleased tracks like ‘Love Ya’ and ‘Cover’s Blown’ will be on the album.

Keri: ‘Cover’s Blown’ – I didn’t even know that leaked actually, I didn’t know you guys knew that record! (Laughs) That was a demo of just an idea we laid down one night, we never even finished it, so it’s possible. ‘Love Ya’ is one of my all-time favourite songs, so hopefully that will be on the re-release.

Sam: Have you started thinking about your next record?

Keri: I have not yet, other than like titles for it….

Sam: I love the honesty…

Keri: (laughs) I definitely already have the photo shoot ideas in mind, but I really just wanna make sure we ride this album until the wheels fall off. I wanna make sure we capitalize off this moment with my debut album and make it as big a project as we possibly can, and make sure my exposure is at maximum capacity. I really want to be able to live life between albums and allow myself to be inspired by relationships and all the things about life.

Sam: You’re an artist and a songwriter – which would you *honestly* say you prefer the most?

Keri: Honestly speaking – both. But I will say that songwriting for me was actually my plan B. Of course performing, being on stage, recording, and doing everything I’m able to do now was always my bigger dream. I have to say I didn’t even know songwriting existed until late in my teens, but before I was even double digits I was performing and was heavy into that life, so I’m living the dream every single day – I’m all smiles.

Sam: What do you think is more important – the music video or the live performance, and why?

Keri: I think the live performance. First of all more people are now able to see it with You Tube, That Grape Juice Interviews Keri Hilsonand also people want to know if what you do on record you can do live. I take pride in the fact that I don’t lip-sync, my mic is on, unless in some maybe extreme case that I just do not have a voice. Even then I’ve gotten through a 15-minute with a crazy sinus infection and no voice. But sometimes you have to play it by ear, and sometimes your back is against the wall and you’re forced to have a backing track. We’re only human, we’re not robots.

Sam: That’s totally understandable. So if you could sum up the current state of the industry in three words, what would they be?

Keri: Lighter… upbeat, and…hmm… I don’t know… I’m thinking of another… because I feel music is in a great place, so I don’t know of one word to describe that, but it’s in a really good place.

Sam: Do you feel any pressure moving ahead to silence those who say Keri Hilson can only score a hit with a collaboration… a “collaboration artist only”?

Keri: Absolutely, absolutely. Which is why I want to make sure my next single everywhere – from ‘Energy’ to ‘Slow Dance’ – for those that don’t have my album, they understand what type of artist I am, and who I am. I want these records to define Keri Hilson, and I feel that the album does that. Even the features that we have do not overshadow me, and I’ve been told over and over that it’s like the perfect placement. People of course put their foot in it, but they don’t outshine who Keri Hilson is on the album. But there are lots of people that do not have the album, so definitely I want to silence those (laughs).

Sam: What’s your take on those who say that Ms Keri is “cocky”?

Keri: Cocky?! Definitely not. I will say I’m very candid. I have to say that those people who say that clearly don’t know me. People that do know me and have worked with me know that I don’t take myself too seriously. I’m just a person who is in love with music. At the same time it was not handed to me on a silver platter, I worked very hard for everything that is coming my way. It’s been a 12-year journey for me, so if they think I’m cocky they might not understand my journey and how hard I had to fight for this. Nothing’s easy. Shout out to anyone trying to pursue whatever it is, it’s gonna be a fight, and I think if you understood that about my story then you absolutely would not consider me cocky. Confident and happy and blissful and blessed and thankful – all of those things I am!

Sam: Great! So tell us a little known fact about Ms Keri Baby.

Keri: A little known fact (laughs)?. I grew up an athlete! I grew up an athlete with a tenacious spirit. I excelled in swimming. I won county and I won state, then I competed for the state of Georgia in the junior nationals when I was 14 years old. Then basketball – I played in high school. I was two years Best Offensive, senior year I was MVP, two years Captain. I come from that world, so if ever it’s a cockiness people see or sense, it’s really not that. But I am competitive; I do have a competitive drive. Not against any of my peers or people that would be considered competition, I don’t think at all about the competition. I’m competitive within myself. That Grape Juice Interviews Keri HilsonI’m that type of performer.

Sam: A lot of your fans want to know about your current writing projects, whether you are writing for anyone at the moment – particularly for Mary J Blige’s next album, and if you’ll be featured on ‘Shock Value II’.

Keri: I’ll definitely be featured on ‘Shock Value II’, I can guarantee that. I don’t know whether my schedule will have me able to work on Mary J or Usher or Britney’s next projects. Of course some may know I did write ‘Gimme More’ and ‘Break the Ice’ for Britney, but I wasn’t able to work on this album because I was touring, so we just have to see. I mean, as long as I’m an artist, I definitely want to be writing and keeping my creative juices flowing for other artists.

Sam: Are you still a part of writing group The Clutch?

Keri: Um… somewhat. I’m kind of the resident artist there (laughs). I’m the member that they never see. But I’m always representing The Clutch.

Sam: A lot of the fans also wanted to know with ‘Return the Favor’ there was an initial draft of the track that had the hook “If you kiss me then I’ll kiss you back” – why was it changed?

Keri: I don’t know! I changed the hook from what you hear, and it was really like a Timbaland call. He was like “No… I think I like the other one better.” It was a creative call and no one was supposed to hear the other one and know the difference (laughs).

Sam: Ok. Michael Jackson tragically passed away recently, and it shocked and rocked the world. Where were you when you heard the news?

Keri: I was in LA where it all happened. I was headed to rehearsals and the crazy thing is we were rehearsing at the very same spot, literally right in the rehearsal room, right next to Michael Jackson’s band, where he would drop in every now and then.

Sam: Did you see him?

Keri: I never saw him, but a couple of my dancers and my choreographer laid eyes on him. As far as they knew he looked very healthy. It’s very unfortunate.

Sam: What are your thoughts moving ahead on the whole Michael Jackson legacy, and saga, etc?

Keri: Well… you know… I don’t know. Moving ahead I hope that all the scandal will be outweighed by how great of a person, philanthropist and performer he was. He is yet to be matched as far as the energy he emulates from the stage. There will never be another Michael Jackson, absolutely not.

Sam: Ok, a quick game. Best looking – Kanye, Ne-Yo or Lil Wayne?

Keri: Um…Ne-Yo.

Sam: Female in the industry with the best weave?

Keri: (Laughs!!!) I don’t know. Halle when she decides to do it – when she does it, she does it right (laughs!).

Sam: Finally what is your advice for up-coming stars?

Keri: Like I mentioned before, it’s not gonna be an easy road, but God rewards diligence. It may not happen when you want it to, but keep honing your craft and push forward.

Sam: Ms. Keri Baby! Thank you for your time.

Keri: Thanks Sam.

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That Grape Juice Interviews Keri Hilson

Keri’s awesome album ‘In A Perfect World…’ is available in stores and on iTunes now!

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What do you think of our Keri Hilson interview?

Jay-Z - 'Run This Town (ft. Rihanna & Kanye West)' (New Single)
With Jay-Z’s much anticipated ‘The Blueprint 3’ nearing its September 11th release, the next single to be lifted from the record ‘Run This Town’ has surfaced. Featuring former Def Jam label mates Rihanna and Kanye West, Hova has gone on record to say the track is named as such because they are the folk that ‘run’ the industry (hmm…).
While I’m feeling the track’s ‘epic’ feel, along with Jay and Kanye’s verses, I couldn’t stomach Rihanna’s part on the hook. Ms. Fenty was on her extra-nasal game on this one, which makes it a few pig-squeals away from being un-listenable. That said, the song still kinda manages to work.
Hit or Miss?

Whitney Houston - 'I Look To You' (Full) (Radio Rip)
The full version of the title track from Whitney Houston’s eagerly anticipated new album ‘I Look To You’ premiered on US radio yesterday. Note: It’s important to stress that the Swizz Beats produced ‘Million Dollar Bill’ is still slated to be the record’s lead single. Making an educated guess, there may be a chance this will be a dual-first single or possibly the follow-up to ”Bill’.
About the R. Kelly penned song. echoing my thoughts upon hearing the snippet earlier this week, Whitney’s vocals, albeit ‘2009 Whitney’, is the gas which drives the vehicle that is this awesome song. Rich, gritty, powerful and emotive, Whitney’s delivers the lyrics in such a manner that makes one really believe what she’s singing about. Paired with the fact that her hardships have been played out so publicly, this really helps give the song an aura of authenticity – a word almost entirely missing in today’s chart hits.
Hit or Miss?

Click here to listen

Kelis Takes Nas To The Cleaners; Awarded Huge Pay-Out
The bitter divorce / child support battle between Kelis and soon-to-be-ex-husband Nas, yesterday saw the ‘Bossy’ singer come out the victor in court. Rapper Nas has been ordered to pay out a whole lot of money to her monthly, as ruled by a New York judge. Peep the report via TMZ below:
Kelis just hit the jackpot in court today — a judge awarded her a ton of money in her bitter divorce battle with estranged hubby Nas.
A judge decided Nas has to pay Kelis $55,000 a month in combined spousal and child support plus the mortgage on their L.A. residence.
Nas also has to pay Kelis — who gave birth last night to the couple’s only child — for the baby nurse, prenatal expenses and medical insurance.
The rapper also has to pay $35,000 to his worst nightmare — Kelis’ lawyer, disso-queen Laura Wasser.
While the $55,000 monthly figure includes spousal support, child support and mortgage payments, one has to wonder if Kelis is actually putting up anything financially by herself. I mean she was earning / made a living prior to meeting Nas and for a significant amount of their relationship. Yes, he was the breadwinner, but I struggle to believe she has ‘nothing’. Then again, we don’t know the nitty gritty of what went on etc. I just hope they fix up for the sake of their child, 3 -day old Knight Jones.
Your thoughts?
Just when it appeared the fur from the Pussycat Dolls’ public spats had settled, member Kimberley Wyatt has opened up about the internal friction within the group:
NICOLE SCHERZINGER’s domination of the PUSSYCAT DOLLS is still causing tension within the group.
The girlband’s recent single Jai Hoh!, a worldwide smash hit, was billed as “Pussycat Dolls featuring Nicole Scherzinger” which reportedly riled particular members.
MELODY THORNTON hit out at Nicole during a recent gig which led to rumours the band, who were a burlesque group before hitting the charts with Don’t Cha in 2005, were set to split.
However, despite playing down break-up fears, Doll KIMBERLY WYATT indicated the band, and their management, aren’t all singing from the same hymn sheet.
Kimberley said: “It’s true, there has always been a lot of focus on Nicole which has been hard to deal with sometimes.
“This group was created with a foundation, they knew exactly what they wanted and they had Nicole as the focus.
“Every video and stage performance that we’ve done, Nicole has been our leader.
“I wasn’t in videos like I wanted and wasn’t seen in the way I was hoping, which has been the same for all the other girls too.”
Kimberley says herself and the rest of the girls – ASHLEY ROBERTS, JESSICA SUTTA and Melody – are not anticipating the attention eventually being shared out.
She added: “I don’t really make any of the decisions, I’m in the group and can voice my opinions to a degree but at the end of the day it is a business and there are a lot of chefs in the kitchen that run the Pussycat Dolls.”
Kimberly is hosting dance workshops in London on July 26/27. Visit www.marksummers.com/kimberly for more information. {Source}
Hardly surprising is the fact there is friction, what is kinda shocking is how it’s being played out so publicly – while they are still together. I feel really bad for Melody, Kimberley and co (basically the one’s that aren’t Nicole), as there seems to be some kind of contractual obligation which binds the group to take on the form it does (Nicole out front and the rest way back). One has to wonder if the Dolls’ dwindling popularity and crappy sales (both of which IMO are attributable the public being fed up with the current dynamic) will cause the group to dissolve before they do it themselves. Either way, things aren’t looking too great for them…
Your thoughts?

Controversial ‘author’ Karrine ‘Superhead’ Steffans appeared on the CW’s news show earlier this week to promote her new book ‘The Vixen Manual’. Having taken the steering wheel in previous interviews about the book, Karrine seemed to have not anticipated the reception she got from the show’s reporters – although, I personally think she should have. I won’t spoil it, but lets just say the interview does get cut off and the term ‘just some video rump-shaker’ features. A must watch.
Your thoughts?
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