Hot 100 Roundup: Jerrod Niemann Gets Happy, Passion Pit Tells A Sad Story, Karmin Remains Annoying, And More

This week the new entries in the Hot 100 attain a near-perfect balance: Two good to great records (Passion Pit and Jerrod Niemann), two terrible ones (Karmin and Macklemore), and a bunch of mediocre stuff in the middle. Over the course of a year, the quality of the Hot 100 usually settles into a normal probability curve, but it's rare to see the entire spectrum in a single week of new arrivals.

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Hot 100 Roundup: Brandy Comes Back, Lil Wayne Gets Gross, And More

Editors' note: Each week in this space, chart-watcher Robert Myers will offer his reactions to all the new entries on the Hot 100, Billboard's big board for popular songs.

The late-summer doldrums continue in the world of Hot 100 debuts with two less-than-stunning rap records that won't be on the chart next week, an attempted comeback (its release timed, no doubt, to take advantage of the lack of competition), and a country debut that will probably outperform them all in the long run.

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Eight Revolution-Inciting Takeaways From Lupe Fiasco's Album Listening Session

Last night, Lupe Fiasco took a break from attempting to set the record for uses of the word "bitch" on an MTV station to preview tracks from his upcoming album to a small bunch of journalist types. That album, Food & Liquor 2: The Great American Rap Album Part One, is due out on September 25; SOTC was privy to a tantalizing preview of six tracks. Here's what we discerned from them. (And note: We did not grumble about the lack of an even rudimentary cheese plate.)

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The Trouble With Lupe Fiasco Goes Beyond Pete Rock And Touching "T.R.O.Y."

via The LupEND Blog
It was all good for Lupe Fiasco just two albums ago. By 2008, the Chicago MC, co-signed by Jay-Z and brought on the Glow In The Dark Tour by Kanye West, had released two critically acclaimed albums, Food & Liquor and The Cool, and built on a reputation as a nimble lyricist with a political bent forged by a series of excellent mixtapes by demonstrating that he could write more traditionally radio-friendly singles ("Kick, Push," "Superstar") without forsaking his essence.

But those albums were only moderate commercial successes, leading Atlantic Records and Fiasco to squabble endlessly over what would eventually become 2011's Lasers. The struggle seemed to sap Fiasco's talents (Lasers is a mess of awkward collaborations and half-hearted you-can-do-it anthems that seemed like an ungainly swing at pop, despite Fiasco passing on what would become label mate B.o.B's "Nothin' on You"; Fiasco's last widely praised project was a 22-minute mixtape, Enemy of the State, released in November 2009) and embolden him politically (Fiasco, an avowed non-voter, called President Obama "the biggest terrorist" in 2011, has allied himself with Occupy Wall Street to the point of rapping "New gang alert, hashtag Occupy," and became one of the first rappers ever to look like an idiot in a dispute with Bill O'Reilly).

But Atlantic got what it wanted in Lasers, an album Fiasco confessed to hating: a hit. It debuted at No. 1 on Billboard, spawned two top-40 singles ("The Show Goes On" and "Out of My Head"), and re-established Fiasco as a source of lucre for the label while giving him a forum for his Alex Jones-caliber conspiracy theorizing—"All Black Everything" imagines a counter-factual world in which the African slave trade did not exist but rap still somehow evolved in the same way, while "Words I Never Said" allowed Lupe to indulge his 9/11 truther fantasies ("9/11, Building 7, did they really pull it?") and self-mythologize ("I'm a part of the problem, my problem is I'm peaceful") over leaden Alex da Kid production. With "Around My Way (Freedom Ain't Free)," released Monday night, Fiasco proved that he and Atlantic understand the template for his future commercial success—rap on pop tracks and continue to vomit incoherent political screeds—but have completely lost the plot when it comes to critical respect.

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Live: Lupe Fiasco And The Robert Glasper Experiment Trade Genres And "Yo Momma" Jokes At The Blue Note

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Lupe on the far left, Glasper on the far right, yo momma in the middle. Pic by Jozen.
Robert Glasper Experiment featuring Lupe Fiasco
Blue Note
Friday, February 25

Better Than: A re-run of Wilmer Valderrama's Yo Momma

So I picked the wrong night to see the Robert Glasper Experiment at the Blue Note. Not to say the show I attended wasn't fantastic, but alas, the very next night, during the adventurous jazz band's last set with a rejuvenated Lupe Fiasco, a couple surprise guests showed up: Mos Def and Kanye West. I know, I already cried about it. It sucks. I'm still kind of pissed. But there's no sense dwelling on it: As Kanye once put it, "I don't need all the jazz." Instead, I'd rather talk about the jazz (and hip-hop!) I actually did see.

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Lupe Fiasco Debuts New Track, Calls Glenn Beck A Racist, Admits He Didn't Vote For Obama

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Lupe Fiasco's Lasers is another in a long line of albums held up by record-label issues, with fans going so far as to organize Fiasco Friday, an October protest march on Atlantic's New York offices. Which was a success, actually: The album is officially dropping on March 8, and today the Chicago MC released a preview of what's to come, in the form of a new track titled "Words I Never Said." So this is what everyone's been fighting for:

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The 10 Best Posse Cuts of 2010 (So Far)

Posse cuts are like friendlier versions of the WWE's Royal Rumble -- a platform designed to showcase all of the stars in the game, both up-and-coming and certified. Think back to the Main Source's 1991 "Live At The Barbecue," featuring Akinyele, Joe Fatal, and the debut of a rapper named Nas, or Big Pun's "Banned From TV" remix, featuring the murderer's row of N.O.R.E., Nature, Cam'ron, Jadakiss, and Styles P. More recently, there's been 2008's "Swagger Like Us"--T.I., Kanye West, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, and M.I.A.--or last year's "Forever," featuring Drake, Kanye West, Eminem, and Lil Wayne.

This year in particular, the posse cut seems to be in vogue. Kanye West has been the most visible artist to use the posse cut approach recently, stacking the majority of his G.O.O.D. Friday freebies with numerous MCs and singers. West also recently announced "All Of The Lights", the third single from his upcoming album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, will feature 11 artists (including Elton John!). But it's not just West calling all MCs to the booth. For whatever reason, great rappers have been teaming up a lot lately, and the result has been a hip-hop fan's wet dream. Every week, there's either some new remix or original song with numerous MCs trying to lay down the verse fans will talk about long after the song is playing. Here are ten of 2010's best posse cuts so far, complete with a verdict on who won each one:

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GOOD Friday: Kanye West Preps for "Runaway" Video Release, Drops "Don't Look Down"

At 8 p.m. ET the Kanye West-directed 35-minute music video, starring Selita Ebanks and narrated by Nicki Minaj, will debut concurrently on MTV, MTV2, BET,, and (The video above showcases the opening scene.) Leading up the premiere, West again came through on his promise of a new song every Friday, though in recent weeks, he's come to count Saturday morning, too. This time around -- the 11th official leak post-"Power" and "See Me Now," for those counting -- West is content in the backseat, letting GOOD Music cohorts Mos Def, Lupe Fiasco and Big Sean take turns behind the wheel.

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The 10 Best Verses From Kanye West's Good Friday Project, So Far

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As sustained, goodwill-generating rap publicity stunts go, Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Fridays series is almost entirely without precedent. Other rappers, guys like Freeway and Crooked I, have given away free music in regular installments, but those guys are B-listers and supporting players, and they didn't exactly bring out a head-spinning guest star with every new installment. Other big names like Lil Wayne have given away vast amounts of free music, but they've never turned it into a ritualistic, cohesive project the way Kanye has. Ten weeks in (about halfway through), we've got 55 minutes that'd make a pretty incredible album in their own right after minimal sequencing tweaks.

These tracks tend to be big, ominous, portentous, piling on the sinister sonics and weird little production details. And every week, Kanye's Hawaii studio retreat gets a little bit more mysterious. Is he really just flying all these guys down, letting them talk shit over whatever he came up with this week? Part of his initial charm was that he seemed like an everyfan suddenly given absurd access: Plenty of people might've wondered how Mos Def and Freeway would've sounded next to each other, but only Kanye had the position and the inclination to make it happen. That's back in play here. He's putting Raekwon on a Justin Bieber remix, or tossing Rick Ross right next to Bon Iver's Justin Vernon for the fuck of it. And now that we've got a nice round number of G.O.O.D. Fridays tracks to work with, it's an opportune time to check back through what he's given us so far and pick out some standout verses.

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Lupe Fiasco's #FiascoFriday March on Atlantic Records Is Underway, Right Now

Fiasco Friday, undeterred by the weather. All photos via LupE.N.D.
The official start time for Fiasco Friday, the coordinated march of Lupe Fiasco fans (and, allegedly, Lupe Fiasco himself) on the New York and Chicago offices of Atlantic Records in protest of their long-standing (and now remedied) reluctance to release Lupe's Lasers, was noon today. And indeed, the thing is very much underway, rain or no rain, with Lupe gleefully live-tweeting it (though he doesn't seem to be there yet) and fans posting photos as they go. The above was taken at the New York staging ground, Central Park's statue of William Tecumseh Sherman (the scorched earth, free-the-oppressed implications very intentional, one would think). Here are a few more:

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