Tonight, Queens-born / Georgia-raised MC Waka Flocka takes the stage at B.B. Kings as part of the Waka Flocka and Friends concert. Unfortunately, a vocal sect of hip-hop purists here in the culture's birthplace have been anywhere from hesitant to downright dismissive of Flocka's brand of raucous rap music since he first burst onto the scene four years ago. While he represents his Riverdale, Georgia, hometown proudly, there's something to be said for how his brash style actually fits comfortably within the New York hip-hop family tree.
Waka Flocka Flame
As part of this weekend's Catalpa Festival, Snoop Dogg will slouch around Randall's Island to perform his debut album, Doggystyle, in its entirety. With the Doggfather being somewhat obsessed with all things canine, SOTC decided it was fine time to shed light on hip-hop's infatuation with dogs. But be warned: This ain't exactly the equivalent of watching the cute lil' puppies prance around in the window of that pet store on Sixth Avenue in the West Village.
Drake w/ J. Cole, Waka Flocka Flame, Meek Mill, 2 Chainz, French Montana
Nikon Theater at Jones Beach
Saturday, June 16
Better than: That other suburban rap mega-show.
Well over halfway through his set, having already given the crowd a festival's worth of openers and played everything but his biggest hits, Drake turned to the crowd: "New York, let me show you how much I love you." Four hours in, his Club Paradise tour had bridged the gap not only between openers Waka Flocka Flame and J. Cole or genres like rap and R&B, but also across a wide range of demographics, seating spoiled 16-year-olds rocking "Self Made" tees side-by-side with old-school heads who first heard surprise guest Busta Rhymes on "Scenario," and not "Look at Me Now." But regardless of that, Drake was right: The show's most exciting moments were still yet to come.
At concerts like this, all those demographics share a desire to believe that their performance is particularly special, realer than all the others and put on just for them. Drake, once awkward in these settings, now knows better than to spoil the fun, spending a long ten minutes moving through the crowd singling out the girl 300 feet away in the red tank top and the couple in matching YOLO hats, but as he spun across the stage to the descending piano chords that anchor "Take Care" or called upon The Weeknd's Abel Tesfaye for some unexpected crew love, it was hard to believe that audiences in Akron or Saratoga saw the same thing.More »
Hot 97 Summer Jam:
Jen Diaz/Hot 97 Lauryn Hill. Nicki Minaj, Young Jeezy, Rick Ross, J. Cole, Wale, Meek Mill, DJ Khaled, Waka Flocka, Trey Songz, Maino, Big Sean, 2 Chainz, French Montana, Mavado, Tyga, Slaughterhouse (and Nas and Lauryn Hill)
Sunday, June 3
Better than: Seeing a Nicki Minaj concert.
In an era of increasing separation and ever-tinier attention spans, it's almost quaint to celebrate a tradition like Hot 97's Summer Jam with 60,000 of your closest friends.
Each year, Summer Jam means a sunny early afternoon heading over to the Meadowlands, the constant threat of rain during the afternoon hours, a few rap songs here and there with rappers featuring other rappers, walking into a chilly night leaving the show, and general ratchetness in the parking lot before, during, and after the concert.
Oh, and drama! Plenty of dramawhich, in the years since Jay-Z vs. Nas evaporated, has turned into yawn vs. shrug.More »
Waka Flocka Flame is fully enjoying his moment. The Atlanta, Georgia rapper's party-pandering, floor-stomping assault has been a mainstay in the club since his quick rise in 2009 as a protégé of Gucci Mane, and with his second full-length releaseTriple F Life: Friends, Fans and Family, due out in Junehis party-rap takeover will most likely become even stronger. Need more proof? At a Spin-sponsored party (he's the latest issue's cover star), surrounded by taxidermy and baroque splendor, Flocka Flame turned the posh, tapestry-filled Bowery Hotel into a sweaty, foundation-shaking, crowd-surfing mess.
Waka Flocka Flame is the sort of of hip-hop artist who doesn't so much rap or flow as he shouts his ass off. It's a formula that imbues the Atlanta-based rapper's songs with a boisterous, visceral appealand one that he's looking to continue with the release of his second studio album, Triple F For Life: Friends, Fans And Family, which will officially drop on New Year's Eve. But Waka's not alone in pledging his allegiance to the lowbrow art of shout rap; the following hip-hop gents also excel at vociferating into microphones.
Hot 97 Summer Jam
New Meadowlands Stadium
Sunday, June 5
Better than: Sitting at home and moping like 50 Cent.
Rick Ross closed out Summer Jam.
Just so there's no revisionist history here, let's remember how incredible that statement is. Three years ago, Ross was the punching bag of hip-hop, the laughingstock of the streets. After recording countless verses that fetishized Tony Montana fantasies, someone pinched himRoss' cartoonish thought bubble vanished into thin air, and he was rudely snapped back to reality. He wasn't a druglord superhero; he was William Roberts, a grown man playing dress-up, a former correctional officer who wanted to be a rapper so badly that he rewrote his personal history. Two years ago, he wasn't being played on New York radio.
And here, onstage at Giants Stadium, was Rick Rosshis chest puffed out, his black-and-yellow Hawaiian shirt open wide but still somehow stretching tightcheered on by fifty thousand strong. They welcomed his street anthem, "B.M.F.," chanting a chorus and cadence that, in various incarnations, has blasted out of car windows on 125th ever since it came out last summer: "I think I'm Big Meech, Larry Hoover." Rick Ross can make up a lot of things, but even he couldn't make this up.More »
In 2010, a new generation of rap producers, from AraabMuzik to Droop-E, made huge strides both artistically and commercially. But none distinguished themselves more than Lex Luger, the 19-year-old Virginia native behind both Rick Ross's "B.M.F (Blowin' Money Fast)" and a good deal of Waka Flocka Flame's Flockaveli. (Not to mention the new Kanye West/Jay-Z track "H.A.M.") Lex's best beats are as evil as anything this side of Shawty Redd, but hit you so hard you barely notice.
Because of the size and similarity of most Luger beats, their effectiveness depends on the emcee. Flocka, who discovered the producer through MySpace in mid-2009, succeeds because his verses are as rough and as powerful as the beats, the raspiness of his voice aligning with the grainy sound quality you're likely to find on a 128 kbps DatPiff stream. Flockaveli is filled with guests as anonymous as Kebo Gotti and Ice Burgundy, their interchangeability both creating further havoc and emphasizing the marquee rapper's own dominance. Conversely, Ross stands unfazed at the eye of the storm and lets the drums, bass, and synths swirl around him. And just as Luger's production pushes these rappers to do their best work, their flows add to the beats a dynamism that might not otherwise be present. Critics have suggested that Luger's beats are easy to rap over, but in reality, Luger productions present the emcee with a direct challenge: Distinguish yourself or be consumed by the snares and laptop brass. Here are 10 lesser-known tracks featuring lesser-known rappers who gave it a shot; if played at the proper volume, any of these could easily blow out your speakers, eardrums, and anything within range. Including the guy rapping.More »
One major downside to 2010: There's a pretty good chance you lost your job. The good news, though, is that the concept of NSFW no longer applies, and so today, while your former co-workers are stuck in their cubicles, bored to death and forced to pass around OK Go's latest YouTube meme, you are free to watch the videos below without fear of censure. OK, it's not much, but we're trying. So whether you're at home or your boss is just out of town, here are the 10 best NSFW music videos of 2010.More »