Radio Hits One: Nine Songs From 2012 That Should Have Been Huge

The term "flop" in a musical context usually refers to an unsuccessful album. Although singles constantly perform above or below expectations, a song will rarely get a reputation as a flop unless there's a lot riding on it, such as a pre-release single from a big-name album. In 2011, Beyoncé's "Run the World (Girls)" and Lady Gaga's "Judas" failed to launch and became notorious stumbling blocks for two women who had up to that point experienced one success after another.

In 2012, no singles have fallen short of expectations in such a high-profile way, but hundreds of songs are constantly being lobbed at radio, and some great tracks get lost in the shuffle. Last year, I critiqued the singles campaigns of recent albums, suggesting how different tracks could have been released in a different order. But right now, I feel compelled to highlight some singles that simply deserved better, because by December, these songs will be long forgotten in lists that boil the year in pop down to "Somebody That I Used to Know" and "Call Me Maybe."

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The Top 3.28 Hip-Hop Songs Of The Week

Rap has always had a dividing line between the rapper and the guy that yells out things on stage because it's America, damn it. That man used to be the DJ, who'd spin records for the rapper and rap along to his verses to get the crowd hype. As the years went by and quality DJing became more rare, the sidekick became some guy the rapper grew up with who had comparatively marginal talent, but who made for a great hypeman.

Eventually, though, the sidekick would eventually make one major mistake: He'd try to make his own way as a rapper, to less than stellar results. Memphis Bleek hasn't come out of Jay-Z's shadow after 15 years. Spliff Star has seemingly disappeared after trying his hand at something more than being Busta Rhymes' energetic rapping Smeagol. The less said about the non-Eminem members of D12, the better.

But every once in a while, they put together music that's not an embarrassing reminder that most of their success comes from being a friend of a superior rapper. This week, we focus on a few of those people: Method Man's marijuana-holder Streetlife; A$AP Mob; and Fat Joe (who, while not a weed carrier, was Big Pun's less talented homie).

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Live: Busta Rhymes Pauses Conversation With Bun B To Perform At Angie Martinez's BBQ

Angie Martinez's Backyard BBQ
The Garden At Studio Square
Saturday, August 18

Better than: Getting lost coming home from Queens.

CBS sitcoms, Tom Wolfe and Republicans alike have all painted New York City as a noisy, grimy nightmare, a melting pot of sex and kvetching, guns and soupy hot dogs, where steam rises like prices and trash falls like dreams. No place for families, a godless murderzone where the women are as fast as streets are clogged, where stress stains the ceilings and piss, the sidewalks. Bright lights lit by hellfire and Wall Street's cigars. Millions of people—all strangers—passing one another, every face as hard as their concrete surroundings, a Darwinian experiment thrown to the rats.

It's almost out of character for the city, then, that Angie Martinez's BBQ on Saturday night was so low-key, so relaxed, a small-town block party held in often-overlooked Queens. Grids of dominos and games of spades played out among the trees and open sky; pitchers of sangria and lemonade held down the picnic tables. All that made the night distinctly New York were the names involved, a polka-dot collection of bold-faces: Questlove mixing VIC's "Get Silly" into dead prez into "Dance (A$$)" onstage while Joe Budden, Fabolous, Sanaa Lathen and Gabrielle Union Instagrammed one another in VIP. A scruffy Miguel stepped over legs and under arms to get to the bar, as DJ Khaled engaged in flirt-fighting with his fiancée over a smoking cigarillo. We found love in a hopeless place.

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Seven Speaker-Shattering Busta Rhymes Guest Verses

Busta Rhymes will headline this year's 2012 Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival with a performance down under the borough's namesake bridge on Saturday. With a stash of rap anthems that includes "Pass The Courvoisier," "Woo-Ha!! (Got You All In Check)," and "Hands Where My Eyes Can See," the big man's set is sure to close out the event in a suitably rousing fashion. But Busta's also positioned himself as something of hip-hop's great guest verse artist—as these seven scene-stealing turns prove.

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Live: Drake Brings Dipset, Busta Rhymes, A$AP Rocky, And More To Jones Beach

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.

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Holler! The Ten Loudest, Shoutiest Rappers

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 appeal—and 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.

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M.O.P.'s Five Favorite Collaborations

If you don't like M.O.P., you probably don't really like rap music—or so the cliché goes. But there's something in the sentiment: For nearly two decades now, Billy Danze and Lil Fame have been putting out passionate, uncompromising rap music that's rooted in a resolutely east cost aesthetic. Fame was even moved to mandate, "When I die, make sure you bury me with a cassette of [Eric B & Rakim's] Paid In Full."

The duo, originally based in Brownsville, has worked with a who's who of New York hip-hop heavy hitters; they even endured stints signed to Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella Records and 50 Cent's G-Unit movement. Now they've hooked up with European production unit The Snowgoons for the full-length project Sparta. To tie-in with its release, we asked Billy and Fame to reminisce over their favorite collaborations from the vault.

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Busta Rhymes Drags "The Little Drummer Boy" Into The Twitter Age

"Drummer Boy," another song from the forthcoming Justin Bieber Yuletide album Under The Mistletoe, has made its way online; a rework of the classic hymn "The Little Drummer Boy," it's been retrofitted with sharper drums and rap verses to make it sound like it could be dropped into top-40 stations' playlists at any time, and not just during their annual "24 Hours Of Christmas" marathons. Busta Rhymes, our Best Male Vocalist in New York, lends a verse that yanks the holiday-season staple out of its staid manger-in-Jerusalem setting and into late 2k11, sending out love to his 678,000-plus Twitter followers (and, one presumes, the nearly 14 million tracking the Biebs' every 140-character bleat) and informing listeners that he still uses a Blackberry. (For his part, Bieber—with a deeper voice—does advise his listeners to give to charity on his somewhat adept rap verse.) The song, and a transcription of Busta's verse, after the jump. And yes, rhyming "off" with "off" does take some points, er, off.

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The Five Best Moments On Yo! MTV Raps

MTV turns 30 on Monday. To celebrate, we're running a bunch of pieces on the channel, its legacy, and its future.


Debuting during the golden year of '88, Yo! MTV Raps revolutionized TV coverage of hip-hop music. Of course, hip-hop videos existed long before Yo! launched—Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five's gritty street-level visuals for "The Message," peeping Kurtis Blow clad in black leather pants performing in front of a silhouetted Manhattan-skyline backdrop in "If I Ruled The World"—but the show provided hip-hop junkies with rap reportage like never before. Hosted by Ed Lover and Doctor Dre (the lesser-heralded one), who were assisted by Fab 5 Freddy, Yo! MTV Raps didn't just showcase new videos and air interviews; it took viewers inside the worlds of the artists they profiled, which might mean delving down into producer Pete Rock's dingy Mount Vernon basement, trading barbs with N.W.A. in LA, or letting shout-rap oiks Onyx slam dance with Freddy on the Brooklyn Bridge. Here are five of the best moments from its archives.

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Kanye West Showed Up At The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival

At this weekend's Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, Q-Tip brought out a few guests (Black Thought, Busta Rhymes), and among them was Kanye West, who performed a couple of his own tracks, assisted Q-Tip on "Award Tour," and took a flying leap into the crowd. The camera weaving in and out of the lower-right corner of the above shot is proof that the event was pretty well-documented, but the above clip has a nice chunk of the cameo. (Good thing that those rumors of Q-Tip not performing at the fest didn't pan out, eh?)