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Island Records Launches Amy Winehouse Music Competition

Get your singing voices ready, Amy Winehouse fans. Island Records recently announced it’s launching a music competition, inviting any and everyone to submit covers of the late singer’s greatest hits.

The new singing competition is in commemoration of Amy’s Back to Black album turning 10 in October 2016. Salaam Remi, who produced the backing for many tracks on the 12-time platinum record, shared the announcement on YouTube, inviting all talented singers to submit their videos.

“To commemorate the 10-year anniversary of Back to Black, we’re going to actually make some of the instrumental tracks available to see what you sound like singing,”  Remi said in the video. “I want to actually make “Just Friends” and “Tears Dry on Their Own.” Those are the two songs made available…”

The producer revealed that all proceeds from sharing their videos would go to the Amy Winehouse Foundation, which he stated continues to help nurture young talent.

The rules of the game are simple: competitors should download the backing tracks to whichever song they would like to cover, film their rendition, and then upload it to YouTube. When the video is live, singers should send the link over in a form on the official competition page.

Remi and Mark Ronson, who also produced Amy’s album, will be reviewing and selecting the winner. One grand prize winner will get the opportunity to record their version of the singer’s track in a professional studio and have it featured on the official Island Records YouTube account.

The competition is open from now until January 31, 2017. For more info and instructions about how to compete, click here.

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Skepta Shares Spooky New Music Video and Track for Halloween

Skepta was obviously feeling the Halloween love yesterday. To celebrate the holiday, he released both a new music video and a new track that are filled with some decidedly spooky flavor.

The music video is for the grime rapper’s collaborative track with London rap outfit Section Boyz titled “The Worst.” The lyrics of the song’s chorus address The Purge, the contemporary series of horror films that portray a future world where the government allows a yearly 12-hour period where all crime is legal. Naturally, the video continues to riff on the film series, with Skepta and company wreaking havoc around London in a set of particularly unsettling masks.

Skepta’s new song is even more forthright with its spooky content, with the song being titled “No Security (Halloween Sound).” Featuring a keyboard line straight out of a John Carpenter soundtrack and audio samples discussing death, the song immediately evokes a feeling of absolute dread, even more than his usual dark Grime fare.

Listen to Skepta’s Mercury Prize-winning album Konnichiwa below:

In other music news, Wyclef Jean and Young Thug have re-teamed for a dancehall-inflected track called “I Swear”. Listen to it below.

 

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6 Things We Learned From A$AP Rocky’s Interview With Genius

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After weeks of hype and teased tracks, A$AP Rocky and the rest of the A$AP Mob finally unveiled the years-in-the-making project Cozy Tapes Vol. 1, a compilation album featuring every member of the Mob. It was a project that first began under the direction of Mob-founder A$AP Yams, and one that was shelved upon his unexpected death from an overdose in January of 2015.

Now that the record has been completed, Rocky has opened up on the tumultuous recording process and Yams’ legacy in a new interview with Genius. Check out some of the essential quotes below:

On reviewing Yams’ final notes:

“It’s a composition notebook with Raekwon holding an Elmo doll, a Supreme sticker, and Biggie’s picture with the afro as a baby. Inside, it got plans of what he wanted to do for 2015 and who he wanted to fuck with, who he wanted us to fuck with, what artists he was interested in.”

On what Yams brought to the Mob:

“He wanted everybody to move cohesively. Everybody had the same vision but he was the voice of reason. I’m like the dad and, pause — not to compare him to a female — but he was more like the mother.”

On his own role in the Mob:

“I gotta be Yams to an extent now. I’ve gotta be the one who shakes hands and kisses babies and shit, and keeps relationships poppin’.”

On using old-school references:

“The kids aren’t familiar with all that shit so we just putting them on. We young-old niggas… I would definitely say I have an old soul so we’re trying to put them on, for those who don’t know. For those who do, it’s lit… You gotta pay homage, show them where we get it from.”

On his rivalry with Tyler, the Creator:

“That’s my brother. Yeah, we had to [compete] because I bring a certain energy out of Tyler. Tell me if you’ve ever heard Tyler, the Creator rap like that in your life. Wait until you hear new shit we’ve got coming.”

On the Mob’s future:

“I don’t want A$AP to look like a bunch of mini-mes because I came out first and that’s the Yammy vision, just to be ourselves and keep it moving.”

Be sure to read Rocky’s full interview over at Genius.

In other music news, Wyclef Jean and Young Thug have re-teamed on the dancehall-inflected track “I Swear.” Listen to it right here.

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Wyclef Jean & Young Thug Re-Team on Dancehall Track “I Swear”

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Wyclef Jean took to Ebro Darden’s Beats 1 radio show last night to debut a new track with Young Thug. The track is called “I Swear,” and it is a Caribbean-inflected, dancehall/trap hybrid so lush it will make you feel like the summer beach vibe never ended.

“I Swear” is set to appear on Wyclef’s upcoming EP J’ouvert, a collection of five tracks linked together by their interpretation of Caribbean culture, specifically the music and traditions of the region’s Carnival celebrations. It is but a brief taste of his latest work before his upcoming full-length of a similar subject titled Carnival III: Road to Clefication.

The new track makes for the latest team-up of Wyclef and Thugger, who united to great success on Thug’s track “Kanye West,” appearing on his highly-acclaimed new work Jeffery. Somewhat confusingly, this has no relation to Thug’s track “Wyclef Jean” which appeared on the same album.

Listen to “I Swear” in full below, and stay tuned for any release information on Wyclef’s upcoming work:

In other music news, Desiigner has shared a spooky, 10-minute long video to his track “Zombie Walk.” Watch it right here.

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Desiigner Opens Up About Lyricism, Working With Mike Dean, His Crazy Dance Moves & More

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Taken from Issue 13 of Highsnobiety’s Print Magazine. Pick up a copy here.

“I’ m catching up on sleep, ya know? I’ m just trying to keep grinding and keep my creative ideas going. I’ m doing this BET ‘Rip the Runway’ thing right now.”

Desiigner is his usual buoyant self when our team arrives at MILK Studios for an in-person follow-up on a phone interview. Anyone who has seen Desiigner perform live or even seen the video of him catching Pokemon in Central Park knows that a phone interview would do no justice to such an ebullient, rapidly-speaking personality. Nevertheless, finding time to chat has been a feat of will and persistence considering the rapper, born Sidney Royel Selby III, is quickly become one of the most in-demand names of the moment.

At the tender age of 19, Desiigner is still in the midst of a whirlwind journey that has taken him from his mother’s home in Bed-Stuy where we first spent a day with him, to studio sessions with the likes of Kanye West and Pusha T. Surprisingly, he hasn’t changed much since that first meeting where, though shell-shocked by the sudden shift in his fortune, he still believed his success all came down to destiny and talent. He’s still a frenetic ball of energy, and he still carries the conviction that everything that’s happened to him was pre-written in the stars. Though we don’t have a lot of time to chat, Desiigner throws himself into the conversation with the same gusto with which he approaches everything else in life.

Lately there’s been a lot of debate about hip-hop is losing its lyricism in favor of melody, do you think there’s any truth to that? Does it matter?

To me, music itself just sounds good, and if it sounds good that’s what makes you superior, period. It’s always been that way, it’s just that now melody is at its peak. Everybody is doing melody and there’s nothing wrong with that. I think the ones who want to listen to more lyrical hip-hop can still find it. There are still artists out there who are still doing their thing with that style of music. But you know [what] time it is, melody always.

Your single “Tiimmy Turner” references The Fairly OddParents. Were you a big fan of the show as a kid?

Yeah, for sure I was a fan. The reason I used Timmy Turner is because I was using myself as Timmy Turner. I felt as though I was him at the time. You know, at that point in time I was saying that I wanted to kill everybody walking, and I knew that my soul would be in the furnace if I did. I also knew a girl, you know, she was doing everything. She was fucking for BET shit, when I say fucking for BET I just mean fucking for the fame. Doing anything just to be on and be on top on a larger platform, so I just put it like that. It was a personal experience. Everything I write is personal experience, you feel me? Ain’t no fake.

Last time we talked you had just been signed to G.O.O.D. Music. A lot must have changed…

Yeah, yeah, now you see me on the billboards and in magazines, you know? I didn’t go to G.O.O.D. Music and just get signed to not do anything. I got merchandise on the way, I’m touring, I got plenty of music dropping;, I’m trying to come in with the movies. You know what time it is. Album coming soon, visuals about to drop, shit is crazy…

How’d you connect with Mike Dean, and what was it like working with him?

Working with Mike was just like magic, and it just came with the G.O.O.D. package. Me and him worked well together; we’re great artists. He put down his tunes, I put down my tunes, we put it together and we made a smash. There’s beats, there’s drums; shit’s knocking. It was all very organic with “Tiimmy Turner.” I made the beat but Mike did the chords. I don’t know how to play the chords but you know Mike Dean is a problem, so when he got on the chords he already knew what he was doing. So he got down on the chords and he was like, ‘I’m going to put some extra on there for you,’ and we just kept at it. Our vibe is crazy.

A lot of people describe your music as sounding very Southern. However given the speed at which information travels these days, do you think we’re beyond regionally-specific music?

You hear me talking to you right now and you realize, to me, it’s not about something being my sound. It’s just how I talk. I don’t know how people can say it’s Southern music when it has no label on it. I don’t put out music with a label on it, it’s just me. The way I’m talking to you right now is just how I talk.

We just saw you performing with Pusha T at Tunnel’s closing party. A lot of people have commented on the level of energy in you performances—the way you dance, the way you move. How did those signature dances come along?

Yeah, I always used to dance like that. That’s how I turned up in the hood. We used to dance like that and just make mad noise in the middle of the street [makes git git git sound effect]. We used to be crazy, so that energy I just bring it to the stage now. I was always like that even as a kid. I was always singing, I used to be in the choir, I used to do performances, I used to be a train performer [one of New York’s many subway performers], you know, I came from the grind. That’s where I get my harmonies and my melodies from, it comes from my soul.

There’s been a lot of conversation about what’s going on in the world in terms of issues with injustice, police brutality and more. Do activism and hip-hop go hand in hand? Is it fair to expect artists to speak on these issues?

Activism as in how we’re approaching things and how we’re saying things? Are you asking if we’re igniting anything?

Yeah, do you think it’s fair that people are asking entertainers to take a stand on these issues?

I’ve made a statement about what was going on. How I feel about it is that these things needs to come to a stop. I also feel like all lives matter, not just black lives—all lives matter. I’m not just going to say one race should just be saying stop it, because it happens to everybody, so all lives matter. So that’s why I say that more. I just feel like it’s time to stop the violence, period.

I actually wanted to do something in the hood like march through the hood just to motivate and show inspiration. I want people to see that I’m still there and still watching, even though I left the hood. I might be off the block, but I still hear that crazy things are happening. I want to keep it true to where I’m from and pay attention to the neighborhood and help the community.

“Tiimmy Turner” came out of your XXL freestyle. It was pretty polarizing at first. Are you surprised at the reception the actual song got?

I make music, baby. I knew what time it was. I’ve had that thing in the sauce since, like, three years ago off of a promotional app I used to use for my “Zombie Walk” shit. If you go down my Instagram, I used to promote my songs with this app that was on the Android. There was a loading screen and they had a sound check on the app, and I used to sing behind that, like, “Timmy, Timmy Turner, he be wishing for a burner.” I lost the app, but I always had the melody in my head. I started building on it because I had lost the app for so long that I had to start building on the mufucka to keep it going.

There’s an idea that rappers don’t know how to freestyle now. Does it even matter anymore?

Music is art. Freestyling is a way to show a taste of that art; it’s not supposed to show you a complete form of what I can do in the studio, it’s just a taste of the art. Some people go fiend for freestyles, I love when people do that; it’s not like I’m discrediting them because that’s their way of forming their art. I never give you too much in a freestyle because I’m not that type of freestyling dude; I’m an artist. So, I give you a form of the freestyle, but not the whole thing. It’s almost like marketing, because you just give people a taste.

Are you nervous about the future? It must feel like there are huge expectations…

I’m not nervous. I’m really here and I’m ready to put my creative art on the map. I’m making records, putting records together, I’m writing records with people, I’m just trying to do my thing. You know what time it is.

Do you plan on working with Menace again? He did make the “Panda” beat after all…

Definitely, definitely, definitely! Hell yeah!

Your grandfather was a blues musician. How did that legacy influence your music? Especially since so many people feel like there’s such a generational gap between the popular music of now and that of the past…

I can say that my voice… it turned different the more I got older. It dropped and got this really dry sound, like my grandfather. So, my grandfather, he inspired me through his music and soul. I just made a song for him recently, he’s going to be on the track. Me and my grandfather about to be on the track together soon!

What makes you independent as an artist?

My energy. I give you energy every time, and I have a vision—even the video for “Panda” is doing nice. I got tremendous numbers on it. When “Panda” dropped, I didn’t give people too much, I just let them rock on it. I gave them one verse and shut it down. It makes you feel like that shit should jump back on one more time, so then they keep it on repeat.

What do you think it takes to create longevity in an industry as competitive as music?

Creativity. If you are someone who has always had a creative mind and were interested in creative things outside of music, you can make it. You can’t just do a track and be creative. It’s visual, it’s everything about the art. And, with music, you have to treat it like art. You need to be good with art and able to see things in more than one way. If you’re someone who knows how to put things together, who sees how colors work, sees what’s beautiful, and sees what makes people feel good, that’s what it’s about.

Why the title New English for your debut mixtape?

Because I’m talking that new English, that new style of funk. It’s that new way of talking, that new way of walking; it’s just a new style and a new way of life. I gave it that straight trap vibe just for that “New English,” but then I slowed it down with “Overnight” so people could know I fuck with other shit, too. People were already fucking with “Tiimmy Turner,” so I think they understood what I was doing. There’s probably going to be a New English II coming soon. Ey, ey, ey!

  • Words:
    Stephanie Smith-Strickland
  • Photography:
    Robert Wunsch
  • Styling:
    Chantal Drywa
  • Casting Director:
    Anissa Payne
  • Producer:
    Jean Jarvis
  • Photography Assistant:
    Brendan Phelan
  • Styling Assistant:
    Josie Danziger
  • Brands Featured:
    Givenchy, Acne Studios & Public School
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Watch Desiigner Flee the Undead in Scary “Zombie Walk” Video

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Last night, on Halloween night naturally, Desiigner shared a music video for his song “Zombie Walk” featuring King Savage. And keeping in line with holiday traditions, the rapper created a literal translation of the song title into an epic, 10-minute short film about a night of the living dead.

The music video begins with Desiigner rushing to make it to a house party, conveniently located at a spooky mansion in the middle of nowhere in the woods. And like in any great horror movie, his car breaks down and he is forced to hitchhike with a hillbilly trucker. A hillbilly trucker who suddenly develops a rabid appetite for human flesh. What follows is a true night of terror that even splits into animated form for segments of the video.

“Zombie Walk” is one of the many stellar tracks to appear on Desiigner’s debut mixtape New English, released earlier this year. Said tape also includes the ubiquitous hit “Panda,” while his other hit “Tiimmy Turner” is expected to appear on his upcoming proper full-length The Life of Desiigner, due to arrive sometime this year.

Stream Desiigner’s debut mixtape New English below:

In other music news, Big Sean has shared the new single “Bounce Back,” his second release in a single day. Listen to it right here.

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Chance the Rapper Shares Mysterious Teaser for New Movie ‘Slice’

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In between sharing adorable pictures of children dressed as him for Halloween last night, Chance the Rapper made a huge announcement on Twitter last night. He revealed that he has a starring role in an upcoming film called Slice, and unveiled a mysterious 20-second teaser to prove it.

The trailer shows little more than Chance donning a motorcycle helmet and driving off into the night on his bike, but a few details about the project are known from when it was first announced last summer. Chance is serving double-duty as both star and producer, and the film’s plotline at the time was said to concern a murdered pizza delivery man and supernatural forces.

Though this will be his most high-profile endeavor into the cinematic world, it is not the first time Chance has stepped in front of the camera. Last year he starred in a dramatic short film for VICE called Mr. Happy, which saw him portray a man struggling with severe depression. His role in Slice sounds considerably more lighthearted, but we’ll have to wait until 2017 to see what surprises are in store.

Watch the teaser for Slice below, and stay tuned for any further details to emerge about the film:

In other music news, Big Sean has dropped a new track called “Bounce Back,” his second release in a single day. Listen to it right here.

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Big Sean – Bounce Back

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Just hours after unleashing the buzzworthy “No More Interviews,” Big Sean bounces right back with the Hitmaka and Smash David-produced banger “Bounce Back.”

“Last night took an L, but tonight I bounce back,” rhymes the Detroit MC. “Wake up every morning, by the night, I count stacks / Knew that ass was real, when I hit, it bounced back.”

The cut, which boasts additional production from Metro Boomin and Amaire Johnson, also allows Sean to continue rhyming about his foes. “I heard your new shit, it’s pathetic,” he raps. “Your contract should be shredded.”

The fact that both “No More Interviews” and “Bounce Back” were released on the same day is prompting fans to wonder if a new album is imminent. Sean’s last effort, Dark Sky Paradise, dropped last year to critical acclaim.

Tune in to “The Tonight Show” this evening to watch Sean perform the retaliation anthem for the first time.

Listen to bounce back below…