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Spitta is Back On A Major!

CONGRATULATIONS to Curren$y, who just signed a record deal with Warn-A-Brother Records. This is his first major label deal since he rolled with Young Money way back when, but unless you’re Wayne, Drake or Nicki, you’re going to ride the YMCM bench. Spitta has really been grinding since going...

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The Grammys Did Diana Dirty

Posted by S.Storch | Posted in Samantha's Archive | Posted on 13-02-2012

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I first discovered my love for music in 2000. Our first grade play was “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” and I was cast as a singer in the legendary girl group, The Supremes. To prepare for my role,  I went to my school’s library and took out a biography on the lead singer, Diana Ross. I read that book over and over again until it consumed me.  I had my dad take me to Coconut Records and buy me cassette tapes of The Supremes classic records. I even rented Motown 25 on VHS from the town video store. The Supremes became my life. I cried when I found out that one of the original singers, Florence Ballard, had spiraled into depression and poverty and died in 1972. Although Flo was incredibly important to me, it was Diana Ross who had captured my heart. She was EVERYTHING to me. When my group performed “Stop! In The Name Of Love” in our school play, I felt like I was her. I had my hair combed out like RCA era Diana Ross and my gold sequin dress made by my mom (on her Tina Knowles swag) fit like a glove. It was the Diana Ross image combined with the Motown sound that put me on cloud 9.

New Video: Nicki Minaj- Stupid Hoe

Posted by S.Storch | Posted in Samantha's Archive | Posted on 20-01-2012

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In case you forgot (like most of us did), Nicki Minaj has an album dropping in less than a month April (the pushback was just announced). #OOP. Here’s the video for her newest single off Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, “Stupid Hoe.” The lyrics are beyond wack and Nicki’s gotten too comfortable with her simplistic rhyming skills. However, the beat and the video itself makes up for what is lyrically lacking. Directed by Hype Williams, the video is colorful, vibrant, and a little bit odd. Essentially, it’s reflective of Nicki herself. It’s a decent video, essentially the epileptic mania that you would expect of a Nicki Minaj video. However, I need Nicki to come a lot harder. She may be the dominant female rapper in the game, but she is in no position to get comfortable. Here’s to hoping she avoids the sophomore slump.

A Few BLUNT Predictions For 2012

Posted by J. Block | Posted in Justantha | Posted on 08-01-2012

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Our 2011 predictions were eerily on point. Expect our 2012 predictions to come true too.

J: Drake records “Marvin’s Room 2: Marvin’s Revenge” with Common dropping a guest verse. Aubs will also do a lot more rapping in 2012.

S: Rihanna takes a couple of months off after touring to rejuvenate and let her relationship with her lesbian lover blossom.

J: House/Dubstep music will continue to grip its ugly tentacles around the realm of hip hop; vocals will become obsolete. Following that trend, Kanye West will officially go by the name DJ Yeezy World Peace, and create an album through a dubstep vocoder—his first invention as “Yeezus The Carpenter” for DONDA. It’ll sound kind of like this.

J: Big Boi will release another album, giving him 2 solo efforts before Andre 3000 even announces his first.

Hit the jump to read the rest of our blunt predictions!

Hip-Hop Back, Hip-Hop Back, 2011 Screamed Hip-Hop Back

Posted by J. Block | Posted in Justin's Archive | Posted on 02-01-2012

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Last week, Complex declared “Tupac back” as the best hip-hop line of 2011. Uh, okay. What was really back in 2011 was hip-hop. The genre has been suffering in recent years (or since the 90s, depending on how old you are), because of an overall lack of quality. Entering 2011, Golden Era snobs were raising their noses in disgust, the streets were wondering where 50 and Jeezy had gone, and everyone else was weary. In 2011, however, it seems like every rapper that mattered or wanted to matter stepped up and created exceptional music.

The established guard of stars came out this year in full force. Lil Wayne nearly sold a mili first week with his first post-prison release, Tha Carter IV. Eminem, still riding his monumental Recovery wave, teamed up with his old buddy Royce Da 5’9″ to unleash a collaboration album full of hard, misogynistic bars. Kanye West and Jay-Z promised and delivered the most anticipated tangible product in years in Watch The Throne, although the Concords 11s might have trumped The Throne in that department. (I say “tangible” lightly, since their initial digital-only release prevented a highly-anticipated leak). Each star did their thing, and expanded their horizons. Lil Wayne proved that you don’t need to make good music to sell records. Eminem was able to to make a fun record with a friend without any pressure. Kanye West continued to sonically expand what’s considered hip-hop while getting Jay to rap over some dubstep along the way. Expect DJs and electronic music to continue to infiltrate hip-hop in 2012.

While the old guard held their own, a new generation of rappers cracked into the mainstream. These rappers have been hot names for years, but 2011 was the year that they were able to get their label situation in line with their vision. Wale was given a second chance by Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group and Warner Bros. He fell short of his “classic” ambition, but he produced a #1 record with plenty of feel-good bangers, pop hits and introspective moments to satisfy himself and his label.

Big Sean, the former black sleep of G.O.O.D Music, was finally deemed ready by Kanye. He went ahead seized the spotlight and the iPods of every house party in America. With T.I. back in jail, Meek Mill had nowhere to turn until a certain red-bottomed boss scooped him up. After providing the most belligerent, loud, boastful record in 2011 with “Ima Boss,” he dropped Dreamchasers and one of the most vivd storytelling verses of the year on “Tony Story.”

Remember Tity Boi? Yeah, me neither. But do you know who 2 Chainz is? Yeah, that’s Tity Boi. 2 Chainz reinvented himself in 2011 with a new moniker and heightened work ethic. His “Spend It” is currently the hottest street record, and he’s the go-to feature for trap rappers everywhere.

Out of all the rappers to finally breakthrough this year, J. Cole has perhaps made the biggest impact. Handpicked by Jay-Z to one day take the crown, J. Cole has had the entire industry behind him and against him at the same time. Everyone wanted to see J. Cole succeed, but nobody could agree on how to roll out his music properly. After over a year of touring and delays, his debut album, Cole Word, finally received it’s September release date. What it didn’t have was a hit single to carry the album up the charts. “Work Out” had been a summer flop, and “Can’t Get Enough” wasn’t being pushed enough. Despite label forecasts of 50,000-60,000 albums sold, Cole World quadrupled what the industry thought it was capable of, selling an astounding 218,000 copies its first week.

What J. Cole was able to do has now opened doors for the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Big K.R.I.T. All three have distinct sounds that are all favorable to the underground—conventional wisdom would have them pegged as Indie acts with no mainstream appeal, and therefore no selling power. But if J. Cole was able to debut with a #1 album just off the strength of his music and fans, who’s to say Kendrick and K.R.I.T can’t do the same? J. Cole has made it possible to be yourself in an industry that’s always looking to pawn rappers off for another hit single, and still sell enough to please the Israeli overlords. Kendrick and K.R.I.T released highly acclaimed projects of their own, and can now continue to build their fan base and brand instead of worrying about needing a crossover single to sell records.

J. Cole wasn’t the only Indie warrior in 2011. Mac Miller had the first independently released #1 album in over 15 years with Blue Slide Park, selling 155,000 copies first week. Tyler, The Creator’s Goblin has sold over 150,000 copies on an Indie label. J. Cole, Mac Miller and Tyler’s contrarian approaches all proved that a strong brand and loyal fan base trumps any rushed effort with a catchy single leading the way. What they accomplished will significantly impact how artists and labels roll out their product in the future.

Long delayed albums stuck in label purgatory also saw the light in 2011. Lupe Fiasco had to sell his soul to Atlantic Records, but he was able to get Lasers released (it ended up being his best album commercially, even with it’s shortcomings). Common finally got his act together, put his acting aside, got in the studio with No I.D after over a decade of separation, and recreated Resurrection for modern ears with The Dreamer, The Believer. Young Jeezy, through all of his promotional hiccups, managed to get TM103 out to your hood and my suburb right before the new year.

Despite all of the incredible music that was released in 2011, much of it has been overshadowed by conflict. What’s hip-hop without the beef, right? Nobody is dieting out here. 2011 was the year of the subliminals. Jay-Z told Birdman “you got Baby money,” which sparked a war of words that ran throughout the year. Drake took jabs at Kanye and Jay-Z on “I’m On One” (“the throne is for the taking—watch me take it”) and on “Dreams Money Can Buy” (“my favorite rappers either lost it or they ain’t alive”). Pusha T and Common dedicated entire records to dissing Drake (apparently they’ve noticed Drake’s commercial power). Aubs was involved in just about ever subliminal diss record in 2011 some way or another. That’s not a coincidence for the “human croissant.”

Credit to those who shed the subliminals and went right for the jugular. Lil Kim used Nicki Minaj’s success to try and resurrect her career, sparking a very public war of words. Game tried to get people to remember his existence by going at everyone connected to hip-hop on “Uncle Otis”—everyone except the label bosses who kept delaying his album. It was Lil Wayne, however, who provided the nastiest line of 2011, going right at Jay-Z and his pregnant Queen Beyonce: “Talkin’ bout Baby money, I got your Baby money. Kidnap your bitch, keep that, how much you love your lady money?”.

There was even R&B beef in 2011, which is always funny. Robin Thicke had the Twitter beef of the year, and Chris Brown and Frank Ocean even got into it. It’s only a matter of time until someone gets killed over Twitter, and Chris Brown’s cousins seemed determine to waste Frank Ocean over a couple tweets:

R&B and hip-hop became very intertwined in 2011. Frank Ocean’s Odd Future collective successfully fucked up the minds of half of teenage America with their I-don’t-give-a-fuck, shock, punk-rap rager attitude. Ocean ended up as the go-to hook-smith on Watch The Throne and on Goblin. His R&B counterpart, The Weeknd, exploded out of Toronto with some serious co-signs from Drake. The Weeknd promised and actually released three brilliant mixtapes in 2011, outproducing half of the R&B industry. His presence was felt all over Drake’s acclaimed Take Care—whether it was adding vocals, songwriting or production, The Weeknd helped Drake push Take Care to a creative zenith (similar to what Kid Cudi did on Kanye’s 808s & Heartbreak)—the ultimate example of hip-hop and R&B tastefully co-existing.

To close 2011, The Throne embarked on a North American tour. Those lucky enough to attend were treated to one of the greatest concerts ever put together. It was the ultimate concert experience—with tickets starting at almost $100 in many cities, it was a tour steeped in over-the-top stunts, stages, songs (they performed that song about African Americans In Paris 168 times over 34 concerts) and wardrobes (Kanye’s leather kilt and Air Yeezy 2s commanded attention at every date). Jay-Z’s bombastic, bat-out-of-hell performance of “U Don’t Know” was the most exhilarating concert experience I’ve ever had:

Hip-hop is in a strange place right now. Comedians are rapping, rappers are singing, singers are rapping, and Pitchfork keeps giving Lil B exceptional reviews. There’s no clear direction for the culture and the genre, because hip-hop flexed it’s diversity in 2011. Never has hip-hop literally had something for everyone. Hip-hop no longer has a myopic attitude—it’s artists are throwing a molotov cocktail to the establishment and creating music to expand the culture, to let everyone in. It’s much cooler to lead the revolution than to inherit the crown. Watch the new year.

Drake —”Make Me Proud” Feat. Nicki Minaj

Posted by Stefan | Posted in Stefan's Archive | Posted on 13-10-2011

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Drake was at Hot97 earlier tonight, on Funkmaster Flex’s show to debut the second official single for his upcoming album Take Care. This track not only features his label-mate, Nicki Minaj, but is a tribute to her and all females. Both Drake and Nicki flow perfectly over this T-Minus produced track. With Take Care being pushed back because of “sample clearance issues“, hopefully this single will be able to carry all of the OVOXO’ers over until it drops on November 15th.

DOWNLOAD: “Make Me Proud” Feat. Nicki Minaj

Grade A Fuckery: The Art of Artist Development

Posted by J. Block | Posted in Justin's Archive | Posted on 28-04-2011

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I was making my daily rounds around the hip-hop blogosphere yesterday when I found this interesting quote at HHU. Lyor Cohen, North American CEO of Warner Music Group (WMG), made an interesting comment about the role of record labels in today’s music industry:

We are reactivating the lost art of artist development, I really believe that. I think people are thinking we are an impediment, but we want to make deals that make sense, that liberate the industry to the future, that give the power to the consumer. That’s not a cop-out. We want to be a positive force.

As J.D. pointed out, Cohen basically lied. Cohen represents a huge chunk of rap’s major labels; Atlantic Records and Warner Bros. Record Group are all under the WMG umbrella. On those labels are notable hip-hop imprints Bad Boy Records, Maybach Music Group, Grand Hustle Records, Elektra Records, Fort Knox Entertainment, and Reprise Records. To say that majors are “reactivating the lost art of artist development” could not be more misleading. If anything (and I’m speaking directly about the hip-hop industry), majors often impede the growth of artists. Majors aren’t discovering and signing talent to bring up—they’re leeching off of Indies.

After reading Cohen’s quote last night, I spent hours racking my brain trying to think of rappers who exclusively came up with, and exploded on a major. In recent memory (the “Internet Era”), not one came to mind. Actually, Nicki Minaj is an exception, but she’s been gifted a great situation at Young Money. Many labels would’ve seriously delayed her album after her first single, “Massive Attack” bombed, but Young Money knew better. Drake, biggest winner of the Internet Era, had actually been rolling with Young Money before So Far Gone dropped and “Best I Ever Had” exploded. He may have gotten artistic guidance and buzz from Lil’ Wayne and Young Money, but actually being signed and dealing with label politics and the business is another 100 yards that Drake hadn’t driven yet.

Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y each rode the bench at their respective majors (Warner Bros. and Young Money) before going Indie. Only as independent artists did each rapper truly come into their own, and become what they are today. Each is now back on a major and accomplishing what they wanted—Wiz’s Rolling Papers sold nearly 200,000 units its first week, and Curren$y has a whole host of projects lined up for 2011, including his recently released FreEP, Covert Coup.

Wiz is also signed to Pittsburgh Indie Rostrum Records, which is 110% responsible for his current success. Rostrum Records founder Benjy Grinberg was been working with Wiz since he was 16, and stressed artist development in his recent interview with XXL: “The artists we develop need to develop as artists, as human beings. You can’t force that.” It’s important to remember that the rappers we adore are still young adults, who would be working entry level jobs as 20-somethings if they didn’t do this rap thing. They’re immature as humans, and a one bad situation on a major can seriously fuck their lives, not only their career (Charles Hamilton).

Rappers who try and come out from the cyberspace of the underground while living on a major have only experienced frustration and despair. Currently, J. Cole, Jay Electronica, and Big Sean are in the same situation at Wiz and Curren$y were in a few years ago—that of label purgatory. Big Sean is poised to break out though—his album, Finally Famous, is finally going to drop on June 21st. But in his feature in the new XXL, he voiced his displeasure with Def Jam: “Why don’t you [Def Jam] put my song on the radio, and I’ll be poppin’.” He’s been signed to Def Jam for three years, and only released two mixtapes—all while waiting for the go-head for his album. J. Cole is currently dealing with the current reality of life on a major: your album doesn’t get a release date until you get a hit single. No radio single means no album for many major label rappers.

But the savvier rappers aren’t dealing with major label politics. They’re not wasting their careers away on a major, waiting for some A&R to give them a catchy beat with a pop star on the hook. Instead, they’re taking to the Internet to promote and release their music—the blogs, Twitter, and their own websites. They’re not letting majors build them up in a misguided marketing campaign. They’re building their own brands. Rappers who brand themselves, who create an intangible entity that they embody, are the ones who are killing it today. Lil’ B is proving that you don’t even have to be good to find success, but you indeed need a brand. His whole “Based God” campaign is brilliant. People like feeling attached to deity-like movements, even if it’s illogical. There’s no scientific or logical season to believe in God, just like there’s no real logical reason to like Lil’ B’s music. But it’s the style, culture, and brand that people buy into.

The same principles apply to Odd Future, Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y. Odd Future doesn’t make good music, but they’ve branded themselves as youthful, rebellious assholes, which every 18-25 year old wants to be in today’s America. Wiz’s Taylor Gang represents the hard-partying, fun-loving lifestyle that we all want a part of. As for Spitta… Well… You JETS (an acronym for Just Enjoy This Shit) or you jealous… These artists have taken advantage of the audience that they can access with a few keystrokes, and made it in hip-hop, without the help of any Israeli Overlords.

Lyor Cohen is out of his knish filled mind if he thinks that WMG, or any major, is actually concerned with nurturing and raising artists. If anything, they swoop in when artists have already established themselves and built their own audience. Wiz signed to Atlantic Records last April after building his own fan base after his torrid time on Warner Bros. Odd Future just signed their own record deal. Drake’s signature turned into one of the most epic bidding wars in hip-hop history after So Far Gone and “Best I Ever Had” in 2009. Major labels are letting rappers build themselves up, and then swooping in with the million dollar record deals, the 360 deals and the resources.

It sounds strange, but rappers are smartening up. They’re not letting majors swoop in early in their careers, only to be cast into label purgatory. Lil’ B demanding $10 million for a record deal sounds crazy, but he’s spot on when he says, “To put a price on my career and what I do — $10 million is not enough. My life’s very important.” Careers aren’t on the line here—lives are. And developing lives and careers is what Indies and guys like Benjy Grinberg do best. Lyor Cohen and the rest of the corporate music industry? Hardly.

“Romans Revenge 2.0″ (Remix) Nicki Minaj feat. ‘Lil Wayne

Posted by J. Block | Posted in Justin's Archive | Posted on 17-01-2011

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After a slow MLK weekend, the song that gave me endles MANNINGGGG ELLLIIIIII reference now has Wayne on it. What an L for Busta Rhymes and Em, because Wayne SNAPPED on this. And there I was thinking the punchline flow was dead—well it is, but Weezy always makes it entertaining. The onomatopoeia in this track is always appreciated as well.

“I got money and power/A woman in the shower/And she ain’t want nothin’ but my Johnson….Howard.”

Spotted at KC

DOWNLOAD: “Romans Revenge 2.0″ (Remix)

Best Concerts of 2010

Posted by J. Block | Posted in Justantha | Posted on 26-12-2010

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We certainly did a lot of concert-trekking in 2010. At one point or another, either one of us saw Jay-Z, Eminem, Kanye West, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Drake, J. Cole, Alicia Keys, Lupe Fiasco, B.o.B, XV, Wale, Chiddy Bang, Swizz Beatz, Melanie Fiona, Robin Thicke, Trey Songz, Young Jeezy, 50, Dr. Dre, Chris Martin, Donnis, Wiz Khalifa, Big K.R.I.T, Tyga, Curren$y, The Roots, John Legend, Jennifer Hudson, Common, Jim Jones and Fabolous perform (we’re probably forgetting many more too). We’ll relive the best shows that we attended of 2010 for you:


John Legend+The Roots
I saw this supergroup perform right after Wake Up! was released. Spike Lee directed a live broadcast of the concert on YouTube. I have to say, this was my personal favorite of 2010. The event was general admission so I was right up in John Legend’s nuts, and American Express gave out free concert swag. The Roots are one of the best bands in the world (Questlove is a great DJ and an amazing drummer to watch), and John Legend’s voice knows no genre/racial barriers. Jennifer Hudson, Melanie Fiona and Common came out for select cuts off of Wake Up! to cap off an incredible night.

Lupe Fiasco
Lupe was on his Steppin’ Lasers tour for this show (it’s funny that he went on tour for an MIA album). B.o.B was the opener, and was almost as impressive as Lupe. I’d been a big fan of B.o.B before, but I didn’t know that he was so multi-talented; his guitar ballads and singing was really refreshing to hear live at a rap concert. This was my 2nd time seeing Lupe, and as usual, he killed it. Lu is the best active rapper, in my opinion, so seeing him end the show with an 11-minute freestyle wasn’t anything unexpected (but VERY, VERY, VERY IMPRESSIVE nonetheless): “Lasers, is love/Lasers is light/Lasers is coming/New York City goodnight.”

Chiddy Bang
I saw Chiddy and Xaphoon first perform at Summer 618, but outside of Chiddy’s crazy plates freestyle (one of his bars was: “Boy I got a buzz like Woody in Toy Story’) we won’t discuss it. Later that summer, they shut-down The Highline with the aide of XV and Donnis. They’re always interactive with the crowd (which was full of Long Island and Central Jersey degenerates), and Chiddy’s freestyles make you remember the show.


Alicia Keys
This concert was the official start to our slew of concerts in 2010. We attended the Element of Freedom Tour at Madison Square Garden March 17th. Although it’s been said many times that Alicia can’t handle an arena the size of MSG, she did a fine job. With guests like Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Swizz Beatz, and with performances of her classics such as “Karma,” she was able to captivate her audience. However, the one flaw with the show was the lack of her significant other, the piano. If she had focused less on choreography, and more on what she’s known for, perhaps the show would have been a better time.

Jay-Z & Eminem
We were lucky enough to get tickets to the first night of the Home & Home concert’s New York run even before the second show was added. This was not a concert we could miss. Eminem made a great return to the stage, but Jay stole the show. How could he not? On his home turf, he was the one to christen the new Yankee Stadium with its first concert. Accompanied by guests Kanye West, Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Drake, Chris Martin, and others, he made the night one that will rank amongst his top concerts, such as the Fade To Black show and the Answer the Call show.

J. Cole
We copped these tickets back in early September expecting to attend the show and have Jermaine perform tracks off of his new album. We were obviously wrong, seeing as we’re still waiting on his debut album. However, with the release of his mixtape Friday Night Lights, there was plenty of new material for him to perform. Red Cafe and Drake made appearances, yet the audience was strictly there for J. Cole. The amount of love and support for him in that room was incredible and will only grow more widespread once his album drops. We won’t be surprised if that Highline Ballroom show we attended is his last small-scale domestic concert.

Oh look, J. Cole came out for Drake and Drake came out for J. Cole:

As always, visit the BrilliantlyBlunt YouTube channel for concert footage of most of the aforementioned artists we saw live.

Breakthrough Artist of the Year

Posted by S.Storch | Posted in Samantha's Archive | Posted on 23-12-2010

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Coming up with a winner for this one was easy.

2010 was undoubtedly Nicki Minaj’s year. After being groomed under the watchful eye of Lil Wayne, many questioned whether or not she would be able to survive in the industry while he did his stint in jail. As we can see now, Nicki ended up doing just fine.

Nicki put herself out there and made sure that her voice was heard in any way possible. The year’s Queen of Features lent her voice to a variety of tracks ranging from Mariah Carey’s “Up Out My Face, Boy” to Jay Sean’s “2012 (It Ain’t The End), from Kanye West’s “Monster” to Christina Aguilera’s “WooHoo.” Nicki Minaj was clearly on a mission. Although her singles “Massive Attack” and “Check It Out” failed to make much of an impact,  Pink Friday standouts “Your Love” and “Right Thru Me” dominated both urban and pop radio this summer and winter, respectively. The two singles, along with her copious features built up an epic buzz around her debut album, which entered the charts in November at #2 behind Kanye West, and went #1 on the Rap Charts this week.

The Billboard Charts were good to Nicki Minaj this year. She was the first female rapper since 2002 to top the Rap Charts and the first artist to have 7 songs on the Hot 100 simultaneously. In addition to her chart success, she also racked up the awards, winning several BET Awards and BET Hip Hop Awards, not to mention being nominated for an MTV VMA (losing in the Best New Artist category to Justin Bieber). Add a nomination for the upcoming Grammy’s for Ludacris’ “My Chick Bad” and you’ve got quite a resumé there.

2010 was an epic year for Onika Maraj. And as viewers saw on her MTV Documentary “My Time Now,” she doesn’t plan on relenting any time soon. Here’s wishing the bewigged femcee the best of luck in 2011, a year for her to cultivate her rap skills and finally squash the  Lil Kim beef once and for all.

Hip-Hop’s Grinder of 2010

Posted by J. Block | Posted in Justin's Archive | Posted on 22-12-2010

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This one was just too easy. Kanye West is hip-hop’s “Grinder” of 2010 by a long-shot. Nobody, and I mean nobody, matched both the quality and quantity of work ‘Ye put out this year.

He started off the New Year in Hawaii, block-booking all the studios at Avex Honolulu studios. Complex Magazine EIC, Noah Callahan-Bever was able to get a first-hand look at “Rap Camp.” According to Callahan-Bever, Kanye never stopped working during his five day visit: “Kanye never slept at his house, or even in a bed. He would, er, power-nap in a studio chair or couch here and there in 90-minute intervals, working through the night. Engineers remained on the boards 24 hours a day.”

These continuous, red-eye workdays didn’t end until November, when Kanye’s opus, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, was mixed and mastered. The album turned out to be a 13-track masterpiece—the album of the year across all genres.

But in between working on tracks specifically for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye somehow found the time to treat everyone to GOOD Fridays. Every Friday, Kanye gave us a new song (FOR FREE), fresh from Pro Tools. How this man was able to deliver excellence week-in and week-out is a true testament to ‘Ye’s 2010 work ethic.

For three straight months, Kanye made Friday nights (and later, Saturday mornings) an Internet event in itself. I can’t say that any GOOD Friday track was totally whack—if the verses were lacking, the production saved the song, and vice versa. But when the production and the raps were in harmony, great songs like “Monster,” “Power Remix,” “The Joy,” and “Looking For Trouble,” surfaced.

Kanye’s grind has spurred Swizz Beatz to start “Monster Mondays” and Timbaland to implement “Timbo Thursdays,” starting in January. Neither super-producer, however, has been able to match the success or buzz of GOOD Fridays; nobody fucks with Swizz Beatz, lyrically, and I can’t remember the last time Timbaland produced a track that I enjoyed.

Kanye’s promotional blitzkrieg cannot be brushed-aside. He took over social media, magazine covers, radio, and television over the summer and into the fall. He was able to book MTV, MTV2 and BET for the debuts of his “Power” video and his film, “Runaway.” That’s right, Kanye found time to make a movie. “Runaway” was filmed over the summer in a few days—that’s what 20-hour shoots will do.

With the critical reception of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and GOOD Fridays, Kanye was able to achieve an impossible balance of high quantity and high quality—work ethic and talent—grind and greatness.

Expect his grind to continue up until his 2011 world-tour kicks off—his collaboration album with Jay-Z, Watch The Throne, is due out in February, and he’s currently producing the majority of John Legend’s and Common’s next albums. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up as hip-hop’s Grinder of 2011.

Honorable Mentions:

Spitta dropped two solid albums within six-months of each other: Pilot Talk and Pilot Talk 2. Word to his DD172 producer, Ski Beatz, too.

Young Money
YM’s stars straight up won in 2011. ‘Lil Wayne had a #1 single and #1 album while in jail; Nicki Minaj’s debut, Pink Friday, went Gold after a month, and Drake dominated everyone and everything. A huge shout-out to due to Young Money’s promotional squads: they’re just as responsible for Wayne, Nicki and Drake’s successes as the artists are.

U mad? Despite whatever you may think of Puff, the guy worked his ass off in 2010. He made Rick Ross into a rap superstar and brought his talentless group, Diddy Dirty Money, to some level of respectability. DDM’s album, Last Train to Paris, just did 101K first week, a full 40K more than estimated. Diddy’s promotional grind was on point in 2010, even if he wasn’t musically.