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How digital music streaming has helped and hurt new album releases

Digital Album Streaming: a beautiful boost or plummeting pitfall? Well it depends on how you use it

The first half of 2018 has seen album releases from the likes of J. Cole, Nipsey Hussle, Tory Lanez, Nas, Kanye West, Beyoncé, and Jay-Z; all with various rollout plans to the lack thereof. Nicki Minaj announced her album, Queen, in May for a June release. Beyoncé and Jay-Z released Everything is Love seemingly out of nowhere, and then there were albums that dropped under an executive producer who didn't seem to give much notification to the artists themselves, cough. (I'm talking about... yes, you guessed it! Kanye West.)

Digital streaming of music has given both the artist and consumer a one-stop shop. Artists no longer need to advertise on billboards, bus signs or conjure up elaborate marketing plans. Music executives no longer have to announce albums and songs months in advanced and retail stores are not stocked to capacity with copies of physical CDs needed to match shopper consumption. Depending on the caliber of artist that you are, you don't even need to bait your audience into wanting your album with pre-released singles. All you have to do is make sure it's available on all streaming platforms on the day that you say it will be. Or, you don't even need to say a day.

I'm guilty of crediting Queen Bey for bringing the art of the hasty release into the genre of R&B and Hip Hop. Many people, like me, forget that it was actually her husband, Sean Carter, who started the trend. Released on July 4, 2013, Magna Carta Holy Grail took to listeners ears after only being announced two weeks prior in a subtle commercial for Samsung that premiered during the NBA Finals.

VIDEO featuring Jay-Z promoting Magna Carta Holy Grail

"All these other things have been introduced to the world -- the internet and all this technology, and all these things. How do we operate within all that? We don't have any rules; everyone's trying to figure it out... that's why the internet's like the wild, Wild West. We need to write the new rules for what's going on right now... The one thing I wanted to do was have that fireplace or radio moment... I wanted everyone to hear the album at one time."

Unfortunately, Samsung lost out on the ordeal when the app they paid for to stream Jay's album crashed and the project was almost instantaneously available on other digital streaming platforms. Nonetheless, the attempt was seen.

What we'd call an L, Beyoncé followed suit with and turned into a W, a surprise release of her self-titled visual album that took the world by complete force. Beyoncé was exclusively available on iTunes for its first week, was accompanied by visuals for each track, earning Yonce' over 80,000 copies sold in the first three hours and ultimately a number one album debut. (Queen Bey also saw similar success with her release of Lemonade, accompanied by a full-length film where Hov's, iced tea, 4:44, debuted at number one with various short films to accompany each track. The most successful of which, "The Story of O.J.", reached over 70 million views.

But the ability of Beyonce and Jay-Z to make us look is due largely to the equity and caliber of artistry they've come to be known for, not just in the exclusivity of their work alone. As listeners and consumers, we have a solid expectation of the quality of work they'll deliver and therefore have no problem rushing to whatever medium they decide to release from.

However, many artists are not so privileged. Even prior to Beyonce's self-titled visual album release, Kanye West tested the waters with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy's 34-minute film, Runaway, amassing over 22 million views to this date, and decided to take that same triumphant energy and innovation into his February 14, 2016, release of The Life of Pablo. The result was not so great. The rollout of the album was plagued by constant title changes, routine Kanye twitter rants, and revised track lists. The only thing that seemed to be happening right was that West had a Yeezy Season 3 fashion show planned at Madison Square Garden where he would premiere the project for all those in attendance, right? Wrong. The album premiered three days later on Tidal, with alterations unheard of by the crowd in attendance at Madison Square Garden. Even months after the release, the album was still undergoing changes with its finalized version coming on April 1, 2016.

And now here we are. The Carters’ surprise release, Everything is Love, and Kanye West announcing and embarking on his executive delivery of five albums in five weeks. The results have been everywhere from successful to... not so much. Pusha T's Daytona soared in the midst of rap beef between himself and Drake. Ye was welcomed by a lukewarm reception, but still managing to debut at number one, while Kids See Ghosts featuring Ye and Kid Cudi was quietly released and debuted at number two while NASIR featuring Nas peaked at number five.

However, the rockiest rollout yet was Teyana Taylor's K.T.S.E. The singer took to Big Boy's Neighborhood on Power 106 to explain that the album will be re-released due to label miscommunication and samples not being cleared in time. Acknowledging that songs on the album were literally cut short, as well as the label's mistake in setting a release date and listening experience all before the album samples were even cleared.

VIDEO: Teyana Taylor on Big Boy’s Neighborhood

Teyana has taken the public misstep like a champ, acknowledging the helpful critiques she's received from those who have listened thus far. A similar attitude is now generally required of artists in the digital age of album streaming, its boundless limits should remind artists to propel themselves into a new realm of creativity and innovation. Ultimately instilling in them the ability to embrace the body of work that they have while remembering, it’s not fully what you do but how you do it.

 

- Jadriena "Jade" Solomon

@24Jaded

  • Published in Music

The Artists That Have Influenced Blushhh Music May Surprise You

MC Lyte, Missy Elliott, Destiny's Child, Left Eye, Kanye West, and the Flatbush Zombies are among the musical influences of Blushhh Music

In music, everyone is influenced by someone. As a trio, Blushhh Music's sound is their own. However, as individuals, you can hear their musical influences.

Growing up, Sunnie's influences were MC Lyte, Lauryn Hill, Tupac, and Queen Latifah. Fast forward, her current influences are Drake, Timbaland, Missy Elliott, Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole.

As a vocalist, Tali's influences come from the R&B/Pop side of the ledger. Michael Jackson's "You are Not Alone" was the first song she sang at 3-years-old. Like many kids who were influenced by their parents' musical preferences, Tali followed her mother's path and became a fan of Janet Jackson and The Jacksons. Tali later became a fan of Destiny's Child, Sade, Shakira, and Selena. Since she has been

Since Tali has been raponizing, Tali's hip-hop influences include NWA, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and Chance The Rapper.

Check out this video, Blushhh Music gives a sample of raponizing.

Just listening to Bunni Ray, you can tell her influences are Left Eye (TLC), DaBrat, and Lil' Kim. What is surprising is that she is influenced by modern day Kanye West and the Flatbush Zombies.

In their debut single, Old School Back, Blushhh Music's musical influences are on display, but in a way that is distinctly their own.

We got a little taste of Blushhh Music's raponizing, which is a blend of rapping with a Capella harmonizing.

Pick up Blushhh Music's debut single, Old School Back, on iTunes and follow these ladies on social media @BlushhhMusic

Exclusive Interview: Meet Blushhh Music, Mathew Knowles' New Hip Hop Trio

Sunnie, Tali, and Bunni Ray of Blushhh Music are bringing Old School Back

The newest group from Mathew Knowles' Music World Entertainment is more than a girl group they are a hip-hop trio consisting of rappers Sunnie and Bunni Ray, and vocalist, Tali, better known as Blushhh Music.

What's The 411 had an opportunity to talk exclusively with Blushhh Music about how the group came together; their raponizing art form; the people who influenced them; meeting Mathew Knowles; and Kelly Rowland's impact on Tali; and their first single, Old School Back, which can be purchased on iTunes.

How Blushhh Music Came Together

We all like to know how groups come together. So starting from the beginning, it all started with the help of digital technology. More specifically, Blushhh Music came together with the help of social media.

Group member Sunnie was part of a duo searching for a singer to complete the group. During an Internet search of singers in Houston, she found Tali on Facebook. Fortunately for Tali, she branded herself well with a profile name on Facebook, TaliBestSingerlastname. Additionally, Tali's photos represented her well and the way she responded to the inquiry were the icing on the cake that gave her an invite to audition to be part of the group.

Five years later, the original group of Sunnie, Tali, and another rapper met Mathew Knowles at a showcase and were signed to an artist development contract. Two months into the contract, the other rapper dropped out and consequently there was a need to find another group member. Sunnie and Tali found Bunni Ray on Instagram. Mr. Knowles gave Sunnie and Tali complete creative control over the selection of Bunni Ray, because, at the end of the day, it was their "sisterhood" that was important.

So, can these ladies sing and rap? Well, in a word, yes! They gave us a taste of their "raponizing" aka a Capella rapping harmony.

Musical Influences

In music, everyone is influenced by someone. As a trio, Blushhh Music's sound is their own. However, as individuals, you can hear their influences.

Growing up, Sunnie's musical influences were MC Lyte, Lauren Hill, Tupac, and Queen Latifah. Fast forward, her current influences are Drake, Timbaland, Missy Elliott, Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole.

As a vocalist, Tali's influences come from the R&B/Pop side of the ledger. Michael Jackson's, "You are Not Alone," is the first song she sang at 3-years-old. Like many kids who were influenced by their parents' musical preferences, Tali followed her mother's path and became a fan of Janet Jackson and The Jacksons. Tali later became a fan of Destiny's Child, Sade, Shakira, and Selena. Since she has been raponizing, Tali's hip-hop influences include NWA, Bone Thugs n' Harmony, and Chance The Rapper.

Just listening to Bunni Ray, you can tell her influences are Left Eye (TLC), DaBrat, and Lil' Kim. What is surprising is that she is influenced by modern day Kanye West and the Flatbush Zombies. With What's The 411 being based in Brooklyn, shout out to the Flatbush Zombies! If we had known in advance of the interview, perhaps we could have arranged a meetup!

Blushhh Music's Defining Fashion Style

What's The 411 host and beauty expert, Courtney Rashon, is always focused on beauty and style. Courtney says when she first saw Blushhh Music, she saw their style as glam hip-hop, "Destiny's Child meets TLC, meets like a Run DMC."

"We do match, as you can see," responded Sunnie. "We're big on matching."

Their look is cohesive, a tip they learned from Mathew Knowles. When people see them, they should know that they are in a group even if they are not standing right next to each other.

Although there is cohesiveness, "we do have individual things about ourselves that you're always going to notice, Sunnie continued. "You're always going to notice Sunnie with the braids and a hat. Tali with the big blond hair."

"Artistic," Bunni Ray chimed in. "...she's super artsy with what she wears."

"I'm likely to draw on something or rip it up," added Tali.

"It is never going to be how she bought it in the store," says Bunni Ray.

Tali, who has a sexy style of her own, says that Bunni Ray brings the sex appeal, with Bunni Ray, "you're going to see thighs and boobs, you're going to see, sex appeal," said Tali with a finger snap.

Working With Mathew Knowles

What's The 411 host Onika McLean asked the question that many people want to know.

"How's it working with him (Mr. Knowles)...tell us something we don't know."

"He's not as intimidating as he looks; he's not as mean. We thought he hated us. Oh, he don't like us; I didn't even want to sing," responded Tali.

"If he's hard on you, it is because you have potential," added Sunnie.

"If he tells you that you're good, you might want to work," Tali said.

"Because you're never done growing," Sunnie continued. "Even with his daughter, he says all the time, Beyonce, every show, she's looking at something to improve. Every show, he's looking at something to improve. If you ever feel satisfied, and there's nothing in your mind that you feel you should work on, then he says you should just stop it here because you're not going to prosper. "

"He's funny," said Tali. "He's very funny, he has jokes, so smart. He knows what punch lines to say, what to make the topic of the day. Watch this be the headline because I said it."

"He's a marketing a genius." Sunni interrupted.

Kelly Rowland Makes a Great Impression on Blushhh Music

Aside from Mr. Knowles, who is the most interesting person that they have met since they became a group, Onika asked Blushhh Music

"Kelly Rowland!," Tali responded without hesitation. "Kelly Rowland to me; she played a big part when I was growing up period, in my high school days. When Sunni found me, I was telling Sunni about it, so Sunni was like, okay, okay. So when we got signed with Mr. Knowles, it was weird. So we just had the Atlanta Car Show, the car and bike show that we did, and she (Kelly Rowland) has June's Diary and they were there and they performed. So we got to meet Kelly, and when she saw us across the room, she ran over to us, and she was like 'hey I'm so happy to see you, great job.' So I finally got a chance to introduce her, and they were like, 'hey I heard so much about you.' She's just so sweet. She took a picture with us. She gave us great advice and that is something that we just took with us. It was like meeting the entire Destiny's Child group. It's really like we are Music Entertainment World family.

The Wrap-up

In answering Onika's question regarding what each member of the group would like for the audience to know about the group, Tali didn't hesitate to swoop in before Sunnie and say "original," which is Sunnie's line. After a laugh, Tali told Sunnie to "steal" her line, and she obliged.

"Always be you because no one can be you better than you in the words of Tali," offered Sunnie.

These ladies are so talented, humble, and focused!

Download Old School Back by Blushhh Music on iTunes and follow Blushhh Music on all social media at @BlushhhMusic.

MTV VMAs Fans Ready for the Show’s Brooklyn Arrival

VIDEO: Talking with MTV VMA Fans in Brooklyn

What's The 411TV correspondents Anisha Robertson and Bianca Peart took to the streets to scout out MTV VMA fans.

Standing in front of the Barclays Center, Anisha and Bianca talked to MTV VMA fans about which recording artists they were looking to see this year, who they wanted to win, and their favorite VMA moment.

MTV MOS Kiara Kiana Tori Brooklynites-and-MTV-VMA-Fans

Photo Credits: Jesse Whitehead/What's The 411 Networks

Videographer: Jesse Whitehead

Video Editor: Ruth J. Morrison

 

10 Reasons Why Fans Were Disappointed With Hot 97 Summer Jam

Hot 97’s Summer Jam XX Recap

On Sunday, June 2, I witnessed my first HOT 97 Summer Jam and please believe me when I say, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Along the 2-mile walk from where the Port Authority bus dropped me off in MetLife Stadium to the press entrance, I walked past a huge parade filled with people from all types of backgrounds.

Hip-hop heads gathered as one in the parking lot, celebrating like it was a major summer holiday--tailgating and barbecuing food; they were really getting ready for a great night.

Summer Jam was too good on paper. It gave us good music and a decent show, but it felt too much like a high school performance—safe, organized and fluent. Don't get me wrong, safety and organization are great attributes for a concert, particularly one the size of Hot 97 Summer Jam. However, we all wanted to see more than the ordinary production; i.e., last-minute surprises and performances outside the box.

It was evident that some fans left Summer Jam XX disappointed and here are 10 reasons why:

1. Joe Budden did a great job kicking off Summer Jam, but bringing out Tank was the highlight of his performance. (Not really a disappointment about Tank, I just love Tank.)

Joe Budden 1 resized 500x333

Joe Budden

2. Miguel performed a relevant performance by bringing out Mariah Carey and J. Cole, but I wanted him to do more like jumping into the crowd to make up for the 2013 Billboard Awards.

Miguel 1 resized 500x333

Miguel

J Cole 1 resized 500x333J-Cole

3. Chris Brown's performance was way too long. Although he electrified some of the women in the audience, he shifted the momentum of the crowd starting off his set with Beautiful People. That was a huge mistake! Summer Jam equals Hip Hop, not Pop. We wanted to hear Look At Me Now first. He could've preserved his opening act for the BET Awards coming up in a few weeks. Breezy's vocals were on point though, but he should've just gone before Miguel.

Chris Brown 1 resized 500x333Chris-Brown

4. There was the 'almost' highlight of the night when Fabolous brought Lil Kim onto the stage. At the end of the duo's performance, Fab appeared to have been introducing another female artist, who many rumored to be Foxy Brown, but didn't. Ebro of Hot 97 claimed that Foxy showed up late, while other bloggers said she couldn't find her earpiece. Nonetheless, Foxy should've been on that stage!!!!!

Lil Kim Fabolous 1 resized 500x333Lil-Kim and Fabolous

 

5. Now on to Nicki Minaj. 2 Chainz's performance with Nicki Minaj was way too short. First off, Nicki skipped out on Summer Jam last year, so why not SHUT the stage down this year with a song of your own? Nicki--How can you come out for 1.5 minutes, then just bounce like that?

Nikki Minaj 2 Chainz 1 resized 500x333Nikki-Minaj and 2-Chainz 

 

6. Okay, back to Foxy. All night, Hot 97's DJ's and personalities were teasing who was backstage. Rosenberg alluded to the fact that women were going to dominate Summer Jam, but that never happened. 

Nikki Minaj resized 500x333

I may have been the only one daydreaming, but I was hoping Foxy, Lil Kim and Nicki would all be on the stage at one time. I'm still dreaming....

 

7. Kendrick Lamar was by far the best performer at Summer Stage, but he should've brought out Jay-Z. When word got around that Beyonce and Jay-Z were in the building, everyone was pretty much convinced that the royal couple was going to hit the stage. Well, that didn't happen either. Seriously, this was the 20th anniversary of Summer Jam, Hov could have rapped his verse to B**** Don't Kill My Vibe?

Kendrick Lamar 1 resized 500x333Kendrick-Lamar

 

8. Everyone seemed to have been upset that Papoose took the stage, but he was actually the highlight of the night. I don't know why he felt the need to say "Free Remy Ma," because no one cared.

 

9. I respect WuTang for their contributions to hip-hop, but for the generation that I witnessed in the crowd, they seemed far less interested. I think they would've been a better closing act.

Wu Tang 1 resized 500x333Wu-Tang 1 resized 500x333

 

10. French Montana, the headliner of Summer Jam closed out the five-hour concert and was probably on stage for less than ten minutes (okay, maybe I'm exaggerating, but it was brief.) The highlight of his set was when fellow rap artists Rick Ross and Lil Wayne ran out and performed the hit single, Pop That. The crowd went crazy, of course. But moments later, the lights came on and Summer Jam was over, just like that. Fans exited the stadium in a somber mood, and so did I. Personally, I rode the bus home still wishing that Foxy and Jay would've graced the stage. Maybe it's just the Brooklyn sentimentality in me.

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French Montana, Lil-Wayne, and Rick-Ross

But, until next time...

 

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