Beyond the Lights Premiere’s at 2014 Chicago International Film Festival

bythewoodDirector Gina Prince-Bythewood (pictured left) gives movie goers a look behind the flashing lights of fame with her latest project Beyond the Lights.

Bythewood wrote and directed this film that tells the story of music’s next big star Noni, a bi-racial young women raised by a single mother, who has the voice of an angel. On the verge of succumbing to the pressures of her stardom, Noni meets someone that helps her see who she is and helps her find her true voice.

The film screened during this year’s Chicago International Film and writer, director Bythewood was on hand to discuss how the film came to light in 2007 when she started writing it. Bythewood said Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland served as her inspiration for Noni and the film. She said the messages she hopes people take from the film are to choose life and be true to your002self. The film stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle) as Noni, Nate Parker (The Secret Life of Bees), Minnie Driver (Good Will Hunting), and Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon).  Beyond the Lights hits theaters on November 14th, 2014.

Photos by Dan Locke

Chris Brown, Jodeci, Jeremih And More Confirmed To Take The Stage During Soul Train Awards 2014

100814-soul-train-awards-show-page-thumbnailCentric announced a lineup of hit-making performers and presenters for Soul Train Awards  2014. Leading the charge for his first Soul Train Awards  performance is the multi-talented Grammy Award winner, Chris Brown, who leads the show with seven nominations. In addition, the reunion we’ve all been waiting for is going down as the platinum selling group Jodeci is scheduled to sing a medley of hits before ending with a sneak peek of their new single, “Nobody Wins.” Chart-topping international fan favorites Aloe Blacc and Nico & Vinz will keep the audience entertained with upbeat performances of their catchy sing-a-long hits. Jeremih, Lisa Stansfield, Kem and Liv Warfield round out the list of rhythm and soul singers set to captivate viewers during this year’s show. Presenters Trey Songz, Boris Kodjoe, Laila Ali and Wolf Blitzer will join host Wendy Williams on stage at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on November 7, 2014. The show airs on CENTRIC and BET Networks on November 30, 2014 at 8PM ET/PT.

This year’s theme will celebrate the history of dance, from the classic Soul Train line and the electric slide, to the Dougie and this year’s breakout, the Nae Nae. To bring the dance theme to life, Soul Train Awards 2014 has brought in award-winning choreographer Fatima Robinson and her 12 seasoned dancers to lead the show.  Additionally, Grammy Award-winning producers 1500 or Nothin’ are back again as music directors for the show and will keep the party rolling throughout the night.

For show information, please visit BET.com/SoulTrain, the official site for Soul Train Awards 2014. Follow Centric on Twitter (@CentricTV), Instagram (@CentricTV) and Facebook.com/CentricTV. Be a part of the Soul Train Awards conversation using #SoulTrainAwards.

T.I.’s New Album ‘Paperwork’ to be Released October 21st

T.I. deluxe coverGrand Hustle/Columbia has announced the upcoming release of hip hop trailblazer T.I’s Columbia Records debut, Paperwork, executive produced by Pharrell, and due to hit retail platforms and digital outlets on October 21st.  Beginning today, fans can pre-order the highly anticipated new album on iTunes: http://smarturl.it/paperworkdlx. All those who pre-order Paperwork will receive the album’s kickoff hits “No Mediocre” (featuring Iggy Azalea) – a Top Ten smash on Mainstream R&B/Hip Hop charts and currently in Top 5 at Rhythm radio – and “About The Money,”(featuring Young Thug) which has also been a mainstay of urban and hip hop charts for nearly two months. The album track “New National Anthem” featuring Skylar Grey is also available to download for pre-ordering fans. On October 7th, another special instant grat will be offered – the title track “Paperwork” featuring Pharrell.

Most recently, T.I. gave an all-out performance of “About The Money” at the BET Hip Hop Awards.  Taped in Atlanta, the show is scheduled to air on BET October 14th.  The live rendition is but a taste of the 15 track opus (tracklisting below,) with the special Deluxe edition of Paperwork featuring 3 exclusive songs.

One of the most buzzed about albums of the fall, T.I. has described his first Columbia release as ‘of a stellar nature,’ and a golden opportunity to apply all of his diverse strengths to his music.   Globally recognized as a visionary artist and groundbreaking multi-platform entrepreneur, his stewardship of innovative label Grand Hustle, and multiple TV, digital and branding endeavors has made him a catalyst for some of the industry’s most exciting creative partnerships.

T.I. gathered only the best and the brightest for his triumphant solo return.  Paperwork was  Executive produced by Pharrell, and features multiple star-studded collaborations and guest appearances on the album, including Chris Brown featured on “Private Show,” Usher featured on “At Ya’ Own Risk,” and The Dream featured on “Let Your Heart Go (Break My Soul),” among others.
Throughout his career, the multi-platinum Atlanta-native has set the standard by which all other hip hop icons are measured, achieving four Billboard Hot 100 #1’s, and selling more than 14 million albums and 30 million singles. One of the most honored artists working today, T.I. has been awarded 11 Billboard Awards, 9 BET Hip Hop Awards, 3 GRAMMY® Awards, 3 BET Awards, 2 American Music Awards and an MTV Video Music Award. His standout collaborations with some of music’s biggest artists include Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, Robin Thicke, Lil Wayne, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Destiny’s Child, Britney Spears, B.O.B., Drake, Christina Aguilera, Kanye West and Swizz Beats. His label imprint Grand Hustle, founded in 2003, enters its second decade of operations as a platinum-plus foundry for some of the most innovative hip hop talent in the world.
T.I.’s success in the visual realm has carried over to movies and television, with the versatile star experiencing remarkable success as an actor, appearing in the hit film Identity Thief and playing a guest starring role in the SHOWTIME series HOUSE OF LIES.  He is also slated to appear in the upcoming Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell comedy GET HARD due out early next year and has been cast in the MARVEL film ANTMAN with co-star Paul Rudd. His VH1 unscripted series, T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle is already in its third season, capturing T.I. as he balances a thriving career, wife Tameka “Tiny” Cottle and their loving, blended family of six children.  The series continues to be one of the highest rated shows on VH1.

Tracklisting for Paperwork:
1.     King
2.     G’ Shit ft. Young Jeezy & WatchTheDuck
3.     About The Money ft. Young Thug
4.     New National Anthem ft. Skylar Grey
5.     Oh Yeah ft. Pharrell
6.     Private Show ft. Chris Brown
7.     No Mediocre ft. Iggy Azalea
8.     Jet Fuel ft. Boosie Badazz
9.     Paperwork ft. Pharrell
10.   Stay ft. Victoria Monet
11.   About My Issue ft. Victoria Monet & Nipsey Hussle
12.   At Ya’ Own Risk ft. Usher
13.   On Doe, On Phil ft. Trae The Truth
14.   Light Em Up (RIP Doe B) ft. Pharrell & WatchTheDuck
15.   Let Your Heart Go (Break My Soul) ft. The-Dream

Deluxe Edition Only:
16. Sugar Cane
17. I Don’t Know
18. You Can Tell How I Walk ft. Rick Ross

For more information visit: www.tipaperwork.com

Pharrell Williams for G-Star RAW

Pharrell-Williams-for-G-Star-RAWG-Star’s RAW for the Oceans collection is now available at Mall of America (south avenue on the first floor). In partnership with Bionic Yarn, the Vortex Project, Parley for the Oceans and curated by Pharrell Williams, the collection is made from ground-breaking Bionic Yarn – an eco-thread of fibers derived from recycled plastic bottles. Fittingly from the innovative denim brand, the range will include the first ever denims woven from Bionic Yarn. 

The RAW for the Oceans collection is the forefront of sustainable fashion. Environmental organizations Sea Shepard Conservation Society USA and Plastic Pollution Coalition, amongst others, highlighted the seriousness of plastic in our oceans.  
An issue of ocean plastic grows – each year alone, three times as much rubbish is dumped into the ocean as the weight of fish caught – so does the need for a solution. G-Star has joined forces with its partners, using ground-breaking technology to not only retrieve plastic from the oceans, but transform it into a new generation of denim.

This first collection of the RAW for the Oceans initiative has already innovated over 10 tons of the problematic ocean plastic. 

Containing men’s and women’s pieces to support the cause while becoming a part of the solution – style is uncompromised. Matching their internal innovation, the Bionic Yarn denims are printed with an original pattern. Using the initiative’s mascot, Otto the Octopus, the pattern morphs his organic form into classic prints like houndstooth. An element of discovery is brought to the garments through the prints, especially with their internal application, only revealed with the subtle cuff of a pant.

Venturing beyond outerwear, the RAW for the Oceans collection includes jeans, t-shirts, sweats, caps and more – all constructed from Bionic Yarn. Colored in intense shades of mazarine indigo blue and black, fabrics have soft hand feels and durable handles. The range signifies the beginning of a long-term collaboration between innovators Bionic Yarn and G-Star RAW. A standout piece of the men’s range is the A-Crotch Trench, a modern trench coat cut from the striking printed, Bionic Yarn raw denim. For women, the Fallden Bomber is a go-to piece for Autumn/Winter – transforming the printed denim into a wardrobe staple.

For more information, call G-Star at Mall of America at 952-883-3608 or visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GStarMallofAmerica 
or Instagram http://instagram.com/GStar_MOA #GStarRAW #RAWfortheOceans.

Mary J. Blige To Release The London Sessions December 2nd

MJBMary J. Blige has once again confounded expectations and ventured into new musical territory by crossing the Atlantic to collaborate with some of this decade’s most celebrated UK musical talent – including Disclosure, Eg White, Emile Sandé, Jimmy Napes, Naughty Boy, SAM ROMANS and Sam Smith – and recorded a new studio album, The London SessionsThis extraordinary new collection will be released December 2 on Capitol Records.

According to Capitol Music Group Chairman Steve Barnett, “Mary J. Blige created a one-of-a-kind blend of hip-hop and soul that has excited fans for more than 20 years, making her one of the most successful and acclaimed artists in any genre of music. The London Sessions is a fantastic album; another step forward for this great and enduring artist, and I am thrilled that she is now an important member of our Capitol Records family.”

“It’s all about the London Music scene and I’m so excited to have been part of it, to record my album,” says Blige. “The songs are fun, therapeutic and soulful. This is a beautiful change for me and I’m proud of what we have done here.”

”The London Sessions is, number one, the bravest thing, and number two, just so honest,” says Smith, who co-wrote lead single,“Therapy,” with Blige and Eg White (Adele, Florence + The Machines, James Blunt). Disclosure adds, “It’s the reason that people like Mary are so successful – they’re just not afraid to change what they do completely.”

This fearlessness propelled Blige to London’s thriving musical community, who embraced her fully and helped her create an album that displays the true evolution of an artist. Each of the collaborators worked with Blige to create a new body of work driven by her one-of-a-kind voice. The results are altogether thrilling.

The album’s debut track, “Therapy,” borrows from Doo-wop with its simple beat, minimal instrumentation and backing harmonies, as it glides along Blige’s signature soulful voice. The song will become available as an instant grat track on September 23, as part of the album pre-order on iTunes.

Blige will make her next appearance at the iTunes Festival in the UK on September 25.

With a track record of eight multi-platinum albums, nine Grammy Awards (plus a staggering 31 nominations), a 2012 Golden Globe nomination, and four American Music Awards, Blige is a global superstar. And in ensuing years, the singer/songwriter has attracted an intensely loyal fan base – responsible for propelling worldwide sales of more than 50 million albums.

 

Mary J. Blige To Release The London Sessions December 2nd

MJBMary J. Blige has once again confounded expectations and ventured into new musical territory by crossing the Atlantic to collaborate with some of this decade’s most celebrated UK musical talent – including Disclosure, Eg White, Emile Sandé, Jimmy Napes, Naughty Boy, SAM ROMANS and Sam Smith – and recorded a new studio album, The London SessionsThis extraordinary new collection will be released December 2 on Capitol Records.

According to Capitol Music Group Chairman Steve Barnett, “Mary J. Blige created a one-of-a-kind blend of hip-hop and soul that has excited fans for more than 20 years, making her one of the most successful and acclaimed artists in any genre of music. The London Sessions is a fantastic album; another step forward for this great and enduring artist, and I am thrilled that she is now an important member of our Capitol Records family.”

“It’s all about the London Music scene and I’m so excited to have been part of it, to record my album,” says Blige. “The songs are fun, therapeutic and soulful. This is a beautiful change for me and I’m proud of what we have done here.”

”The London Sessions is, number one, the bravest thing, and number two, just so honest,” says Smith, who co-wrote lead single,“Therapy,” with Blige and Eg White (Adele, Florence + The Machines, James Blunt). Disclosure adds, “It’s the reason that people like Mary are so successful – they’re just not afraid to change what they do completely.”

This fearlessness propelled Blige to London’s thriving musical community, who embraced her fully and helped her create an album that displays the true evolution of an artist. Each of the collaborators worked with Blige to create a new body of work driven by her one-of-a-kind voice. The results are altogether thrilling.

The album’s debut track, “Therapy,” borrows from Doo-wop with its simple beat, minimal instrumentation and backing harmonies, as it glides along Blige’s signature soulful voice. The song will become available as an instant grat track on September 23, as part of the album pre-order on iTunes.

Blige will make her next appearance at the iTunes Festival in the UK on September 25.

With a track record of eight multi-platinum albums, nine Grammy Awards (plus a staggering 31 nominations), a 2012 Golden Globe nomination, and four American Music Awards, Blige is a global superstar. And in ensuing years, the singer/songwriter has attracted an intensely loyal fan base – responsible for propelling worldwide sales of more than 50 million albums.

 

Talib Kweli & Black Star Vinyl Reissues Available Now

Black StarUniversal Music Enterprises (UMe) continues its “Respect the Classics” tribute to many of hip-hop’s finest with the vinyl release of rap icon Talib Kweli’s four historic Rawkus Records albums, including the underground classic, Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star, in a limited edition two-tone black on black picture disc, available now at http://smarturl.it/RespectTheClassics

Established in 1996, Rawkus Records jump-started the careers of legendary artists such as Talib Kweli, Mos Def and Pharoahe Monch, among many others.

Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star was released on August 18, 1998, to critical acclaim. The title is a reference to the Black Star Line, a shipping company founded by Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey. The album deals with modern-day issues, philosophies and life in Brooklyn. The two MCs had planned to release solo albums around the same time, but decided instead to collaborate on a full-length album. The first single, “Definition (song),” is a reaction to hip-hop’s fascination with death, dedicated to both Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., with a chorus that gives a nod to Boogie Down Productions’ “Stop the Violence.” “Children’s Story” is a re-imagination of the Slick Rick original, featuring Mos Def cautioning against materialism. The second single, “Respiration,” featuring Common, includes a Hi-Tek produced beat that samples Don Randi’s “The Fox” and another from the hip-hop documentary Style Wars. The track offers a melancholy ode to city life, with references to organic life functions such as breathing, eating and sleeping, but with an ominous edge, as Kweli raps about “sitting on shitty steps/we stooped to new lows, hell froze/the night the city slept.” The album peaked at No. 53 on the Billboard Top 200 and No. 13 on the Hip-Hop Albums chart, but has become considered a classic since then.

The other Talib Kweli titles to be reissued on vinyl include Quality, The Beautiful Struggle and Train of Thought, the collaboration between Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek dubbed Reflection Eternal. Quality, originally released in 2002, has not been available in vinyl since 2006, and includes the singles, the Kanye West-produced “Get By” and “Waiting for the DJ.” The Beautiful Struggle, which came out in 2004, has been out of print on vinyl since 2006, and includes the singles “I Try” (featuring MJB) and “Never Been in Love.” Train of Thought, released in 2000, produced the singles “The Blast” and “Love Language,” and hasn’t been available on vinyl since 2003.

UMe’s “Respect the Classics” campaign continues to reissue classic out of print hip-hop albums back on vinyl for the first time in years, with cool modern twists like 3D Lenticular covers, picture discs, metallic treatments, updated artwork, colored vinyl and more.

Respect The Classics launched last September with five Priority Records classics, including expanded CD and digital 25th Anniversary Editions of Eazy-E’s triple platinum solo debut, Eazy-Duz-It and EPMD’s chart-topping album, Strictly Business.  Remastered 180-gram vinyl LP reissues of Eazy-Duz-It, Ice Cube’s solo debut, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, and N.W.A’s iconic, triple-platinum Straight Outta Compton will also be released in faithfully replicated original album packaging, as well as a remastered CD and digital reissue of N.W.A’s debut, N.W.A & The Posse.

UMe’s “Respect The Classics” continued with special edition 15th Anniversary vinyl LPs for DMX’s first two albums, both multi-platinum essentials originally released in 1998 and long out-of-print on vinyl. It’s Dark & Hell Is Hot and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Heart, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart within seven months of each other, were released on gold vinyl and blood-splattered vinyl, respectively. All products can be found at RespectTheClassics.com along with merchandise and exclusive vinyl bundles.

 

 

Black Milk Announces Fall Tour Run With Live Band Nat Turner

Black milkWith his latest album, If There’s A Hell Below, set to be released on October 28th via his own independent label, Computer Ugly, critically acclaimed rapper/producer Black Milk announces Fall Tour dates with live band Nat Turner. Kicking things off on October 17th in NYC at Webster Hall, they’ll be touching down in several U.S. cities, in addition to several dates in Canada during the tour. This follows a recently concluded European Tour, which Black performed throughout August. Speaking on a past tour, LA Weekly shared praises, saying “Master of Ceremonies Black Milk was expertly both directing and starring in this show.”

With his latest album, If There’s A Hell Below, set to be released on October 28th via his own independent label, Computer Ugly, critically acclaimed rapper/producer Black Milk announces Fall Tour dates with live band Nat Turner. Kicking things off on October 17th in NYC at Webster Hall, they’ll be touching down in several U.S. cities, in addition to several dates in Canada during the tour. This follows a recently concluded European Tour, which Black performed throughout August. Speaking on a past tour, LA Weekly shared praises, saying “Master of Ceremonies Black Milk was expertly both directing and starring in this show.”

This information about the Fall Tour follows the If There’s A Hell Below album announcement, and also the release of “What It’s Worth”, the first singe from the album. “Detroit’s New Dance Show” was the second track to be released from the album, featuring  thumping, dark electronic production layered beneath pitch-lowered vocals on the chorus, with some hard-hitting lyrics in the verses. The “new-wave-tinged rocker,” as Okayplayer dubbed it, pays homage to a television series that aired in Black’s hometown of Detroit back in 1988 called “The New Dance Show.” “If There’s A Hell a Below isn’t as dark as No Poison No Paradise but it is somewhat of a continuation of that album,” he explains. “I’m still giving you a glimpse of different struggles for the point of view of an inner city youth but rhyming in different patterns over instrumentals that sound different from anything I’ve done in the past.”

In August Black Milk’s first Boiler Room performance set was shared as a video and free audio download. The upbeat mix starts with some Tronic-style synthed-out production and transitions into some dance-inducing blends that includes vocal re-workings of Danny BrownTotal, and Lucy Pearl, among others. Check out the video from the Boiler Room performance below.

Purchase tickets for Black Milk’s tour: http://blackmilk.biz/tours/

Black Milk’s Fall Tour:

Oct 17 – New York, NY at The Studio at Webster Hall
Oct 18 – Philadelphia, PA at Johnny Brenda’s
Oct 19 – Burlington, VT at Signal Kitchen
Oct 20 – Montreal, QC at Cabaret Underworld
Oct 21 – Ottawa, ON at Ritual
Oct 23 – Toronto, ON at Tattoo Queen West
Oct 24 – Chicago, IL at Reggie’s
Oct 25 – Toledo, OH at Frankies

React Presents Method Man & Redman + B Real (Cypress Hill) In Chicago

unnamed-420x580Thursday, October 23rd, React Presents is thrilled to welcome legends of hip-hop to Concord Music Hall! The World Wide Rollers Tour stops in Chicago with Method Man & Redman, along with Cypress Hill‘s B Real! Special guests include Berner and Mick Jenkins!

Launched in 2010 by Cinematic Music Group Founder Jonny Shipes, Steven “Steve-O” Brown, Shiest Bubz, and recording artist Smoke DZA, The Smoker’s Club Tour has flourished into one of the most successful independent concert tours in the world. The tour has featured performers such as Big K.R.I.T, Curren$y, Method Man, Juicy J, Joey Bada$$, Ab Soul and others. After the success of the first show at the South by Southwest Music Festival in 2010, all four founders saw the potential and never looked back. Fast forward to 2014 and the tour has reached its five year anniversary. With polarizing artists, shows that turn into parties, and their popular YouTube Channel that showcases the hilarity of it all, it’s no wonder The Smoker’s Club Tour shows no sign of slowing down.

Method Man and Redman‘s energy and reputation for humor have made them larger than life personalities. They are one of the most legendary duos in Hip-hop and this year marks their 20th Anniversary together. Method Man is a multi-Platinum Grammy winning solo artist who hails from the multi-Platinum Super Group Wu-Tang Clan. Redman is also a multi-Platinum solo artist as well. Together, they have become global icons as “Meth & Red”. Their album Blackout sold 1.5 million copies. Beyond the music, Meth & Red are also TV and Film stars in their own right, having had their own sitcom and the cult classic movie How High.

The Smoker’s Club Tour will also feature: B-Real, Berner, and Mick Jenkins. B-REAL has led Cypress Hill as one of the biggest global hip hop groups ever with over 18 million albums sold, three Grammy nominations and an MTV Award. With a co-sign from Wiz Khalifa, BERNER has established himself as a legitimate musical entity in Taylor Gang while developing and promoting his passion for marijuana. With his love for all things weed, Berner couldn’t have found himself on a more appropriate tour. Upstart MICK JENKINS has been making waves in the Chicago rap scene since the release of his Trees & Truths mixtape last year. Propelled by the success of “Martyrs” (where Mick outspokenly speaks on the state of Chicago), Mick is full steam ahead with his second project “The Water[s]” which just released on August 12th, along with the recent announcement of his signing to Cinematic Music Group.

Tickets are on sale now at Clubtix.com.

Keyshia Cole Sets October 7 Release Date For Point Of No Return

K. ColeMulti-platinum recording artist Keyshia Cole will release her sixth studio album, Point Of No Return, on October 7.  The album features her sexy new single “She” which depicts Cole’s commitment to self love. Among the guest artists featured on the album are Wale, Future, 2 Chainz, Juicy J, andAugust Alsina. Prominent producers on Point Of No Return are Mike WiLL (Miley Cyrus,Kanye West, Rihanna, 2 Chainz, Juicy J, Lil Wayne), Stargate (Beyonce, Rihanna), DJ Mustard (YG, 2 Chainz).

With two top-rated series under her belt at BET Networks, Cole returns this fall with her new show “THE UNTITLED KEYSHIA COLE PROJECT” This 6-episode docu-series reveals her continued struggles with the real-life issues that face all of us including career complications, marital strife, and motherhood challenges. Laced with humor, drama and a hefty dose of love, the series will document Keyshia’s painful setbacks and personal victories as she continues to defy her critics.