LL Cool J to Become Kennedy Center’s First Hip-Hop Honoree

LLCoolJ (photo via npr.org)

by Rodney Carmichael via npr.org

Thirty years after becoming rap’s first sex symbol, LL Cool J will be the first hip-hop artist to receive Kennedy Center Honors in its 40-year history.

The rapper-turned-actor born James Todd Smith will be inducted with a prestigious 2017 class — including pop stars Lionel Richie, Gloria Estefan, television icon Norman Lear and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade – on Sunday, Dec. 3 at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, D.C.

The honorees will be saluted by performers while seated alongside President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump. While Kennedy Center Honors acknowledge the lifetime achievements of contributors to American culture, the list has traditionally been limited in scope. But the inclusion of LL, born James Todd Smith, in this year’s honoree list further expands the center’s growing embrace of hip-hop culture.

Earlier this year the center appointed Simone Eccleston as its first director of Hip-Hop Culture after naming A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip as artistic director of Hip-Hop Culture in 2016. Historic performances by Kendrick Lamar and Common have also underlined the center’s investment, and more programming for the 2017-18 season is expected to be announced in the coming months.

At 49, LL will be the Kennedy Center’s youngest honoree since Stevie Wonder. It’s a long way from home for the St. Albans, Queens native who made his first record, “I Need A Beat,” at 16, after his demo tape made it to the ears of producer and Def Jam founder Rick Rubin. As rap’s first bona fide solo star, LL was larger than life in the 1980s, the first to embody the street-corner swagger and sex appeal that would become a blueprint for future hip-hop icons ranging from Big Daddy Kane to Biggie.

Before an artist like Drake could legitimately mix hip-hop lyricism with R&B vulnerability, LL turned out the first hit rap ballad with 1987’s “I Need Love.” And the ladies loved him for it. Best known today for his starring roles in TV and film, he received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last year. But after a career spanning 30-plus years and 13 albums, he’s yet to leave rap alone — he’s rumored to be in the studio recording with Dr. Dre.

To read full article, go to: LL Cool J To Become Kennedy Center’s First Hip-Hop Honoree : The Record : NPR

Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to Headline Saturdays and Sundays at Coachella 2017

Beyoncé, Thom Yorke of Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar (photo via Variety.com)

article by  via Variety.com

Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, and Radiohead will headline the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival this year. The 18th annual fest will once again take place over two weekends — April 14 to 16 and April 21 to 23 — at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif.

Aside from a brief surprise cameo during husband Jay Z’s headlining set in 2010, and again for little sister Solange’s appearance in 2014, Beyoncé has never played the desert festival. She will headline the second night, with returning veterans Radiohead on Friday and Lamar (who first played the fest in 2012) closing out the proceedings on Sunday.

All three artists released highly acclaimed new music in 2016.

To read more, go to: Coachella 2017 Lineup: Beyonce, Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar to Headline | Variety

Kendrick Lamar Pays Homage To N.W.A At Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Event

Friday night (Apr. 8) was an evening to remember for the members of N.W.A.

Source: Kendrick Lamar Pays Homage To N.W.A At Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Event

Q-Tip Named Kennedy Center’s 1st Artistic Director of Hip-Hop

Q-Tip (photo via eurweb.com)

Q-Tip (photo via eurweb.com)

article by Maeve McDermott via usatoday.com

Before last year, Kennedy Center hosting hip hop shows seemed like an unlikely prospect.

But after hosting Kendrick Lamar’s sold-out performance with the National Symphony Orchestra last year, the center’s 2016 season includes its first hip hop culture series, bringing on rapper and producer Q-Tip as their first artistic director of hip hop.

The social justice-oriented rapper is best known as a founding member of the seminal hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest, and has worked with many of music’s biggest names, including Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, the Beastie Boys, Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige and Pharrell Williams.

The Kennedy Center, which celebrates John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday this year, announced details of six events celebrating different facets of hip hop culture, including a poetry slam, a teach-in and a dance competition. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and soprano Renee Fleming were also appointed at-large artistic advisers for the 2016-2017 season, according to the AP.

“This new programmatic platform recognizes Hip Hop’s contributions to global culture and its role in promoting values such as courage, freedom, justice, and service,” the center announced in a release.

To read more, go to: http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2016/03/08/q-tip-named-kennedy-center-first-hip-hop-director/81485882/

New Collection of Kendrick Lamar Music Appears Online

2016 ESSENCE Festival Lineup Revealed: Kendrick Lamar, Mariah Carey, Maxwell, and More!

ESSENCE Festival 2016article by Taylor Lewis via essence.com

It’s four months out from this year’s ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans, and ESSENCE has just revealed its first look at the 2016 lineup.

For the 22nd year, ESSENCE Fest is bringing sure-to-be-lit nighttime concerts featuring more than 30 of today’s hottest hip-hop and R&B stars. This year’s lineup is a mix of old and new: soul and R&B, hip hop and pop—from Kendrick Lamar to Mariah Carey to Maxwell to Lion Babe.

“The ESSENCE Festival is back in New Orleans with an extraordinary roster of the biggest names and best performers in entertainment—from global music icons to the industry’s rising stars,” said ESSENCE President Michelle Ebanks. “We are welcoming Mariah Carey, Kendrick Lamar and Maxwell to headline the Superdome main stage. In addition, we will be embracing newcomers like Leon Bridges, Jeremih, Lion Babe, Dej Loaf and The Internet, as well as fan favorite Charlie Wilson for the ultimate cultural experience in New Orleans this July 4th weekend.”

Click through to see a full list of performers, and be sure to check back for updates.

Get your tickets here.

To read original article, go to: http://www.essence.com/2016/03/01/2016-essence-festival-lineup-revealed-kendrick-mariah-maxwell-oh-my

Kendrick Lamar, the Pride of Compton, CA, Receives Key to the City

(image via eurweb.com)

(image via blackamericaweb.com)

article by Brittny Mejia via latimes.com

The city of Compton honored rapper Kendrick Lamar today by presenting him the key to the city.  The ceremony honoring the Grammy Award winner who grew up in the city took place at 10 a.m. at the Martin Luther King Monument at Civic Center Plaza.

“Kendrick Lamar is a phenomenal artist whose work has served as a catalyst to raise a new level of consciousness for this generation,” said Compton Mayor Aja Brown in a statement. “His message challenges the status quo and motivates listeners to rethink our society’s institutions.”

Last year, Lamar wrote a love letter to Compton through his music video “King Kunta,” featuring the rapper and his friends dancing through his hometown. The key to the city is Compton’s reply to that letter.

Lamar attended Centennial High School as a teenager, where he was a straight-A student, according to city officials. Last year, he served as the 63rd grand marshal of the Compton Christmas Parade.   The “Kunta” video was filled with scenes from the city, including the Compton Swap Meet, also known as the Compton Fashion Center.

“Kendrick Lamar is one of Compton’s greatest ambassadors,” said City Councilwoman Janna Zurita. “We in Compton are proud of him because he is a symbol of what our city really is — a place where dreams can come true.”