Kendrick Lamar Won A Pulitzer


Yep, you read that correctly. Now, rapper Kendrick Lamar can add “Pulitzer Prize Winner” to his ever-expanding resume. In a historical feat, the “HUMBLE.” rapper beat out composers Michael Gilbertson and Ted Hearne for the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his 2017 album DAMN., an honor that’s previously only been awarded to classical musicians.

Speaking to Slate, Gilberton expressed his shock – and excitement – on learning he was nominated alongside Lamar. “I never thought my string quartet and an album by Kendrick Lamar would be in the same category,” he said. “This is no longer a narrow honor. It used to be classical composers competing against each other in relatively small numbers, but now we’re all competing against these major voices in music.”

“I think it’s wonderful,” Hearne added about the Lamar’s win. “When we say classical music, I think it’s a collection of audiences and musicians that have been grouped together and a big part of that grouping together, over centuries, has been about the exclusion of nonwhite people and nonwhite artists. Sure, in some respects, using violins and European classical instruments is a part of classical music, but so are a lot of other ideas. Especially in America, there are incredibly important musical thinkers who have been kept out of classical music spaces for a long time.”

Hearne’s comment speaks to why this moment is so radical. While, of course, we all know how amazing Kendrick Lamar is, but for him to be honored in a space that mostly (and historically) acknowledges cis, straight, white men – well, that’s incredible. Not only is hip-hop finally being recognized as a creative outlet as important as more traditionally celebrated genres, the world is also finally starting to support the voices of people of color.

Plus, DAMN. is a really great album.



Photo from the back cover of DAMN. by designer Vlad Sepetov


Feels Great: Fetty Wap and Cheat Codes Talk Tattoos, Taking Risks and THC

Photography: Christian Cody


Anyone with a phone knows the name Fetty Wap. But what they might not know about the 26-year-old rapper, is the fact that he doesn’t like to play by the rules. Case in point, his latest collaboration with Los Angeles-based electronic outfit Cheat Codes. While on the surface he may not appear to have much in common with the trio, there’s a lot more similarities between them than just the fact they all like to smoke weed – and a lot of it. A sunny and almost annoyingly perfect pop banger, “Feels Great” shows how all four of them won’t be boxed in by anyone, including themselves.

BlackBook caught up with Fetty and Cheat Codes following their collab, and just in time for the weekend. The boys sounded off on Michael Jordan, marijuana and making music.



BlackBook: You guys collaborated on ‘Feels Great’ a couple months ago. Tell me about the track.

Matt: What was your first impression when you heard the track? As a whole, I think the track is really different than anything you’ve worked on before.
Fetty: Yeah it was a really big difference for me, but I enjoy being challenged. Immediately, when I heard the song, I just thought it had such good vibes. At first, I didn’t even listen to the lyrics – I just focused on the melody and the production. Melody is really the biggest thing for me, anyway. And the melody just really caught my attention – that and the energy of the track.
Trevor: So it literally felt great. That’s perfect.

BlackBook: How was it for you guys to work together?

Fetty: Well, we had met before we worked on the song. So it was all just really chill. Plus, we smoked weed together, and when you smoke weed, everything good happens.
Matt: We’d also always wanted to collaborate with Fetty. So, when this song came along, we immediately thought he’d be great. He just has such good vibes and we always see him smiling, and that’s really how we felt about the song. Then the fact that he actually liked it and wanted to do it – that was just perfect for us.
Trevor: We’re also used to working as producers and songwriters. Even when we work with other artists, we always try to have, like, 90 percent of the track done, so they can just kind of come in and put on the finishing touches. But with Fetty, we sent him the record and he completely did his own part. So, it was really cool to have him bring something totally new and unexpected to the track.
Matt: Yeah, when we did the video together you told us a little about the verse you wrote. What was the story behind it?
Fetty: When I first started listening to the lyrics, my interpretation of this song was kind of like, ‘Okay, this is something that I’ve been through,’ but with a totally different attitude. You know, my background – I’m from the hood. So doing this track and having such a positive spin is something that people probably wouldn’t expect from me. I started thinking about my girlfriend when she was in high school and how no one used to really look at her or talk to her. But then of course, I became Fetty Wap, and she got older and matured, and all of the sudden people liked her and she was so beautiful. So, I used her for my interpretation of the song – that was the idea I pulled from.
Kevin: I’ve always wondered how you got into the rap game. Was it in high school? Or how did you get into music?
Fetty: I actually got into music because of Remy Boyz’ Monty. Everybody knows our song “My Way” that we did together. But Monty was really the one who pushed me to pursue music because it’s really his first love, and he showed me how much I love music and how much I really love to make music – every part of it. He’s the real inspiration for me being Fetty Wap.
Matt: Shout out Monty!
Trevor: He’s the man.
Fetty: But what about you guys?
Trevor: For me, I started writing songs when I was probably 12. My dad actually played guitar and he would always play us songs that he wrote, so I was always around that. Then I just started writing and recording in my bedroom, and dropped out of school when I was 16 to try and really pursue it. It was kind of like, ‘If I’m going to do music, I’m going to really do it.’ So, that’s exactly what happened.
Kevin: My uncle was in Sugar Ray actually, and my brother was in a big rock band back in the day, so I also grew up around it and it was something I always wanted to do.
Matt: It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly when I got into music, but I was always doing it in school, like band and choir and all that stuff. Eventually, I was kind of just like, ‘I don’t want to do choir, I want be in a cool rock band and make cool music.’ So, in high school that’s what I was doing: playing rock ‘n’ roll in my basement. Then I moved to L.A. and met these guys and we started making electronic music because honestly, we all just get really bored really fast. So, we wanted to be able to make the kind of music that we could switch up whenever we wanted, making tracks with a pop star like Demi Lovato and then do a song with a dope rapper like Fetty Wap. I swear I have A.D.D. or something. But that was really the goal behind this project.



Fetty: What’s your biggest inspiration when you’re writing?
Matt: For me, it’s weed.
Fetty: I definitely agree with that 100%.
Trevor: I’m just always so excited about the idea of moving culture forward. I honestly can’t think of anything better than when I hear something that sounds like it’s never been done before. I really don’t even care if it ends up flopping or if people hate it because the risk is worth it for me. I want to be on that record that’s changing things and changing music. If I’m just doing the same thing other people have done for years and years, it’s not really worth it for me. So, that’s what really inspires me and makes me want to create. Well, that and weed.
Kevin: I just like being in the studio or in my room writing music. I mean, of course I love performing but my favorite part is just being by myself or with the guys and being creative.
Trevor: Fetty, what was the first tattoo you got?
Fetty: My first tattoo? I believe I was – I don’t want to get my mom in trouble, so I’m just going to say I was 17. It’s a T, a star and an F on my left forearm, which stands for ‘Team Fam,’ which was a sports thing that every kid had to do in my neighborhood, and my friends and I, we had our own little crew. My favorite tattoo though, is my Michael Jordan tattoo on my leg. I was supposed to get his jersey tattooed on my leg, but it hurt so bad, I only got his name.
Trevor: I just got a neck tattoo the other day and that really hurt.
Trevor: Wait, so you’re into basketball?
Fetty: Actually, football is my favorite sport. But my mom kind of cut my football career short because she was so scared I’d get hurt.

BlackBook: I’m curious if you guys think your personas onstage are really different from who you are IRL. Like, is Fetty Wap a character? Or is that who you are all the time?

Fetty: Fetty Wap is just a brand name. When I’m home, I’m just Willie. A lot of people think I am who I am onstage – like when I’m performing, I’m really aggressive – but I’m not like that at all. Except when I’m in California. When I’m in California, I’m Fetty Wap all day.
Matt: I think we’re all the same, except maybe our personalities are a little exaggerated when we’re playing.

BlackBook: With social media, though, do you feel like you have to be ‘on’ all the time?

Trevor: I don’t know any other way to be. I grew up in the social media age, so I’m just used to it.
Kevin: I also think as long as you don’t take anything or yourself too seriously, it all ends up working out.

BlackBook: Do you see similarities between rap and electronic music?

Matt: The main thing that’s probably the most obvious is the fact that it just makes people feel good, you know? People want to go out on the weekends and have fun when they hit the club. That’s why you want to make records that people can enjoy.
Fetty: Real energy and authenticity always provides the best outcome, you know what I’m saying? And I like to do different things. I don’t even consider myself a rap artist, you know? I’m just an artist because I like testing limits and I don’t like boxing myself into any one thing. So, even with ‘Feels Great,’ it was like, ‘Okay here’s a new opportunity for you to do something you haven’t done before, and try out a new genre.’ I’m never going to say no to expanding my music in a positive setting. I don’t only want to be a rapper – I don’t only ever want to be one thing.

BlackBook: What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t an artist?

Trevor: I’d definitely be in the NBA.
Fetty: I don’t even think I can answer that question, because I don’t know what the hell I’d be doing. My music is just part of who I am. Or maybe I’d be a doctor or something.


Premiere: Watch the New Video for Cazwell’s “Dance Like You Got Good Credit”

Openly gay rapper Cazwell’s new song “Dance Like You Got Good Credit” and corresponding music video (NYC-based) parodies normative lifestyle values in the traditional rap-god video format. The lyrics are almost a little too real for many hip-hop listeners, and sure to stir up some controversy. Riding the recent vaporwave internet trend, Cazwell’s video still manages to balance the satire with a healthy amount of humor. And not to mention a sick beat.

Cazwell’s new album Hard 2 B Fresh comes out on September 30th via Peace Bisquit.

Cazwell creates an eclectic fusion of moombathon (electro/reggaeton/house) with rap and colorful lyrics.

The Massachusetts-born Cazwell has proven himself a hard worker: from becoming a YouTube sensation after a million people viewed his “Ice Cream Truck” music video in a single week, to producing a steady flow of tracks and videos that has his engaging charisma and personality immersed in it. He has since earned credibility with danceable hip hop tracks −including “Rice & Beans” and “I Seen Beyoncé At Burger King” and “No Selfie Control” − that impressively showcase his hypomanic take on pop culture. “Good Credit” featuring Cherie Lily tackles the debt crisis the United States is in – a situation Cazwell finds amusing because “we go broke trying to make ourselves look rich”. Cazwell has been described as “what would have happened if Eminem had grown up on Madonna’s front lawn.”

Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake Manage ‘History Of Rap, Part 4’

For the past couple of years everytime JT hits up Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, the two of them perform a medley (is "medley" the right word?) of hip hop songs accompanied by The Roots.

JT just wrapped up a weeklong residence on Late Night as he promotes his new album, The 20/20 Experience, and dropped gems like his performance of Row Row Row Your Boat dressed as Michael McDonald and SexyBack as a barbershop quartet.

So it’s fitting he’d go out with a bang — History Of Rap: Part 4, this time celebrating everyone from Salt-N-Pepa to Biggie to the Beastie Boys. 


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Drakes Joins Kendrick Lamar For ‘Poetic Justice’ Video

Kendrick Lamar just released his music video for Poetic Justice, feautring Drake, and it’s kinda depressing. Even while sampling Janet Jackson’s song Any Time, Any Place.

Before the video even starts there’s a message onscreen reading:

"All characters in this visual are entirely fictional. The events that occur are purely symbolic and should not be taken literal."

Weird message, right? I wonder who that was intended for. 

The slow-mo video, theatrically lit, shows a group of young adults hanging out in Los Angeles’ Crenshaw neighborhood before shots are fired and someone gets hurt.

"Haunting" is a good way to describe it

You can watch Poetic Justice below:

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Azealia Banks Remixes ‘Harlem Shake’

"Harlem Shake" is the new dance craze the kids are doing these days. If you have to ask what it is, you’re probably too old to know. Also, Azealia Banks video won’t explain it to you.

Banks remixed "Harlem Shake," a song by the New York-based DJ Baauer whose ’80s-inspired dance became a meme overnight and spurred reaction videos everywhere from schools to campaign videos to puppies

Azealia Banks’s remix isn’t a true "Harlem Shake" video—it’s her swinging her gorgeous long hair in the air and shaking her ass at the camera. Which is kind of like making a Gangnam Style spoof without doing the dance. But whatever!

Watch Azealia’s remix below:

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Rick Ross Drops F-Bomb In Tribute To Kids Killed By Newtown Massacre

That was wellmeaning, Rick Ross … but no.

Ross performed at Power 106’s annual Cali Christmas Concert in California last night, despite numerous other performances, premieres and concerts being rescheduled in light of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 28 people dead. 

While onstage, Ross said "I wanna send all my prayers out to all the kids who lost their mothefucking lives in Connecticut. Amen. Amen. We will all rap for them. Put your hands in the sky," before performing a song.

I’m not sure that "motherfucking lives" is the best way to refer to six- and seven-year-olds who were shot multiple times each by a murderer.

But maybe I’m just being sensitive. 

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Macklemore And Ryan Lewis Perform ‘Thrift Shop’ On TV For First Time Ever

Seattle rapper Macklemore and his collaborator Ryan Lewis have been in the eye of hip hop lovers for a few years. Shortly after they dropped The Heist back in October, they watched their album crawl up the Billboard charts to #2. This week, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performed on TV for for the first time ever, courtesy of Late Night With Jimmy Fallon

Decked out in thrift shop couture (scent unknown) and obviously thrilled, they performed their feel-good single Thrift Shop with singer Wanz and a little help from The Roots.

Cheers to you, boys, for saying the words "skeet blanket" for perhaps the first time on TV ever!  The performance got even more fun when Macklemore ran into the audience with his mic and started tossing out clothes:

Earlier this week, the group also performed a concert in YouTube’s offices and did a Q&A. (And were paid in tube socks, apparently.) You can watch them perfom Thrift Shop, 10,000 Hours and Same Love and other songs.  

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Will Smith Raps ‘Fresh Prince’ Theme At Gabrielle Union’s Birthday Party

You forgot Will Smith started out as a rapper, didn’t you?

This weekend at actress Gabrielle Union’s birthday party, Will Smith and Doug E. Fresh performed a spontaneous hip hop performance.

Rap has changed since back in the day when he did it and it shows, but it’s nevertheless sort of cute to watch. (It almost makes you forget he and wife Jada might be Scientologists!

But the best, best, best part is when the theme song for French Prince Of Bel Air comes on and Will Smith gamely does it.  

Via Idolator:


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