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January 26, 2014 | By Gerrick D. Kennedy
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' “The Heist” won the prize for rap album at the 56th Grammy Awards on Sunday. It was unlikely that the rapper-producer team from Seattle would walk away empty handed - with seven nods they were among the most for any artist - but their win for rap album will undoubtedly spark a firestorm among rap critics. The two emerged as outliers with a pop-oriented brand of rap informed as much by indie rock as it was traditional hip-hop. Their single, “Thrift Shop,” a witty critique of rap's penchant for designer duds, exploded on radio and went on to become the bestselling digital song of 2013 - even more impressive was the single being the fourth release from an independently released album.
January 17, 2014 | Eric Sondheimer
Through music, Joel Debus of Orange Lutheran tells stories of life as a teenager, its ups and downs, its triumphs and disappointments. He's a basketball player and rapper, and both skills make him feel energized, focused and unafraid to express himself. "You know it's funny, how nothing can turn to something, how people can rise up, take a step back, get back up. . . .We're just broken people living a day at a time. " His lyrics speak about the challenges he has encountered and how faith changed his life.
January 13, 2014 | By Meg James
Fox Broadcasting is going into business with the Lonely Island, the hugely popular comedic rap band featuring Andy Samberg and childhood friends Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone. Fox announced the development deal Monday at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena.  The plan is to set up  a "micro-studio" led by Samberg, Schaffer and Taccone. The goal is to attract comedy projects from promising writers that could expand into television programs for the Fox network, its sister cable channel FXX or become Web series for Hulu or other online distributors.
December 26, 2013 | By Salvador Rodriguez
Google has removed Rap Genius from the top of its search results after it was discovered that the popular music lyrics website was trying to trick the tech giant into giving it better search rankings. Now, when users search for "Rap Genius" on Google they won't find any direct links to the music website, which lets users and artists annotate song lyrics. Instead, the results point to news articles, social media accounts and Rap Genius' Wikipedia page. Google took down Rap Genius after it was revealed that the lyrics website, which received $15 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz last year, was offering bloggers exposure through its social media accounts in exchange for links to its website on their music blogs.  PHOTOS: Got a Christmas gadget?
November 19, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
Trying to decode rap lyrics, as rich as they often are in regional slang and obscure references, can be like watching a foreign-language movie without subtitles. For instance, on "A Queens Story," what does Nas mean when he raps, "You be starving in Kew Gardens/Bolognas and milk from a small carton"? That's where the Rap Genius website comes in. Users of the site not only have transcribed and uploaded thousands of raps, they annotated them with explanations. For instance, three Rap Genius contributors explained that Kew Gardens is the site of the Queens Criminal Court, and bologna sandwiches with a carton of milk is a typical meal served in jail.
November 3, 2013 | By Hugo Martin
Let's admit it: Almost no one listens to the safety instructions that flight attendants give at the start of each flight. Even the airlines know it. That is why so many have tried to enliven their safety messages. Over the last week, Virgin America and Delta Airlines have unveiled new safety videos that are shown to passengers to get the message across in an attention-grabbing way. Delta's new video has a holiday spin, featuring Christmas elves, Santa Claus, snowmen, and Alex Trebek from the television game show "Jeopardy.
October 18, 2013 | By Gerrick D. Kennedy
Here are three words we thought we'd never hear at Pop & Hiss: “Dolly Parton raps.” But there are things that we come across -- or in this case pops up in our inbox -- so outlandish, and amazing, they can't be ignored.  Parton has parodied herself for our entertainment and it's only right we share it with the world. The country legend hasn't abandoned her throne at Dollywood to try a hand at a new career. But the Grammy-winning legend made a surprise visit to “The Queen Latifah Show” to perform a freestyle she wrote in honor in Latifah, her costar in the 2012 movie “Joyful Noise.” PHOTOS: Celebrities by The Times Clad in her own version of hip-hop couture -- a blond wig, chic gold chains, chunky earrings and a sleek black dress and leggings combo -- Parton delivered a spry 16 bars and looked hot in the process (too far, or no?
September 27, 2013 | By Chris Lee
Jimmy Kimmel, I feel your pain -- and your gain. In 2010, I found myself engulfed in a “rap feud” with Kanye West much like the one in which Kimmel, the L.A.-based talk show host, found himself Thursday, with the erstwhile Louis Vuitton don going on a gonzo Twitter offensive against me and the media universe craning in to gawk and skewer the commotion. In Kimmel's case, West became enraged courtesy of the “ Kid Re-Kreation ” video he commissioned to lampoon a recent, typically magniloquent interview that Yeezus gave the BBC (in which he refers to himself as “a god” and muses at high volume and great length about leather jogging pants)
September 17, 2013 | By Gerrick D. Kennedy
Justin Bieber's transition from cute tween pop star to adult heartthrob continues its rocky, oft-confusing, but wholly entertaining journey. His latest entry into “SMH” career moments is “Lolly,” the new single from R&B singer-hitmaker Maejor Ali (formerly Bei Maejor) that features cringe-worthy rap verses from Bieber and strip-club king Juicy J. The single was released earlier this year, and its video made its debut Tuesday. “Lolly” is a completely sturdy entry into R&B/hip-hop, a style that continues to be a staple on club dance floors and in strip clubs.
September 9, 2013 | By Gerrick D. Kennedy
A few minutes into J. Cole's Sunday night set at the Rock the Bells hip-hop festival in San Bernardino, the introspective wordsmith thanked the crowd for just being there. “I know there were other choices, but I appreciate you coming to me,” Cole said as the crowd  cheered. It was a rather humble acknowledgment of the obvious. The final night of the two-day festival felt noticeably thinner than Saturday, but still, the nearly 11,000 seats of the main stage were packed more than 30 minutes before he began his set. The overflow crowd sprawled out on the lawn behind the general admission orchestra and loge sections.  On adjacent stages, the Christian rap of Lecrae and the tawdry, strip-club bounce of Juicy J played out to whatever was left of Sunday's delegation of hip-hop purists at the San Manuel Amphitheater.
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