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2015 VMAs Report Card

The 2015 VMAs….

They came….we saw….they certainly didn’t conquer…

With the exception of a few performers (work, Ms. Kelly), the show felt wobbly at times, and even with a buffet of outfits and a brood of drag divas, host Miley Cyrus just didn’t bring it. You smoke pot, boo. We get it….

Also, please…have a row a seats, Mr. West….

So, just who made the grade this year? Read on for my personal takes from this year’s show….

Nick Jonas/”Levels”

The only thing that would’ve made this performance better was if they let him do it inside. Sounds like Mr. Jonas has another hit on his hands. A great way to kick off what would turn into a rather “eh” evening. Grade-B+

Check your music life for the performance and the “Levels” video right here.

Nicki Minaj/Taylor Swift/”The Night Is Still Young”/”Bad Blood” 

Did you not think that Taylor was going to show up? Grade-A-

Shake that booty right here for all the Nicki truth.

Macklemore/Ryan Lewis & Friends/”Downtown”

All of this. Literally. There was lots going on with this ’80s inspired performance that took to the L.A. streets. A little jumbled at times, but all in all, it’s nice to see Mr. Macklemore and Mr. Lewis doing their thing again. Grade

The Weekend/”Can’t Feel My Face” 

On the music fence with this one. Full of funked up fire? Yes. Plenty of Michael Jackson channeling? Yes. But those awkward camera angles dragged it down just a little bit. Grade-B-

Demi Lovato/”Cool For the Summer” 

Ms. Lovato’s performance was great…until Iggy Azalea showed up and tried to prove to us once again that she can “rap.” Guess what? She still can’t. Grade-C

Justin Bieber/”Where Are U Now”/”What Do You Mean” 

Why do you think Mr. Bieber broke down after his performance? Maybe that harness was just a little too tight? Or maybe he realized that no one would be talking about his big comeback being that the now infamous Nicki vs. Miley feud took place right before he hit the stage? Despite the dancers and special effects, it went down as the least entertaining music moment of the night. Grade-D

Pass the Biebs a Kleenex right here.

Tori Kelly/”Should’ve Been Us”

Best performance of the night. Now, that’s how you make everyone know your name the next day, Ms. Kelly. Grade-A+

You need to go right here right now. 

Pharrell Williams/”Freedom”

How can be a performance be so energetic, yet kind of snoozy at the same time? Hey, at least we didn’t get subjected to hearing “Happy” for the one-millionth fucking time. Grade-C

Twenty One Pilots/A$AP Rocky/”HeavyDirtySoul”/”Lawnboy” 

Another standout  performance that everyone will be talking about tomorrow. Although, what the f$%k were you saying, Mr. Rocky? Grade-A

Nicki Minaj vs. Miley Cyrus A+++++++++++++++++++

But as we all know….THIS was the moment that truly stole the show. How many times have you watched Nicki call out “that bitch” Miley? This music shade was absolutely real….

 

 

 

 

 

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Forgot About Friday/Coolio

Let’s get dreaded up like Mr. Coolio, shall we? 

One of the first rappers to balance pop hooks with gritty, street-level subject matter and language, Coolio had no problem delivering radio friendly, happy-go-lucky hits. While still sharing the West Coast scene’s love of laid-back ’70s funk, most of Coolio’s good-time party anthems (except for the grimy, “Gangsta’s Paradise,” of course. ) came with a goofy persona in the their accompanying videos. Coolio also kept it real with younger audiences, going on to become a favorite on Nickelodeon comedy shows due to those spidery dreadlocks that seemed to go in all sort of different directions, much like his music career. 

Born Artis Leon Ivey, Jr. in the South Central L.A. area of Compton, as a a young boy, Coolio was a highly intelligent bookworm, which often made life in the music hood difficult. His parents divorced when he was 11, and desperately searching for a way to fit in at school, he began a stint with the Baby Crips and got himself into loads of trouble. But the social struggle was still real and he was never formally inducted into the gang. But that didn’t keep him from going to jail at 17 for larceny by apparently trying to cash a money order that had actually been stolen by one of his friends. After high school, he studied at Compton Community College where he would began taking his high school interest in rap to the main stage and  took his performing name from a dozen contests in which someone called him “Coolio Iglesias.”

Coolio quickly became a regular on Los Angeles rap radio station KDAY and cut one of the earlier SoCal rap singles called, “Watcha Gonna Do,” which was unfortunately disrupted by his addiction to crack cocaine, which temporarily derailed his music career. After spending time in rehab, he came back and straightened himself out by….taking a job as a firefighter in the forests of northern California while getting his fledgling rap career back on track. You just can’t make this stuff up. 

Now that Coolio was on the straight-and-narrow, he cut another single, “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” that went absolutely nowhere. It wasn’t until he started making connections in the L.A. hip-hop scene that he linked up with WC and the Maad Circle, guesting on their 1991 debut album, Ain’t a Damn Thang Changed. He soon joined a collective dubbed the 40 Thevz and from that magic moment, he ended up landing a deal with Tommy Boy Records. Side-by-side with DJ Brian “Wino” Dobbs, Coolio recorded his debut album, It Takes a Thief, which was served to headphones in ’94. While lead single, “County Line,” didn’t create tha elusive Coolio fuss, the track still went down as a hilarious retelling of the indignities of welfare. The record really took off when “Fantastic Voyage,” a rap remake of the funk classic by Lakeside, was released as a summer single.

Accompanied by a playful visual, “Fantastic Voyage” set off to number three on the pop charts, pushing It Takes a Thief into the Top Ten and past the platinum sales mark. Many critics and listeners welcomed Coolio’s friendlier, gentler approach to the gangsta-dominated West Coast sound, despite the fact that some of his album tracks took on a hardcore themes in a similarly profane manner. But who really cared about all that when it came to Coolio? No one.

But as we all know, things really took off for Coolio after he teamed up with gospel-trained singer L.V. on a little track based on Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life cut “Pastime Paradise,” called “Gangsta’s Paradise.”  Laced with lyrics about ghetto life, “Paradise” was dark, haunting, and a spellbindingly atmospheric rap ditty. In fact, Tommy Boy was nervous to piu the song on Coolio’s forthcoming album and instead placed it on the soundtrack to the film Dangerous Minds, the classic film that stars Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, err, a tough-as-nails inner-city teacher who gives out candy to her students for getting good grades. Right?

Released in the summer of ’95, “Gangsta’s Paradise” was a staggeringly huge hit, becoming Coolio’s first number one pop single and also the first ghetto-centric rap song to hit number one in the U.K. The song was such a phenomenon that Weird Al Yankovic recorded the parody “Amish Paradise,” (Hey, Ms. Florence.) and the accompanying album Bad Hair Day became Al’s biggest-selling record..ever. Later going on to win a Grammy for Best Solo Rap Performance, “Gangsta’s Paradise” would come with an album of the same name, as well as two more smash singles, the vibrant, “1,2,3,4(Sumpin’ New),” and the Kool & The Gang sampling, “Too Hot.”Coolio also nabbed a cameo in the ’97 box office joke, Batman & Robin. Anyone remember? Anyone?

However, things took a disappointing turn after Gangsta follow up, My Soul, was complicated by a music boat load of legal difficulties. It also kind of hurt a little bit that in late”97, Coolio and seven members of his entourage were arrested for allegedly shoplifting from a German clothing store and assaulting the owner–Coolio was later convicted on accessory charges and fined. But later on in California, he was pulled over and cited for driving on the wrong side of the road with an expired license and was also charged with carrying a concealed weapon and possessing a small amount of chronic.

While over the years there’s been rumblings that Mr. Coolio and his dreads are hard at werk making a new album, but for now all we can do is reminisce on the days when Coolio certainly owned the music world and had all of us living in his “Gangsta’s Paradise. It certainly was nice, wasn’t it?

 

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Mixtape Music News/VMA Video of the Year Edition

Beyonce/”7/11″

Silly, sassy and loaded with plenty of Beyonce’s music house of derriere, it’s one of her most simple clips, but in this case it’s an honor just be nominated. 

Ed Sheeran/”Thinking Out Loud” 

While Mr. Sheeran’s elegant clip is simply stunning, he’ll most likely snatch up moon men from all those other categories he’s nominated in this year. 

Kendrick Lamar/”Alright” 

This bold, black-and-white video plays out as an ambitious short film set to the pinnacle track from his album To Pimp a Butterfly….and it may be just take the crown….. 

Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars/”Uptown Funk” 

…but it’s also nominated in the same category as the video for the biggest song of the past decade. If this clip doesn’t take the prize, than the Video Music Awards are obviously fixed. 

Taylor Swift & Friends/”Bad Blood” 

Sorry, not this time, boo…