Jay-Z Protege J.Cole Preps For Music Spotlight

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J. Cole’s time on hip-hop’s sideline is almost over.

More than two years after being hand-picked by rap impresario Jay-Z as the first artist on the music mogul’s fledging Roc Nation imprint, the 26 year-old Cole hopes to repay his mentor’s faith in him when his long-awaited debut “Cole World: The Sideline Story” is released on September 27.

Thanks to the high-profile endorsement and several critically lauded free albums released online, Cole has established himself as a leading voice in a new generation of hip-hop talent that includes artists like Drake, Big Sean and Wale. The North Carolina-native told Reuters the album balances different styles and lyrical content that reflect his meticulous approach towards crafting music.

“Like some rappers have, on my debut I could have gone super commercial,” said Cole of the album, which features appearances by Drake, Missy Elliott, Trey Songz (who appears on the single “Can’t Get Enough”) and, of course, Jay-Z.

“I could have just filled the album with eight or nine potential singles and hope that some of them work. Or, I could have gone the other route and been super stubborn, using only the personal material and not even worry about selling any records. What I ended up doing was the perfect balance of both. I have a number of all of those styles; the personal, deep records that are almost tear-jerkers and the fun, carefree records and super lyrical songs.”

MENTORED BY JAY-Z

Cole began pursuing a career in hip-hop while attending college at St. John’s University in New York City. Eager to prove himself in 2007, he waited for Jay-Z outside a Manhattan studio for hours in hopes of passing a demo CD to the legendary Brooklyn emcee, who initially brushed him off.

But two years later, upon hearing the song “Lights Please” from Cole’s first mix tape “The Come Up,” Jay-Z made the young artist the centerpiece of his new Roc Nation venture, and Cole credits his boss for contributing to his growth as an artist.

“He gave me a long leash to try and figure this thing out, make mistakes along the way, do the right thing,” said Cole. “He was always there overseeing and looking over my project and giving me advice on what direction I could take.”

Cole said that for a six-month period, he would bring his mentor potential singles, play songs for him and try to prove his worth.

He said he learned not to wait before he had a full song to pitch, but to take Jay-Z ideas that could be fleshed out by working with the head man.


“You get advice just through conversation,” Cole said about their relationship. “It’s not always about music. It’s about personal stories that happened when he was coming up, like when he realized he was on another level, when his fan base changed and how he handled it.”

Jay-Z’s advice for dealing with fame should be particularly useful to Cole, who’s own celebrity status is on the rise.

Earlier this month, he had his first brush with the tabloids when rumours began to swirl that he recorded a sex tape with fellow Roc Nation artist Rihanna while serving as an opening act on the singer’s Loud tour. Cole quickly denied there was any tape.

Even with the new found attention and pressure of high expectations, Cole is confident his debut will satisfy both his fans and his critics.

“I just want to win for everybody,” he said. “I want to win for myself, I want to win for my fans, I want to win for Jay-Z and the label and my management. Even more than myself, I want everybody else — the fans and the people I’m in business with — to be rewarded. I want them to know that they were right and they were dealing with something special.”

Wiz Khalifa On Fame, Love and Being A Rock Star

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These days Cameron Wiz Khalifa”  Thomaz, the rapper behind platinum hits “Black and Yellow” and “Roll Up,” is dealing with the highs and lows of superstardom.

BET honored Wiz with nine nominations for their upcoming Hip-Hop Awards show, matched only by Kanye West (and surpassed by Lil Wayne’s seemingly absurd 18 nods).

Add to that the rapper’s venture into cinema with the stoner movie “High School” – which he’s making with his idol-turned-mentor, Snoop Dogg – and it seems like he can’t lose. Or can he?

A marijuana enthusiast, Wiz Khalifa was recently cleared of a felony drug trafficking count. In another odd twist, while visiting the Barney’s department store in Beverly Hills over the summer with girlfriend Amber Rose and their families, he was mistaken for a thief.

(Speaking of Rose, Wiz Khalifa’s public displays of affection with the former girlfriend of Kanye West have brought on the ire of fans who seem to think he loses credibility with every photographed hug.)

In this interview with CNN, Wiz opens up on his love for Amber, the best advice he gets from Snoop, why he’s cool with being called a “rock star” and all of the responsibility that comes with the title.

CNN: Where does the name Wiz Khalifa come from?

Wiz Khalifa: The name “Wiz” comes from me being the youngest dude in my age group of people that I hung out with. I was pretty good at anything I tried to do, so they would call me a young wiz. Khalifa is Arabic, it means successor/leader/shining light, and my granddaddy gave me that name. He’s actually Muslim and just saw my path, what I was doing and how hard I was working, and he gave me that name and I just put the two together.

CNN: You’ve been referred to as a “rock star.” Do you feel you’ve reached that status?

WK: It’s great because it just puts me in a different realm of how people see me. Of course I do rap music and I’m a hip-hop artist, but as an individual, as a personality and what I give to the people – it’s that perspective. I see myself as like the lead singer of a band or something [laughs]. When I go out there I’m a real performer, so I’m cool with [being called that].

CNN: You’re often compared to Snoop Dogg

WK: Just because of the vibe. Snoop is the boss dog, you know what I’m saying, and I’m a young boss so they see where I’m going with it. And even Snoop fully embraces me and gives me more [ammunition] for them to call me “young Snoop.” It’s a blessing, it’s a great thing, because I’ve always been a fan and everything that he brings is positive.

CNN: What life lessons did you learn from Snoop?

WK: He always just tells me to keep focused, to stay working when everybody’s not working. When people feel like they don’t have to work that’s when you’re supposed to be on your job. And always give back.

CNN: Let’s talk love and Amber Rose. Rappers aren’t supposed to be all lovey-dovey – what’s that feel like?

WK: It’s awesome to have that support and to have that base. It gives me structure, it gives me discipline and it helps me work on other stuff that’s much more important. I feel like everybody has some person that’s out there for them. If you tap into that and take advantage of it and hold it close and treat it like what it is, that’s when you’ll get – fully – out of it what you’re supposed to.

CNN: Let’s talk about your love for weed. How much are you spending these days? Give us a figure.

WK: Oh nah, there’s no figure, man. It varies [laughs].

CNN: Would you see your financial habits or relationship with the drug change if it was ever legalized?

WK: It would be the same.

CNN: Really?

WK: Yeah, because it’s not about being illegal and it’s not about it being bad or anything like that, it’s about what makes me happy and what I know is not too dangerous. It’s a huge umbrella – doctors smoke weed, old ladies smoke weed, soccer moms, players, coaches – everybody smokes weed. I think it’s a common ground, it’s a peaceful ground.

CNN: You’re recognized more often now, but at a Barney’s store you were confused for a thief while shopping with your mom and Amber. Did that make you angry?

WK: It’s cool because I never have any expectations. I don’t expect to get the red carpet rolled out. Other people expect me to get [Hollywood]. That situation kind of blew up and Barney’s ended up sending me an email being like, “We apologize! Any time you come to the store…” It ended up working out in my favor anyway, by not blowing up and by just remaining who I am and being cool. That doesn’t bother me at all. The only time I would lose is if I give up who I am. As long as I stand up for me and what I believe in, I’ll be straight.

CNN: You started taking music seriously at 14. How has Cameron grown up as a person since then?

WK: I see myself [as] pretty cool. I was a cool 14-year-old, too. I always envisioned myself being a rapper and being in the game and having success, but you never know what it feels like or how you’re going to be when you’re there…Like from it being a dream and from just watching it on TV and seeing people’s tours to now having my own tour, having my own buses, having my own production. I shake the hands of all of my production guys my lighting guys, and I’m like, “Yo, you’re doing a great job!” It’s just knowing, the knowledge. I’m really, really happy with I’ve learned.

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T.I. Back To Halfway House To Finish Sentence

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Grammy Award-winning rapper T.I. is once again out of federal prison and in a halfway house, his attorney said on Friday.

The Atlanta entertainer, whose real name is Clifford Harris, was released August 31 from a federal prison in Arkansas where he was serving an 11-month sentence on weapons possession and drug charges.

T.I. was assigned to a halfway house in Atlanta for the last month of his sentence. But shortly after leaving Arkansas, the rapper was returned to a federal prison in Atlanta because officials had an “issue” with his ride on a luxury bus from Arkansas to Atlanta, attorney Steve Sadow said.

Prison officials believed T.I. was conducting business on the bus, Sadow told Reuters on Friday.

“But we provided them with information that he wasn’t actually conducting business on the bus,” the attorney said.

On Thursday, T.I. was transferred from prison to the Atlanta halfway house, Sadow said. The entertainer is scheduled to be released September 29.

He was sentenced in October 2010 to 11 months in prison for violating the terms of his probation on federal gun charges after he was arrested on suspicion of possessing the drug ecstasy.


It was his second stint behind bars in three years.

T.I.’s career began as a rapper in 2001, but he then branched out into other areas of the music and film industry, finding success both as a producer and actor.

Cable channel VH1 said last month that it had teamed up with the 30-year-old “Got Your Back” singer for a 10-episode series that will follow his readjustment to life outside prison and the making of a new album. The series is due to premiere on December 5.

Paul Wall and Baby Bash Arrested

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Houston rappers Paul Wall and Baby Bash were arrested Sunday in El Paso, Texas on suspicion of marijuana possession. Wall (real name Paul Michael Slayton) posted a photo of himself and Bash (Ronald Ray Bryant) handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser.

The pair of MCs were nabbed at 1:30 a.m. and were released about 12 hours later after paying $300 bond, according to the El Paso Times. They allegedly had less than 2 ounces of marijuana in a drug-free zone.

Wall tweeted right after being released, mentioning that another pal, producer BiggRoy was taken in as well. “Fresh out the El Paso County jail wit @BabyBash @BIGGROY in the same tank they held Willie Nelson/Johnny Cash,” he wrote.

The rappers were in El Paso over the weekend to perform at the Summer Jamm 2011 Saturday at Buchanan’s Event Center.

Bash is known for his tracks “Suga Suga” and “Baby I’m Back” while Wall has seen his star fade a bit after his 2005 album, “The People’s Champ,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. It included the hits “Girl” and “Sittin’ Sidewayz.” Last year’s “Heart of a Champion” topped out at No. 58.

Mack Maine Talks Lil Wayne’s Impending Retirement

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With his popularity and success still at a supreme zenith, is it really close to the end for the man who will have the number one album in the country? Back in the July/ August issue of XXL magazine, Lil Wayne declared that he was retiring soon to spend more time with his children.

“I’m bowing out still on top,” Wayne said during his interview for the cover story. “I’m bowing out still on top,” he says. “I’ma make y’all want me when I retire. I’ma make y’all be like, ‘Nooo!’ I ain’t leaving out this bitch when y’all be like, ‘Yeah, it’s about time, dawg.’ Carter IV might be my last one. I’ma make y’all be like, ‘Fuck!’ Yeah, nigga, I’m gone.”

“…Nah I’m fuckin wit y’all man,” he would say later. “Y’all know a nigga ain’t going nowhere till he bout 31. By 31. I’m gone by 31 shawty.”

Obviously none of his fans want to see Wayne leave the game, but what does his Young Money family think?

“As far as that retirement goes, I don’t know what he’s talking about,” YM President Mack Maine told XXLMag.com. “I’m not trying to hear that… I mean technically he can. We paved the way where Young Money the brand is gonna be so big. And he’s done so much where he can just tour. But I know his love and passion for the music…. I also know he has love and passion for his kids and family and he sacrificed a lot of this life we living. So at 30, if he says he wants to hang it up and be a family and a businessman, I wouldn’t be mad at it. He’ll be like 18, 19 close to 20 years in the game. And [have put out] that many albums. He’ll be a vet at a young age. It’s not like we’re gonna need to put out albums, it’s just the passion. Can you walk away from it?”

Well luckily, listeners still have a few years for Weezy to change his mind. As for now, reports are putting the first-week numbers for Wayne’s Tha Carter IV (released August 29) as high as 900,000 copies sold. He also has two songs on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. “How To Love” is currently number seven while the Drake assisted “She Will” debuted at number three just last week.

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Master P Sued For Over $240K Over Unpaid Fees

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No Limit Records head honcho Master P is facing a lawsuit from former employees, who are seeking over $200,000 in unpaid fees.

The charges stem from Master P’s 2003 movie Uncle P, according to legal documents obtained by TMZ. A group of people involved in the movie were never paid, although they already won a lawsuit in 2005, but P never paid up.

Master P is just one of many rappers that are facing legal and financial lawsuits lately. The man once reported as being worth $600 million is being sued for $240,000 and pushed into bankruptcy court.

The case was taken to U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles, with the goal to push Master P, born Percy Miller, into bankruptcy so that an independent trustee will manage his assets.

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