Archive for the ‘Rappers / Hip Hop’ Category
Jay Wayne Jenkins (born October 12, 1977), better known by his stage name Young Jeezy, is an American rapper. He is a member of the hip hop group United Streets Dopeboyz of America (USDA) and a former member of BMF (Black Mafia Family). He began his career in 2001 under an independent label and joined Boyz ‘N Da Hood in 2005, the same year his solo major label debut Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101 was released. Its single “Soul Survivor“, which featured Akon, became a top-ten hit in the US.
The Inspiration followed in 2006, and The Recession followed in 2008; both albums yielded chart-topping singles. Jeezy has also appeared on numerous other rap and R&B singles such as “Say I” by Christina Milian, “I’m So Paid” by Akon, “Hard” by Rihanna, and “Love in This Club” by Usher, the latter being a number one single on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 2008.
Jay Wayne Jenkins was born in Columbia, South Carolina and relocated to Atlanta, Georgia when he was a toddler. Because his parents were separated, custody of him transferred between family members frequently. At one point, he lived with his grandmother in Hawkinsville, Georgia. In an interview with XXL magazine, he described his childhood as “empty”. In 1994, he spent nine months in YCA (Youth Challenge Academy), a boot camp in Fort Stewart, Georgia, for narcotics possession.
Jeezy released his first independent album, Thuggin’ Under the Influence (T.U.I.), in 2001 under the name Lil J. It featured artists such as Freddy J.,Kinky B, Fidank, and Lil Jon, who also produced some of the tracks. In 2003, Jeezy released (also independently) Come Shop wit Me, a two CD set featuring completely new tracks with some songs from T.U.I. Jeezy signed with Bad Boy Records in 2004 and joined the group Boyz n da Hood, whose self-titled album was released in June 2005 and peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200 albums charts.
Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101 (2005)
In May 2004, Jazze Pha‘s manager Henry ‘Noonie’ Lee showed Young Jeezy’s demo to his friend Shakir Stewart, Vice President Artist and Repertoire (VP A&R) at Def Jam. Stewart “fell in love with it [the demo] the first time [he] heard it” and took it to L.A. Reid. Reid recognised the talent and gave Stewart the green light to sign him. As the “hottest thing on the street” at the time, various labels – including Warner and Interscope – were after his signature. However, Jeezy decided he wanted to be in business with Stewart and Reid. As a result, signed with Def Jam Records.
Jeezy’s major label debut, Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101, was released on July 26, 2005. He debuted at #2, selling 172,000 copies in its first week. It spawned several hit singles such as “Soul Survivor” featuring Akon. It reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Hot Rap Tracks charts. “And Then What” featuring Mannie Fresh, which reached #67 on the Hot 100 and #13 on the Hot Rap Tracks. “My Hood”, #19 on the Rap chart. In an interview with HitQuarters, A&R Shakir Stewart said that Jeezy had recorded over 60 songs for the album.
Jeezy partially wrote and performed on Gucci Mane‘s song, “Icy“. Supposedly, Jeezy was never paid properly for his services. Those in Gucci Mane’s camp have suggested that gang members from the Mechanicsville area attacked Gucci Mane to defend Jeezy’s honor. Jeezy put out a track called “Stay Strapped” dissing Gucci Mane to the beat of “T.I.’s” song “A.S.A.P.” Jeezy responded to Gucci Mane’s, while rapping “even his own momma know, Radric Davis a bitch”. In a recent Cutmaster C mixtape, The Hood News Page 3: Jay-Z Boycotts Cristal, Gucci disses Jeezy along with Jay Z in his track, “745”. Jeezy addresses Gucci back on the same mixtape. While on the track “Break It Down”, featuring Cmillz. On “Streets On Lock”, from The Inspiration, Jeezy addressed Gucci Mane again, saying “What type of real nigga name himself after a bag?/Nigga you’s a hoe, a Louis Vuitton fag”. Towards the end of 2009, DJ Drama brought Young Jeezy to the radio station and called Gucci Mane to settle the beef once and for all. The two stopped feuding but throughout early 2010, the crews of Jeezy & Gucci (CTE & Brick Squad) have been in and out altercations with each other despite the fact Jeezy & Gucci have nothing to do with that. In 2011, Jeezy plans to release a new single featuring DJ Spluge and the rest of the Gangster Brigade.
In interviews and on several records, Jeezy has affirmed his resistance to commercialism in his music. Maintaining his street credibility, according to Jeezy, is of the utmost concern to him as an artist. In 2005, Jeezy was featured in several popular hip hop songs including Gucci Mane‘s “Icy” and Boyz n da Hood’s “Dem Boyz“. Due to having a successful solo career, he left the group. From time to time he still keeps in contact with a few of the members, but in early 2010 Jeezy & Jody Breeze (who is still a member of Boyz N Da Hood) began to diss each other which started a new beef between the two.
The Inspiration, U.S.D.A. (2006–2007)
In 2006, he was featured in Christina Milian‘s single “Say I“. Jeezy’s second major label album was The Inspiration, released in 2006. The album’s first single “I Luv It” peaked at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Bury Me A G” and “Go Getta” featuring R. Kelly, and “Dreamin’” featuring Keyshia Cole followed.
He also portrayed himself in the hip-hop fighting themed game Def Jam: Icon. In 2007, Jeezy released Cold Summer, an album by rap group USDA which consists of Jeezy, Blood Raw, Slick Pulla, 2Eleven and Boo Rossini.
Jeezy presented a week-long toy drive and charity event series with his CTE family with the first annual Toyz n da Hood toy drive. The series presented 1,000 toys for 1,000 kids at various locations in Macon and Atlanta, which began on December 17, 2007, with the CTE Christmas Kickoff from 10 pm to 5 am at Club Miami. The toy giveaway took place in the Unionville neighborhood of Macon and at the Old Fourth Ward Community in Atlanta.
The Recession (2008)
His third album, The Recession, was released in 2008. “Put On” featuring Kanye West was the lead single, which also led to a Grammy Nomination for Best Rap performance by a duo, but it came short. Put On was followed by “Vacation”, “Crazy World”, “My President” with Nas, and “Who Dat” to complete the Recession’s singles. Jeezy appeared on the R&B singles “Love in This Club” by Usher and “I’m So Paid” by Akon (also with Lil Wayne). “Love in This Club” peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Later, he performed on Ciara‘s single “Never Ever“, from her album Fantasy Ride.
In the summer of 2008, Jeezy was at the center of a controversy over his choice for president. While he had previously endorsed Barack Obama, he spoke about meeting and supporting John McCain during an interview with Vibe magazine. The statement caused a stir, and Jeezy quickly clarified his choice, via a viral video. In the four-minute explanation, Jeezy made it clear, Obama was his main choice. “I represent the Democratic party. … I’ve never been nor do I ever plan to be a John McCain supporter”, the rapper said. “I support Barack Obama.” Jeezy and Jay-Z performed in a concert to celebrate the inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 18, 2009. On The O’Reilly Factor, commentator Bill O’Reilly criticized their performance as a “rant that offended people”, but Jeezy responded: “I got white friends. It’s nothing like that. I’m a taxpayer, I got a right to voice my opinion at any point in time. I don’t think he really understands my struggle.”
Thug Motivation 103: Hustlerz Ambition (2011-present)
Jeezy is working on Thug Motivation 103, his latest LP, as of November 2009. In March 2010, it was reported that Young Jeezy dropped “Young” from his stage name. Later, Young Jeezy denied the name change and claimed it was just a rumor: however, on the cover for his single “Lose My Mind“, his name is printed as “Jeezy”. On May 17, 2011, Jeezy released the first single for Thug Motivation 103, “Ballin”, which features Lil Wayne.
On March 4, 2010 Jeezy released the track “Illin”, featuring the group Clipse; specifically Pusha T. On the track Pusha T raps, “No amount of record sales could derail this …Stuffing dead prezzies in the wall like that Yale bitch…” The line was controversial and many felt the line was in bad taste and demeaned Yale student Annie Le, who was murdered in 2009, by making light of a crime that had grabbed a lot of media attention due to its extremely upsetting and tragic nature. On July 22, 2011, Young Jeezy released the second single off TM103, “Shake Life”. On July 26, 2011, Young Jeezy announced a September 20, 2011 release date for TM103. However the album was pushed back yet again, this time to December 20, 2011. On September 29, 2011, Young Jeezy released the third single off TM103, named “F.A.M.E. (Fake Ass Mothafu*kas Envy)”, featuring T.I. This is the first official song T.I. was featured on since his latest stint in prison.
He is a personal friend of fellow Atlanta rapper Yung Joc. After Hurricane Katrina, Jeezy opened his house to the victims in an effort to help them have a place to stay. In October 2005, the mother of his 9 year old son used this as the basis to petition for child support. Early in the year, she had claimed that she had little income, no assets and did not even have a house.
On March 11, 2005, Jeezy was arrested after an alleged shooting involving some of his friends in Miami Beach, Florida. He was charged with two counts of carrying a concealed firearm without a permit; however, prosecutors dropped his charges two months later over lack of evidence. In the early hours of September 29, 2007, Jeezy totaled his Lamborghini when it was hit by a taxi crossing Peachtree Street, outside of Justin’s, Sean Combs’ restaurant in Atlanta. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported his claim that this gave him “a new appreciation for life”. In Atlanta on June 18, 2008, police arrested him for DUI.
Jonathan Mortimer Day (born January 17, 1971), better known by his stage name Lil Jon, is an American rapper, music producer, entrepreneur, and occasional disc jockey who was a member of the group Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz. Lil Jon formed the group in 1997, and the group released several albums between then and 2004. He then went solo and released a new album in 2010 called Crunk Rock.
Lil Jon was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Douglass High School.
 Career Early careerAfter working as a DJ for Atlanta night clubs, he started working for So So Def Recordings between 1993 and 2000. The group signed to the Atlanta-based Mirror Image Records and were distributed by Ichiban Records. In 1997, Lil’ Jon & the East Side Boyz debuted with Get Crunk, Who U Wit: Da Album. It included singles “Who U Wit?” and “Shawty Freak a Lil’ Sumthin'”, the latter of which came out in 1998. Both singles charted on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart at #70 and #62 respectively. In 2000 Jon took part in starting up his own label BME Recordings and signed a distribution agreement with Norcross, Georgia based Southern Music Distribution. There he released his break through album titled We Still Crunk. Among the tracks on that project was the hit single “I Like Dem Girlz”, which reached #55 on the R&B chart and #3 on the Hot Rap Tracks chart.
After hearing feedback that Lil’ Jon was “the new guy” from street team people in the markets where he was attracting his biggest audiences – namely Atlanta, St. Louis, Memphis and Dallas – A&R at TVT, Bryan Leach, went to one of his Atlanta shows and was blown away by the immense energy of the experience. Leach told HitQuarters: “It was like early Beastie Boys, when they had the energy of a rock group but they were rapping, and … that energy is what crunk music is all about.” Lil’ Jon & The East Side Boyz signed to TVT Records in 2001 and debuted there with Put Yo Hood Up, which combined previously released tracks with new ones. The group’s first nationally played single was “Bia’ Bia'”, which featured rappers Ludacris, Too Short, Big Kapp, and Chyna Whyte. “Bia’ Bia'” peaked at #97 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #47 on the Billboard R&B chart.
In 2002, the group released Kings of Crunk. “I Don’t Give A…” was its first single; it featured Mystikal and Krayzie Bone and peaked at #50 on the R&B chart. The group’s next single, a collaboration with fellow Atlanta hip hop group Ying Yang Twins titled “Get Low”, became popular in nightclubs nationwide and reached the top ten of the Hot 100.Crunk Juice followed in 2004, led by “What U Gon’ Do” featuring Lil’ Scrappy. “What U Gon’ Do” peaked at #22 on the Hot 100, #13 on the R&B chart, and #5 on the rap chart; its follow-up, “Lovers & Friends” featuring Usher and Ludacris, peaked at #3 (Hot 100), #2 (R&B), and #1 (rap).
 Solo career and productionIn addition to leading Lil’ Jon & The East Side Boyz, Lil’ Jon has also produced many hit urban singles. From 2003 to 2005, while still with The East Side Boyz, Lil’ Jon produced hits like “Salt Shaker” by Ying Yang Twins, “Yeah!” by Usher, “Freek-a-Leek” by Petey Pablo, “Shorty Wanna Ride” by Young Buck, “Shake That Monkey” by Too Short, “Let’s Go” by Trick Daddy, and “Girlfight” by Brooke Valentine. Lil’ Jon entered the San Francisco Bay Area hyphy music scene in 2006 with his collaborations with Bay Area rapper E-40: Lil’ Jon produced E-40’s single “Tell Me When To Go” and had E-40 and Atlanta rapper Sean P on his own “Snap Yo Fingers”. In 2006, Lil’ Jon severed his negotiation with record label TVT. He vowed never to record for TVT Records again, alleging that TVT owner Steve Gottlieb was shortchanging him. He also began recording a rock music album, Crunk Rock; in May 2006 he began recording in Las Vegas, Nevada because rock band The Killers was recording its upcoming album Sam’s Town there and the East Side Boyz signed a new deal with Rick Robinson aka Double R CEO and Founder of IMG Recordings, which the album got pushed back to 2010.
MTV News reported in March 2008 that Crunk Rock was taking more time to complete than Lil’ Jon already planned. As part of TVT Records’ 2008 bankruptcy auction, Lil’ Jon withdrew his multi-million dollar objection to the TVT sale proceedings and agreed to TVT’s transfer of his artist agreement to The Orchard. In return, The Orchard released Lil’ Jon from all future obligations and returned the rights to the master recordings of Crunk Rock. Crunk Rock was finally released on June 8, 2010 and it features artists such as LMFAO, Soulja Boy, Ying Yang Twins, Waka Flocka Flame, R.Kelly, and many more. In March 2011, Lil Jon took part in the fourth season of The Celebrity Apprentice on NBC and was eliminated in the Final Four. In July 2011, in a recent interview has said that he is working on a new studio album called “Party Animal” and has released a song with LMFAO called “Shots”.
Musical style and influencesJason Birchmeier of all music has described Lil’ Jon’s production as “bass-heavy” and his album Put Yo Hood Up as having “a long and varied list of guest rappers to accompany the beats”. With the guest performers featured on that album much more than the East Side Boyz, Birchmeier remarked: “The end result is an album that resembles a street-level mixtape rather than a traditional artist-oriented album”. He was specifically influenced by 2 Live Crew, 8Ball & MJG, OutKast, Geto Boys, UGK, Dr. Dre, and Sir Mix-A-Lot. Alex Henderson, also of allmusic, contrasted Lil’ Jon’s style of “rowdy, in-your-face, profanity-filled party music” with other Southern rappers’, those who “have a gansta/thug life agenda” and those who convey “serious sociopolitical messages”. Lil’ Jon has also found influence in rock music, having worked with Rick Rubin and Korn. He was seen on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of All-Time program wearing a Bad Brains t-shirt and also used to listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd growing up in the South in the 70s. For Trick Daddy’s “Let’s Go”, Lil’ Jon sampled the bass line from Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train”.
Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. (born September 27, 1982), better known by his stage name Lil Wayne, is an American rapper. At the age of nine, Lil Wayne joined Cash Money Records as the youngest member of the label, and half of the duo, The B.G.’z, with B.G.. In 1997, Lil Wayne joined the group Hot Boys, which also included rappers Juvenile, B.G., and Young Turk. Hot Boys debuted with Get It How U Live! that year. Lil Wayne gained most of his success with the group’s major selling album Guerrilla Warfare, released in 1999. Also in 1999, Lil Wayne released his Platinum debut album Tha Block Is Hot, selling over one million copies in the U.S.
Although his next two albums Lights Out (2000) and 500 Degreez (2002) were not as successful (only reaching Gold status), Lil Wayne reached higher popularity in 2004 with Tha Carter, which included the single “Go D.J.” Wayne also appeared on the Destiny’s Child top ten single “Soldier” that year. In 2005, the sequel to Tha Carter, Tha Carter II, was released. In 2006 and 2007, Lil Wayne released several mixtapes and appeared on several popular rap and R&B singles.
His most successful album, Tha Carter III, was released in 2008 and sold over 1 million copies in the U.S. its first week of release. It included the number-one single “Lollipop” featuring Static Major. It also includes the singles “A Milli” and “Got Money” featuring T-Pain and won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. Lil Wayne released his debut rock album, Rebirth, in 2010 to primarily negative reception from critics. The album eventually went gold. In March 2010, Lil Wayne began serving an 8-month prison sentence in New York after being convicted of criminal possession of a weapon stemming from an incident in July 2007. While in prison he released another album entitled I Am Not a Human Being in September 2010, featuring Young Money artists such as Drake, Nicki Minaj and Lil Twist. His ninth studio album and first since being released from prison, Tha Carter IV, was released on August 29, 2011. The album includes the songs “6 Foot 7 Foot” featuring Cory Gunz, “How to Love” and “She Will” featuring Drake. It sold 964,000 copies in the U.S. its first week out.
Lil Wayne was born Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. and grew up in the Hollygrove neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana. Carter was born when his mother, a chef, was 19 years old. His parents were divorced when he was 2, and his father permanently abandoned the family. Carter enrolled in the gifted program of Lafayette Elementary School and in the drama club of Eleanor McMain Secondary School.
He wrote his first rap song at age eight. In the summer of 1991, he met Bryan Williams, rapper and owner of Cash Money Records. Carter recorded freestyle raps on Williams’s answering machine, leading him to mentor the young Carter and include him in Cash Money-distributed songs. He also recorded his first ever collaboration album True Story with rapper B.G.. At the time, Carter was 11, and B.G. was 14, and was billed as “The B.G.’z”. When he was 12, he played the part of the Tin Man in his middle school drama club’s production of The Wi=z. At age 13, he accidentally shot himself with a 9 mm handgun, and off-duty police officer Robert Hoobler drove him to the hospital. At McMain Magnet School, Carter was an honor student, but he dropped out at the age of 14 to focus on a musical career.
1997–99: Hot BoysIn 1997, Carter joined the Hot Boys along with rappers Juvenile, B.G., and Turk. At age 15, Carter was the youngest member at that time. Hot Boys’ debut album Get It How U Live! was released the same year, followed in 1999 by the group’s major-label debut Guerrilla Warfare, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard magazine Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and No. 5 on the Billboard 200. During their career, the Hot Boys had two charting singles, “We on Fire” from Get It How U Live! and “I Need a Hot Girl” from Guerrilla Warfare. Carter was also featured on Juvenile’s single “Back That Azz Up”, which reached No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 5 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks. Let ‘Em Burn, a compilation album of unreleased tracks recorded during 1999 and 2000, came out in 2003, several years after the group disbanded. It reached No. 3 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and No. 14 on the Billboard 200.
Carter’s debut solo album Tha Block Is Hot at age 17 featured significant contributions from the Hot Boys and was certified platinum, debuting at No. 3 on the Billboard album charts. The album earned him a 1999 Source magazine award nomination for “Best New Artist”, and also became a Top Ten hit. The lead single was “Tha Block Is Hot”. After the release of Tha Block is Hot, Carter was featured on the single, “Bling Bling”, with B.G., Juvenile, and Big Tymers. His verse was featured on the radio edition, and on the album version, only his hook was featured on the single.
2000-03: Lights Out and 500 DegreezHis 2000 follow-up album Lights Out failed to attain the level of success achieved by his debut but was certified gold by RIAA. Critics pointed to the lack of coherent narratives in his verses as evidence that he had yet to mature to the level of his fellow Hot Boys. The lead single was “Get Off The Corner” which was noticed for an improvement in lyrical content and style, it also received a music video. The second single which received less attention was “Shine” featuring The Hot Boys. Near the release of Lights Out, Lil Wayne was featured on the single, “1# Stunna” with Big Tymers and Juvenile, which rose to 24th place on the Hot Rap Tracks charts.
Lil Wayne’s third album 500 Degreez, released in 2002, followed the format of his previous two, with significant contributions from the Hot Boys and Mannie Fresh. While certified Gold like its predecessor, it too failed to match the success of his debut. The title was a reference to the recently estranged Hot Boys member Juvenile’s recording, 400 Degreez. The lead single was “Way Of Life” which like the album failed to match the success of his previous singles. After the release of 500 Degreez, he was featured in the single “Neva Get Enuf” by 3LW.
2003-05: Tha Carter and Tha Carter IIIn the summer of 2004, Wayne’s album Tha Carter was released, marking what critics considered advancement in his rapping style and lyrical themes. In addition, the album’s cover art featured the debut of Wayne’s now-signature dreadlocks. Tha Carter gained Wayne significant recognition, selling 878,000 copies in the United States, while the single “Go DJ” became a Top 5 Hit on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart. After the release of Tha Carter, Lil Wayne was featured in Destiny’s Child’s single “Soldier” with T.I., which peaked at No. 3 on the U.S. Hot 100 and the U.S. R&B Charts.
Tha Carter II, the follow-up to the original Tha Carter album, was released in December 2005, this time without production by longtime Cash Money Records producer Mannie Fresh, who had since left the label. Tha Carter II sold more than 238,000 copies in its first week of release, debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, and went on to sell 2,000,000 copies world wide. The lead single, “Fireman,” became a hit in the US, peaking at 32 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Other singles included “Grown Man”, “Hustler Muzik”, and “Shooter” (featuring R&B singer Robin Thicke). Lil Wayne also appeared on a remix of Bobby Valentino’s “Tell Me”, which rose to No. 13 on the U.S. R&B Charts. In 2005, Lil Wayne was named president of Cash Money, and in the same year he founded Young Money Entertainment as an imprint of Cash Money. However, as of late 2007, Lil Wayne reported that he has stepped down from the management of both labels and has handed management of Young Money over to Cortez Bryant.
Lil Wayne performing at the Beacon Theatre on July 23, 20072006-08Like Father, Like Son, Mixtapes and CollaborationsIn 2006, Lil Wayne collaborated with rapper Birdman for the album Like Father, Like Son, whose first single “Stuntin’ Like My Daddy”, reached No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Instead of a follow-up solo album, Lil Wayne reached his audience through a plethora of mixtapes and guest appearances on a variety of pop and hip-hop singles. Of his many mixtapes, Dedication 2 and Da Drought 3 received the most media exposure and critical review. Dedication 2, released in 2006, paired Lil Wayne with DJ Drama and contained the acclaimed socially conscious track “Georgia Bush,” in which Lil Wayne critiqued former US president George W. Bush’s response to the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the city of New Orleans. Da Drought 3 was released the following year and was available for free legal download. It contained Lil Wayne rapping over a variety of beats from recent hits by other musicians. Numerous of features in prominent hip-hop magazines such as XXL and Vibe covered the mixtape. Christian Hoard of Rolling Stone magazine considered the mixtapes Da Drought 3 and The Drought Is Over 2 “among the best albums of 2007.”
Despite no album release for two years, Lil Wayne appeared in numerous singles as a featured performer, including “Gimme That” by Chris Brown, “Make It Rain” by Fat Joe, “You” by Lloyd, and “We Takin’ Over” by DJ Khaled (also featuring Akon, T.I., Rick Ross, Fat Joe, and Birdman), “Duffle Bag Boy” by Playaz Circle, “Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill)” by Wyclef Jean (also featuring Akon), and the remix to “I’m So Hood” by DJ Khaled (also featuring T-Pain, Young Jeezy, Ludacris, Busta Rhymes, Big Boi, Fat Joe, Birdman, and Rick Ross). All these singles charted within the top 20 spots on the Billboard Hot 100, Hot Rap Tracks, and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. On Birdman’s 2007 album 5 * Stunna, Lil Wayne appeared on the singles “100 Million” and “I Run This” among several other tracks. Wayne also appeared on tracks from albums Getback by Little Brother, American Gangster by Jay-Z, and Graduation by Kanye West and Insomniac by Enrique Iglesias. “Make it Rain”, a Scott Storch production that peaked at number 13 on the Hot 100 and number two on the Hot Rap Tracks chart, was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for 2008.
Vibe magazine ranked a list of 77 of Lil Wayne’s songs from 2007 and ranked his verse in DJ Khaled’s “We Takin Over” as his best of 2007, with “Dough Is What I Got” (a freestyle over the beat of Jay-Z’s “Show Me What You Got”) from Da Drought 3 the second song. At the end of 2007, an MTV poll selected Lil Wayne as “Hottest MC in the Game”, The New Yorker magazine ranked him “Rapper of the Year”, and GQ magazine named him “Workaholic of the Year”. In 2008 he was named “Best MC” by Rolling Stone. Another article, built around Lil Wayne’s 2007 mixtape work, cites his creative practice as an example of post performance creative practice.
2008-10: Tha Carter III, We Are Young Money and RebirthInitially planned to be released in 2007, Tha Carter III’s largest delay came after the majority of the tracks were leaked and distributed on mixtapes, such as “The Drought Is Over Pt. 2” and “The Drought Is Over Pt. 4”. Lil Wayne initially decided to use the leaked tracks, plus four new tracks, to make a separate album, titled The Leak. The Leak was to be released December 18, 2007, with the actual album being delayed until March 18, 2008, The release of The Leak in this format never came to fruition, but an official EP titled The Leak and containing five tracks was released digitally on December 25, 2007. Tha Carter III was released on June 10, 2008, selling more than a million copies in its first week of release, the first to do so since 50 Cent’s The Massacre in 2005. The first single “Lollipop”, featuring Static Major became the rapper’s most commercially successful song at that point, topping the Billboard Hot 100, making it the first Top 10 single for Lil Wayne as a solo artist, as well as his first No. 1 on the chart. His third single from Tha Carter III, “Got Money” featuring T-Pain, peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard 100. Tha Carter III also won four Grammy Awards, including best rap album and best rap song, which he won for “Lollipop”. Along with his album singles, Lil Wayne appeared on R&B singles “Girls Around the World” by Lloyd, “Love In This Club, Part II” by Usher, “Official Girl” by Cassie, “I’m So Paid” by Akon, “Turnin’ Me On” by Keri Hilson, and “Can’t Believe It” by T-Pain; rap singles “My Life” by The Game, “Shawty Say” by David Banner, “Swagga Like Us” by T.I., “Cutty Buddy” by Mike Jones, All My Life (In the Ghetto) by Jay Rock and the remix to “Certified” by Glasses Malone; and pop single “Let It Rock” by new Cash Money artist Kevin Rudolf. On July 14, 2008, the Recording Industry Association of America certified Tha Carter III two times platinum. In an October 2008 interview with MTV News, Lil Wayne announced plans to re-release this album with all new tracks, including a duet with Ludacris and remixes of “A Milli”.
Lil Wayne performing at General Motors Place concert in Vancouver in January 2009.The lineup for New Orleans’ 2008 Voodoo Experience concert, held in October, featured Lil Wayne. Jonathan Cohen of Billboard magazine reported that the event would mark his biggest hometown headlining set of his career. Lil Wayne stated that he would reunite with Hot Boys alongside Juvenile, Turk, and B.G. They plan to release an album after B.G.’s solo album Too Hood to Be Hollywood was completed. Wayne also performed as the 2008 Virgin Mobile Music Fest with Kanye West, performing the remix of “Lollipop” with West and also lip-syncing to Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”. Lil Wayne also performed at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards with Kid Rock (“All Summer Long”), Leona Lewis (“DontGetIt (Misunderstood)”) and T-Pain (“Got Money”). On the season premiere of Saturday Night Live, he performed “Lollipop” and “Got Money”. He later performed at the homecoming rally at Vanderbilt University and the 2008 BET Hip Hop Awards with 12 nominations. He won the “MVP” title at the BET Hip Hop Awards and seven others. It was revealed that M.I.A. dropped out of performing on the tour due to her pregnancy, however Jay-Z is expected to perform with Wayne on the song “Mr. Carter” at select shows. On November 11, 2008, Wayne became the first hip-hop act to ever perform at the Country Music Association Awards. He played alongside Kid Rock for the song, “All Summer Long”, in which Wayne did not rap but instead inaudibly strummed guitar strings alongside the guitarist in Kid Rock’s band. Shortly after, Wayne was nominated for eight Grammys – the most for any artist nominated that year. Wayne was then named the first ever MTV Man of the Year at the end of 2008. He won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance for “A Milli”, Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for his appearance in T.I.’s single “Swagga Like Us”, and Best Rap Song for “Lollipop”. Tha Carter III won the award for Best Rap Album. MTV News listed Lil Wayne number two on their 2009 list of the Hottest MCs In The Game.
On December 23, 2009, Wayne released a collaboration album with Young Money, with the first single confirmed as “Every Girl”. The second single is “BedRock”, featuring Lloyd. The third single is “Roger That”. On May 24, 2010, the album was certified gold by the RIAA with over 500,000 copies sold. Wayne is featured on the song, “Revolver”, with Madonna for her 2009 greatest hits album, Celebration. He was also featured on a Weezer song, “Can’t Stop Partying”, on their 2009 album, Raditude. In late 2008, Wayne stated that he would re-release The Carter III with leftover tracks and call it Rebirth, several months later, however, he announced Rebirth would instead release as his debut rock album, maintaining its title as Rebirth. To support the release of Rebirth and a collaboration album with Young Money Entertainment, Wayne headlined the ‘Young Money Presents: America’s Most Wanted Music Festival’… a United States and Canada–only concert tour which started on July 29, 2009. The Rebirth album was originally scheduled for a April 7, 2009 release, however after numerous delays, the album was released on February 2, 2010. For the anticipation of Rebirth, Wayne was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone. “Prom Queen”, the first official single, debuted on January 27, 2009 immediately after a live Internet broadcast on Ustream of his concert in San Diego. “Prom Queen” peaked at number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. On December 3, 2009, Lil Wayne’s second single from the album, “On Fire”, was released on iTunes. “On Fire” was produced by Cool & Dre. “On Fire” peaked at number 33 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. “Drop the World”, which features Eminem, is the third single from the album.
2010: I Am Not a Human BeingLil Wayne was thought to be releasing an EP entitled I Am Not a Human Being, but it was confirmed that would be a full length LP. The album was released on September 27, 2010 which was his birthday. The album has sold over 953,000 copies in the U.S. and has spawned a successful single in “Right Above It” which peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100.
2011-present: Tha Carter IV
Lil Wayne in 2011In an interview on MTV’s Mixtape Monday, Wayne asserted the possibility of the album Tha Carter IV. Following Tha Carter III’s achievement of selling over 3 million copies, becoming 2008’s best-selling record, Wayne re-signed with Cash Money Records for a multi-album deal. Wayne said Tha Carter IV will be released in 2009 just before the holidays. Birdman had previously stated that Tha Carter IV would be packaged with Rebirth as a double disc album. However, Wayne denied this idea saying that “Tha Carter IV deserves Tha Carter IV”. He went on to say that We Are Young Money may be packaged with Rebirth. However, it was later confirmed that Rebirth and We Are Young Money will be released separately and that Tha Carter IV will be released during 2011. He started from scratch on Tha Carter IV since getting released from prison. He recorded his first track since being released from prison and it was described as being “a 2010 version of A Milli on steroids.” The album is set to feature multiple guests, including Tech N9ne. The first single “6 Foot 7 Foot” featuring Cory Gunz was released on December 15, 2010. It was available for digital download on iTunes December 16, 2010. The song is produced by Bangladesh, who also produced Lil Wayne’s single “A Milli” in 2008. On March 8, 2011, Weezy released another song called “We Back Soon.” The song is produced by StreetRunner; It is more relaxed than “6 Foot 7 Foot” is, but will not be a track on Tha Carter IV. He also released a second single to Tha Carter IV called “John” on March 24, 2011, which features Rick Ross and is produced by Polow Da Don. On April 20, 2011, the official cover of Tha Carter IV was released. Tha Carter IV was scheduled to be released on May 16, 2011, but Mack Maine had confirmed that the forthcoming ninth studio album will be released in June 21, 2011 instead of May 16, 2011, because they need more time to make the album perfect and they’ll have a “monster” single coming soon that will possibly be titled “Blows My Brains” or “She’s Always In My Head”. On May 26, the 3rd single, “How to Love” was released. Tha Carter IV was eventually pushed back to August 29, 2011. A song called “Dear Anne (Stan Part 2)” was released in June, when the snippet was released back in April. Lil Wayne said the song was throw away track for Tha Carter III. He said it was originally suppose to be on Tha Carter IV when it leaked, but decided not to put it one there. He said he’s not a fan of the song since it was so old. Lil Wayne said that he that liked the beat, but not the lyrics, and was thinking about redoing “Dear Anne.”
For preparation for Tha Carter IV, Lil Wayne released a mixtape titled, Sorry 4 the Wait. He named the mixtape so as an apology to his fans for the delay of the album. It consists of 13 with all the beats on the mixtape coming from other artists song, like his “No Ceilings” mixtape.
In July 2011, Lil Wayne confirmed in an interview with MTV that Tha Carter IV is finished.
The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 964,000 copies sold in its first week, making it Lil Wayne’s third chart topping album of his career. On January 8, 2012, According to Nielsen SoundScan was elected the seventh artist (second male artist) all-time best-selling tracks digital with 36,788,000 million to the end of 2011.
Future projectsOn March 12, 2011, rapper Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit tweeted that Lil Wayne will be featured on the song “Ready To Go” from Limp Bizkit’s upcoming album Gold Cobra, although it was later revealed that the song did not make the final tracklist.
Lil Wayne has announced several possible upcoming projects, including a collaboration album I Can’t Feel My Face with rapper Juelz Santana that has been in production for several years. And also working on Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins’ album Still Cool in late 2011. He has discussed a possible R&B album titled Luv Sawngz, for which he will heavily rely on a vocoder. He has also talked with singer Lloyd about doing a collaboration album in the future. On June 19, 2008, Lil Wayne and T-Pain formed a duo called T-Wayne and planned to release an album. According to an interview with Drake in the December 2011 issue of XXL, plans for an upcoming album with Lil Wayne have been scrapped for the time being because of the Jay-Z and Kanye West collaboration Watch the Throne. Lil Wayne and Baby will release a second Like Father, Like Son. It was announced by Mack Maine that Lil Wayne and Juelz Santana have gone back to working on their collaboration album I Can’t Feel My Face which had been delayed for a few years due to “label politics”.
In October 2011 it was reported that Lil Wayne is working on sequels to I Am Not a Human Being and Rebirth. A couple months later, Birdman announced that I Am Not A Human Being 2 will be released before the summer of 2012 and that him and Lil Wayne have finished recording Like Father, Like Son 2.
Post-RetirementOn March 29, 2011, in an interview with Hot 97’s Angie Martinez, Lil Wayne announced that he would retire at age 35; saying “I have four kids,” and that “I would feel selfish still going to the studio when it’s such a vital point in their lives.”
However, in an interview with XXL, Lil Wayne hinted that Tha Carter IV would be his last album.
Television and film careerLil Wayne was a guest debater going up against Skip Bayless on the “1st & 10” segment on the January 6, 2009 edition of ESPN First Take. On February 10, 2009 he also appeared on ESPN’s Around the Horn and beat out veterans Woody Paige, Jay Mariotti and fellow New Orleanian Michael Smith to win that show’s episode. Prior to the 2009 Grammy Awards, Wayne was featured in an interview with Katie Couric. On February 7, 2009, he presented the Top Ten List on CBS’s Late Show with David Letterman. He then appeared on the April 24, 2009 episode of The View, talking about his GED and addictions. In September 2009, Wayne was profiled in an episode of VH1’s Behind the Music and was a presenter of the 2009 MTV Movie Awards.
In film, Wayne produced and composed music for and starred in the direct-to-video film Hurricane Season. A documentary of Lil Wayne titled The Carter was released at the Sundance Film Festival.
Personal lifeFamilyLil Wayne has four children. His first child, daughter Reginae, was born when he was 15, to his high school sweetheart Antonia “Toya” Carter (née Johnson). Wayne and Johnson married on Valentine’s Day of 2004 and divorced in 2006. Internet rumours started circulating in August 2008 that Wayne’s daughter had died in a car crash, which however he quickly cleared up as false saying “Please allow me to dispel any rumors or speculations and report that my daughter is alive, healthy and surrounded by family who care and love her dearly. The rumors are completely false and unfounded; neither Reginae nor any other member of my family has been involved in any car accident.” His second child, Dwayne III, was then born on October 22, 2008 at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati. His third child, Cameron Carter, was born to actress Lauren London on September 9, 2009. He had his fourth child, Neal, on November 30, 2009 with singer Nivea.
In a CBS interview with Katie Couric, Wayne described why he goes by the name of “Wayne” instead of his given name, Dwayne. Carter explained, “I dropped the D because I’m a junior and my father is living and he’s not in my life and he’s never been in my life. So I don’t want to be Dwayne, I’d rather be Wayne”. Couric asked Wayne if his father knew of this and Wayne replied with a smile, “He knows now”.
Higher educationAfter earning his GED, Wayne enrolled at the University of Houston in January 2005. He dropped out in the same year due to his conflicting schedule. He also revealed on The View that he switched to the University of Phoenix and majored in psychology taking online courses. An article in Urb magazine in March 2007 asserted that Wayne had been earning high grades at Houston.
Sports and musical interestsIn an interview with Blender magazine, Lil Wayne revealed one of his favorite bands from childhood to be rock group Nirvana, and cites them as a major influence in his music.
On September 24, 2008, Lil Wayne published his first blog for ESPN in their issue, ESPN The Magazine. Wayne revealed he was a fan of tennis, the Green Bay Packers, the Boston Bruins, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Red Sox. To commemorate the Packers’ making it to Super Bowl XLV, he spoofed Wiz Khalifa’s hit song “Black and Yellow” (which were the colors of the Packers’ opponents, the Pittsburgh Steelers) in a song titled “Green and Yellow”. Wayne has continued writing for ESPN, notably reporting at the ESPN Super Bowl party.
Lil Wayne made his debut on ESPN’s daily sports round table show Around The Horn on February 10, 2009.
At E3 2011, Lil Wayne, along with Young Money member Drake, appeared on the trailer of FIFA 12.
ReligionLil Wayne is a practicing Christian, who takes time to read the Bible regularly. While playing in Newark Symphony Hall, Lil Wayne professed his belief “in God and His son, Jesus.” He then asked the Newark crowd if they also believed, and they responded affirmatively with a roar. During his 2011 tour in Australia with Eminem, before beginning his bracket he proclaimed his belief in God.
PhilanthropyOn February 19, 2008, Lil Wayne and Cortez Bryant revisited their alma mater McMain Secondary School to get students to design an invitation to the gala introducing Lil Wayne’s nonprofit One Family Foundation. The website Change.org states: “The mission of One Family Foundation, Inc. is to empower urban youth by engaging them in opportunities to cultivate their talents and skills, educating them to become productive and economically self-sufficient, and motivating them to dream beyond their circumstances
Kanye Omari West ( /ˈkɑːnjeɪ/; born June 8, 1977) is an American rapper, singer, and record producer. West first rose to fame as a producer for Roc-A-Fella Records, where he eventually achieved recognition for his work on Jay-Z‘s album The Blueprint, as well as hit singles for musical artists including Alicia Keys, Ludacris, and Janet Jackson. His style of production originally used pitched-up vocal samples from soul songs incorporated with his own drums and instruments. However, subsequent productions saw him broadening his musical palette and expressing influences encompassing ’70s R&B, baroque pop, trip hop, arena rock, folk, alternative, electronica, synthpop, and classical music.
West released his debut album The College Dropout in 2004, his second album Late Registration in 2005, his third album Graduation in 2007, his fourth album 808s & Heartbreak in 2008, and his fifth album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in 2010. West released a collaborative album, Watch the Throne, with Jay-Z on August 8, 2011, which is the duo’s first collaborative album. His five solo albums, all of which have gone platinum, have received numerous awards and critical acclaim. As of 2012, West has won a total of eighteen Grammy Awards, making him one of the most awarded artists of all time. All albums have been very commercially successful, with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy becoming his fourth consecutive No.1 album in the U.S. upon release. West has had 5 songs exceed 3 million in digital sales as of July 2011, with “Gold Digger” selling 3,086,000, “Stronger” selling 4,402,000, “Heartless” selling 3,742,000, “E.T.” selling over 4,000,000 and “Love Lockdown” selling over 3,000,000 placing him third in overall digital sales of the past decade. He has sold over 30 million digital songs in the United States making him one of the best selling digital artists of all time.
West also runs his own record label GOOD Music, home to artists such as John Legend, Common and Kid Cudi. West’s mascot and trademark is “Dropout Bear,” a teddy bear which has appeared on the covers of three of his five albums as well as various single covers and music videos. About.com ranked Kanye West No.8 on their “Top 50 Hip-Hop Producers” list. On May 16, 2008, Kanye West was crowned by MTV as the year’s No.1 “Hottest MC in the Game.” On December 17, 2010, Kanye West was voted as the MTV Man of the Year by MTV. Billboard ranked Kanye West No. 3 on their list of Top 10 Producers of the decade. West has also been included in the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world as well as being listed in a number of Forbes‘ annual lists.
Kanye West was born in Atlanta, Georgia, where he lived with his parents. When he was three years old, his parents divorced, and he and his mother moved to Chicago, Illinois. His father was Ray West, a former Black Panther who was one of the first black photojournalists at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and is now a Christian counselor. West’s mother, Dr. Donda West, was a Professor of English at Clark Atlanta University, and the Chair of the English Department at Chicago State University before retiring to serve as West’s manager. He was raised in a middle-class background, attending Polaris High School in suburban Oak Lawn, Illinois after living in Chicago. When asked about his grades in high school, West replied, “I got A’s and B’s. And I’m not even frontin'”.
West attended art classes at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, and also enrolled at Chicago State University, but dropped out to focus on his music career. While attending school, West produced for local artists. He later gained fame by producing hit singles for major hip hop/R&B artists, including Jay-Z, Talib Kweli, Cam’ron, Paul Wall, Common, Mobb Deep, Jermaine Dupri, Scarface, The Game, Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson, John Legend among others. He also “ghost-produced” for his mentor Deric Angelettie, according to his song “Last Call” and the credits of Nas‘ “Poppa Was a Playa”.
1996–2003: Career beginnings
Kanye West’s first career productions came on Chicago rapper Grav’s 1996 debut album Down to Earth. West produced eight tracks on the album. While the album did not attract much attention and would be the only album released by Grav, West would soon be producing for higher profile artists. In 1998–1999 he produced for well-known artists such as Jermaine Dupri, Foxy Brown, Goodie Mob, and the group Harlem World.
West got his big break in the year 2000, when he began to produce for artists on Roc-a-Fella Records. He produced the well-received Jay-Z song “This Can’t Be Life” off of the album The Dynasty: Roc La Familia. West would later state that to create the beat for “This Can’t Be Life”, he sped up the drum beat from Dr. Dre‘s song “Xxplosive”.
After producing for Jay-Z earlier, West’s sound was featured heavily on Jay-Z’s critically acclaimed album The Blueprint, released September 11, 2001. His work was featured on the lead single “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” “Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love)” and a diss track against Nas and Mobb Deep named “Takeover“; West has worked with Mobb Deep and Nas since the track’s release.
After meeting great commercial success and critical acclaim for his productions on The Blueprint, West became a sought after producer in the hip-hop industry, even before he became known as a rapper and solo artist. In the years 2002–2003 he would produce for artists such as Nas, Scarface, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, T.I., Ludacris, DMX, and Monica. He also continued producing for Roc-a-Fella Records artists and contribued four tracks to Jay-Z‘s follow up album to The Blueprint, The Blueprint²: The Gift & the Curse.
After great successes as a producer, West now looked to pursue a career as a rapper and solo artist, but struggled to get a record deal. Chris Anokute, then A&R at Def Jam, said that when West regularly dropped by the office to pick up his producer checks he would play demos of solo material to Anokute in his cubicle and bemoan the fact that no one was taking him seriously as a rapper. Jay-Z admitted that Roc-A-Fella was initially reluctant to support West as a rapper, claiming that he saw him as a producer first and foremost. Multiple record companies felt he was not as marketable as rappers who portray the “street image” prominent in hip hop culture. Beginning his career as a rapper, Kanye West recorded the third verse on the song “The Bounce” off of Jay-Z’s The Blueprint²: The Gift & the Curse, an album he produced for, from the same label he was signed to as a rapper.
2004–05: The College Dropout and Late Registration
On October 23, 2002, West was involved in a near fatal car crash while driving home from the recording studio. The crash provided inspiration for West’s first single, “Through the Wire“. West’s faith is apparent in many of his songs, such as “Jesus Walks“, which became a staple at his benefit performances, such as the Live 8 concert. These songs were featured on West’s debut album, The College Dropout, which was released on Roc-A-Fella Records in February 2004, and went on to receive critical acclaim. The album also defined the style for which West would become known, including wordplay and sampling. The album was eventually certified triple platinum. Guest appearances included Jay-Z, Ludacris, GLC, Consequence, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Common, and Syleena Johnson. The album also featured the singles, “All Falls Down” and “The New Workout Plan“, as well as Twista’s number one single, “Slow Jamz“. During 2003 West also co-produced songs for British singer Javine Hylton, even appearing in the music video to Real Things playing the love interest of Javine.
West was involved in a financial dispute over Royce Da 5’9″‘s song “Heartbeat”, produced by West and released on Build & Destroy: The Lost Sessions. West maintains that Royce never paid for the beat, but recorded to it and released it; hearing him on the beat, the original customers decided not to buy it from West. After the disagreement, West vowed to never work with Royce again. Other Kanye West-produced hit singles during the period The College Dropout was released included “I Changed My Mind” by Keyshia Cole, “Overnight Celebrity” by Twista and “Talk About Our Love” by Brandy.
Taking a more eclectic route, West collaborated with American film score composer Jon Brion to construct his second album, Late Registration, which was released on August 30, 2005. Like its predecessor, the sophomore effort garnered universal acclaim from music critics. Late Registration topped countless critic polls and was revered as the best album of the year by numerous publications, including USA Today, Spin, and Time. Rolling Stone awarded the album the highest position on their end of the year record list and hailed it as a “sweepingly generous, absurdly virtuosic hip-hop classic.” The record earned the number one spot on the Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop critics’ poll of 2005 for the second consecutive year. Late Registration was also a commercial success, selling over 860,000 copies in its first week alone and topping the Billboard 200. Grossing over 2.3 million units sold in the United States alone by year’s end, Late Registration was considered by industry observers as the sole majorly successful album release of the fall of 2005, a season that was plagued by steadily declining CD sales. The second album earned eight Grammy Award nominations including Album of the Year and Record of the Year for the song “Gold Digger”. The album is certified triple platinum.
On August 22, 2005, the MTV special All Eyes On Kanye West aired, in which West spoke out against homophobia in hip-hop. He claimed that hip-hop has always been about “speaking your mind and about breaking down barriers, but everyone in hip-hop discriminates against gay people.” He then reflected on a personal experience. He said that he had a “turning point” when he realized one of his cousins was gay. He said regarding this experience: “This is my cousin. I love him and I’ve been discriminating against gays.” He drew comparison between African Americans’ struggle for civil rights and today’s gay rights movement. The following year, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, West further expounded his experiences with and views on the relationship between the black and gay communities.
In September 2005, West announced that he would release his Pastelle Clothing line in spring 2006: “Now that I have a Grammy under my belt and Late Registration is finished, I am ready to launch my clothing line next spring.” In that year, West produced the hit singles “Go” by Common and “Dreams” by The Game.
2007–09: Graduation and 808s & Heartbreak
In 2007, it was announced that West would be starring in a series directed by Larry Charles. He has been working on the pilot episode for the past two years with Larry Charles and Rick Rubin. He also had this to say on January 14: “I wouldn’t do something as cliché as a reality show. At least give me the credit for being more creative than that. It’s a situational half-hour comedy. It’s fictional, and loosely based on my life. ” West also collaborated with Japanese hip-hop group Teriyaki Boyz to produce the single “I Still Love H.E.R.,” a reference to Common’s 1994 single “I Used to Love H.E.R.“. Further to this, during a radio appearance in early 2007, West, like many of his peers, recorded an impromptu freestyle to the popular song “Throw Some D’s.” The song that to all other rappers was about automobile rims, was used by West to comically refer to D-cup breasts. Because of the unexpected success of the song, West went on to make a video for the freestyle, in which he is seen playing his ‘Old Ass Cousin’.
West was also featured in a new song called “Classic (Better Than I’ve Ever Been)”. It was believed to be a single for, Graduation, because he is featured on the track, but Nike quickly explained that it was for the Nike Air Force 1’s anniversary. It was meant only to be an exclusive track for the company.
On March 25, 2007, he and his father Ray West supported World Water Day by having a “Walk for Water” rally. After a two-year break, West has returned to being a fashion columnist in lifestyle magazine Complex. On July 7, 2007, West performed with The Police and John Mayer at the American leg of Live Earth. West hosted the August 17 edition of British comedy- variety show The Friday Night Project.
In July 2007, West changed the release date of Graduation, his third album, from September 18, 2007, to the same release date as 50 Cent’s album Curtis, September 11, 2007. 50 Cent later claimed that if Graduation were to sell more records than Curtis, he would stop releasing solo albums. However, 50 Cent would later dispel his comments. The album has been certified double platinum. Guest appearances included T-Pain, Mos Def, and Lil Wayne.
||When I heard that thing about the debate, I thought that was the stupidest thing. When my albums drops and 50’s album drops, you’re gonna get a lot of good music at the same time.
On August 26, 2007, West appeared as himself on the HBO television show Entourage which he used as a platform to premier his new single “Good Life” during the end credits. On September 9, 2007, West performed at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards, losing in every category he was nominated for; he gave an angry speech immediately afterward. (see “Controversies” section)
Following the MTV stint, West was nominated in eight Grammy Award categories for the 50th annual Grammy Awards. He won four of them, including Best Rap Album for Graduation and Best Rap Solo Performance for “Stronger” from Graduation. During the four-hour televised Grammy Awards ceremony, West also performed two songs: “Stronger” (with Daft Punk) and “Hey Mama” (in honor of his recently deceased mother).
West kicked off the Glow in the Dark Tour in Seattle at the Key Arena on April 16. The tour was originally scheduled to end in June in Cincinnati but was extended into August. Over the course of the tour West was joined by a varying group of opening acts, including Lupe Fiasco, Rihanna, N.E.R.D., DJ Craze, and Gnarls Barkley. On June 15, West was scheduled to perform a late night set at the Bonnaroo Music Festival. His performance started almost two hours late and ran for half of its alloted time, angering many fans in the audience. West later wrote an outraged entry on his blog, blaming the festival organizers as well as Pearl Jam‘s preceding set, which ran longer than expected.
On September 7, West debuted a new song “Love Lockdown” at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards. “Love Lockdown” features no rapping and only singing using an auto-tune device. This song appears on West’s fourth studio album, 808s & Heartbreak. The new album was expected to be released on December 16, but West announced on his blog on September 24, 2008, that he had finished the album and would be releasing it sometime in November, earlier than previously scheduled. In early October, West made a surprise appearance at a T.I. concert in Los Angeles, where he stated that 808s & Heartbreak was scheduled to be released on November 25, though it was actually released on the 24th, and that the second single is “Heartless“. The album was another number one album for West, even though the first week numbers fell well short of Graduation with 450,145 sold.
West performed at the American Music Awards ceremony on November 23. That same night he won two AMA awards, including Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album for Graduation and Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Male Artist. West performed at the Democratic National Convention in Denver in August 2008, along with Wyclef Jean and N.E.R.D. in support of Barack Obama. On January 20, 2009, Kanye West performed at the Youth Inaugural Ball hosted by MTV for Obama’s inauguration.
On February 17, 2009, West was named one of Top 10 Most Stylish Men in America by GQ. The next day, February 18, 2009, West won International Male Solo Artist at The Brit Awards 2009. West was not in attendance but accepted his award with a video speech, saying “Barack is the ‘Best Interracial Male’ but I’m proud to be the Best International Male in the world.
In April 2009, Kanye West recorded a song called “Hurricane” with 30 Seconds to Mars to appear on their album This Is War, but was not released due to legal issues with both record companies. The song was eventually released on the deluxe version of This Is War, titled “Hurricane 2.0”.
2010–present: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Watch the Throne
In May 2010, West made an animated television guest appearance on Fox‘s animated television series The Cleveland Show (a spin-off of Family Guy) as the voice behind “Kenny West”, a rival of Cleveland Brown‘s son. In his first episode he performed in a rap battle with Cleveland’s son. The producers stated working with West was a very good experience and a reason they chose him was because they knew he was a fan of Family Guy. Kenny West re-appeared in the season 2 premiere of The Cleveland Show.
West spent the first half of 2010 in Honolulu, Hawaii, working on his new album with the working title “Good Ass Job”, later named My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, released on November 22, 2010. West has cited Maya Angelou, Gil Scott-Heron and Nina Simone as his musical inspirations for this album. Outside production is said to come from RZA, Q-Tip, Pete Rock, and DJ Premier. West also had Justin Vernon flown into his studio on Oahu after seemingly expressing interest in sampling one of Bon Iver‘s songs; Vernon proceeded to feature on a number of new tracks, including “Lost In The World,” which features Vernon’s vocal line from Woods.
On May 28, the Dwele-assisted first single from the album, entitled “Power“, leaked to the Internet. On June 30, the track was officially released via iTunes. The upcoming music video was quoted as being “apocalyptic, in a very personal way” by the director Marco Brambilla.
On September 12, 2010, West performed a new song, “Runaway” featuring Pusha T, at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. Shortly after the performance, Kanye revealed he was working on a 35 minute short film based around the song. The movie is said to be influenced by film noir and concerns a fallen phoenix whom Kanye falls in love with. On October 15, 2010, Kanye West was ranked 3rd in BET‘s “Top Ten Rappers of the 21st Century” list.
Watch the Throne, a collaborative studio album by West and Jay-Z, was released by Def Jam Recordings on August 8, 2011. It has been under production since August 2010 as part of West’s GOOD Friday initiative of releasing new songs every Friday between August 20 and Christmas 2010. West said through a recent interview with MTV that the album is “going to be very dark and sexy, like couture hip hop.” He appeared at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, performing the track “Lost in the World” from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. On January 6, 2011, Kanye announced via Twitter that the first official single from Watch the Throne would be a song called “H•A•M” produced by Lex Luger. The song was released on January 11, 2011.
On April 17, 2011, West closed the Coachella Festival with a headlining set that received glowing praise from fans and critics alike. On July 20, a track titled “Otis” from the album was released in the iTunes Store. It samples “Try a Little Tenderness” by Otis Redding. On October 19, 2011, West announced on his Twitter plans for a Spring 2012 GOOD Music album release
O’Shea Jackson (born June 15, 1969), better known by his stage name Ice Cube, is a rapper and actor. He began his career as a member of the hip-hop group C.I.A. and later joined the rap group N.W.A. After leaving N.W.A in December 1989, he built a successful solo career in music, and also as a writer, director, actor and producer in cinema. Additionally, he has served as one of the producers of the Showtime television series Barbershop and the TBS series Are We There Yet?, both of which are based upon films in which he portrayed the lead character.
] Early lifeJackson was born on June 15, 1969 in Los Angeles, in the South Central area, the son of Doris Jackson (née Benjamin), a hospital clerk and custodian, and Hosea Jackson, who worked as a groundskeeper at UCLA. According to a 2005 interview with Teenink, O’Shea’s half-sister was murdered by her boyfriend in a murder-suicide when he was 12 years old. His cousin is Teren Delvon Jones, also known as Del tha Funkee Homosapien, who is a part of the rap group Hieroglyphics and who has also worked with Gorillaz; and Kam of rap group The Warzone. At his early teens, Ice Cube developed an interest in hip hop music, and began writing raps in Taft High School’s keyboarding class. He attended the Phoenix Institute of Technology in the fall of 1987, and studied architectural drafting. With friend Sir Jinx, Ice Cube formed the C.I.A., and they performed at parties hosted by Dr. Dre. Young Cube met Dr. Dre in 1983, who was nineteen at the time. Dre soon entered the recording industry involved with the World Class Wreckin’ Cru recording records. Dre saw Cube’s potential as a writer and had him helping Dre in writing Wreckin Cru’s big L.A. hit track, “Cabbage Patch” as well as joining Cube on a side partnership the duo called Stereo Crew by which they produced a twelve-inch record, “She’s a Skag” released on Epic Records in 1986.
 Music career N.W.AMain article: N.W.A
In 1987, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre released the single My Posse, under the alias CIA. After the collaboration, Ice Cube showed Eazy-E the lyrics to “Boyz-n-the-Hood”. Eazy-E, although initially rejecting the lyrics, eventually recorded the song for N.W.A. and the Posse, the debut album for the group N.W.A that included him, Dre, and other rappers MC Ren and DJ Yella.
By this point Ice Cube was a full-time member of N.W.A along with Dr. Dre, and MC Ren. Ice Cube wrote Dr. Dre and Eazy-E’s rhymes for the group’s landmark album, Straight Outta Compton, released in 1988. However, as 1990 approached, Ice Cube found himself at odds with the group’s manager, Jerry Heller, after rejecting Heller’s proposed contract terms.
Since Ice Cube wrote the lyrics to approximately half of both Straight Outta Compton, and Eazy-E’s solo album, Eazy-Duz-It, he was advised of the amounts he was truly owed by Heller, and took legal action soon after leaving the group and the label. In response, the remaining N.W.A members attacked him on the EP 100 Miles and Runnin’ and on their next and final album, Efil4zaggin (Niggaz4life spelled backwards).
 Solo careerIn late 1989, Ice Cube recorded his debut solo album in Los Angeles with the Bomb Squad (Public Enemy’s production team). AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted was released in May 1990 and was an instant hit, riding and contributing to the rising tide of rap’s popularity in mainstream society. The album was charged with controversy, and he was accused of misogyny and racism. Subsequently, Ice Cube appointed the female rapper Yo-Yo (who appeared on AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted) to the head of his own record label and helped produce her debut album, Make Way for the Motherlode. This was followed by a critically acclaimed role as ‘Doughboy’ in John Singleton’s hood-based drama, Boyz n the Hood. In the same year as AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, Ice Cube released the acclaimed EP, Kill At Will which sold well, becoming the first hip hop EP to go both Gold and Platinum. His 1991 follow-up, Death Certificate was regarded as more focused, yet even more controversial, and critics accused him again of being anti-white, misogynist, and antisemitic. The album is thematically divided into the ‘Death Side’ (“a vision of where we are today”) and the ‘Life Side’ (“a vision of where we need to go”). It features “No Vaseline”, a scathing response to N.W.A’s attacks and “Black Korea,” a track regarded by some as prophetic of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, but also interpreted as racist by many; it was still being cited years after its release. Ice Cube toured with Lollapalooza in 1992, which widened his fan base.
Ice Cube released The Predator in November 1992. Referring specifically to that year’s Los Angeles riots, in the first single, “Wicked”, he rapped “April 29 was power to the people, and we might just see a sequel”. The Predator debuted at number one on both the pop and R&B charts, the first album in history to do so. Singles from The Predator included “It Was a Good Day” and the “Check Yo Self” remix, and the songs had a two-part music video. The album remains his most successful release, with over three million copies sold in the US. However, after The Predator, Ice Cube’s rap audience diminished. Lethal Injection which was released in the end of 1993 and represented Ice Cube’s first attempt at imitating the G-Funk sound of Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, was not well received by critics. He had more successful hits from Lethal Injection, including “Really Doe”, “Bop Gun (One Nation)”, “You Know How We Do It” & “What Can I Do?”. After 1994, he took a hiatus from music and concentrated on film work and developing the careers of other rap musicians, Mack 10, Mr. Short Khop, Kausion, and Da Lench Mob.
In 1994, Ice Cube had reunited with former N.W.A member Dr. Dre, who was now part of Death Row Records, in their duet “Natural Born Killaz”. In 1998, he released his long-awaited solo album, War & Peace Volume 1. The delayed Volume 2, was released in 2000. The albums featured appearances from Westside Connection as well as a reunion with fellow N.W.A members, Dr. Dre and MC Ren, though many fans maintained that the two albums were not on par with his past work, especially the second volume. In 2000, Ice Cube also joined Dr. Dre, Eminem & Snoop Dogg on the Up In Smoke Tour.
In 2006, Ice Cube released his seventh solo album, Laugh Now, Cry Later, on his Lench Mob Records label, debuting at number four on the Billboard Charts and selling 144,000 units in the first week. The album featured production from Lil Jon and Scott Storch, who produced the lead single “Why We Thugs”. He released his eighth studio album, Raw Footage, on August 19, 2008, featuring the controversial single “Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It”.
On October 12, 2009 he released a non-album track called ‘Raider Nation’ in tribute to the Oakland Raiders’ football team he supports.
On May 11, 2010, Ice Cube released a 30 for 30 documentary, “Straight Outta L.A.”, for ESPN on the relationship between the gangster rap scene in Los Angeles and the tenure of the Raiders there. He has been voted as eighth of MTV’s “greatest emcees of all time.”
 Westside ConnectionIn 1996, Ice Cube formed Westside Connection with Mack 10 and WC, and together they released an album called Bow Down. Most of the album was used to engage in the East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry of the 90s. The album’s eponymous single reached number 21 on the singles charts, and the album itself was certified Platinum by the end of 1996. With Bow Down, Westside Connection brought their own agenda to the hip hop scene. Ice Cube, Mack 10 and WC had grown tired of being overlooked by most East Coast media outlets; the album was designed to instil a sense of pride in West Coast rap fans and to start a larger movement that some people who felt underappreciated might identify with. Songs like “Bow Down” and “Gangstas Make the World Go ‘Round” make reference to this. Ice Cube would also eventually make amends with Eazy-E shortly before the latter’s death in 1995.
After a seven-year hiatus, Westside Connection returned with their second effort Terrorist Threats in 2003. The album fared well critically, but its commercial reception was less than that of Bow Down. “Gangsta Nation” was the only single released from the album, which was produced by Fredwreck and featured Nate Dogg; it was a radio hit. After a rift between Ice Cube and Mack 10 about Ice Cube’s commitments to film work rather than touring with the group, Westside Connection disbanded. WC, did release a new solo album on Lench Mob Records entitled Guilty by Affiliation on August 14, 2007.
 CollaborationsIn 1992 Ice Cube assisted on debut albums from Del the Funkee Homosapien (I Wish My Brother George Was Here), Da Lench Mob (Guerillas in tha Mist, 1992) and Kam (Neva Again, 1993), all of which enjoyed critical acclaim and some moderate commercial success. He handled most of the production on Guerillas in tha Mist.
In 1993, Lench Mob member, J-Dee, was sentenced to life imprisonment for attempted murder, and Ice Cube did not produce their next album, Planet of tha Apes. Around this time in 1993, he also worked with Tupac Shakur and Brendan Dedal on his album Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., appearing on the track “Last Wordz” with Ice-T. He also did a song with Dr. Dre for the first time since he left N.W.A: “Natural Born Killaz”, for the Murder Was The Case soundtrack, and also contributed to the Office Space soundtrack. He also featured on Kool G Rap’s song “Two To The Head” from the Kool G Rap & DJ Polo album “Live And Let Die”. Ice Cube appeared on the song “Children of the Korn” by the band Korn, as well as assisting in recording a Korn cover of Wicked, and lent his voice to British DJ Paul Oakenfold’s solo debut album, Bunkka, on the track “Get Em Up”. Ice Cube appeared in several songs in WC Guilty by Affiliation like “Keep it 100”, “80’s babies” and “Jack and the bean stalk”. Ice Cube also appeared in D.A.Z. in the song “Iz You Ready to die” and in DJ Quik in the song “Boogie Till You Conk Out” in 2011.
Ice Cube live in Metro City Concert Club, on 29 October 2010.In 2004, his hit singles “Check Yo Self”, “It Was a Good Day” and affiliated song “Guerrillas in tha Mist” with Da Lench Mob appeared on popular video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas on fictional radio station Radio Los Santos.
In late 2005, Ice Cube and R. J. Cutler teamed up to create the six-part documentary series titled Black. White., which was broadcast on cable network FX. In May 2006 Ice Cube complained that Oprah Winfrey would not welcome him and other rappers on her show. Ice Cube’s other movie projects include Teacher of the Year, released in 2007, and The Extractors, released in 2008.
He has signed on to star in and produce Welcome Back, Kotter, a big-screen adaptation of the 1970s television series. Ice Cube will play the title character, originally portrayed by Gabe Kaplan and his film company, Cube Vision Productions, has sealed a deal with Dimension Films to bring the show to the big screen.
In a London interview he revealed he is in talks of a collaboration with Gorillaz after speaking to frontman Damon Albarn.
In October 2006 Xzibit, Lil Jon and WC from the Westside Connection honoured Ice Cube at VH1’s Annual Hip Hop Honors, performing some classic Ice Cube tracks, and Ice Cube also performed “Why We Thugs” and “Go To Church” from his album Laugh Now, Cry Later, where the New York crowd were greeted with Cube’s vintage Cali sound. After launching that comeback album, Ice Cube toured across the world to promote it. The tour is known as “Straight Outta Compton Tour”, and accompanying him is his friend and fellow rapper WC from the Westside Connection. Some places he has recently performed include the Paradiso in Amsterdam and various venues in England. After touring the U.S. and Europe, he performed all around Australia, from Sydney’s Enmore Theatre to The Forum Arena in Melbourne, before heading to Japan.
Ice Cube collaborated with Tech N9ne on the song “Blackboy” that appears on Tech N9ne’s July 2008 album Killer. The eighth Ice Cube studio LP, titled Raw Footage, was released on August 19, 2008, and featured the singles Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It and Do Ya Thang. Ice Cube appeared on a song by rapper The Game titled “State of Emergency” off The Game’s Album, L.A.X. In 2009, Ice Cube performed at the Gathering of the Juggalos, and will return to perform at the 2011 festival.
Despite rumors of conflicts with other rappers in 2010, Ice Cube stated in an interview with DJ Whoo Kid on Sirius Shade 45 that he has “no beef.”
Ice Cube’s ninth studio album I Am the West was released on September 28, 2010. Ice Cube has stated this album has a different direction than any one of his other albums. He received beats from West coast veteran producers such as DJ Quik, Dr. Dre, E-A-Ski, and Sir Jinx, not having worked on a solo album with the latter in nearly 20 years. The album was released independently under his label Lench Mob. Ice Cube has stated that “being independent is beautiful because we can do things ‘out the box’ that record companies would usually frown at. Instead of working from a ready-made cookie-cutter marketing plan, we can tailor make a marketing plan specifically for me.”
In November 2011 Ice Cube stated via Twitter that he was 7 songs into the current album he’s recording. He also stated he “always got an album coming out” which suggests that he isn’t thinking of rap retirement to focus on acting in the near future.
 Other ventures Film and television careerFollowing his role as ‘Doughboy’ in Boyz n the Hood, in 1992 he starred alongside Ice-T, and Bill Paxton in Walter Hill’s action film, Trespass, and then in The Glass Shield.
Ice Cube was offered a co-star role with Janet Jackson in the 1993 romantic film Poetic Justice, but he refused the role, which was given to Tupac Shakur instead.
John Singleton had encouraged Ice Cube to try his hand at screenwriting, telling him, “If you can write a record, you can write a movie.” With this encouragement, Ice Cube wrote the screenplay for what became the 1995 comedy Friday, in which he also starred, alongside then up-and-coming comedian Chris Tucker. Friday earned $28 million worldwide on a $3.5 million budget, and spawned two sequels, Next Friday and Friday After Next. (On March 9, 2011 he announced that he was making the final sequel called Last Friday). That year, he also starred in his second collaboration with John Singleton, Higher Learning, as world-weary university student “Fudge”; a role for which he earned award nominations.
In 1997 Ice Cube starred in the action thriller Dangerous Ground as a South African exiled to America who returns 15 years later. He also had a supporting role in the film Anaconda that same year. He wrote, executive produced, and made his directorial debut in The Players Club in 1998, and in 1999 starred alongside George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg in the critically acclaimed Three Kings. In 2000, he wrote and appeared in the Friday sequel Next Friday. In 2002, Ice Cube starred in the commercially successful movie Barbershop, as well as All About the Benjamins and the third film in the Friday trilogy, Friday after Next (which he again wrote). In 2004, he appeared in Barbershop 2: Back in Business, and Torque; in 2005 he starred in the action movie XXX: State of the Union, as well as the comedies Are We There Yet? and Are We Done Yet?, co-starring Nia Long.
In early April 2007 Ice Cube was a guest on Angie Martinez’ Hot97 radio show and stated that he was interested in bringing back Chris Tucker as Smokey in a possible Friday sequel, but that was only possible “if New Line cuts the cheque.” In an interview with BlackFilm.com, Ice Cube stated that he would be interested in involving all major characters from the Friday franchise in a possible sequel, but added “I know I’m not going to get Chris [Tucker] back, but I’d love to get everybody else back.” As of December 2011, Chris Tucker has agreed to be in “Last Friday”.
In the Movies is a compilation album of Ice Cube songs that have appeared in movie soundtracks, which was released on September 4, 2007.
Ice Cube and basketball star LeBron James have paired up to pitch a one-hour special to ABC based on James’s life. Ice Cube’s Are We There Yet television series premiered on TBS on June 2, 2010. Based on the 2005 feature film of the same name, the show revolves around a family adjusting to the matriarch’s new husband (Terry Crews) and trying to deal with normal family situations. On August 16, 2010, Are We There Yet? was renewed for 90 additional episodes. In an August 2010 interview with UrbLife.com, Ice Cube expressed excitement about the show being picked up for the run, which will pan out to around six seasons. He also credits Tyler Perry for opening the door for him at TBS.
 Clothing lineIce Cube has licenced a clothing line, SOLO by Cube, which features hooded sweatshirts with built-in headphones in the hood strings.
 Personal lifeIce Cube is an avid fan of the Oakland Raiders.
 FamilyHe married Kimberly Woodruff in 1992, with whom he has five children (three boys, two girls) – O’Shea Jr., Darrel, Shareef and Karima, Deja.
A father of five, Ice Cube was asked by Fresh Air’s Terry Gross to provide some perspective on the relationship between his work and his family. When asked whether or not he allowed his children to listen to his music, he responded: “What’s worked for me is instilling in my kids a level of self-respect,” helping them to understand the content of not just music but the violence found on the evening news. When asked what he tells his children about profanity, he recalled telling his kids that there are “appropriate times to use any kind of language…. Adults should never hear you use these words. If you want to use these words around your friends, that’s really on you.” Two of Ice Cube’s sons are also rappers under the names, OMG and Doughboy. They were featured on his album, I Am the West.
Jackson is also the cousin of rapper Del the Funky Homosapien who started his career writing for Jackson’s Group Da Lench Mob. With Cube’s help Del released his debut album I Wish My Brother George Was Here when he was only 18.
 ReligionIn an interview with British newspaper The Guardian, Ice Cube stated that he is a Muslim, having converted sometime in the 1990s. He described his Muslim faith as a simple, personal one that does not involve attending prayer services or following rituals. Although he has spoken favorably of the Nation of Islam, he denied ever being in the organization.[
Quincy Delightt Jones, Jr. (born March 14, 1933) is an American record producer, conductor, arranger, film composer, television producer, and trumpeter. His career spans five decades in the entertainment industry and a record 79 Grammy Award nominations, 27 Grammys, including a Grammy Legend Award in 1991. He is particularly recognized as the producer of the album Thriller, by pop icon Michael Jackson, which has sold more than 110 million copies worldwide, and as the producer and conductor of the charity song “We Are the World”.
In 1968, Jones and his songwriting partner Bob Russell became the first African Americans to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song “The Eyes of Love” from the Universal Pictures film Banning. That same year, he became the first African American to be nominated twice within the same year when he was nominated for Best Original Score for his work on the music of the 1967 film In Cold Blood. In 1971, Jones would receive the honor of becoming the first African American to be named musical director/conductor of the Academy Awards ceremony. He was the first African American to win the Academy’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, in 1995. He is tied with sound designer Willie D. Burton as the most Oscar-nominated African American, each of them having seven nominations. At the 2008 BET Awards, Quincy Jones was presented with the Humanitarian Award. He was played by Larenz Tate in the 2004 biopic about Ray Charles, Ray.
Jones was born in Chicago, the oldest son of Sarah Frances (née Wells), an apartment complex manager and bank executive who suffered from schizophrenia, and Quincy Delightt Jones, Sr., a semi-professional baseball player and carpenter. He would eat rat daily as a child Jones discovered music in grade school at Raymond Elementary School on Chicago’s South Side and took up the trumpet. When he was 10, his family moved to Bremerton, Washington and he attended Seattle’s Garfield High School. It was in Seattle that Jones, 14, first met a 17-year-old Ray Charles.
In 1951, Jones won a scholarship to the Schillinger House (now Berklee College of Music) in Boston, Massachusetts. However, he abandoned his studies when he received an offer to tour as a trumpeter with the bandleader Lionel Hampton. While Jones was on the road with Hampton, he displayed a gift for arranging songs. Jones relocated to New York City, where he received a number of freelance commissions arranging songs for artists like Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Gene Krupa, and his close friend Ray Charles.
 Musical career
In 1956, Jones toured again as a trumpeter and musical director of the Dizzy Gillespie Band on a tour of the Middle East and South America sponsored by the United States Information Agency. Upon his return to the United States, Jones got a contract from ABC-Paramount Records and commenced his recording career as the leader of his own band.
In 1957, Quincy settled in Paris where he studied composition and theory with Nadia Boulanger and Olivier Messiaen. He also performed at the Paris Olympia. Jones became music director at Barclay Disques, the French distributor for Mercury Records.
During the 1950s, Jones successfully toured throughout Europe with a number of jazz orchestras. As musical director of Harold Arlen‘s jazz musical Free and Easy, Quincy Jones took to the road again. A European tour closed in Paris in February 1960. With musicians from the Arlen show, Jones formed his own big band, called The Jones Boys, with 18 artists—plus their families—in tow. The band included jazz greats Eddie Jones and fellow trumpeter Reunald Jones, and organized a tour of North America and Europe. Though the European and American concerts met enthusiastic audiences and sparkling reviews, concert earnings could not support a band of this size, and poor budget planning made it an economic disaster; the band dissolved and the fallout left Jones in a financial crisis. Quoted in Musician magazine, Jones said about his ordeal, “We had the best jazz band in the planet, and yet we were literally starving. That’s when I discovered that there was music, and there was the music business. If I were to survive, I would have to learn the difference between the two.” Irving Green, head of Mercury Records, got Jones back on his feet with a personal loan and a new job as the musical director of the company’s New York division, where he worked with Doug Moody, who would later go on to form Mystic Records.
 His 1960s breakthrough and rise to prominence
In 1964, Jones was promoted to vice-president of the company, thus becoming the first African American to hold such an executive position in a white-owned record company. In that same year, Quincy Jones turned his attention to another musical arena that had long been closed to blacks—the world of film scores. At the invitation of director Sidney Lumet, he composed the music for The Pawnbroker. It was the first of his 33 major motion picture scores.
Following the success of The Pawnbroker, Jones left Mercury Records and moved to Los Angeles. After his score for The Slender Thread, starring Sidney Poitier, he was in constant demand as a composer. His film credits in the next five years included Walk, Don’t Run, In Cold Blood, In the Heat of the Night, A Dandy in Aspic, Mackenna’s Gold, The Italian Job, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, The Lost Man, Cactus Flower, and The Getaway. In addition, he also composed “The Streetbeater,” which became familiar as the theme music for the television sitcom Sanford and Son, starring close friend Redd Foxx.
In the 1960s, Jones worked as an arranger for some of the most important artists of the era, including Billy Eckstine, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, and Dinah Washington. Jones’s solo recordings also garnered acclaim, including Walking in Space, Gula Matari, Smackwater Jack, You’ve Got It Bad, Girl, Body Heat, Mellow Madness, and I Heard That!!.
He is well known for his 1962 tune “Soul Bossa Nova“, which originated on the Big Band Bossa Nova album. “Soul Bossa Nova” was a theme for the 1998 World Cup, the Canadian game show Definition, the Woody Allen film Take the Money and Run and the Mike Myers movie Austin Powers in Goldmember, and was sampled by Canadian hip hop group Dream Warriors for their song, “My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style”.
Jones was also responsible for producing all four singles for Lesley Gore selling million during the early and mid-sixties, including “It’s My Party” (UK #8; US #1), “Judy’s Turn To Cry” (US #5), “She’s A Fool” (also a US #5) in 1963, and “You Don’t Own Me” (US #2 for four weeks in 1964). He continued to produce for Lesley through to 1966.
Jones’s 1981 album The Dude yielded multiple hit singles, including “Ai No Corrida” (a remake of a song by Chaz Jankel), “Just Once” and “One Hundred Ways”, the latter two featuring James Ingram on lead vocals and marking Ingram’s first hits.
In 1985, Jones scored the Steven Spielberg film adaptation of The Color Purple. He and Jerry Goldsmith (from Twilight Zone: The Movie) are the only composers besides John Williams to have scored a Spielberg theatrical film. After the 1985 American Music Awards ceremony, Jones used his influence to draw most of the major American recording artists of the day into a studio to record the song “We Are the World” to raise money for the victims of Ethiopia‘s famine. When people marveled at his ability to make the collaboration work, Jones explained that he’d taped a simple sign on the entrance: “Check Your Ego At The Door”.
Starting in the late 1970s, Jones tried to convince Miles Davis to re-perform the music he had played on several classic albums that had been arranged by Gil Evans in the 1960s. Davis had always refused, citing a desire not to revisit the past. In 1991, Davis, then suffering from pneumonia, relented and agreed to perform the music at a concert at the Montreux Jazz Festival. The resulting album from the recording, Miles & Quincy Live at Montreux, was Davis’ last released album (he died several months afterward) and is considered an artistic triumph.
In 1993, Jones collaborated with David Salzman to produce the concert extravaganza An American Reunion, a celebration of Bill Clinton‘s inauguration as president of the United States. In 1994, Salzman and Jones formed the company Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment (QDE) with Time/Warner Inc. QDE is a diverse company which produces media technology, motion pictures, television programs (In the House, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and MADtv), and magazines (Vibe and Spin).
In 2001, he published his autobiography, Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones. On July 31, 2007, Jones partnered with Wizzard Media to launch the Quincy Jones Video Podcast. In each episode, Jones shares his knowledge and experience in the music industry. The first episode features Jones in the studio, producing “I Knew I Loved you” for Celine Dion, which is featured on the Ennio Morricone tribute album, We All Love Ennio Morricone. Jones is also noted for helping produce Anita Hall’s CD, Send Love, which was released in 2009.
 Work with Michael Jackson
While working on the film The Wiz, Michael Jackson asked Jones to recommend some producers for Jackson’s upcoming solo record. Jones offered some names, but eventually asked Jackson if he would like for him to produce the record. Jackson replied that he would, and the result, Off The Wall, has sold approximately 20 million copies and made Jones the most powerful record producer in the industry. Jones’s and Jackson’s next collaboration Thriller has sold a reputed 110 million copies and has become the highest-selling album of all time. Jones also worked on Michael Jackson’s album Bad, which has sold 32 million copies. After the Bad album, Jones recommended Jackson to New Jack Swing inventors Teddy Riley and Babyface so Jackson could “update” his sound.
In a 2002 interview, when Jackson was asked if he would ever work with Jones again he replied, “The door is always open”. However, in 2007, when NME.COM asked Jones a similar question, he said “Man, please! We already did that. I have talked to him about working with him again but I’ve got too much to do. I’ve got 900 products, I’m 74 years old.”
Following Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009, Jones said:
||I am absolutely devastated at this tragic and unexpected news. For Michael to be taken away from us so suddenly at such a young age, I just don’t have the words. Divinity brought our souls together on The Wiz and allowed us to do what we were able to throughout the ’80s. To this day, the music we created together on Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad is played in every corner of the world and the reason for that is because he had it all…talent, grace, professionalism and dedication. He was the consummate entertainer and his contributions and legacy will be felt upon the world forever. I’ve lost my little brother today, and part of my soul has gone with him.
 Work with Frank Sinatra
Jones first worked with Frank Sinatra when he was invited by Princess Grace to arrange a benefit concert at the Monaco Sporting Club in 1958. Six years later, Sinatra hired him to arrange and conduct Sinatra’s second album with Count Basie, It Might as Well Be Swing (1964). Jones conducted and arranged 1966’s live album with the Basie Band, Sinatra at the Sands. Jones was also the arranger/conductor when Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, and Johnny Carson performed with the Basie orchestra in St. Louis, Missouri, in a benefit for Dismas House in June 1965. The fund-raiser was broadcast to a number of other theaters around the country and eventually released on DVD. Later that year, Jones was also the arranger/conductor when Sinatra and Basie appeared on The Hollywood Palace TV show on October 16, 1965. Nineteen years later, Sinatra and Jones teamed up for 1984’s L.A. Is My Lady, after a joint Sinatra-Lena Horne project was abandoned.
 Media appearances
Jones had a brief appearance in the 1990 video for The Time song “Jerk Out“. Jones was a guest star on an episode of The Boondocks in which he and the main character, Huey Freeman, co-produced a Christmas play for Huey’s elementary school. He appeared with Ray Charles in the music video of their song ‘One Mint Julep‘ and also with Ray Charles and Chaka Khan in the music video of their song “I’ll Be Good to You“.
Quincy Jones hosted an episode of the long-running NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live on February 10, 1990 (during SNL’s 15th season [the 1989–1990 season]). The episode was notable for having 10 musical guests (the most any SNL episode has ever had in its 30-plus years on the air): Tevin Campbell, Andrae Crouch, Sandra Crouch, rappers Kool Moe Dee and Big Daddy Kane, Melle Mel, Quincy D III, Siedah Garrett, Al Jarreau, and Take 6, and for a performance of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Manteca” by The SNL Band (conducted by Quincy Jones himself). Jones also impersonated Marion Barry in the then-recurring sketch, “The Bob Waltman Special”. Quincy Jones would later be producer for his own sketch comedy show, FOX’s MADtv.
Jones appeared in the Walt Disney Pictures film Fantasia 2000, introducing the set piece of George Gershwin‘s Rhapsody in Blue. Two years later he made a cameo appearance as himself in the film Austin Powers in Goldmember.
Jones during NASA‘s 50th anniversary gala, 2008.
On February 10, 2008, Jones presented at the Grammy Awards. With Usher he presented Album of The Year to Herbie Hancock.
On January 6, 2009, Quincy Jones appeared on NBC’s Last Call with Carson Daly to discuss various experiences within his prolific career. Also discussed was the informal notion of Jones becoming the first minister of culture for the United States — following the pending inauguration of the 44th U.S. President, Barack Obama. Carson Daly indicated the U.S. as being one of the only leading world countries, along with Germany, to exclude this position from the national government. This idea has also been subject to more in-depth discussion on NPR and the Chronicle of Higher Education.
On December 12, 2009, Jones performed at a private reception for USAA employees at the Alamo Dome, in San Antonio, TX.
On February 5, 2011 Quincy Jones appeared on CBS’s Late night show with David Letterman.
 Awards and recognition
 Personal life
Jones has been married three times and has seven children:
- to Jeri Caldwell from 1957 to 1966; they had one daughter, Jolie Jones Levine.
- to Ulla Andersson from 1967 to 1974; they had two children, Martina Jones and son Quincy Jones III;
- to actress Peggy Lipton from 1974 to 1990; they had two daughters, actresses Kidada Jones and Rashida Jones.
- Jones also had a brief affair with Carol Reynolds and they had a daughter, Rachel Jones.
- Jones dated and lived with actress Nastassja Kinski from 1991 until 1995. In February 1993, their daughter Kenya Julia Miambi Sarah Jones was born.
For the 2006 PBS television program African American Lives, Jones had his DNA tested; the results found that through his patrilineal line (Y DNA), he is of European ancestry, and through his matrilineal line (mt DNA) he is of West African/Central African ancestry of Tikar descent. One of Jones’ great-grandfathers had been caucasian. The series revealed that Jones’ family hails from an area in Cameroon known for its music. On hearing the information, Jones said: “I would have never guessed.” On his mother’s side, Jones is a descendant of Betty Washington Lewis, president George Washington‘s sister.
Jones has never learned to drive, citing an accident in which he was a passenger (at age 14) as the reason.
 Social activism
Jones’s social activism began in the 1960s with his support of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Jones is one of the founders of the Institute for Black American Music (IBAM), whose events aim to raise enough funds for the creation of a national library of African American art and music. Jones is also one of the founders of the Black Arts Festival in his hometown of Chicago. In the 1970s Jones formed The Qunicy Jones Workshops. Meeting at the Los Angeles Landmark Variety Arts Center, the workshops educated and honed the skills of inner city youth in musicianship, acting and songwriting. Among its Alumni were Alton Mc Clain who had a hit song with Alton Mc Clain and Destiny, and Mark Wilkins who co-wrote the hit song “Havin’ A Love Attack” with Mandrill and went on to become the National Promotion Director for Punk / Thrash record label Mystic Records. For many years, he has worked closely with Bono of U2 on a number of philanthropic endeavors. He is the founder of the Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation, a nonprofit that connects youths with technology, education, culture and music. One of the organization’s programs is an intercultural exchange between underprivileged youths from Los Angeles and South Africa.
In 2004, Jones helped launch the We Are the Future (WAF) project, which gives children in poor and conflict-ridden areas a chance to live their childhoods and develop a sense of hope. The program is the result of a strategic partnership between the Glocal Forum, the Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation and Hani Masri, with the support of the World Bank, UN agencies and major companies. The project was launched with a concert in Rome, Italy, in front of an audience of half a million people.
Jones supports a number of other charities including the NAACP, GLAAD, Peace Games, AmfAR and The Maybach Foundation. Jones serves on the Advisory Board of HealthCorps. On July 26, 2007, he announced his endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president. But with the election of Barack Obama, Quincy Jones said that his next conversation “with President Obama [will be] to beg for a secretary of arts,” prompting the circulation of a petition on the Internet asking Obama to create such a Cabinet-level position in his administration.
In 2001, he became an honorary member of the Board of Directors of The Jazz Foundation of America. Jones worked with The Jazz Foundation of America to save the homes and the lives of America’s elderly jazz and blues musicians including those who survived Hurricane Katrina.
 Brazilian culture
Jones is a great admirer of Brazilian culture and a film on Brazil’s Carnival is among his recent plans: “one of the most spectacular spiritual events on the planet”; Simone, whom he cites as “one of the world´s greatest singers”, Ivan Lins, Milton Nascimento and Gilson Peranzzetta, “one of the five biggest arrangement producers of the world” stand as close friends and partners in his recent works.
TLC is an American musical trio whose repertoire spanned R&B, hip-hop, soul, funk, and new jack swing. Originally consisting of singer Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, rapper-singer Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and singer Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas it found success in the 1990s while also enduring a series of spats with the law, each other, and the group’s record label.
Initially, TLC achieved commercial success following the release of its debut album Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip, which sold four million copies worldwide. The group’s second studio album, CrazySexyCool, went on to be certified diamond by the RIAA, and eventually sold 22 million copies worldwide. TLC released four multiplatinum studio albums before going on hiatus due to the death of Lopes in Honduras in 2002.
Billboard magazine ranked the group as one of the greatest musical trios. Between 1992 and 2003 the band accumulated ten top ten singles, four number one singles, four multiplatinum albums, and four Grammy Awards. At the end of 1999, the band was ranked as the seventh most successful act of the 1990s by Billboard. In 2008, the group was inducted into the All Time Hot 100 Artist Hall of Fame by the same magazine, at 56th place. That year it was also listed as the #25 R&B/hip-hop artist of the preceding 25 years.
With over 50 million albums sold, they are the top selling American female group of all time.
In 1990–1991, Atlanta, Georgia, teenager Crystal Jones put out a call for two more girls to join her in a trio to be called 2nd Nature. Her request was eventually answered by Tionne Watkins, a native of Des Moines, Iowa, who moved to Atlanta with her family at an early age, and Lisa Lopes, a rapper who had just moved to the city from her native Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with only a keyboard and US$750 ($1,260 today).
The group eventually managed to arrange an audition with R&B singer Perri “Pebbles” Reid, who had started her own management and production company, Pebbitone. Impressed by the girls, Reid renamed the group “TLC” (an amalgation of the first letters of each of their names) and arranged an audition for them with local record label LaFace Records, run by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Reid’s then-husband, Antonio “L.A.” Reid. The latter Reid saw potential in Watkins and Lopes but felt that Jones should be replaced; within a few days, part-time Damian Dame backup dancer Rozonda Thomas was brought in to replace Jones. Thomas was christened with the nickname “Chilli” so as to keep the TLC name, while Watkins became “T-Boz” and Lopes was named “Left Eye”. The girls were signed to LaFace through a production deal with Pebbitone (with Perri Reid taking the role of the group’s manager) (see artist development deal) and almost immediately went into the studio with producers Reid and Edmonds, Dallas Austin, Jermaine Dupri, and Marley Marl to produce their first album.
1991–1993: Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip
The first TLC album, Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip, was released on February 25, 1992 by LaFace. The songs on the album are a blend of funk (Watkins), hip-hop (Lopes), and R&B (Thomas), similar to the “new jack swing” sound popularized by producer Teddy Riley in the late 1980s (and TLC’s sound was sometimes cited as an example of the “new jill swing” genre). The album was a critical and commercial success, being certified quadruple-platinum within a year and launching a number of US Hot 100 top-ten singles with “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg“, “What About Your Friends“, and “Baby-Baby-Baby” which reached No. 2 on the Hot 100.
TLC’s lyrics, chiefly written by Lopes and Dallas Austin, were playful, female-empowering anthems characterized by Lopes’s quirky, nasal-toned raps, Watkins’s low-voiced lead vocals, and Thomas’s powerful vocals and harmonization. The musical formula was augmented by the girls’ brightly colored videos and curious costuming: each girl wore wrapped condoms on their clothing (Lopes also wore one over her left eye in a pair of glasses).
During TLC’s first national tour, as MC Hammer‘s opening act, Lopes and Thomas discovered that Watkins had sickle-cell disease, an ailment which she kept a closely guarded secret until she became ill while TLC was touring the Southwest US. Watkins continued to battle her condition and eventually became a spokesperson for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America in the late 1990s. At the conclusion of the tour, TLC decided to take more control of their careers and thus informed Perri Reid that they no longer wished her to be their manager. Reid released the group from its management deal, but they remained signed to Pebbitone, and Reid continued to receive a share of their earnings.
Lopes began dating Atlanta Falcons American football player Andre Rison shortly after the release of Oooohhh… On the TLC Tip, and by 1994 the two were living together in Rison’s upscale double-story home. Their relationship was allegedly filled with violent moments, and Lopes filed an assault charge against Rison on September 2, 1993. Rison denied battering her. Lopes was also battling alcoholism at the time. She had been a heavy drinker since the age of fifteen. After another fight between the couple in the early morning hours of June 9, 1994, Lopes tossed numerous pairs of Rison’s newly purchased shoes into a bathtub, doused them with lighter fluid, and lit them on fire. The plexiglas bathtub quickly melted and set the structural frame of the house on fire. Lopes was arrested and indicted on charges of first-degree arson; she was sentenced to five years of probation and a $10,000 fine. Rison eventually reconciled with Lopes, and they continued dating on and off for around three and a half years.
During early 1994, TLC re-entered the studio with Dallas Austin, Tim & Bob, Jermaine Dupri, Babyface, Organized Noize, and Sean “Puffy” Combs to record their second album, CrazySexyCool. Lopes was released from rehab to attend the recording sessions, but the finished album featured significantly less of her raps and vocals. The album instead focused more on the contributions from Watkins and Thomas, and had a smoother, more fluid sound, similar to the most successful single from the first album, the US #2 hit “Baby-Baby-Baby”. All four singles from CrazySexyCool reached the top 5 of the US Hot 100, while “Creep” and “Waterfalls” peaked at no. 1, while Red Light Special reached no. 2 and “Diggin’ on You” reached no. 5. “Waterfalls”, an Organized Noise-produced song that featured an old-school soul-based musical arrangement, socially conscious lyrics criticizing drug dealing and unsafe sex, and an introspective rap from Lopes, became TLC’s biggest hit, and its million-dollar music video was an MTV staple for many months.
CrazySexyCool eventually sold over 11 million copies in the US, and became one of the first albums to ever receive a diamond certification from the RIAA, and won a 1996 Grammy Award for Best R&B Album and a 1996 Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group for “Creep”. However, in the midst of their apparent success, the members of TLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 3, 1995.
Also in 1994, TLC recorded the theme song to Nickelodeon‘s popular sketch comedy All That which ran for ten seasons.
Preliminary work on TLC’s third album, FanMail, was delayed when friction arose between the group and their main producer Dallas Austin, who was by this time dating Thomas and helping to raise their young son Tron. Austin wanted $4.2 million and creative control to work on the project, resulting in a stand-off between the producer and the artists. During this period, Thomas appeared in the independent film HavPlenty, and Watkins co-starred in Hype Williams (who later directed the “No Scrubs” video)’ 1998 film Belly with rappers Nas and DMX. Watkins made a solo song in late 1996 called “Touch Myself”. Lopes started her own Lopes Productions artist development company and signed Blaque, a TLC-like female R&B trio. She also appeared on the “Not Tonight” remix with fellow female rappers Lil’ Kim, Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott, Da Brat and Angie Martinez, which garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance by a Duo, Band, or Group in 1998.
TLC eventually began working with other producers for the FanMail album, until finally negotiating with Austin, who produced the bulk of FanMail and gave the album a futuristic, more pop-based feel. FanMail was another success for TLC, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album sales chart and selling over 5 million copies in the U.S. The album featured the number-one hit “No Scrubs“, produced by Kevin “She’kspere” Briggs, and the single “Unpretty“, an alternative rock-styled song about self-love written by Watkins and Dallas Austin (another version of it sampled Dennis Edwards‘ 1984 hit “Don’t Look Any Further”), that also reached #1 on the Billboard chart. At the Lady of Soul Awards the group was honored with the Aretha Franklin Entertainer of the Year Award.
The videos for both songs were heavily featured on MTV and BET, and three more singles received decent radio play: “Silly Ho”, “I’m Good at Being Bad”, and Edmonds-written ballad, “Dear Lie”. Like CrazySexyCool, FanMail won the Grammy for Best R&B Album of 2000 and Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for “No Scrubs”. The group went on a worldwide tour simply named FanMail Tour. While the first leg of the tour sold poorly and made the group lose $500,000 dollars, most of the second leg of the tour was sold out. The group had a PayPerView special of their tour which at the time became PayPerView’s highest grossing televised special. The tour went on to gross more than $72.8 million dollars according to Billboard which became the highest grossing tour by a female group.
During and after the release of FanMail, Lopes made it known to the press on multiple occasions that she felt that she was unable to fully express herself working with TLC and Austin. Her contributions to the songs had been reduced to periodic eight-bar raps, and studio session singers such as Debra Killings often took her place on the background vocals for the group’s songs. In its November 28, 1999 issue, Entertainment Weekly ran a letter from Lopes that challenged her group mates to record solo albums and let the fans judge which of the three was the most talented:
“I challenge Tionne ‘Player’ Watkins (T-boz) and Rozonda ‘Hater’ Thomas (Chilli) to an album entitled The Challenge… a 3-CD set that contains three solo albums. Each (album)… will be due to the record label by October 1, 2000… I also challenge producer Dallas ‘The Manipulator’ Austin to produce all of the material and do it at a fraction of his normal rate. As I think about it, I’m sure LaFace would not mind throwing in a $1.5 million dollar prize for the winner.”
The ladies eventually settled the feud, and The Challenge was never followed through. After the conclusion of the successful FanMail tour, the ladies, however, took some time off and pursued personal interests. Lopes was the first to begin recording her solo album, Supernova. In 2000, Spice Girl Melanie C released a single co-written with Lopes in the UK and Europe, called “Never Be the Same Again“; it became a hit reaching #1 in many countries.
2001–2003: 3D and The Death of Left Eye
Before the recording of their fourth album, 3D, there was a dispute between Lopes on one side and Watkins and Thomas on the other. Lopes originally wanted to withdraw from the group in order to see if they could duplicate their prior success without her contributions. Lopes eventually pursued solo stardom and recorded her first album Supernova, however it underperformed overseas and was never officially released in the United States. Before her second solo album was completed, Lopes died in a car crash while filming a documentary in Honduras, which would later be released as The Last Days of Left Eye in 2007 on VH1.
Returning from yet another hiatus after Lopes’ death, Watkins, Thomas and Austin decided that they would complete the remainder of their fourth album, to be called 3D, which also featured production from Rodney Jerkins, The Neptunes, Raphael Saadiq, Missy Elliott and Timbaland. The decision was also made that TLC would retire after the release and promotion of 3D, rather than replace Lopes and continue. Lopes had already completed her vocals for four songs; the remainder were performed by the remaining group members alone, who eulogized Lopes on a number of the tracks.
The first single for 3D was “Girl Talk“, the video for which featured Watkins and Thomas alone in live-action segments and Lopes in animated segments. Its follow-up, “Hands Up”, featured only Watkins and Thomas in its video, but took place in a nightclub named Club Lopes (Lopes’ production company’s “eye” logo was a prominent feature on the club’s walls). The album sold two million copies in its first year of release, and “Girl Talk” was the only single to reach the U.S. top forty with a peak position of number 28; “Hands Up” never charted, and a third single, “Damaged“, reached number 53. However, the singles enjoyed a bit more success in Europe and Asia. 3D went on to sell nearly 1 million copies in the US alone.
In June 2003, at Zootopia, an annual concert hosted by New York radio station Z100 held at Giants Stadium, TLC appeared in what was announced to be their last performance. The group, introduced by Carson Daly, showed a video montage dedicated to Lopes, and went on to perform songs against video footage of Lopes performing the same songs, and wearing the same outfits, that were appearing onstage. TLC performed to 60,000 fans.
2004–2006: Now & Forever: The Hits
In 2005, LaFace had scheduled the release of Now and Forever: The Hits, a TLC greatest hits album with a new song, “Come Get Some“, featuring Lil Jon and Sean P of the YoungBloodZ. However, the compilation was not released domestically until June 2005, although versions of the compilation were released internationally in 2004 and the album was also available as a legal download from the iTunes Store in November 2004. On June 21, 2005, Now and Forever: The Hits was quietly released in the United States; the album debuted at number 53 with 20,000 copies sold.
On May 15, 2007, Now and Forever: The Video Hits was released in the United States, after over four years of delayed release dates.
On August 20, 2007, a new greatest hits album was released in the UK called Crazy Sexy Hits: The Very Best of TLC, a play on the group’s best selling album title Crazy Sexy Cool. Now and Forever: The Video Hits was also released in the UK for the first time on the same date. The album fared better than previous compilation Now and Forever: The Hits, peaking at #57 on the UK album chart (Now and Forever: The Hits made #86).
On June 25, 2004, Watkins and Thomas announced that they were pitching a reality television show where contestants would compete for a chance to record a single and perform in concert with the two of them. The show was eventually picked up for development by UPN. R U the Girl with Watkins and Thomas debuted on UPN on July 27, 2005. The winner of the show would record with them on a new single and perform the track with them in a live concert finale in Atlanta. Roughly 4.1 million viewers tuned in for the season finale of R U The Girl on September 20, 2005, with 20-year-old Tiffany “O’so Krispie” Baker as the winner. Despite media speculation that the winner of the series was to become a new, permanent member of TLC, Watkins and Thomas have vowed to never replace Lopes with a new member.
On October 4, 2005, “I Bet”, the first new Watkins and Thomas single in over two years, was released to radio and iTunes, credited to “R U The Girl with Watkins & Thomas” with no mention of the TLC name on the package. The song was also appended to pressings of Now and Forever: The Hits released after October 11, 2005. “I Bet” failed to chart in America and Europe, ending reports that Watkins and Thomas were putting the finishing touches on a repackaged Greatest Hits album.
On June 24, 2008, Watkins and Thomas made a special appearance on the BET Awards. They, along with the original members of En Vogue and SWV, performed in Alicia Keys‘ tribute to girl groups. Watkins, Thomas, and Keys performed “Waterfalls“. Watkins and Thomas were also presenters at the BETJ Virtual Awards on November 25, 2008.
In March 2009, Watkins and Thomas announced plans to perform together in a concert series in Japan featuring seventeen of TLC’s songs. On August 25, 2009, it was announced that the group would perform at the Justin Timberlake and Friends benefit concert at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Events Center on October 17, 2009. At the concert, Watkins announced that she and Thomas plan to record new material. In July 2010, T-Boz and Chilli set out to Japan for several days to perform shows.
In May 2011, TLC performed on American Idol and received a standing ovation from the audience.
Music TV channel VH1 have announced plans to produce a biopic based on the group, with Watkins and Thomas signed up as consultants and executive producers.