MUSIC

RIP Biggie: The Best Songs by Notorious B.I.G.

While the late Brooklynite was only able to put out two albums before his untimely death, both works are regarded as some of hip-hop's greatest contributions.

One of Hip-Hop's most prominent icons The Notorious B.I.G. was senselessly gunned down at a red light in Los Angeles on this day in 1997.

He was heading home from a Vibe Magazine party when a gunman rolled down his window and opened fire. The death has remained unsolved and has unearthed a vast number of conspiracy theories in its 23-year wake. Highlights include theories that P. Diddy was responsible for the murder and that the late rapper isn't dead at all, and rather he was recently spotted alive on an island in Greece.

While the late Brooklynite was only able to put out two albums before his untimely death, both works are regarded as some of hip-hop's greatest contributions. To rank any of his songs is impossible; there are simply too many great entries to count. Still, there were a few lyrical gems that monumentally redefined East Coast rap and proved Biggie to be one of the greatest storytellers of all time.

Here are a few of his crowning musical achievements to honor the immense talent of The Notorious B.I.G.:

Gimme the Loot

Biggie's mastery of the pen is undisputed, but on "Gimme the Loot," off 1994's Ready To Die, all his strengths seem to click right into place. His flow is so tight that fans thought for years that the track's quippy call-and-response was done by Biggie and another uncredited rapper. His stream of consciousness lyricism makes listeners feel that they're hitting a lick right alongside him, and his tales of late night violence are haunting and captivating.

"Man, I throw him in the fiend you grab the f*cking cream
And if he start to scream, bom bom, have a nice dream
Hold up, he got a f*cking b*tch in the car
Fur coats and diamonds, she think she a superstar. Ooh Biggie let me jack her, I'll kick her in the back
Hit her with the gat. Yo chill shorty, let me do that
Just get the f*cking car keys and cruise up the block

The b*tch act shocked getting shot on the spot. Oh sh*t the cops!"

Everyday Struggle

"Everyday Struggle" isn't as play-by-play as "Gimme The Loot," but it once again demonstrates the raw poetry of Biggie's rhymes. He is undoubtedly a victim of his circumstances and is drawn to street life not by his own doing but by circumstances completely out of his control – he even calls out Mayor Giuliani by name. Suicide often lingers in the back of his mind, but he unfortunately knows that the only way out is through. "That's just how the shit go in the struggle motherf*cker," he says with a shrug.

"But they don't know about the stress-filled day
Baby on the way mad bills to pay
That's why you drink Tanqueray
So you can reminisce and wish
You wasn't living so devilish, sh*t."

Ni**as Bleed

An eerie slow-burning tale of an impending drug deal, Biggie's haunting thoughts and anxieties are put on full display all the way up through the track's explosive conclusion. Biggie's eye for unsettling detail is uncanny, and the story is soaked in unrelenting tension that doesn't let up. It builds in an almost theatrical way, before exploding in the final verse with the ferocity of a Quinten Tarantino film. Through it all, Biggie remains unmoved by such grotesque violence, instead, he finds a dark humor in knowing that his enemies car just got towed for double parking. His emotional distance from violence is the track's most haunting quality.

"That's when Ron vanished, came back speaking Spanish

Lavish habits, two rings, twenty carats
Here's a criminal, n*gga made America's Most
Killed his baby mother brother, slit his throat
The n*gga got bagged with the toast
Weeded, took it to trial, beat it
Now, he feel he undefeated, he mean it
"Nothing to lose" tattooed around his gun wounds
"Everything to gain" embedded in his brain
And me? I feel the same..."

10 Crack Commandments

"10 Crack Commandments" is undeniably witty and offers the catchiest how-to guide for novice crack dealers. It has been cited as one of Biggie's greatest hits, solely because of its unique balance of cold authenticity and dark humor.

"Number 3, never trust no-bo-dy
Your moms'll set that ass up, properly gassed up
Hoodied and masked up, shit, for that fast buck
She be laying in the bushes to light that ass up"

You're Nobody 'Till Somebody Kills You

The final song off of Biggie's final album is one of the rapper's most haunting tracks, to say the least. Released after his death, the song is drenched in fear, self-doubt, and betrayal, with the seemingly unshakable B.I.G. mumbling in defeat, pleading, "I don't wanna die, God tell me why." It was as if he knew that people were coming for him, the song his attempt at salvation and coming to terms with what he thought was imminent. It all makes his death even more devastating.

"As I leave my competition, respirator style
Climb the ladder to success escalator style
Hold y'all breath, I told y'all, death
Controls y'all, Big don't fold y'all, uhh
I spit phrases that'll thrill you
You're nobody til somebody kills you"

MUSIC

Immature Talk Reunion Tour, New Songs, and Relentless Passion

Popdust caught up with the legendary trio right before they hit the road.

After the monumental success of B2K's "Millenium Tour" earlier this year, Marques Houston was approached by his cousin and B2K member, J Boog, with a big idea.

"At first it was a little back and forth cause we're kinda older now," said Immature's Marques Houston. "We didn't know if we wanted to do it, but [J Boog] is very convincing." J Boog proposed that Marques "Batman" Houston, Jerome "Romeo" Jones and Kelton "LDB" Kessee reunite and bring back Immature. With Ray J in tow, the group signed on for a mega reunion tour, with DAY 26, J Holiday, and B5 performing as openers. The trio will release a greatest hits album on November 1st.

"It felt really good to be back in the studio, and be back around the guys," said Houston. "It was all very natural." The guys will kick off the "TBTour" at Madison Square Garden's Hulu Theater this November. "We're just excited to get back on stage and make some memories with the fans," said Kessee. As for new music, four new songs were recorded for the greatest hits album, but the trio was mum on further details. "When we all got back together we decided we were gonna put all our focus on the tour," said Jones. "The four new songs are just where we're at musically right now." It's true that a lot has changed in the last 18 years. The trio has become involved in many business endeavors, Marques and Jerome even own a film company together, but they're determined to make Immature a priority once more. "Nothing can go on hold," Houston said. "When you're passionate you gotta be passionate about everything."

Buy tickets to the "TBTour" here.

Follow Immature on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

MUSIC

Megan Thee Stallion and Maxo Kream Take Us Back to the 2000s in "She Live"

The video is a hilarious and satirical take on reality TV.

In an ode to the ridiculous reality shows of the aughts, Maxo Kream and Megan Thee Stallion parody the obscene and hilarious shenanigans of shows like Flavor of Love and I Love New York in the new "She Live" video.

Maxo Kream - She Live (Official Video) ft. Megan Thee Stallion www.youtube.com

"Yellowbone Tina, dark skin Keisha, hood b*tch, she gon' set it off like Latifah," Kream raps as the contestants are introduced. Meanwhile, Megan hosts a competition of her own. "I need a boss, I need a kingpin, I need designer pajamas to sleep in," she raps to the camera as the male contestants fight for Stalli's affection.

As the song bounces along, the video satirically captures the blatant objectification that took place in those early aught reality shows. From women stripping behind a curtain as Kream sits and watches to men taking off their shirts and winking to Megan's delight, the rappers don't even spend one-on-one time with any of their perspective lovers. What results is a hilarious catfight, and neither Stallion or Kream end up choosing anyone. It's a clever, entertaining video that once again proves Megan's star will only continue to rise.

FILM & TV

The Top 10 Wildest VMA Moments

Tonight, the Stars Take the Stage for the 2018 MTV VMAs… Take a Look Back and LOL

Will 2018 give us more VMAs WTFs?

When it comes to awards shows, the VMAs are known to be among the most laid-back and loose, giving way to wild and wacky moments we just can't seem to get enough of. From outrageous outfits to eye-popping performances, the made-for-music crowd is always up for a good time.

Tonight, fans will be tuning in to watch their favorite artists rush the red carpet, do their thing, take home awards, and mix and mingle, but what's always most fun is to wait for the weird. Wardrobe malfunctions, disastrous dance numbers, lip sync snafus, you name it. If it's wild, it's worth watching.

Let's go back in time and revisit the top 10 wildest VMA moments. We may have something new pumping through our playlists these days, but memories like these never get old.

“Imma let you finish”

We now interrupt this program...

static.independent.co.uk

C'mon, Kanye. And poor Taylor Swift. She was on stage to accept her award in '09 when the "Wild West" swooped in and took the mic, proclaiming Beyoncé was the best of the bunch. Looking confused and concerned, Swift's moment in the spotlight was shockingly stolen. "Imma let you finish" by no means replaced a cordial "congratulations," despite who Kanye felt deserved the "spaceperson" statuette.

Madonna Plants Her Pucker on Brit and X-Tina

"Like a Virgin?"

s-i.huffpost.com

Swapping spit was never so strange. Why did this '03 performance require a PG-13 warning when singing and dancing would have been so much more entertaining? We get it Madge, staying relevant is vital in this biz, but cringe-worthy kisses can't bring back "Borderline."

Popstar Meets Python

Kanye surely won't come on stage now...

timedotcom.files.wordpress.com

'01 must have been the year of the snake because a young Britney Spears came out on stage ready to slither. Singing (or lip syncing) "I'm a Slave 4 U," she held the ridiculously large reptile over her shoulders and likely needed a sedative to get through the peculiar performance. Maybe the kiss with Madonna wasn't so bad after all.

It Takes Two to Twerk?

No "Blurred Lines" here...

media3.s-nbcnews.com

In a dance number (term used loosely) turned totally upside-down, Miley Cyrus' twerking and grinding on singer Robin Thicke was so weird that it was almost too much for the VMAs viewers. Cyrus was near naked and Thicke was in the thick of the perversion. Icky and idiotic, we all watched this train wreck with one "side eye" and the other one shut.

Lady Gaga’s Cow Couture

Were the shoes too much?

pmchollywoodlife.files.wordpress.com

Meat replaced material when Lady Gaga grossed out the '10 VMA audience with a dress that answered, "Where's the beef?" Flesh-for-fashion certainly made a statement, but when Gaga said dinner was on her that evening, she meant it literally.

Lil’ Kim Lets it All Hang Out

Her cup runneth over

http://reductress.com

Want to upstage Diana Ross? Just let one of your "girls" take center stage and see where all eyes go. A strategically placed purple pasty made Lil' Kim's '99 VMA look censor-approved, but when it came to the nights "biggest boob," Kim took home the award for "breast dressed."

Burrito or Baby?

Beyoncé and her belly

media.zenfs.com

Beyoncé took the stage in '11 and gave a rousing performance of "Love on Top." But there was love in the middle too, as the star rubbed her belly signaling a famous fetus was forming. The audience was amazed and the gal was glowing. Talk about the birds and the Beys…

In Case You Wanted to Know

Who needs a publicist?

media.metrolatam.com

Why take out an ad in the paper or pay for a TV commercial when you can advertise your upcoming album across your torso? Macy Gray let the '01 VMAs audience know her album was about to drop, forgoing style for sales. Not surprisingly, the bold message wasn't even the strangest thing about her ensemble.

Is It Cold In Here?...

Ever feel like you forgot something?

www.feelnumb.com

Rose McGowan's date to the '98 VMAs was the always-awe-inducing Marilyn Manson, but even he couldn't dress unusually enough to top McGowan's gown (or at least the shadow of its existence). Leaving little to nothing to the imagination, this mesh number was certainly the most revealing look of the night, letting us in on Victoria's Secret… McGowen doesn't shop there.

Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley’s Marriage “Certificate”

"You are Not Alone"

www.buro247.sg

'94's VMAs was full of entertainment, but nothing had fans closer to the edge of their seats than a super-strange smooch between then-newlyweds Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley. Elvis' ghost definitely left the building when this on-stage stunt shook the crowd to the core.

Melissa A. Kay is a New York-based writer, editor, and content strategist. Follow her work on Popdust as well as sites including TopDust, Chase Bank, P&G, Understood.org, The Richest, GearBrain, The Journiest, Bella, TrueSelf, Better Homes & Gardens, AMC Daycare, and more.


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MUSIC

Christina Aguilera's 10 Best Songs

She's the Voice of a Generation, Offering Up One of the Most Iconic Songbooks of all Time.

Xtina can basically sing anything.

Christina Aguilera is the voice of our generation. Since arriving in the late '90s with the sultry "Genie in a Bottle," a cut from her self-titled debut record, she went on to shake up contemporary pop music in a big way. Her voice is both angelic and a force to be reckoned with ⎯⎯ she'll make you cry on her ballads and fist-pump ferociously on her anthems. Through six non-holiday studio albums, ahead of her long-awaited comeback disc, Liberation, the pop star helped mold an entire generation of music, steeped in her soaring vocals, sass and class, and her willingness to push the envelope.

Below, we've compiled our picks for 10 Best Christina Aguilera Songs. Take a look:


"Fighter" (2002's Stripped)

Armed with fire in her eyes, strictly arena-rock guitars and unwavering swagger, Aguilera unleashes all hell. "Fighter" is a modern classic, employing signature power notes while also pushing the stylistic envelope. She rises like a phoenix out of the ashes, shakes off the remnants and barrels ahead with a thicker skin and a resolve to never settle for less. "Thanks for making me a fighter," she spits. The grisly tune plays as a kiss-off to an ex and a reminder that tough times only serve to strengthen her will.

"Candyman" (2006's Back to Basics)

Evidence of her genre-blurring sensibility, on "Candyman," Aguilera mingles scatting, jazz, doo-wop, and jaunty bubblegum-pop. Even with such a classically-structured composition, double entendres are still buried deep within the lyrics. "I met him out for dinner on a Friday night / He really had me working up an appetite," she sings, utilizing candy's allure for lust. "He had tattoos up and down his arm / There's nothing more dangerous than a boy with charm." The kicker comes on the hook, of course, "He's a one stop shop, makes the panties drop / He's a sweet-talkin', sugar coated Candyman..."

"Blank Page" (2012's Lotus)

2012's Lotus is an underrated gem, way ahead of its time. It garnered lukewarm reviews, but it contains some of her most masterful performances. "Blank Page" is a stark, searing piano ballad which witnesses some of her most accomplished vocal nuances of her career. At times, she tears mountains apart, and in other moments, she weaves a brittled and silky web. What more can we say?

"Ain't No Other Man" (2006's Back to Basics)

Lauded as her best album to-date, Back to Basics up-ended pop music in a major way. "Ain't No Other Man" is the cream of the crop, and rightfully so. The bodacious anthem blends throwback doo-wop with a funky modern groove. "I told my mother, my brother, my sister and my friend / I told the others, my lovers, both past and present tense / Every time I see you everything starts making sense," she sings, framing the song in her post-marriage world. It's not necessarily a "love song" by specific terms, but it does contain plenty of schmaltzy emotions.

"The Voice Within" (2002's Stripped)

As a weathered anthem about rising above adversity, Aguilera advises young girls not to "hide," she sings. "You'll never change if you just run away / Young girl, just hold tight / And soon you're going to see your brighter day." The staunch, sweeping power-ballad serves as a reminder that the storms are only fleeting, and the sun will crest the horizon soon enough. On the hook, she urges to look inward for the strength, "When there's no one else, look inside yourself / Like your oldest friend / Just trust the voice within / Then you'll find the strength that will guide your way / If you learn to begin / To trust the voice within."

"Genie in a Bottle" (1999's Christina Aguilera)

The pop superstar set the precedent early on for her sex-positive image. From the scratchy percussion to warped piano and synths, "Genie in a Bottle" is as infectious as it was nearly 20 years ago. Using the image of the classic genie from Aladdin as a point of culture reference, she flips the meaning into sexual stimulation. "If you wanna be with me, baby there's a price to pay / I'm a genie in a bottle, you gotta rub me the right way," she coos. "If you wanna be with me, I can make your wish come true / You gotta make a big impression, I gotta like what you do."

"Beautiful" (2002's Stripped)

Perhaps her most well-known ballad, "Beautiful" is another highly-charged empowerment song about pulling out of the darkness. Through self-reflection, Aguilera spins a universal web of self-acceptance and inner beauty, carved in her own insecurities and journey to renewal. "I am beautiful no matter what they say / Words can't bring me down / I am beautiful in every single way," she affirms, over a smooth choral of strings. "Yes, words can't bring me down, oh no / So don't you bring me down today."

"Lady Marmalade," featuring P!nk, Lil' Kim, and Mya (2001's Moulin Rouge! soundtrack)

It'd be a tragedy not to include one of the great all-women collaborations of the modern era. A cover of the 1974 Patti LaBelle hit, the reimagined version fuses old school soul and funk into a sassy and spirited blend. "Touch of her skin feeling silky smooth / Color of cafe au lait, alright / Made the savage beast inside roar until he cried," Aguilera warbles in between production flourishes and background wails.

"You Lost Me" (2010's Bionic)

Piano ballads are Xtina's bread and butter, but this Bionic standout is downright haunting. In the aftermath of a breakup, which resulted from her beau cheating, the embers are hard to extinguish. "I feel like our world's been infected / And somehow you left me neglected / We've found our lives been changed / Babe, you lost me," she caterwauls over blustering strings and ivory.

"Hurt" (2006's Back to Basics)

The last thing Aguilera said to her father before he died was that she hated him. It's something she regrets to this day. And more importantly, she never had time to apologize. So, she wrote this searing, orchestral-enriched ballad about the could haves, would haves and should haves. "Oh, I'm sorry for blaming you / For everything I just couldn't do / And I've hurt myself by hurting you," rings out the chorus, undeniably blistered, tattooing the pain right on the listener's skin. It's a stunning, raw and evocative performance and remains Aguilera's most honest.


Jason Scott is a freelance music journalist with bylines in B-Sides & Badlands, Billboard, PopCrush, Ladygunn, Greatist, AXS, Uproxx, Paste and many others. Follow him on Twitter.


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lil kim skin bleaching speculation and controversy

Lil' Kim continues to morph into a completely different looking person more and more by the day.

The plastic surgery has been evident for years—with the 40-year-old clearly having undergone a slew of procedures.

However, recent pics of the 40-(maybe 41)-year-old really set the interweb alight with Lil Kim skin bleaching speculation.

Because, the adorable, bronze-skinned diminutive rapper from Brooklyn now looks like…a LOT lighter skinned diminutive rapper from Brooklyn.

On Sunday, the rap icon posted a series of selfies showcasing her latest extreme make over.

So, what’s the happs?

Victoria Gaumer, RN, BSN, Clinical Nurse Aesthetician and founder of Botox By Victoria tells Popdust exclusively:

Wow! It really does appear that Lil’ Kim’s skin is much lighter.

On the Fitzpatrick Scale, which is used to grade skin color (1 being the lightest and 6 being darkest) she used to be classified as a 5/6 but in this picture she appears to be a 3!

This can often be achieved through the use of a topical skin lightener such as prescription strength Hydroquinone.

Hydroquinone blocks your skins melanocytes (the cells that produce brown pigmentation) from producing melanin (the brown pigmentation).

Hydroquinone has become popular in the past few years to help remove freckles, dark sun spots, and give the face an overall lighter appearance.

It is also commonly used as an anal bleaching agent to lighten the often darker colored anal skin.

It is possible that Lil’ Kim has added this to her skin regimen.

It's is also possible that she had a series of chemical peels and had generalized hypo pigmentation as a result.

One would need multiple peels to achieve this level of lightening and there is a major risk for splotchy, uneven hypo pigmented skin.

While some may speculate that her skin lightening can be attributed to a laser I believe it is highly unlikely.

Skin lasers such as IPL (intense pulse light) are excellent for skin types 1-4, but must be used with extreme caution or not used at all in skin types 5-6.

The darker the skin the more easily it will attract heat from the laser causing very traumatic burns.

Also the combination of lighter foundation, skin highlighter, and certain lighting could also make her skin appear lighter.

If she is using more aggressive methods such as peels, lightening cream, or a laser she is definitely putting herself at risk for unpredictable, uneven results and second degree burns.

And it looks like she took a page from the Kim Kardashian handbook of contouring.

Back in 2000, Lil’ Kim candidly told Newsweek:

All my life men have told me I wasn’t pretty enough—even the men I was dating...

It’s always been men putting me down just like my dad.

To this day when someone says I’m cute, I can’t see it. I don’t see it no matter what anybody says.

I have low self-esteem and I always have.

Guys always cheated on me with women who were European-looking.

You know, the long-hair type.

Really beautiful women that left me thinking, "How I can I compete with that?' Being a regular black girl wasn't good enough."

Journalist, Victoria Anderson, echoes that sad sentiment in a great article she wrote for The Conversation, called, Lil' Kim and the Unbearable Whiteness of Being.

However, Anderson explains that she found a different solution to "whitening herself up."

Instead, she learned how to embrace black is beautiful, and to shun the lie of black ugliness, black inferiority.

Rather than use make-up and plastic surgery to reconstruct a self-identity, I threw myself into books.

Chiefly anything by or about Malcolm X, or any of the Black Panthers – aged 15 I read Roots, all 700 pages of it.

When I was 16, a copy of Frantz Fanon’s 1952 classic Black Skin, White Masks was given to me by white school friends amused by my new militant stance and whose motives, I suspect, were slightly tongue-in-cheek.

Those books did for me what no amount of reconstructive surgery could have done.

Fanon, a psychiatrist from the French West Indies, wrote about the psychology of blackness as a legacy of colonization and white supremacy.

What all those books told me was that: this internalized self-image of black ugliness, black inferiority – it’s a lie.

And one that’s taken root inside, deep; like a particularly insidious form of brain cancer.

You can read Anderson's article in full here

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lil kim skin bleaching speculation and controversy