Music Features

Larry King's Best Hip-Hop Interviews

Larry King interviewed countless rappers throughout his career, but these few stood above the pack

Mac Miller and Larry King

While Larry King admitted on several occasions that he "didn't appreciate Hip-Hop," the legendary interviewer opened up his show to a plethora of rap stars beginning in 2014.

His lack of appreciation wasn't malicious in the slightest. Raised on the sounds of Frank Sinatra and jazz, Larry King merely didn't understand the genre. But with each interview he strove to educate not only the public about Hip-Hop's cultural power, but himself. He often was hyper-focused on the lack of gay rappers within the industry, as well as the genre's use of the N-word, and asked about it unflinchingly.

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Wiz Khalifa's albums have never been as good as his mixtapes.

On his earlier efforts, the Pittsburgh emcee's breezy attitude and malleable delivery made him a perfect poster child for weed rap. His bars were never steeped in metaphor or even necessarily clever, ("Groupies wanna leave the club wit' me/Ain't nothin' to a G'/Let your hair blow in the breeze/ Roll some bomb-a** weed,") but gliding instrumentals and a splash of melody made his discography the perfect soundtrack for an afternoon smoke sesh in the 2010s. Where his mixtapes thrived in their cruise-control chilled-out vibes, Wiz Khalifa's albums have always suffered from a strange stiffness he's never been able to escape.

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Music Features

Classic Mixtapes To Get Us Through Summer In Quarantine

Let's revisit some of the great summer mixtapes to help ease the pangs of summertime nostalgia

Bonfires with our friends, balmy summer days spent by the lake passing a spliff and sipping on a Corona, summertime love affairs—it all may feel like a past life now.

The rollout for summer 2020 is unlike anything before it. While Americans everywhere try to retain a sense of normalcy, it will be impossible to enjoy summer the way we want to. Bitter nostalgia for the summers of yore is rampant. Luckily, music has remained the one constant. To help unwind in these times of heightened anxiety, it helps to revisit some of the mixtapes that brought us childhood bliss, that pumped us up when school dismissed for summer, that blasted through our car speakers as we cruised with the windows down with our friends in tow. Here are a few of the greatest mixtapes of summers past, in the hopes it will bring back the fond memories that, right now, may feel distant.

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A Talk With "Sprayground" Founder David Ben David

The designer sat down with Popdust to talk about Sprayground's latest collection, and working with Dave East.

Everyone from Saweetie, Young Dolph, and Jacquees, to Young Thug and Dave East, have worn David Ben David's iconic streetwear brand: Sprayground.

Its safe to say the brand has taken over the urban fashion scene and found a sweet spot in Hip-Hop's upper echelon. The young designer, who even has a budding rap career of his own, sat down with Popdust to discuss his latest collection and describe his special relationship with streetwear that stems back a decade. Intending to revolutionize a market "known for utilitarian purposes," as David puts it, the designer amalgamated his passion for colorful graffiti with his uncanny eye for sophistication. Each design is bursting with personality, and a closer inspection finds every piece to be durable and of extremely high-quality. His latest collection, titled "The Inverno Collezione," is no different. Loud and kaleidoscopic, David's latest work is all about embodying the colorful idiosyncrasies of popular culture. "I wanted to create something that all fans can resonate with," David said, "Whether that be art, video games, iconic comic books or music, all the things I love, especially coming from a background of street art."

How did you creatively shake things up this time around when designing Inverno?

The colors are something else even compared to Sprayground's past work. This collection was launched in conjunction with Art Basel, with a theme around pop-culture. I wanted to make sure this was felt throughout the whole line. "The Inverno Collezione" captures the wow-factor of comic books, video games, and fearless street art.

What pop culture moments specifically?

It celebrates the popularity of video games like Fortnite, Mortal Kombat, and Street Fighter, [along with] the icons of legendary comic books, including Deadpool, Harley Quinn, The Joker and Black Panther's famous motto "Wakanda Forever." It [also combines] the magic of classic art including street art versions of the Mona Lisa and Salvador Dali.

How did you connect with Dave East for the Colombian boot campaign? That promo film was crazy.

I contacted Dave because he was one of the first people to see the boot in person. I just instantly fell in love with them and the Colombian vibe, and he shared in my passion, so I knew this was someone I wanted to be involved with. That all opened the door to our latest collection, Global Money, which we created in collaboration with him on MLK Day. I took inspiration for the collection from Dave East's global ambitions, and I wanted to create a bag that artistically includes every currency from each country around the world. We love collaborating with like-minded creatives!


What does this collection say about Sprayground?

We aim to bring art, design, music, travel, and the sixth sense into fashion to revolutionize a market that was known to be for utilitarian purposes. This collection is no different – I wanted to create a collection that brings together all aspects in a stand-out way, and this demonstrates our continuous growth and rebellion in that market.

How do you continue to find ways to push the culture forward with your style? What's your process like? What made you guys decide to get into shoes?

Culture is a huge part of what we do. Our recent concept, the Colombian boot, was created after I received a call from the Colombian Army that they wanted to promote 'Made In Colombia' boots to mark the end of the war with the rebel army after 50 years. I was so intrigued, and I flew straight to Bogota to meet with the government and visit the army factory. The factory had been in business for over 35 years, producing high-quality army boots that were made of Italian leather and built and tested for all terrains.

How did that inspiration turn into the boot?

Taking inspiration from these boots, I took their classic design and added Sprayground's iconic "Shark Mouth" on the back heel, a hidden zipper on the tongue, and named the boots "Fuerza Cobra" with its original use in mind, for paratroopers. There it was, our first-ever shoe. They were so popular they already sold out, so we're already working on a new design.


Curren$y Returns To Burnie's Like He Never Left

The album reaffirms Curren$y's lyrical consistency, and reminds us of his monumental prowess in 2019

C.J. Wallis

In 2011, Curren$y's album Weekend at Burnie's was one of the dignified emcee's most cohesive projects.

Curren$y - Still feat. Trademark & Young Roddy (Official Video)

It was still a Curren$y record at its core, with the rapper continuing to exemplify a proficiency in woozy, nonchalant narratives. "Them haters tryna deplete my shine like Venetian blinds," he rhymes, "but son do what the sun do: rise." However, Weekend at Burnie's awoke the mainstream public to the prolific talent of Curren$y. It was the rapper's fifth album and fourth release of 2011. Every single project was critically lauded and slowly chipped away at the presupposition that "Spitta Andretti" was merely a weed rapper. "To focus on [Curren$y's] cannabis appetite is to ignore some of the things that make him one of the more dependable working rappers," wrote Pitchfork.

Over the last decade, the veteran emcee has only ramped up his musical output and workload, even after becoming a parent last year. On Back At Burnie's, the long-awaited sequel and eighth Curren$y outing of 2019, the rapper closes out his decade with a project that is both equanimous and stately. Curren$y sounds right at home, his Hip-Hop anecdotes remaining equivalent to an insouciant shrug. But a lot has changed since 2011, and Curren$y knows that is worth noting. "My first ride in a phantom was with my homie Lil Wayne," Spitta reflects on "All Work." "Now I got one myself, and I'm ridin' in my own lane." 2011's "Money Machine" found Curren$y asking politely to be invited to the party and to "reserve him somewhere" to park, but on 2019's "Money Is a Drug," Curren$y acknowledges that eight years later he can "park his sh*t anywhere." The perks of fame are pedestrian to Spitta, his lucrative lifestyle so normal now that's it's barely worth the commentary. "Pinky rings, diamond chains, just a gang of players having things," he says with composure on "Arrangement."

Curren$y - Money Is A Drug (Audio)

Spitta Andretti remains as accredited, if not more so, than a majority of today's most elite rappers, but he has adamantly avoided the mainstream spotlight that has shone on a countless number of his friends. But he's forever remained in their confidence, offering his wisdom, collaborative kinship, and car advice whenever they need it. He was one of Cash Money's original members and has worked with everyone from Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg, Juicy J, and Rick Ross to Westside Gunn, Freddie Gibbs, and Madeintyo.

Over a decade later, he remains a monumental presence in Hip-Hop, and on Back At Burnie's reminds listeners of his unshakeable authenticity: "I never switched the sauce, been myself from square one." But fret not, as it wouldn't be a Curren$y album without its moments of quirky syntax. "I talked a mermaid out of the water the other day," he flexes on "Nautica." "All on my yacht, we lit up the pot, floated away." Maybe it's lyrical honesty, perhaps it's just intelligent story-telling, but regardless, when Curren$y says it, he always means it.


"I Wanna Thank Me" Is Everything We Love About Snoop Dogg

Listening to this album, you lose track of what to expect next.

When talking about the legendary "Doggfather" of rap, it is nearly impossible to boil his music down to a singular sound.

Snoop Dogg - I Wanna Thank Me (feat. Marknoxx) (Official Video)

Snoop Dogg has reinvented himself time and time again since he first burst on the scene as the young, slick companion to Dr. Dre's classic G-Funk sound. Then there was the Snoop Dogg of the Death Row Records days, ever in a mafioso suit and fedora and taking the gangster aesthetic to a whole new level.

We've also had the pleasure of seeing Rastafarian Snoop from when he went to Jamaica and was Reincarnated as Snoop Lion; full-on funk Snoop for his project with Dam-Funk, Snoopzilla; and, more recently, gospel Snoop on 2018's Bible of Love. He has been criticized for jumping genres and appropriating cultures for quick cash grabs, but every time Snoop has forayed into a new or foreign sphere, he fully embraces the genre. As a result, Snoop Dogg has morphed into one of the most creative musicians in the world.

On his latest album, Snoop Dogg acknowledges all of these identities. As he said while accepting his Hollywood Walk of Fame star, "I wanna thank me. I wanna thank me for believing in me. I wanna thank me for doing all this hard work. I wanna thank me for having no days off." (To be fair, he also thanked his family, his wife, Warren G, and Dr. Dre). This sentiment has become the inspiration for his new album, aptly titled, I Wanna Thank Me. The 22-track album is a musical journey through almost every landmark of Snoop's 27-year career. There is a little bit for everyone to enjoy on this album, no matter which version of Snoop you like best. Much of it is steeped in that classic West Coast, G-Funk sound that rocketed him to notoriety and put the LBC on the map. But there are also reggae undertones here and there as a nod to Snoop Lion, most notably on the Russ and Wiz Khalifa-assisted "Take Me Away." There are funk-fueled tracks like "Wintertime in June," which features a posthumous chorus from longtime Snoop collaborator and friend, Nate Dogg.

It is a bit ironic, then, that I Wanna Thank Me should sound so much like a return to form for Snoop. He strips away the personas, one by one, and delivers candid, unapologetic, and sometimes vulnerable bars. On "Bygones Be Bygones," for example, he reflects on his sordid relationship with former Death Row Records Exec, Suge Knight, who is currently serving a 28-year prison sentence for murder. "So through the ups and the downs / Real ones know not to kick n****s when they down / Especially when we was down, that n**** picked n****s up / G*ngb*ng on NY stages, hit n****s up (Death Row) / Y'all remember that? (Yup) / Yeah, he did some bullsh*t, I'm admitting that / But coming at a real Crip, like he ain't one? (What?) / Especially when he helped f*cking make one," Snoop raps.

Snoop Dogg - One Blood, One Cuzz (feat. DJ Battlecat) (Official Video)

He also addresses Nipsey Hussle's murder and the impact it had on his community, particularly on the Bloods and the Crips of LA. The late rapper's murder brought these perennially warring gangs together in grief, which has since led to talks of peace. On "One Blood, One Cuzz," after dedicating a full verse to Nipsey, his legacy, and his family, Snoop goes on to rhyme, "Ain't nothin' greater than when we unite as one / Ain't got no ulterior motives and no other agendas / Fakin' like you with us just like some puppet pretenders / We ready to end this / For every eye that still cries / It's time to realize God will rise when we tie us."

I Wanna Thank Me is, in some ways, a microcosm of Snoop's career. Listening to it, you have no idea what to expect next. But with Snoop, no matter what you get, it is always entertaining and authentic. This album is a culmination of every step Snoop has taken over nearly three decades, paying homage to his roots and, ultimately, himself.