Tagged with "duo"
One of the greatest hip hop duos during the golden era – Mobb Deep
Category: The Golden Era
Tags: mobb deep hip hop duo golden era word life production feature weekly blog

As golden age rap suddenly gave way to West Coast gangsta in the early '90s, an East Coast variety of hardcore rap arose in turn, with Mobb Deep initially standing tall as one of New York's hardcore figureheads on the basis of their epochal album The Infamous. Released in April 1995, The Infamous was released almost exactly a year after Illmatic and about a half year after Ready to Die -- the debut masterpieces of Nas and the Notorious B.I.G., respectively, both albums likewise of momentous significance for East Coast hardcore rap. On The Infamous, Mobb Deep (comprised of Prodigy and Havoc) set the tone for future generations of hardcore New York rappers, from G-Unit to Dipset. Subsequent releases from the duo were likewise influential, especially Hell on Earth (1996). However, by the late '90s, Mobb Deep was no longer setting trends; in fact, they seemed to be following them, and they lost some of their stature as subsequent generations of hardcore rappers arose. For a few years, Mobb Deep struggled to reclaim their commercial standing, until they eventually drifted into the G-Unit camp, where they signed a lucrative deal to join 50 Cent and company. Blood Money (2006), Mobb Deep's first release under the G-Unit banner, rekindled interest in the veteran duo, who enjoyed a substantial uptick in sales and airplay.

Juvenile Hell

Prodigy (Albert Johnson, born November 2, 1974) and Havoc (Kejuan Muchita, born May 21, 1974) grew up in Queens, specifically the Queensbridge area, yet met in Manhattan, where both were students at Graphic Arts High School. Their shared love of hip-hop resulted in a natural companionship, and while they were still teens, the two young men had themselves a record deal with 4th & Broadway, a major rap label affiliated with Island Records. In 1993, the label released Juvenile Hell, a confrontational album featuring noteworthy production work by DJ Premier and Large Professor, who both within a year's time would move on to produce the debut of another young Queensbridge rapper, Nas. Not much came of Juvenile Hell, however, and it would be two more years before Mobb Deep would return.

When they did return in 1995, it was on a different label, Loud Records, and with a significantly developed approach. The Infamous featured a mammoth street anthem, "Shook Ones, Pt. 2," but it was a solid album all around, featuring also the in-house production work of Havoc and a couple high-profile features (Nas, Raekwon). The Infamous was more hardcore than its two key stylistic predecessors, Illmatic and Ready to Die; the beats were darker and harder-hitting while the rhymes were downright threatening yet still inventive and crafty. Moreover, there were no crossover hits like "Big Poppa" or "Juicy." In fact, there were no light moments at all. The Infamous was an uncompromising album for the streets, and it was championed as such.

Murda Muzik

A year later, in 1996, Mobb Deep returned with a follow-up, Hell on Earth, which was a little slicker than The Infamous yet still emphasized hardcore motifs. It spawned a couple hit singles that were given appropriately theatrical videos. At this point, hardcore rap was at its peak, with Death Row Records flourishing on the West Coast and a legion of New Yorkers jumping into the scene, following the lead of Nas, the Notorious B.I.G., and Mobb Deep. So when it took over two years for Mobb Deep to return with a new album, Murda Muzik, not released until April 1999, the rap landscape had changed significantly. Mobb Deep now had significant competition, and since Murda Muzik offered few innovations and lacked the spark of the duo's past two albums, it was met with some disappointment. By and large, fans enjoyed it, yet the album didn't appeal beyond the already established fan base, as the album only offered one major hit, "Quiet Storm." The following year, Prodigy released a solo album, H.N.I.C. (2000). It got a lukewarm reception, appealing to the duo's fan base yet spawning no hits.


When Mobb Deep resurfaced, in December 2001 with Infamy, they showcased a new willingness to reach beyond their fan base. "Hey Luv" was issued as a single, and it was the first Mobb Deep song to flirt with R&B crossover, or even to mention love, for that matter. The song got some airplay, thanks in part to its hook, which is sung by the R&B act 112, and its video, which played up the song's air of seduction. Nonetheless, Infamy proved to be a relative disappointment commercially, and it seemed like Mobb Deep was beginning to see their popularity erode with each passing year. It didn't help, either, that around this time the duo -- and Prodigy, in particular -- had been attacked by Jay-Z on "Takeover." And too, that Loud Records would go out of business, leaving Mobb Deep without a label deal. For the next few years, from roughly 2002-2005, Prodigy and Havoc tried to regain their footing. There were one-off albums released via various label arrangements -- Free Agents: The Murda Mix Tape (Landspeed, 2003), Amerikaz Nightmare (Jive, 2004), and The Mix Tape Before 9/11 (X-Ray, 2004) -- that made minimal impact. By this point, not even the fan base was all that interested; it had been eroded with each passing year, leaving few faithful.

The Massacre

Then came a surprise announcement that 50 Cent had signed Mobb Deep to his G-Unit family and that an album would be forthcoming. First came a quick remix featuring the latest G-Unit signing, "Outta Control," which supplanted the original version when 50's The Massacre was reissued in 2005 as a CD/DVD. Too, Mobb Deep had become omnipresent on the New York mixtape scene, releasing all kinds of streets-only material in attempt to re-establish themselves. It evidently worked, as Blood Money debuted in the Top Ten of Billboard's album chart and brought more exposure to Mobb Deep than the duo had enjoyed since their late-'90s heyday. Not everyone was convinced by the group's makeover, however, as the G-Unit approach was substantially more polished than the Mobb Deep of The Infamous. Still, Mobb Deep found a new generation of younger listeners -- the large G-Unit market base, in particular -- who were mostly unfamiliar with them. It had been over a decade since The Infamous, after all, and Mobb Deep had been out of the spotlight for years. Then, in early 2008, Prodigy went away to prison to serve a three-year sentence, putting Mobb Deep's future in question.

Artist Biography by Jason Birchmeier

Source: AllMusic

OutKast is one of the biggest groups in hip-hop history
Category: Classic Hip Hop
Tags: outkast classic hip hop duo word life production feature blog

Inspired by the Afrocentric psychedelics of George Clinton and Sly Stone, OutKast created an idiosyncratic sound blending funk and Southern bump. Dré and Big Boi met during the 10th grade at Tri-Cities High School in Atlanta. Shortly before Big Boi graduated (Dré dropped out during his junior year to focus on music), OutKast signed with LaFace as the label's first rap act and began working on its debut album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik (#20 pop, #3 R&B, 1994). The album's first single, "Player's Ball" (#37 pop, #12 R&B, 1994), went gold and helped put Atlanta on the map as a hip-hop city.

The group's sophomore effort, ATLiens (#2 pop, 1996), yielded the catchy "Elevators (me & you)" (#12 pop, #5 R&B, 1996) and peaked at #1 on the R&B albums chart. The Grammy-nominated Aquemini (#2 pop, #2 R&B, 1998) distinguished Dré and Big Boi as capable producers/songwriters, and featured funk forefather George Clinton on the song "Synthesizer." Another Aquemini track, "Rosa Parks" (#55 pop, #19 R&B, 1999), spawned some legal controversy when the civil-rights heroine sued OutKast for using her name to promote their music (the suit was dismissed in 1999). In 2000 OutKast released Stankonia (#2 pop and R&B), its most critically acclaimed album. Stankonia's "Ms. Jackson" was inspired by Dré's breakup with his longtime girlfriend, singer Erykah Badu.

In 2003, the duo continued to spin off the dynamic of their personalities releasing Speakerboxx/The Love Below to enormous commercial success. The double album featured one disc of Big Boi's hip hop-centric Speakerboxx, which yielded the hit single "The Way You Move", coupled with Dré's more polished R&B The Love Below. The singles "Hey Ya"and "Roses" further emphasized the healthy creative tension (along with a music video parodying their high school-esque rivalry) and pop savy the duo elicited, eventually winning them the 2004 Grammy for Album of The Year. Idlewild, their newest collaboration released in late 2006, features Big Boi and Dré acting in the cabaret-style film among the speakeasys of Depression-era South.

Portions of this biography originally appeared in The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001).

Daryl Hall and John Oates are the NUMBER-ONE SELLING DUO in music history! Tags: hall oates duo numer one american history ultimate rock classic feature blor

Starting out as two devoted disciples of earlier soul greats, Daryl Hall & John Oates are soul survivors in their own right. They have become such musical influences on some of today’s popular artists that the September 2006 cover of Spin Magazine’s headline read: “Why Hall and Oates are the New Velvet Underground.” Their artistic fan base includes Rob Thomas, John Mayer, Brandon Flowers of the Killers, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie and MTV’s newest hipsters Gym Class Heroes who dubbed their tour “Daryl Hall for President Tour 2007.” One of the most sampled artists today, their impact can be heard everywhere from boy band harmonies, to neo-soul to rap-rock fusion.

Signed to Atlantic by Ahmet Ertegan in the 1970’s, Daryl Hall & John Oates have sold more albums than any other duo in music history. Their 1973 debut album, Abandoned Luncheonette, produced by Arif Mardin, yielded the Top 10 single, “She’s Gone,” which also went to #1 on the R&B charts when it was covered by Taveras. The duo recorded one more album with Atlantic, War Babies, (produced by Todd Rundgren) before they were dropped and promptly signed to RCA. Their tenure at RCA would catapult the duo to international superstardom. 

From the mid-’70s to the mid-’80s, the duo would score six #1 singles, including “Rich Girl” (also #1 R&B), “Kiss on My List,” “Private Eyes,” “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do) (also #1 R&B), “Maneater” and “Out of Touch” from their six consecutive multi-platinum albums—’76’s Bigger Than Both of Us, ’80’s Voices, ’81’s Private Eyes, ‘82’s H2O, ‘83’s Rock N Soul, Part I and ‘84’s Big Bam Boom. The era would also produce an additional 5 Top 10 singles, “Sara Smile,” “One on One,” “You Make My Dreams,” “Say It Isn’t So” and “Method of Modern Love.”

Daryl also wrote the H&O single "Everytime You Go Away," which singer Paul Young scored a number-one hit with a cover of the song in 1985.

That same year, Daryl and John, participated in the historic “We Are the World” session as well as closing the Live Aid show in Philadelphia.

By 1987, the R.I.A.A. recognized Daryl Hall and John Oates as the NUMBER-ONE SELLING DUO in music history, a record they still hold today.

On May 20, 2008, the duo was honored with the Icon Award during BMI’s 56th annual Pop Awards. The award has previously gone to the Bee Gees, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Paul Simon, Brian Wilson, Willie Nelson, James Brown, Ray Davies, Carlos Santana and Dolly Parton.

Daryl Hall’s latest project is a multi-award-winning monthly web series (and nationally syndicated TV show), Live from Daryl’s House (www.livefromdarylshouse.com). “It was a light bulb moment,” he says of the show’s genesis. “I’ve had this idea about just sitting on the porch or in my living room, playing music with my friends and putting it up on the Internet.”

The past episodes of Live From Daryl’s House have featured a mix of well-known performers like Booker T and the MGs, Blind Boys of Alabama, Rob Thomas, Train, Cee Lo Green, Smokey Robinson, The Doors’ Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek, Toots Hibbert, Nick Lowe, K.T. Tunstall, Todd Rundgren, Keb Mo, Dave Stewart, Goo Goo Dolls’ John Rzeznik and Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump along with newcomers such as Nikki Jean, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Mayer Hawthorne, Eric Hutchinson, Chromeo, Matt Nathanson, Parachute, Plain White T’s, Allen Stone, soul diva Sharon Jones, Diane Birch, L.A. neo-R&B party band Fitz & the Tantrums, hot new alternative band Neon Trees and veteran alternative mainstays Guster.

In April of 2011, John Oates released his solo album, Mississippi Mile on Elektra Records.  People Magazine gave the album 3 out of 4 stars.  “ has the opportunity to reach across the board – and that’s a winning formula.” – Nashville Lifestyles

Daryl released his solo album, Laughing Down Crying, on Verve Records on September 27th,  2011.  The album has received a lot of critical acclaim from the Huffington Post, Spinner and Pop Matters, who said: “With the songs that make up this fine collection of American soul and pop music, Hall proves that with the pen and at the mic, his voice is more than capable of reaching the depths and heights of emotional truth.”

Most recently as a duo, Daryl Hall & John Oates released their first box set, Do What You Want, Be What You Are: The Music of Daryl Hall & John Oates.  The box set marks the first comprehensive multi-CD, multi-label deluxe box set compilation ever assembled from their entire career’s work, four CDs containing 74 tracks (16 of them previously unreleased).

With the fortieth anniversary of their first album, Whole Oats, 2012 finds Daryl Hall and John Oates very much at the height of their powers making their own kind of soul, with a new generation of musicians recognizing not only their historic track record of success, but also their continuing influence and achievements.

Source: Official Website: http://www.hallandoates.com/about.html

MEET ONE OF BROOKLYN’S UNDERGROUND VETERAN DUOS Tags: vnova underground hip hop duo word life production online television network

Hailing from Brownsville, Brooklyn, meet V Nova one of the underground veteran duo BOE and Villa. The artist/songwriter became addicted to hip-hop as a teen. With such influences as Kool G Rap, Rakim, and EPMD, V Nova was has studied many of the pioneers who paved the way for him. The BOE and Villa released an album in Japan titled "1019 Ex-Prez" receiving good reviews in Japan's "Front magazine". The duo then released an EP which featured there street single "Life Is Too Short" (the video is a NY underground classic). They also appeared on Erick Sermons Album "Erick Onasis" track titled "Van Gundy" and Funk Master Flex album "Flip Squad Allstars" track titled "Seriously" with Canibus.

The duo received good reviews in the feb.99 issue of the source saying they were a force to be reckoned with. Since then, they have put out numerous street albums and recorded a number of songs with artists and producers such as Midi Mafia, Deemi, Marc G (Levert), Neff-U, Mario Winnans, Jack Knight, D.R Period, Monifa, Akenyeli, Sean Wallace, Spinderella and Wyclef to name a few. Building a catalogue of hits both as a duo and solo artists, V Nova now has taken the initiative to build his solo career. In September, his new mixtape, Hidden in Plain Sight will be released. Be on the lookout for history in the making.

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