Plus-Size Rap Icon Alyona Alyona, Puts Ukraine On The Map

(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 16, 2020 Ukrainian rap singer Alyona Alyona poses during a photo session at the Eurosonic festival in Groningen.


Alyona Alyona is turning the macho rules of rap on their head.

For a start, the former kindergarten teacher tries never to swear in her songs.

She proudly raps in the Ukrainian she grew up speaking in her rustic home village, rather than in English or Russian.

And she has become something of a plus-size icon for letting it all hang out in a silver swimming costume in the video for her first big hit, “Ribki” (“Fish”).

Flanked by two scantily-clad, pencil-thin women of the type that usually people rap videos, the song is a clear metaphor for young women who feel out of place.

The rapper, whose real name is Alyona Savranenko, has put body positivity, bullying and female empowerment in songs that defy the stereotype of what hip-hop should be.

The hugely popular 28-year-old has become a phenomenon in Europe, tearing it up at the Eurosonic showcase in the Groningen in the Netherlands last month after being picked out as a rising star by the New York Times.

– ‘Such a story’ –

“She’s really extraordinary, and hugely charming,” said Jean-Louis Brossard, who booked the charismatic performer for his Trans festival in the French city of Rennes last year.

“She brings people together with her smile and her enthusiasm — and she has such a story,” he told AFP.

“She is super-good, technically great, sassy, what can I say?” added music journalist Eloise Bouton, who founded the Madame Rap website.

Her videos have scored millions of hits despite their down-to-earth settings like her home village in central Ukraine, where horses and carts were a common sight in her childhood.

One clip, which starts with her parents at the kitchen table of their Soviet-era apartment, has had nearly four million views.

Ukraine’s biggest rapper began writing poetry when she was six, but discovered hip-hop at 12.

At first, she copied or translated American rap before finding her own voice and addressing young women’s place in society.

“I wasn’t a gangster, I was a kindergarten teacher,” she said.

But Alyona’s life changed when the video for “Fish”, which featured her frolicking on a jet ski, went viral.

“At the beginning, I was scared” by all the attention, she told AFP.

“The video got so many views that journalists started to come to see me” in the tiny village nursery school near Kiev where she taught.

– Facing down sexism –


Alyona realised if she was going to get serious about her musical career, she would have to give up her job.

“‘Fish’ is about women who have piercings, tattoos or strange coloured hair, or a body that is not seen as normal,” the singer said.

“We, these women, are like fish in tank. And behind the glass, we don’t hear the nasty words directed at us,” she added.

Another track “Pushka”, which roughly translates as “the bomb”, also challenges how women are seen. In it, Alyona calls herself a “pishka”, a term of abuse for someone who is overweight.

Other lyrics are more poignant: “They may have a fresh view on everything, but they never invite us home…”

Hip-hop is hardly known as a hotbed of feminist thinking, and Alyona has had to put up with some zingers.

“They have told me that women were made to cook, to look after children, to do their nails, to do their makeup,” she recalled.

– Body positive –

“But I try to show that women have their place in rap battles,” the off-the-cuff bragging contests that characterise the genre.

And Alyona has found her niche, far from the cliches of “drugs and gangs — because that is not my life. I go to see my parents or go on holiday.

“I try to inspire people. I am not just there to say to women that they can be rappers, but to tell them to believe in themselves,” she said.

Even though Alyona grew up idolising Eminem — “He represents everything you should do and not do at the same time,” she quipped — she prefers not to rap in English or in Russian, which might also bring her a bigger audience.

“I taught in Ukrainian and I want to say things in Ukrainian,” she insisted.

But she denied that it had anything to do with nationalism. “I don’t like politics. My generation is tired by politics… we want to create new things. There are so many great performers, painters, so many talented people out there.”


Rising Rap Artist Juice WRLD Dies At 21

In this file photo taken on September 21, 2019 Juice Wrld performs onstage during the 2019 iHeartRadio Music Festival and Daytime Stage at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds in Las Vegas, Nevada. BRYAN STEFFY / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP



Chicago-born rapper Juice WRLD, one of a wave of young artists who made a name on streaming platforms before breaking out as chart-toppers and social media celebrities, died on Sunday at the age of 21, according to local authorities.

A spokeswoman from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office in Illinois told AFP that it had been notified of the rapper born Jarad Higgins’ death. An autopsy had not yet been carried out.

Police confirmed to AFP that a 21-year-old man had suffered a medical emergency at Midway International Airport after getting off a private jet.

Celebrity news outlet TMZ reported that Higgins had suffered a seizure.

Juice WRLD’s breakout single “Lucid Dreams,” rose to Number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2018, with his follow-up album “Death Race for Love” debuting in first place on the Billboard 200 the following year.

The rapper was of a generation known as the “SoundCloud rappers” — a subgenre that takes its name from the streaming platform where its artists find fame.

The crop of rappers in recent years has become a disruptive movement in hip hop, combining a lo-fi underground sound with raw, often emotionally laden lyrics leading some to dub them “emo rappers.”

These musicians whose careers are built on internet stardom often rap about popping drugs, notably Xanax, an anti-anxiety medication.

Along with prescription medication the subculture’s aesthetic includes face tattoos and neon-dyed hair.

‘I have a lot going for me’

The scene has launched careers and sales figures but the lives of its figures are often volatile: XXXTentacion was murdered in 2018, while Tekashi69, seeking leniency on serious racketeering and weapons charges, this year was a star government witness at the trial of alleged former gang associates.

And in 2017 the SoundCloud rapper Lil Peep died at age 21 of what was declared an accidental overdose of fentanyl and Xanax.

Speaking to The New York Times in 2018, Juice WRLD said that he used Xanax heavily as a teenager but was aiming to curb his drug use.

“I have a lot going for me, I recognize it’s a lot of big things, a lot of big looks. I want to be there, and you don’t have to overdose to not be there,” he told the Times.

Music and industry insiders took to social media to pay tribute to the rapper upon learning of his shock death.

“Wow, I can not believe this. Rip my brother juice world,” tweeted fellow rapper Lil Yachty.

“rip juice,” tweeted breakout star Lil Nas X.

“so sad how often this is happening lately to young talented rising artists.”

Rapper Nicki Minaj Announces Retirement

In this file photo taken on May 06, 2019 US rapper Nicki Minaj arrives for the 2019 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. ANGELA WEISS / AFP


Rap queen Nicki Minaj on Thursday shocked fans by announcing her retirement from music, saying she was going to focus on family.

The provocative 36-year-old known for hits like “Super Bass” is engaged to music executive Kenneth Petty, and she recently said a wedding is in the cards in the coming months.

“I’ve decided to retire & have my family,” tweeted the wildly successful rapper raised in the New York borough of Queens.

“I know you guys are happy now,” she continued. “To my fans, keep reppin me, do it til da death of me, X in the box – cuz ain’t nobody checkin me.”

“Love you for LIFE.”

The surprising news fueled pregnancy rumors that had already been swirling since June after she appeared on a late-night television show and opted against drinking.

She went Instagram-official with her partner Petty in December 2018, after rebooting the relationship decades after they were involved as teenagers.

The rekindled romance raised eyebrows considering Petty’s criminal past: he is a registered sex offender in New York and was convicted in 1995 of attempted rape.

Minaj dismissed criticism of her new relationship, saying “He was 15, she was 16 … in a relationship. But go awf Internet. Y’all can’t run my life. Y’all can’t even run y’all own life. Thank you boo.”

– ‘Walking exaggeration’ –
Minaj’s profanity-laced lyrics, skin-baring music videos and unique, animated flow first catapulted her to fame in 2010.

Known for her bold sartorial style that includes neon costumes and wigs, Minaj — whose hits include “Starships,” “Bang Bang” and “Anaconda” — is considered one of rap’s most influential female artists.

The Grammy-nominated artist born in Trinidad and Tobago cites Foxy Brown and Jay-Z as major inspirations, and has crafted a lightning-speed sound distinctive for her use of alter egos and accents, especially British cockney.

She’s “a sparkling rapper with a gift for comic accents and unexpected turns of phrase,” wrote a New York Times critic in 2018. “She’s a walking exaggeration, outsize in sound, personality and look.”

“And she’s a rapid evolver, discarding old modes as easily as adopting new ones.”

Her brash personality and penchant for controversy also made Minaj a tabloid regular, especially for a feud at a Fashion Week 2018 after party that saw rap rival Cardi B throw a shoe and allegedly attempt to fight Minaj.

Cardi B later said Minaj had dissed her aptitude as a mother.

The rap queen’s retirement announcement was a particularly surprising turn of events as Minaj has been quite active in music this summer

Last month, she appeared in rising star Megan Thee Stallion’s song “Hot Girl Summer.”

In June 2019, she released a single entitled “Megatron” and said she had a new studio album in the works, which would be her fifth.

But Minaj is no stranger to spectacle, and some fans wondered on social media whether her retirement announcement was but a marketing strategy ahead of an album drop.

“Nicki minaj is deadass lying watch her drop a whole new album featuring Rihanna,” tweeted one user.

Nipsey Hussle Death Underscores Deep-Rooted Violence Of US Streets

Fans mourn rapper Nipsey Hussle in Los Angeles, California. David McNew/Getty Images/AFP


The shocking murder of Nipsey Hussle triggered an outpouring of grief among artists and activists alike — and for many crystallized the chronic dangers of street life, the LA rapper aimed to uproot.

For some, his death recalled the 1990s era of targeted hip hop killings thought to be bygone: the assassination of Hussle, 33, comes more than two decades after a spate of slayings claimed the lives of rap superstars including Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G.

Sunday’s killing in broad daylight, which Los Angeles police believe is gang-related and personal in nature, prompted some comparisons to those fatal shootings: all talented musicians, all from impoverished neighborhoods, all shot dead at a young age.

But for Najee Ali, a California civil rights activist, “music has nothing to do with it.”

“Poverty and low-income areas have everything to do — that’s what breeds violence, it’s not the music.”

READ ALSO: Nineteen Injured In Stampede At Nipsey Hussle Memorial

Indeed, the eulogies from superstars like Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar, Drake and Cardi B to the Grammy-nominated Hussle — colloquially known as “Nipsey” or “Neighborhood Nip” — that mushroomed on social media told the story of a local legend and community leader who invested back into the streets that raised him.

And perhaps most importantly, they crafted a heartrending portrait of a black man killed by gun violence in America.

“This hurts,” wrote New York rapper Nas on Instagram. “It’s dangerous to be an MC. Dangerous to be a b-ball player. It’s dangerous to have money. Dangerous To Be A Black Man.”

It is not an “easy fix,” he continued. “Hard to fix anything when kids are still living in poverty.”

“Nipsey is a True voice. He will never be silenced. He still is A stand up General for the People who never left his people.”

Credibility through violence

For decades, the public image of rap has been closely intertwined with those of gangs: early West Coast hip hop in particular grew out of notoriously gang-plagued areas in California, with late 1980s groups like N.W.A. rapping about hardships and social injustice there.

The 1990s heyday of Los Angeles gangsta rap — a subgenre that saw artists boast of violence, misogyny and drug use in constructing their hardcore image — saw massive success for rappers like Snoop Dogg, a known member of the Crips gang.

“Rap is a musical genre that demands a level of authenticity from its artists,” said Geoff Harkness, a Rhode Island College sociologist focused on hip hop.

“Even for rap musicians with no interest in or connection to violence, there is immense pressure to gain authenticity and credibility through violent acts,” he told AFP.

Less than a year ago XXXTentacion — the Miami rapper who catapulted to fame on his dark lyricism and muffled style — was also shot dead.

Prior to his murder, the 20-year-old lived a life violent even by rap world standards, embodying a stereotype Harkness said is sometimes encouraged by the music industry.

“Record companies and media corporations reap untold fortunes by urging young, often poor, black men to play up or even fabricate criminal backgrounds in order to sell more product,” Harkness said, adding “the rappers are also complicit in this process.”

Hussle was also a Crip — fans laid out royal blue candles at makeshift memorials to the slain rapper, the color of the notorious gang — and even his music echoed the old school gangsta rap sound.

But in recent years, the artist, entrepreneur and philanthropist had led efforts to eradicate the organized violence ripping apart his hometown.

Steve Soboroff, the Los Angeles police commissioner, said the rapper had planned to meet with top law enforcement officials Monday to “talk about ways he could help stop gang violence and help us help kids.

“I’m so very sad.”

At a memorial for Hussle on Monday, at least six people were wounded in a stampede. Officials said it was unclear what sparked it.

More than a rapper

Hussle, an Eritrean-American born Ermias Asghedom and raised in LA’s Crenshaw district, had transformed the block he would hustle on into a retail, job-creating hub for his Marathon Clothing company.

He had also backed Destination Crenshaw — an open-air museum describing itself as “1.3 miles of art & culture celebrating black LA” — along with a science, tech and math education center.

“He was not just a rapper,” said activist Ali. “Nipsey was our shining black prince who overcame adversity and gang life to become a Grammy-nominated artist and one of our most influential community leaders.”

“He could’ve easily moved to a gated community — he chose to stay.”

In the end, Hussle’s life was taken on the very corner he sought to revive, shot several times at close range by a suspect still at large.

News of his death saw many fans sharing his songs — he didn’t release a label debut album until last year’s acclaimed “Victory Lap,” but boasted a number of mixtapes — with his poignant lyricism lighting up social media.

“I’m just young and I’m reckless, I’m just on for my section,” he rapped in one song, “Ocean Views.”

“I just write down these confessions… died to get life around me, I guess that I’m an exception / Blessings.”


Cardi B, Childish Gambino Make History At Grammy 2019



Rap history was made Sunday at the Grammys as Cardi B became the first woman to win the award for Best Rap Album and Childish Gambino scored two other landmark victories for the genre: Song and Record of the Year.

For the second consecutive year, black hip-hop artists dominated nominations across the board.

But unlike in years past, the artists snagged a handful of major wins — perhaps a sign that the Recording Academy is slowly getting in touch with pop culture’s more groundbreaking work.

Cardi B’s win for “Invasion of Privacy” was a crowning achievement for the artist, now at the top of the male-dominated hip hop world.

READ ALSO: Full List Of Nominees And Winners At The 2019 Grammy Awards

US rapper Cardi B and Offset arrive for the 61st Annual Grammy Awards on February 10, 2019, in Los Angeles. VALERIE MACON / AFP

The 26-year-old rap queen beat out the late Mac Miller and superstar Travis Scott to claim her first career Grammy, having soared to fame on the runaway success of her smash hit “Bodak Yellow” that centers on the Bronx native’s past as a stripper.

The visibly shaking star, fresh off a rousing performance of her hit “Money,” delivered an emotional acceptance speech alongside her husband Offset of the rap trio Migos.

“The nerves are so bad. Maybe I need to start smoking weed,” she said to laughter and applause, before turning to Offset and saying: “you husband, thank you.”

Cardi B’s vivacious charisma shines through on the album, in which she brashly owns her sex industry past — and her spectacular rise to the upper echelons of music.

The star born Belcalis Almanzar provided the soundtrack of the 2018 summer with her saucy hit “I Like It,” which pays homage to her Latin roots by sampling a 60s-era boogaloo standard.

One of the most successful albums of 2018, the Recording Industry Association of America certified all 13 tracks on “Invasion of Privacy” as “gold” or higher — a benchmark of sales — the first female artist to do so.

Gambino wins big

Childish Gambino won the first Song and Record of the Year awards ever for a rap song, a milestone for the genre that the academy has drawn criticism for snubbing in the past.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 21, 2018 Childish Gambino performs on stage during the iHeartRadio Music Festival at the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Gambino — the rap alter ego of actor Donald Glover — was one of the night’s leading stars with four wins, also scooping a Best Rap/Sung Performance award and Best Music Video for the provocative hit “This Is America.”

But he wasn’t at the gala to enjoy the moment.

His collaborators told journalists they did not know why he did not attend, but he had reportedly declined an invitation to perform.

“I think if you listen to the radio or if you just watch our culture, if you look at the most downloaded, streamed artists…you see what people are getting inspired by,” said Ludwig Goransson, who co-wrote the hit with Gambino.

“It’s about time that something like this happened with the Grammys,” he told journalists after the gala. “They’re getting the same kind of senses as the people.”

The trap gospel song packed with social commentary juxtaposes an up-tempo rhythm, layered with church hymns and Afrobeats, with a heavier, more foreboding bassline.

Ludwig Göransson accepts the award for Childish Gambino for Record Of The Year with “This Is America” during the 61st Annual Grammy Awards on February 10, 2019, in Los Angeles. Robyn Beck / AFP

Drake — who snagged seven nominations — won Best Rap Song for “God’s Plan,” his only win of the night for the inescapable smash of 2018.

The Canadian rapper — who has sparred with the Recording Academy in past years — showed up to accept the award despite rumors that he would skip the gala.

But his acceptance speech was delivered with a perceptible twinge of bitterness.

“It’s like the first time in Grammys history where I actually am who I thought I was for a second, so I like that — that is really nice,” he said.

Kendrick Lamar, who led the Grammy nominee field with eight nods, tied for his first win of the night for “King’s Dead,” which he had performed alongside Jay Rock, Future and James Blake.

Rapper-drummer Anderson .Paak shared that Best Rap Performance prize for “Bubblin'”.

Music industry chameleon Pharrell Williams meanwhile topped rap megastar Kanye West to take home the trophy for Non-Classical Producer of the Year.

Vector Out With REMIX II Of KING KONG, Feat. Sarkodie

VectorNigerian rapper, Vector Tha Viper teams up with award winning Ghanaian rapper, Sarkodie in a second remix of his hit song, King Kong.

With a previous remix featuring fellow celebrated rap artists, Phyno and Reminisce, Vector like a king decided to further stun his fans with this new remix.

The new remix has an infusion of strong rhythmic rap flow from Sarkodie and also features Ugo, Project Fame season 7 finalist on the bass guitar.

“I decided to have two remixes for this song so as to delight my fans with different renderings of the same song”, said an excited Vector. “As you know, this is one of the few songs in Nigeria that two remixes have been done for and this ability to bring different artistes on board the same song goes to show the quality of the song.”

Headies 9th Edition To Hold in October

Headies High Res.The 9th edition of the annual urban and hip-hop culture awards, ‘The Headies’ has been scheduled to hold on October 25.

An African media and entertainment company, Smooth Promotions, made the announcement on Thursday.

The Headies, since its inception in 2006, has recognised the distinguished achievements of artists and entertainers in a number of categories, including Rap, RnB, Dancehall and Alternative.

The organisers are yet to reveal the noteworthy hosts, nominees and special artiste performances for The Headies 2014.

Last year, the dynamic duo of Tiwa Savage and Dr SID opened the awards ceremony to much acclaim and for the first time, The Headies introduced a new category – The Best Alternative Song – which shed light on new exciting contenders.

Meanwhile, organisers of The Headies have opened its doors to receive music materials for nomination in the 9th edition of urban and hip-hop culture music awards.

Only music materials released between July 2013 and June 2014 qualify for entry. The process opens July 22, 2014 and closes August 30, 2014.

Album Review: Ice Prince Has Grown As A Lyricist – M.I

Following the release of Ice Prince’s sophomore album, Fire of Zamani, label mate and popular rapper, Mr Incredible reviewed the album in an exclusive interview with Channels Television and said the new album was evidence that Ice Prince had grown as a lyricist.

Ice Prince hit mainstream recognition with his party banger ‘Oleku’ after which he released several other rave tracks in his debut album, ‘Everybody Loves Ice Prince.’

His second album, which was unveiled on November 28,has garnered much applause from music lovers and critics in the music industry.

While doing a critique of FOZ, M.I disclosed the inspiration behind some of the tracks on the album including the song entitled ‘Whiskey,’ which M.I described as ‘great music.’

“The flow on the album is on point,” he added.

The 18 tracker album is a compilation of works from different prominent artistes and producers such as Sunny Neji, Wale (MMG), M.I, Chip, Ruby, Wizkid, French Montana, Jesse Jagz, Olamide, Sound Sultan, Burna Boy, Yung L, Jeremiah Gyang, Shaydee, Morell, Chopstix, Don Jazzy, Sammy Gyang, J Sleek and E-Kelly.

M.I also said that Ice Prince “brought out the best from Wale, Chip and Sunny Nneji.”

As far as M.I is concerned, there were not enough tracks on the album as “that kind of music should never end.”

He also thinks there should be a way the music could be embedded in human skin…

Watch the video here:

PICTURES: Ill Bliss, Tha Suspect, Chidinma Thrill ‘At The Club’

Nigerian music stars, Ill BlissTha Suspect and Chidinma partied with music lovers and fans a few weeks back at Club Ace (The Place) in Ikeja GRA, performing their bevvy of hit singles.

The party also featured the Remy Martin Dance Off hosted by Bovi.

Check out pictures of the celebrities at the event.

Naeto C, D’Prince, Skuki and DJ Zeez are lined-up to perform at this month’s edition of ‘At The Club’ with Remy Martin.

Creddy F Drops Video For ‘Scooby Scooby’

Upcoming rap artiste, Creddy F has released the video for his song titled, Scooby Scooby, which was initially released in 2012 and featured popular act, LKT (Alaye).

Crescent Patrick Nwanagu,  who is also known as Creddy F is now back with the video directed by one of Nigeria’s ace music video directors, Patrick Elis.

Patrick Ellis has directed several other music videos including Eva’s ‘Lights Out,’ Baba Dee’s ‘Gum Body,’ Tillaman’s ‘Ko Ma Roll’ to mention a few.

New Music: ‘In Love With A Fan’ – Sakordie

Less than 24 hours after top Ghanian rapper, Sakordie, released his new track, “In love with a fan,” encomiums have poured forth from fans all over West Africa.

The 25 year old musician, is without a doubt one of the biggest musicians out of Africa as his music earned him the 2012 BET Award for Best International Act (Africa).

His new song, In Love With A Fan, has generated a lot of buzz on social media and amongst music lovers who have hit the social media platform, Twitter, to verify the authenticity of the lyrics of the song, which suggest that the popular star is indeed in love with one of his fans.

Sarkodie has also performed with top Nigerian acts, Wizkid, Davido, 2 face, Waje and others.

He is signed to international star, Akon’s Konvict Muzik.

Mike Olay Drops Rap, Pop Edition Of “Take You Home”

America based Nigerian singer, Mike Olay makes his debut in the Nigerian entertainment industry with the release of his song titled Take You Home, which he produces in rap and pop versions.

This is probably the first ever from this part of the world for an artiste to release two different versions of the same song, as singer/rapper/songwriter/producer/dancer.

Produced by rave-making producer Spellz, Mike Olay delivers a rap version of the song where he raps smoothly switching between his American rap accent and the indigenous pidgin and Yoruba languages, and a pop edition which perfectly fits a Nigerian-party-rocking song in tune, style and melody.

Mike Olay who is debuting on the Nigerian entertainment scene with this effort actually started in the United States where he released his first single “When I’m Gone”.

Rap edition:

Pop edition: