POSTS BY: JOHN NORRIS

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Def Jam’s Young Gun TJ Porter Talks Representing for Harlem, Having a “Celebrity” Manager, His Sentimental New Single “Do You Care” and Upcoming Debut Album Voice Of the Trenches

By John Norris // 22 Feb 2019

Def Jam Records is in something of a youth revolution. The most iconic label in hip-hop history may be turning 35 this year, but it has its eyes newly fixed on the future, with some seventeen newly signed artists set to showcase on next month’s release of Undisputed, a compilation recorded over several days last November in Los Angeles. Front and center among the Undisputed lineup is Harlem, New York’s latest ambassador to the music world, 18 year old TJ Porter, who in only a couple of years in the game has begun to serve notice of his intention to follow in the formidable footsteps of the greats that put his neighborhood on the rap map, including Mase, Dipset and ASAP Mob. The young MC has versatility on his side: early singles, like 2017’s “Trust Issues”, “Quiet Storm” and “Can’t Wait” offered bar spitting life lessons; last fall’s Pregame, his release first with Def Jam, found TJ in melodic mode – celebratory on the breakout “Glowin’ Up” and boastful on “Tricky”; while his most recent EP, No Disturbance­, released only two weeks ago, goes dark on “The Don”, admits to relationship infidelity in “Cheated”, and claps back at doubters on …

Hip-Hop And The Grammys: It’s Complicated

By John Norris // 6 Feb 2019

On the Recording Academy’s Up-and-Down Relationship with Rap     The scent of weed wafting its way down the hall to my room from Andre3000’s neighboring after party cements the night in my mind like it was yesterday. Andre had reason to celebrate: it was 2004, and Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below had just won what is generally considered to be the top prize on “Music’s Biggest Night”—the Grammy Award for album of the year. I remember the night, and that smell of success, like it was yesterday. But it was hardly yesterday, was it? It’s the most oft-mentioned, ongoing streak of embarrassment for the Grammys, but it must be repeated annually until it’s broken: it has been fifteen years since that Outkast win, and no rap project since has reached the Grammy summit. Plenty of worthy LP’s have been nominated, but all have come up short, including exceptional  releases by Lil Wayne, Drake, Jay-Z and—three times each, Eminem, Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar. That’s fifteen years, mind you, in which hip-hop has only solidified its place as contemporary culture’s preeminent sound and style. What can you say? Fool me once…but fool me fifteen times? The 61st Grammy Awards will take …

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