Jay Z Heads The Rap Pack

 

Back in the day when I was rocking my Lee jeans and shell toe Adidas and spinning windmills at house parties, my mind could never fathom that the genre of music that I thought belonged to my generation exclusively would grow to dominate and influence the world, much less be mentioned in Forbes.    But it has done just that; despite Gulf Coast oil spills, an on-going war, a wretched global economy and changes within the music industry that have permanently altered the way business is done and new artists are handled, hip-hop is a juggernaut that can not be stopped. 

On August 17, Forbes.com released its annual “Hip-Hop’s Cash Kings” list.  Brooklyn-born rap mogul Jay-Z (Shawn Carter) was ranked number one raking in $63 million over the past year.  Well, it seems that the foundation of “The Roc” was built on moola.  But despite having the bragging rights of being hip-hop’s top earner, Mr. Carter is still not the bread winner in his household.  That honor goes to his wife Beyonce who pulled in a hefty $87 million, now that is bringing home the bacon.  Harlem native Diddy came in at second earning $30 million. 

The secret to their earning ability does not just lie in their lyrical savvy.  Creating a brand that has several streams of revenue is what keeps these artists from being one-note.    For instance, Jigga co-owns the 40/40 nightclub chain and is part owner of the New Jersey Nets franchise.  He is also serves as co-brand director for Budweiser Select and is one of the producers for the Tony award- winning Broadway musical Fela!

Rounding out the top five were Akon with $21 million, Lil Wayne with $20 million and Dr. Dre with $17 million.  Hip-hop beef maker 50 Cent also appeared on the list at number fourteen grossing $8 million. View the complete list at Forbes.com. 

 

Fame Mistress Opens 52nd Grammy Awards

 

The grand dame of music and fashion walked the red carpet looking like an extraterrestrial representative from the planet Diva.  Lady Gaga did not disappoint fans or media with red carpet ensemble or other outfit changes, none of which were able to grace the Staple Center stage.  Although Gaga did not receive the opportunity to speed through a speech before the music cuts into her “thank you “list, she did add Grammy winner to her list of accolades.  Lady Gaga won Best Dance Recording for “Pokerface” and Best Electronic Dance Album for The Fame.  She also opened 52nd Grammy Award ceremony and shared the stage with another piano tickling, fashion icon Elton John creating another memorable moment in Grammy history.   

 

Speaking of memorable moments in Grammy history, the music industry’s consummate rebel Pink gave one the best performances of the evening.  Her high flying, Cirque du Soleilsque rendition of “Glitter in the Air” proved to the audience in attendance and to those viewing at home that she is still a badass with a banging body to match.

Yonkers native Mary J. Blige provided inspiration duet with Andrea Bocelli.  Introduced by Haiti’s native son Wyclef Jean, they sang “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” in support the impoverished island devastated by the recent earthquake.   

Beyonce took fierce to another level with her hair swinging, military powered performance of “If I Were A Boy.”  She also won Grammys for Song of the Year for “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “Halo”, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”, Best Traditional R&B Performance for “At Last”, Best R&B Song for “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” and Best Contemporary R&B Album for I Am…Sasha Fierce.  I don’t know if The Black Eyed Peas did, but I believe Mrs. Carter definitely had a good, good night.   Mr. Carter added to the family’s night of Grammy wins. The ambassador of New York took home Grammys for Best Rap Solo Performance for “DOA (Death Of Auto-Tune), Best Rap/Sung Collaboration and Best Rap Song for “Run This Town.”

R&B crooner Maxwell cemented his comeback with Best R&B Album for Blacksummers’ Night and Best R&B Male Performance for “Pretty Wings”, which he performed during Sunday night’s telecast. He also performed a duet with the incomparable Roberta Flack, thank you Maxwell for truly bringing sexy back.

Punk superstars Green Day provided a glimpse into their new Broadway musical American Idiot.  They sang “21st Century Breakdown”, which won the Best Rock Album Grammy, along with the show’s cast.  American Idiot will hit the St. James Theater in March and officially open in April.

 Photos courtesy of Kevin Winter/Getty Images

It Most Certainly…WAS Top Tour for 2009

That it I am referring to was Beyonce’s “I AM…” world tour.  I checked out the show at Madison Square Garden on June 23rd and can honestly say even P.T. Barnum would have fallen crazy in love with this display of fabulousness.

French designer Thierry Mugler has always been known for his fashion forward, futuristic designs.  Both Beyonce and alter ego Sasha sashay in some the best work from Mr. Mugler since George Michael’s Too Funky video.   He mixes opulence, sexiness and strength seamlessly.

Beyonce’s all-female band can be summed up on one word, rockin’.  These ladies can jam and made sure that crowd did not remain in their seat for too long.  I also enjoyed the background vocals from “The Mommas.”  These ladies reminded me of days when Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes sang behind Sylvester.  They’re thick, beautiful and full of soul.

The show began with Crazy In Love and featured a special on stage surprise from Jigga himself.  Beyonce performed songs from “Dangerously In Love”, “B-Day” and “I am…Sasha Fierce.”  My favorite highlights included If I Were A Boy (in which Beyonce broke into Alanis Morrissette’s break-up classic You Oughta Know), Baby Boy (in which “the diva” was hoisted above the crowd with wire cable, performing mid-air somersaults ala Cirque du Soleil), Ava Maria (which shows just how Beyonce has grown vocally since her days with Destiny’s Child),  At Last (which shows video footage from the march on Washington, D.C. and ends with footage of the first couple dancing at one of the Inaugural balls), and of course Single Ladies, the new anthem for single ladies everywhere.

Another favorite of mine was the Ego interlude because that was what the show had, ego from beginning to end.  Beyonce’s “I AM…” tour delivered in every way imaginable.  The wardrobe changes on stage were effortless. She performed all her hits even those from Destiny’s Child.  The choreography is upbeat and sensual with hip swinging, booty shaking, leg jiggling and hair flipping action that would make the great Tina Turner proud.  The energy that was exchanged between Beyonce and the crowd would make anyone feel as if they had been hit with a lightening bolt.  The show provided glamour, excitement and empowerment.  It didn’t matter what seat you are in, you were included in the party.  Whether you called the show fierce, fabulous or fun, it was…all of that