Listen: T.I. declares 'I'm Back' on new single

Track from rapper is first from Aug. 24 album

On the tail end of his prison sentence on weapons charges, T.I. wants to let us know that he’s back and what better way to announce it than in song.

“I’m Back,” released Monday,  is more hypnotic than dynamic.  The languid beat feels more like an easy flowing river than a rushing current.  Plus, T.I. even throws in a spooky theremin sound on top of the Trackslayerz-produced beats.

Stream the track below.

Lyrically, T.I. says that the track reflects on his time in prison and what he observed going on in the rap world while he was gone.

“I appreciate the support and how hard I was going in during the brief hiatus," T.I. said in a brief conference call on Monday. "The support don't go unnoticed and I don't take it lightly. This marks a special day for us, because we putting out the first song off the album - not an official first single, just something to keep the streets warm… It's a lot of things that needed to be spoken on. In my absence, it was a lot of things that went down, a lot of matters that needed to be addressed. This was the greatest platform for me to do it. It was the first song I did when I came home.”

He’s not quite home yet: T.I. was released from prison in December to a halfway house. He hints that he’ll be free to roam starting next month.

In the song, T.I. also gives a shout out to other rappers like Lil Wayne, Boosie, Gucci Mane who have done time, and warns newcomers that the boys are back in town.

The tune is off of T.I.’s seventh studio album. The new release will come out Aug. 24

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<p>Ryan Bingham holds his Grammy from Sunday</p>

Ryan Bingham holds his Grammy from Sunday

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Oscar winner Ryan Bingham heads out on the Country Throwdown tour

The folks who brought you the Vans Warped tour have gone country

So if Superbowl-winning quarterbacks go to Disneyworld to celebrate their big victory, where do Oscar-winning songwriters go? Apparently, right back on the road.

Ryan Bingham, who, along with T Bone Burnett, snared the Academy Award for best original song at Sunday night’s Oscars for “The Weary Kind” from “Crazy Heart,” will be one of the big names on the Country Throwdown tour, which kicks off May 14 in Tampa, Fla.

Country Throwdown is brought to you by the same folks that put together the Vans Warped Tour and is an attempt to create a touring country show that appeals to younger—and certainly rowdier—fans than those who are grooving to their George Strait and Reba McEntire records (not that there’s anything  wrong with King George or Queen Reba).

In addition to Bingham and his band the Dead Horses, the multi-stage tour features Jamey Johnson, Little Big Town, Eric Church, Jack Ingram, Montgomery Gentry, Eli Young Band, the Lost Trailers, and Heidi Newfield, among others.

Additionally, the Bluebird Café Tent will highlight nine emerging snger/songwriters playing in the round. As many of you know, the Bluebird Café is the place in Nashville for singers/songwriters and many a performer, including Garth Brooks, got signed after performing there.

Below is the tour schedule with onsale dates, if available.

Fri    5/14    Tampa, FL    Ford Amphitheatre    3/12/10
Sat    5/15    W. Palm Beach, FL    Cruzan Amphitheatre    3/12/10
Sun    5/16    Jacksonville, FL    Metropolitan Park    Now
Thu    5/20    Cleveland, OH    Blossom Music Center    Now
Fri    5/21    Cincinnati, OH    Riverbend Music Center    3/12/10
Sat    5/22    Chicago, IL    First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre    3/12/10
Sun    5/23    Indianapolis, IN    Verizon Wireless Music Center    3/12/10
Thu    5/27    Charlotte, NC    Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre    3/12/10
Fri    5/28    Raleigh, NC    Time Warner Cable Pavilion     3/12/10
Sat    5/29    Pittsburgh, PA    Post Gazette Pavilion    3/12/10
Sun    5/30    Saratoga Springs, NY    SPAC Amphitheatre     3/12/10
Mon    5/31    Gilford, NH    Meadowbrook US Cellular    Now
Fri    6/4    Virginia Beach, VA    Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre    TBD
Sun    6/6    Bristow, VA    Jiffy Lube Live    TBD
Wed    6/9    Houston, TX    Sam Houston Racepark    3/12/10
Thu    6/10    Dallas, TX    Superpages.com Center    3/12/10
Sat    6/12    Salt Lake City, UT    USANA Amphitheatre     3/12/10
Sun    6/13    Denver, CO    Comfort Dental Amphitheatre    3/12/10
Wed    6/16    Bakersfield, CA    Rabobank Arena    3/12/10
Thu    6/17    San Diego, CA    Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre     3/5/10
Fri    6/18    Phoenix, AZ    Cricket Wireless Pavilion     3/12/10
Sat    6/19    Irvine, CA    Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre     3/5/10
Sun    6/20    Mountain View, CA    Shoreline Amphitheatre     3/12/10

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Ludacris, Gorillaz lead March 9 new music release slate

Luda battles the sexes, while Gorillaz take on Bruce Willis

Release schedules tend to heat back up as the spring thaw approaches, but it’s a fairly slow slate this Tuesday. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some delights, including new titles from Broken Bells, Gorillaz and Ludacris.

Broken Bells, “Broken Bells” (Columbia): First collaboration between artist/producer Danger Mouse and the Shins’ James Mercer is a beautiful shimmery set of melodic, often gentle, tunes. Danger Mouse brings the slight edge that the Shins’ material often lacks. First single, "The High Road," is already doing great at Triple A radio.

Gorillaz, “Plastic Beach” (Virgin): Third set from Damon Albarn and his virtual band features such guests as Mos Def, Snoop Dogg, Bobby Womack  and Lou Reed.  See the Bruce-Willis starring video for first single, “Stylo,” here.

The Knife, “Tomorrow, in a Year” (Mute): Now here’s something you don’t hear every day: a work tagged as “A Darwin electro-opera.” But leave it to those wacky Swedes who make up The Knife to compose an experimental opera based on the world seen through the father of evolution, Charles Darwin. This is a studio version of the opera that was written for Danish performance artists Hotel Pro Forma.The opera premiered at the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen last September.

Ludacris, “Battle of the Sexes” (Disturbing Tha Peace/Def Jam): Ludacris returns with his seventh album and he’s brought plenty of company. The set features the rapper from the ATL duetting with both male and female guests about the one subject no one can get enough of: Love (and all its forms). Collaborators include girl of the minute Nicki Minaj, Lil Kim, Eve, Ciara, Ne-Yo, Flo Rida, Plies and Pharrell.

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<p>White Stripes' &quot;Under the Great White Northern Lights&quot;</p>

White Stripes' "Under the Great White Northern Lights"

Credit: Warner Bros. Records

Listen: Hear White Stripes' 'Great White Northern Lights' concert doc soundtrack

Jack and Meg White take on Canada in this raw live set

On a tour across Canada in 2007, the White Stripes captured a little magic and you can hear it here a week before you can buy it.

“Under the Great White Northern Lights”  documents, both on CD and DVD, Jack and Meg White’s  trek across our neighbor to the north, on an outing that culminates in a 10th anniversary show. Hear all your White Stripes' faves, including "Icky Thump," "Blue Orchid," "Fell in Love with a Girl," and "Seven Nation Army," plus the pair's cover of Dolly Parton's classic "Jolene."

You can’t see the Emmett Malloy-directed DVD until its release March 16, but you can hear the accompanying  CD, culled from performances across Canada, here now, courtesy of NPR.

We love how the opening bagpipes segue into into Jack White’s immediate shredding on "Let's Shake Hands" and the 16-tune set  careens from one raw song to the next like a small boat navigating the high seas. Grab a seat and hold on. It’s going to be a bumpy, but wonderful ride.

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<p>Eminem and Lil Wayne at the 2010 Grammy Awards</p>

Eminem and Lil Wayne at the 2010 Grammy Awards

Credit: AP Photo

Watch: Lil Wayne and Eminem in video for 'Drop the World'

The two rappers go apocalyptic, set world on fire

Before Lil Wayne hops up in his spaceship and leaves earth—or goes to prison—whichever comes first, he and Eminem settle scores in the video for Lil Wayne’s “Drop the Earth.”  The mesmerizing track is one of the best on Lil Wayne’s otherwise disappointing “Rebirth.”

The gritty clip recalls “Escape from New York” or any movie, really, where marauding gangs, perhaps seeking vigilante justice or, in some cases, just a night of wilding, take to the abandoned city streets bringing destruction with them.

Eminem stops by around the 2:10 mark and pretty much raps better here than on anything on his recent album. When Eminem talks about  feeling like the walls are closing in, I believe him every time.

It’s a grim song in a grim world. except for that weird line about the cabbage and the lettuce, but by the looks of things, the veggies don’t fare any better than the rest of us in the melee.

Watch the video below, courtesy of Tuffjamma TV. 


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Greg Kurstin and Inara George, better known as The Bird and The Bee

Greg Kurstin and Inara George, better known as The Bird and The Bee.

Review: The Bird and The Bee are joined by Oates for Hall & Oates tribute show

Jazz/synth duo pay homage to another famous duo in Los Angeles

One surefire way to know the artist you’re paying homage to gives you his blessing? He shows up at your gig.
John Oates, the dark-haired half of Hall & Oates, paid The Bird and the Bee the ultimate compliment Friday night when he joined the alternative/synth pop duo’s packed show at the El Rey in Los Angeles.

Singer Inara George and keyboardist Greg Kurstin’s new set is a tribute to Hall & Oates, the most successful duo in pop history. “Interpreting the Masters Volume1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates” comes out March 23 on Blue Note Records and includes eight classic Hall & Oates tunes.

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Listen: Drake's new single, 'Over'

Hear him complain about how tough it is to be famous

Awwww, what happened Drake?  Did you miss your nap?

An extremely cranky Drake spews about how difficult fame is in “Over,” his new single: “I know way too many people here that I didn’t know last year/Who the fuck are y’all?,” he sings in the first stanza. The song opens with a string-led flourish, but goes nowhere fast lyrically, despite a very compelling beat.

Yeah, yeah, we get it, Drake. Fame’s a bitch. Women who wouldn’t give you a second look otherwise are falling all over you. We can see where you wouldn’t want that.  You’re traveling all over the world like a rock star. Total drag that… we get it.

Maybe with Lil Wayne, his protégé, headed off to jail,  there’s no one to keep a check on Drake, but this is not the message you put out before anyone really knows your name.  In some circles, the rapper is already huge because of the superior “Best I Ever Had,” but he’s hardly reached critical mass and may we remind him that he has yet to even release a full album yet? (“Over” is the first single from the modestly named “Thank Me Later.” )

Anyway, after bitching for awhile, he starts bragging about how “no one’s done it like I did it” and he’s made every skeptic a believer and he has the “shit that makes the bitches go insane.” Drake has considerable talent, but this is a bit much, even by typical rapper braggadocio standards. We'd like to see how Jada Pinkett feels about being called a bitch. And just a warning, in case it bothers you, he drops the N word.

Drake declares that he will be performing “until it’s over/but it’s far from over” and that he has no right to complain, but we have every right to complain about this song. Drake, if you’re really that tired of hanging out with folks you don’t know and all the trappings of fame, just keep putting out singles like this. Your little problem will take care of itself. And if you're just having a bad day, we're sorry, but keep it to yourself.


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<p>&quot;Almost Alice&quot;</p>

"Almost Alice"

Chart preview: Can Sade hold off Lady Antebellum for another week?

The top 10 is packed with newcomers: Do Danny Gokey and Jason Derulo top 'Alice'?'

After a fairly static Top 10 for the past two weeks, look for lots of new names next week when the new album chart bows on Wednesday. First off, five weeks after debuting at No. 1 only to have Sade push them down to No. 2 for the last three weeks, Lady Antebellum likely bounces back up to No. 1 on the Billboard 200, thanks in large part to a Target promotion.

Lady A’s “Need You Now” looks to be the only title to surpass 100,00 in sales. Hits Daily Double predicts sales of around 115,000, while Sade’s “Soldier of Love” slips to No. 2 with sales of 75,000 or so.

Country singer Blake Shelton’s six-song set (a new experiment from Warner Bros.) looks like a lock to come in at No. 3, and is the first of a possible six debuts in the Top 10. “Almost Alice,” the various artist compilation of songs inspired by Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” will debut at No. 4, with  “American Idol” runner-up Danny Gokey coming in at No. 5, Lifehouse’s latest at No. 6 and Jason Derulo at No. 7.

After top 10 mainstays Lady GaGa and Black Eyed Peas, country singer Easton Corbin comes in at No. 10. That’s three new country debuts in the top 10, plus a country act at the top of the chart, incase anyone’s looking for a genre that isn’t tanking these days…

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<p>Sean Kingston and Justin Bieber</p>

Sean Kingston and Justin Bieber

Listen: Justin Bieber, Sean Kingston take on the nursery rhyme, 'Eenie Meanie'

If you're a bad chick, watch out and count your toes

What’s next? “Humpty Dumpty?” Teen moppet Justin Bieber rolled out another single today. This one is a collaboration with Jamaica’s Sean Kingston called “Eenie Meenie,” and yes, it includes the lyrics to the children’s nursery rhyme, “Eenie Meenie Miney Mo.” We know Bieber’s fans are young, but we didn’t think they were that young! (Other than the 3-year old smitten with Bieber on Jimmy Kimmel this week.)

Seriously, the song is pretty much all Kingston’s with Bieber chirping in on the second verse and at the end. It’s catchy enough and will undoubtedly soar up the Top 40 since it sounds like everything else on the charts right now with its reliance on a predictable beat and repetitive lyrics, but it still makes us laugh when Kingston raps “eenie meenie miney mo/catch a bad chick by her toe/if she holla (if, if she holla) let her go.” And not in a good way.

The tune will be on both Bieber’s March 23 album, “My World 2.0,” which will likely sell 5 trillion upon week of release if every one of his fans’ parents buys it for their tot. It will also be on Kingston’s forthcoming album.

Meanwhile, Bieber’s collaboration with Ludicris, “Baby,” continues to climb up the singles chart.
We’re giving it until midnight tonight before someone has done a really excellent mash-up of “Eenie Meenie” and Phil Collins/Philip Bailey’s “Easy Lover.”  If we knew how, we’d do it ourselves. 


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<p>Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett</p>

Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett

Credit: AP Photo

Ten Minutes with Oscar nominees 'Crazy Heart's' T Bone Burnett and Ryan Bingham

The pair talks about the inspiration for 'The Weary Kind' and more

While no win is ever a lock before the name on the envelope is read, “The Weary Kind” is definitely the odds-on favorite to snare the Oscar for best original song at Sunday’s Academy Awards.

The theme to “Crazy Heart,” written by Ryan Bingham and producer T Bone Burnett, perfectly captures the to-the-bone exhaustion felt by Bad Blake, the washed-up country singer played to perfection by Jeff Bridges.
For Bingham, who’s released two excellent albums on Nashville’s Lost Highway label, writing the song came easily. Director/screenwriter Scott Cooper handed him the script and said, “’Let me know if it inspires you to write anything.’ We went out on the road for a couple of weeks, I got back and read the script and the song just came out,” Bingham recalls. “I was like, ‘Man, this guy is like Townes Van Zandt, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon and Willie. All these guys that I’ve looked up to for so long. It’s kind of easy to write this song, to describe this guy’s life and what all he’s gone through.”

While it seems like the inspiration for Blake’s character would be such real-life antecedents as Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and any number of rough-and-tumble country traditionalists, Burnett says it was actually Leonard Cohen.

As Burnett, Bingham and the other songwriters who crafted tunes for the film, including John Goodwin and Stephen Bruton, sat with Bridges and Cooper to create Blake’s back story-- such as whom he listened to as a child, what brought about his downfall, etc.—“the first person I brought up was Leonard Cohen,” Burnett says. “I thought Jeff has a deep chest voice so it was obvious he couldn’t sing in that normal Nashville [voice]…In my way of looking at that, I wanted him to have wanted to have been Leonard Cohen when he was young. To be a poet as Kris Kristofferson was a poet. We knew we had to make Bad Blake singular.”

Blake’s Texas roots were authenticated by Burnett, who grew up in Ft. Worth and by his close friend, Bruton, who passed away last year from cancer. It was vital to the pair that Blake felt like a true Texas troubadour. The kind the pair grew up seeing “Stephen and I go back to junior high; we’ve known each other our whole lives,” says Burnett, still referring to Bruton in the present tense. “He’s the one who played me the Stanley Bros. for the first time. His family had the record shop in town and all of us interested in music would gather there. It was a university of music there.”

It’s understandably bittersweet for Burnett as he runs the awards show gauntlet without Bruton by his side. “There’s a tremendous amount of pain associated with it because Stephen’s not there,” he says. “I’m really sorry to see that he’s not here to be with us for this ride.”

For Bingham, 28, even though “Crazy Heart” is a work of fiction, it still serves as a cautionary tale. “Watch your step. We could all end up like that really easy,” he says of Blake’s rundown world. “It opened my eyes up to you can go this way or that way. Choose the road you travel.”

That road may include Burnett producing a future Bingham album, but if not, the younger artist has already learned plenty from Burnett by osmosis. “Being honest with your music and your songs, that’s basically kind of it,” Bingham says. “Sticking to what you know and what you believe in. Music kind of chooses you in a way. I always say, ‘It’s kind of like music has me by the hair, dragging me down the road.’”

Bad Blake couldn’t have said it better himself.

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