Category Archives: musicology

Celebrating the biggest mixtape of the year!
Download it for free HERE today

[I swear I was in no way trying to photo bomb Diddy]

For more coverage of the RockAByeBaby mixtape, click here.

artist spotlite: mr.muthafuckin.eXquire

Artist Spotlite: Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire

Crown Heights rapper Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire makes it clear in his SXSW diary doc he doesn’t like being edited down for decency. He doesn’t like being abbreviated as “Mr. MFN eXquire,” explaining how it sounds like people are calling him “muffin.” Don’t get it twisted.

The emcee burst onto the underground hip-hop scene after releasing his seminal mixtape, Lost in Translation, in 2011 to massive acclaim, and has been a voice for the “New New York” scene ever since. He made his mark crafting crudely intelligent rhymes about getting wasted (hear his breakout single, “Huzzah!,” for example), eating fast food (“Chicken Spot Rock”), getting blowjobs, and watching stoner movies, atop assaulting backpack beats by El-P and Necro. The liquored-up mixtape’s buzz garnered him enough mainstream appeal to get him signed to Universal; he released his first major-label EP, Power and Passion, last year.  And then—suddenly—he took a break.

Read the Q+A and hear his new release at Interview here.

fashion focus: blonds.x.beyonce

Had a chance to catch up with New York’s own The Blonds
for a chat x 
Fashionista. Peep it here…

The Blonds are known for combining couture-level embellishment with Bob Mackie kitsch. The duo’s Swarovski-covered corsets have become signatures for many a pop star (Rihanna, Katy Perry, to name a few).

Designers Phillipe and David Blond’s latest creation was a commission for superstar Beyoncé’s latest world tour, The Mrs. Carter Show, and although the set list provides no new material (sad face), she’s retired her vintage Thierry Mugler for a provocative new number by the pair that’s making news the world over. Yeah, we’re talking about that crazy sparkly boob corset. We chat with the designers about the shocking look, their inspiration behind it, and working for Queen Bey.

MH: Who was the first star to wear one of your design?
Beyoncé was actually the first star to wear one of our pieces. It’s interesting because we were so inspired by what her mother, Miss Tina Knowles, was doing with 
Destiny’s Child before we ever started The Blonds. The looks were so fresh because they were one part Motown girl group, with a bit of the Golden Age of Hollywood, and a little downtown twist, fused together… it made a huge impact on us. We would always watch out for the girls on MTV knowing that they would be wearing something glamorous, individual and always amazing! We certainly share her love for the sparkle and music combo! It’s one of the main reasons we do what we do.

Tell me how you came up with Beyoncé’s design. Was this one of many? 
Although this theme is a reoccurring theme within all of our collections, it was a collaboration. We proposed several different options and this was the one that won.

What is the piece made of and how long did it take to create? 
To start, Phillipe hand painted the suit on Beyonce to achieve the correct shading. The piece was then hand embroidered with approximately 30,000 Swarovski crystals that took over 600 hours to apply. It was a close collaboration with Beyonce, Tina Knowles and her stylist, Ty Hunter, to finish what would become one of the most glamorous and provocative looks she’s ever worn.

artist spotlite: cassie

I catch up with my main squeeze, Cassie, and hit her with the hard shots for Interview. I discuss her impact on current R&B and where that second album went… and lots, lots, lots more. Read the full piece >> HERE <<. Be sure to download her first official release in 7 years: Rock A Bye Baby, on datpiff now. Below find some pics from the listening party.

The world takes time to warm up to you—longer in some cases than others. It’s taken Bad Boy songstress and former model Cassie nearly seven years to find her place in today’s soundscape. The singer, who released her biggest hit to date, “Me & U,” in 2006, has become something of a cult star for R&B’s new sound—but without actually being a part of it. The single, with its minimal electro beat helmed by former collaborator Ryan Leslie, changed the path of the genre in many ways. The underground hipster sound—heard today by The Weeknd, Jhene Aiko, Miguel, and even Drake—has been heavily influenced by the ’06 track in its pared-down aesthetics and production, which altered the tapestry of R&B monumentally. In the beginning of her music career, the singer faced harsh criticism for her whisper-like vocals; but she’s since garnered acclaim for her signature tone, much like Aaliyah and Janet Jackson before her.

So where has Cassie been since her debut? She’s released a few singles that never made the desired impact, made cameos in friends’ music videos, sang a couple hooks—and suddenly—she found herself explaining, “I’m not going to all of a sudden turn into Mariah Carey… I know I have to go with my tone and my vibe now for the new records… It takes people a little longer to get in to you when you have a distinct sound.”

Her first full-length release since the album comes as a mixtape released this week, titled Rock A Bye Baby. Unlike her debut, the project boasts features from hip-hop’s heaviest hitters, including Wiz Khalifa, Rick Ross, and French Montana, reflecting an evolved, significantly grittier sound. It stays true to her now-lauded transient affect: only amplifying her aggression lyrically while sticking to her atmospheric vocal style. It’s a treat for fans that have been waiting for a comeback for years. Through pushbacks and offsets, highs and lows, Cassie’s ready for her return to relevance and recaptures the vibe that put her on the map in the first place.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>Read the full article on
Interview HERE.<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<


Rally the troops!
Are you ready for
Cassie‘s return?
the mixtape drops 4.11.13

artist spotlite: njena.reddd.foxxx

Artist Spotlite: Njena Reddd Foxxx

In hip-hop, to boast is to breathe—and some fare better than others. The genre’s become so synonymous with braggadocio, it’s practically a no-holds-barred palace of self-inflated “triple beam dreams,” most times so extreme, listeners can never be too sure what, or rather, who to believe. For New York (by way of D.C.) newcomer, Njena Reddd Foxxx, one doesn’t have to listen to deem her top-notch at anything (although it helps)—just look to her credentials. The emcee beat out more than 93% of the competition to be accepted into America’s most revered design institution, The Cooper Union, only a few years before taking a chance with rap. “It had to be luck… but it also had to be talent,” she claims. “I worked my ass off. I’ve always been one to give my all no matter what I’m doing at the time. And now, I’m honing my skills as a rapper.”

Her debut came as a feature on last year’s voguing-tinged, web-cum-fashion runway hit,
“Ima Read” with Zebra Katz (released under Diplo’s Mad Decent label). Surprisingly, it was her first time rapping. Now, she’s upping the ante and taking the art form as seriously as she did her college admissions. “‘Ima Read’ was really just the beginning of the beginning for me. I didn’t take it seriously at all when we were doing it. But when it finally came out, I saw people’s reaction and knew I had to do this for real, for real. I mean, it’s kind of like, how couldn’t I?”

Song of the Day, Pt. I: “Dominos” – Njena Reddd Foxxx 

I speak with Interview”s ‘one to watch in 2013′ and “Jill of all trades,” about her menacing sound, artistic upbringing, future plans, and why those three D’s and three X’s are more than just a misspelling.

[Click to read my full story on Interview here.]

photos by van sarki
styling, article, & bts pics (below) by marcus holmlund

  Song of the Day, Pt.II: “Silly Bitch” – Njena Reddd Foxxx

What do K-Pop, gummy bears and tambourines have in common? Well, they were all essential components to last night’s madness at Jeremy Scott’s Fall/Winter 2013 after-party. Noted for throwing a hell of a bash each season, Scott’s usual suspects of downtown club kids and freak show contestants donning his duds, descended upon Le Bain’s sweatier-than-thou dancefloor to toast his latest collection. Past seasons’ parties have boasted surprise performances from the likes of A$AP Rocky (Spring/Summer 2013), cameos from designer peers like Alexander Wang, and of course, memorably insane outfits.

“Inspired” by Rob Roskopp’s skater graphics, which sort of look like angry Spongebob Squarepants’ on acid crossed with Garbage Pail Kids; this season’s collection truly came to life off the runway and at the party. One guest traipsed around with a tambourine in hand, while another searched the floor for missing gummy bears, which had come un-safety-pinned from his shirt whilst dancing to The Misshapes’ set. Scott, posted beside K-Pop star, CL, of 2NE1, greeted friends, Natalia Kills, Kat Graham, Leigh Lezark, among others, while appeasing his fans and followers with the occasional Instagram pic. The party climaxed when 2NE1’s hit, “I Love You”, blasted through the fog and CL took to her feet to show off her moves. DJ’s Frankie Sharp, dressed in a totem-print Scott x Adidas Originals tracksuit, and Mazurbate in his signature cornrows, pleased partygoers with powerhouse sets of indie and pop remixes until the wee hours. Notably absent were Big Sean and Waka Flocka Flame, two of Scott’s hip-hop devotees, who sat front row at his F/W ’13 show… perhaps it was past their bed times.

Congrats to Janet on marrying Wissam… months ago.
I promise I’m not mad I wasn’t invited.

Third time’s a charm.
Find more J on the blog


WORLD PREMIERE: “TKO” – Wynter Gordon
(Feat. The Oxymorrons)

The blog’s been M-I-A for a minute, but, that don’t mean I ain’t still on my grind. Peep MY MUSIC VIDEO DEBUT… yes! You read it right… I’ve officially been crowned a ‘video hoe’ by my girl, Wynter Gordon, with a cameo spot in her accompanying ADHD visual for fire-track, “TKO” (off of her upcoming Sanguine EP) beside model Shaun Ross. Check the full clip below to watch me grace your screen as I cross one off my bucket list. Check. Behind-the-Scenes images to come… click images to enlarge.

MH Clothing Credits:
Celine aviator sunglasses, The Row tee & leather leggings, Nine West booties,
Vintage marines silk bomber jacket, Tom Binns gold necklace,
Miscellaneous estate jewelry (rings, watch, bracelets).

Finally got to see
Brandy live in concert
She’s been one of my faves since I was a youngin’!
Her voice is a national treasure.
Watch her celebrate her idol, Whitney Houston,
with a tribute medley throwdown (below).

track anatomy: janet.justice

We did it!
4 more years!

“Poetic Justice” – Kendrick Lamar (Feat. Drake)

“Anytime, Anyplace” –
Janet Jackson

fashion focus:

Watch MTV’s “House of Style” documentary on Smoke & Mirrors now!

A searing documentary on the year 1977 in New York City.
A very different place than it is today…
The birthplace of hip-hop, no wave/punk, and disco.
Featuring commentary by Zulu pioneer, Afrika Bambaataa, and more.

I’ve featured Ryan Leslie on S&M in the past, but, seeing him live blows anything he’s done previously to smithereens. You probably know him as the producer behind Cassie’s first album’s Electro&B sound and his noteworthy collaborations with Kanye West, Red Cafe and Fabolous. He’s one of the most underrated talents there is today. He plays every instrument you hear, writes and performs every lyric. His latest LP, LES Is More, is available now. If you haven’t peeped his in-studio ‘making of’ videos – you’re missing out – R.LES is REAL MUSIC. Watch some below.

In what may be the most unique thing about his latest project, Leslie commissioned The Royal School of Needlework under the royal patronage of her majesty the Queen, to embroider his logo for the album cover.
How dope is that?

Had a chance to catch HOVA live at the newly-opened Barclays Center in BK. The show was part of his special multi-night concert series in honor of the arena’s ribbon cutting. I wasn’t floored by him live, but, you can have the final say – peep the full finale show below.

Oh… how far hip-hop has come :)

track anatomy: desert.nicks

“Can You Hear Me” – Fabolous

“How Still My Love” – Stevie Nicks

artist spotlite: wynter gordon

Studio Session with Ms. Wynter Gordon:
Sanguine Preview

In between quoting Honey Boo Boo Child (Go-go juice, anyone?), speaking in a British accent and watching YouTube virals (namely “Sweet Brown”), Wynter Gordon makes some pretty killer music. We got a first-hand glimpse into her process at a studio session in SoHo, where she debuted tracks from her second “Human Condition” EP, entitled Sanguine, debuting in full soon. She also premiered her soon-to-be-released Major Lazer collaboration, “Keep Cool,” featuring Shaggy. (Yes, “It Wasn’t Me”-Shaggy.)

Having penned tracks for Ciara (most recently her single, “Livin’ It Up,” with producer D’Mile), Jennifer Lopez, and collaborating with dancefloor mongers David Guetta, Diplo and Flo Rida, Gordon doesn’t always favor everything she makes, for herself at least. “I’m always writing. Sometimes two or three songs a day. I don’t always like everything necessarily for me, so, they’ll find their way to others. It’s as simple as that,” she explains. Her biggest solo hit, “Dirty Talk,” enticed fans with its uptempo Euro sound, but as she puts it, she’s much less one-note. “Record labels try and put you in a box. Especially as a young black woman, you either do dance or you do hooks. That’s why this four-part EP is so important to me. It showcases all that I love, all the melodies I grew up listening to in the ’90s. Stuff that doesn’t always fall into any certain category too easily.” She toyed fearlessly with adult contemporary on “Human Condition’s” first part, Doleo (translating to “pain” in Latin), referencing everything from Phil Collins’ drums to Wilson Phillips’ harmonies. Sanguine (meaning optimism), produced by DJ Camper, continues in this tradition, this time incorporating wider wavelengths of rock, hip-hop and ceremonious soul.

“Reach Out,” the first track on Sanguine, is “so many different stories to so many different people. It’s about moving forward, getting better,” describes Gordon. “It has this big sound. Like screaming from a mountain top.” Camper’s orb-like backdrop coasts over a street knock, enlivening the track’s inspiring context.

“Tomorrow,” to which Gordon’s already shot a video for, is “in a way like a short story about myself.” Featuring a verse by an emcee named Salomon Faye a.k.a. “The Illusion”, whom she met perusing Chelsea Market one day; the song brings together a hip-hop knock with dub-reggae buzz, most commonly associated with Ace of Base.

Opening with a harpsichord synth, “Levitate,” is in Gordon’s words, a track that’s “poppy without being too poppy.” We might fly away, she sings, over a climbing bass. “It’s one of my favorites.”

“Swimming” is her ‘show you how to do it’ Sunday afternoon sex jam a la Aaliyah’s “Rock The Boat.” The songstress plays with ambiguous sexual metaphors (her treasure in the sand, for one) similar to those of Janet Jackson and R. Kelly before her.

“TKO,” which stands for ‘technical knock out,’ is exactly that: a bomb of brain-smashing dub sounds so raucous; it’s impossible not to move. “This one’s for the fans,” she prompts. “It’s got that ‘bang’ and so does the video. We shot it in Chinatown. It’s totally bonkers.”


Be sure to catch my boy Ojay a.k.a. Zebra Katz
overseas on tour this fall with
Azealia Banks.
Rick Owens approved. 

fashion focus: fashioning.cici

Song of the Day: “Sorry” – Ciara

My boy, Cesar Ramirez, has killed it once again! This time for client, Ciara’s latest video for new single, “Sorry” off her upcoming One Woman Army LP. He explains of the transformation, “We spent months working on this evolution… we really focused on creating this super naturally beautiful yet minimal look…the cut is inspired by her free flowing spirit. It’s a great medium length with lots of layers creating much movement. It has a rock and roll feeling, and yet still embraces the sexiness of her R&B/hip-hop music.”

To get the look, Ramirez used the Shu Uemura Tasai Versatile styling cream to create texture in her hair. He then used a flat iron to sculpt bends into the hair to perfectly frame her face. He finished the look with Shu Uemura’s Cotton Uzo to define the texture, add shine and give it some hold. Peep the video below.

artist spotlite: dominic lord

WORLD PREMIERE: “Fashion Show” – Dominic Lord

With production by Hudson Mohawke and Chad Hugo (of The Neptunes), newbie Dominic Lord’s debut EP Fashion Show makes weird rap into rose gold. Having garnered underground interest rhyming alongside Pusha T (hear the “Pierce” remix), Lord has the backing to become an indie fave in record time. He sparked my interest with his fashion/rap Tumblr posts a la Smoke & Mirrors, which include shout-outs to McQueen and Carine (see below). Blast the full EP here before he blows.


Song of the Day: “Everywhere” – PRIVATE (Feat. Genasis)

They’re my favorite band. And this is my new favorite song…

It’s been five long years since Copenhagen-based band Private put out anything new stateside. Even with praise sung by tastemakers like Diplo and a remix of theirs appearing in a Prada ad, they’re still mostly unknown to the American ear. Their first album, released in 2007, spawned two #1 hits in Denmark; both the title track, “My Secret Lover,” and the ’90s-tinged “Crucify My Heart” listen better than most American pop hits released the same year. It could be due to the group’s ringleader and producer, Thomas Troelsen, knowing so much about what pop lovers crave (he’s most notably produced Junior Senior’s “Move Your Body”), and titrating his formula to get that perfectly retrofitted synth-pop sound over and over again.

He’s gone back to the laboratory for his latest single, “Everywhere,” released via Universal Denmark last week. In between managing his design blog, “WEAREPRIVATE,” Troelsen’s crafted a dance-floor hit that could, if given the airplay, fix US radio for good. On the first LP, Troelsen coagulated Prince’s silken-sheet sound of the 1980s and combined it with Michael Jackson’s disco days; this time around, he’s onto another thing entirely. Just as he abandoned “My Secret Lover’s” tight-legged Edwardian look, he’s chosen an equally bright colored suit and video director (Bijoux Altamirano) to match the new track’s sunny sound. Wielding an androgynous Italo-disco melody and cinching it to the illict hypeman shouts of G-Unit’s recently signed emcee, Genasis, “Everywhere” is something of a sarcastic sonic grin — an in-the-know middle finger to today’s Euro pop. (“Guetta who?”)

“Everywhere” gives you everything: happy-go-lucky ABBA harmonies done in falsetto, driving synths, some Spanish guitar, a New Jack Swing kick and a tribal drum dance break. In just under four minutes, Private takes us everywhere Savage Garden couldn’t. Now boarding…

photos courtesy of peachesisagoodgirl, buttdickandpussy, & papermag

track anatomy: how.we.wait.awhile

“How We Roll ’98″ – Big Pun

“Let’s Wait Awhile” – Janet Jackson 


WORLD PREMIERE: “Ache” – Twigs

find more Hair.Wise posts here


track anatomy: rich.switch

“Throw Some D’s” – Rich Boy (Feat. Polow Da Don)

“I Call Your Name” – Switch


Happy 54th birthday, Madonna!
Be sure to check out my in-depth analysis of
Madge‘s Breton shirt on

artist spotlite: blood diamonds

Read my interview with rising star and Grimes’ DJ,
Blood Diamonds,
and listen to his new track, “Ritual”, exclusively on
Interview here


Welcome back, Gwen!
Lookin’ good in
The Row for this September’s Bazaar 


L-L-L-Lemme see ya GRILLZ

images courtesy of vfiles