The Top 10 Most Compelling Hip-Hop Photographs Of 2013 (Food For Thought)
The old adage, “a picture’s worth a thousand words” often proves to be true. Let’s hope so for 2013, which by way of Instagram, Twipic, and some inner-circle released photos, told Heads plenty of stories. From unlikely reunions to time-pieces, to first steps for Hip-Hop kind, what a year…
Here Are Ambrosia For Heads’ Top 10 Photographs Of 2013
Jay Z & Beyonce Cause Controversy On A Cuba Visit
Jay Z and wife Beyonce celebrated their anniversary in style—Cuban style to be exact. The new parents visited Havana, and took to the streets in some flamboyant vacation threads. The super-couple’s vacation made many fans dream of an exotic getaway, but things got political when two members of Congress started asking questions as far as how exactly the couple got permission to visit the tourist-embargoed destination. The raucous stirred the political pot, as even President Obama was questioned on his own knowledge of the matter. In the end, the yarn ran out of thread (not before a Jay verse), and no wrongdoing was cited, though several politicians cited the incident as disrespectful. To think: when the April incident took place, nobody could have known that both Jay and Bey’ would be releasing albums this year.
Since Snoop Dogg left Death Row Records in the first quarter of 1998, things have been pretty ugly between the label’s longtime CEO Marion “Suge” Knight and its very first homegrown superstar. After two platinum albums and another platinum soundtrack, Snoop expressed his discomfort being at the label in the late ’90s, while Suge was incarcerated. Subsequently, feuds hit the streets of Los Angeles, involving Snoop’s affiliates Daz Dillinger, Bad Azz, Lil C-Style, and others. New artists at the label dissed Snoop and impersonated his style on sound-a-like songs to the rapper’s own. Meanwhile, Snoop expressed his opinions on the former boss, and provided jobs and opportunity to many of Death Row’s starving castaways. Fifteen years later, after these two men had never been photographed publicly together since 1997 (Suge did attend Snoop’s peace summit in 2005). Now as Snoop Lion, the pacifist, and Suge Knight, the less-aggressive O.G., the pair was snapped together (Snoop almost in a photo-bomb position), hopefully calling a hard-line ending to one of Rap’s most dangerous, and longest-lasting feuds from two men who made millions with each other.
Jay Z & Dame Dash Party Together
How many Roc-A-Fella Records videos, behind the scenes photos, and documentaries had Jay Z and Damon Dash basically attached at the hip? From 1994 to 2004, the Harlem entrepreneur and his partner and uber-superstar Brooklyn client were inseparable at parties, studio sessions, yacht vacations, and more. But around the time of The Black Album, when Dame famously spazzed on a Def Jam Records marketing meeting, the two stopped speaking, and parted ways in business. Unlike Suge and Snoop, there was never really “beef” here, but the hurt feelings were evident, as Jay seemingly talked about it on “Lost One.” Both men now in their forties, it was powerful to see the team of moguls smiling and laughing at a party together (J. Cole, Wale, and Beyonce would also be snapped with Dame and Jay), for a mutual friend. What’s more, they hung again in L.A. just weeks ago. The mind can wonder if these two Roc stars will ever do a venture together again.
Jay Z, Justin Timberlake, and Timbaland made two major hits together this year, in January’s “Suit & Tie,” followed by July’s “Holy Grail.” The tandem, and their mutual super-producer work well together. With the Kodak Lens Instagram, it was revealed that Jungle City Studios had a lot more guests than we’ve heard so far. Raekwon was present for songs to be heard, while Nas joined the power-trio. While we heard “BBC” on the Magna Carta Holy Grail album, there’s another that’s coming highly-billed. Called “Sinatra At The Sands,” this song leads anticipated Hip-Hop tracks for 2014. Supposedly on Nas’ upcoming 12th solo studio album, will this be the best of Jay and Nas after a handful of collaborations since 2006’s “Black Republicans”? Also, what do you think got everybody laughing in this jovial snap?
Nas & Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Create Fellowship At Harvard
Despite not releasing an album, Nas had a busy 2013. When the Queensbridge MC wasn’t sipping spirits with Jay, Tim, and JT, he was working to create a fellowship at one of the most-respected academic institutions on the globe. “A donor who wanted to remain anonymous specifically gave funding to Harvard University so that there would be a fellowship that taught students about Hip-Hop culture and other academic related programs pertaining to the genre,” Hip-Hop Wired reported as a photo posted of Nas and Dr. Gates. From “Live At The BBQ” to Distant Relatives to halls of Harvard, Nas has had one of Hip-Hop’s most impressive journeys, as an artist who still seemingly appeases his core fans of over 20 years. Think that anonymous donor is somebody Heads have heard of?
Top Dawg Entertainment Tears Down The BET Hip-Hop Awards Cypher
After Kendrick Lamar set the Summer ablaze with his “Control” verse, challenging all of his peers—mentioned and not, what would he do next? K.Dot, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, ScHoolboy Q, as well as Dee Jay Dave, and Top Dawg Entertainment newcomers SZA and Isaiah Rashad took the stage. With tweets and reports coming out early, audiences glued themselves to the TV sets in October to see this highly-anticipated verse. With audiences hanging on every word, Kendrick looked into the lens, and let his words remind the world that he was not only serious the first time, but that he was disappointed with the replies thus far. In a move that would make KRS-One and Jay Z proud, Kendrick sent everybody to their composition books, booths, and best bars, in hopes of raising the stakes on Hip-Hop in 2-0-1-3.
Rapsody Gets The Coveted DJ Premier Co-Sign
2013 was a major year for Rapsody, as we said earlier in the week. While her Idea Of Beautiful solo debut was to 2012’s benefit, Rap’s She Got Game retail mixtape shook the year. Part of what made the Jamla Records-backed project so special, was that it was seemingly more high-profile than her album. Jay Electronica, Chance The Rapper, Mac Miller, and Big K.R.I.T. all participated, but so did DJ Premier. Preem has yet to work with a Jamla artist besides its founder’s 9thMatic project, and Rapsody is deserving as all. The Instagram photo taken at HeadCourterz Studios came as a warning shot to “Kingship,” a track the pair made together. From Jay Z, Nas, Mobb Deep, Devin The Dude, Royce Da 5’9, a lot of enduring greats see the Works Of Mart early in their career—as Premier won’t work with just anybody with a budget. This says a lot about Rapsody, and DJ Premier’s opinion on who’s—not next—but right now.
Eminem & Rick Rubin Share The Vision
While no photos left the studio to date of Kanye West and Rick Rubin during the Yeezus sessions, fans were surprised when during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, it was announced that the Def Jam Records co-founder was in the lab with Eminem, on Marshall Mathers LP 2. The news and the album revelation were in tandem. Shortly after, Em appeared in the “Berzerk” video with the producer known for making Hip-Hop hits with LL Cool J, Run-DMC, T-La Rock, Geto Boys, and early Public Enemy. Seeing Rubin and Em dressing similar, giving the lens the hard B-boy stare prompted thoughts on Hip-Hop returning to ’80s form, the evolution of race in Hip-Hop, and just the overall feeling of being excited about an album again. Heavy on guitar stabs, Pop break-beats, and more, #MMLP2 was a new step for Eminem, albeit a sequel in theory.
Eminem & Kendrick Lamar Appear Together
Before Kendrick Lamar made a cameo in the same “Berzerk” video that Rick Rubin appeared in, he was unexpectedly photographed with Eminem. Believed to have been at Em’s Detroit, Michigan studio, the two Aftermath Entertainment artists were snapped together. The resulting track, as we learned in November, was “Love Game.” Both lyricists with different stories and perspectives than their respective contemporaries, do you think this photo is something that history will come back to?
“I don’t do no press, but I get the most press” Kanye West rapped not so long ago. In 2013, well after Yeezus dropped and the musical impresario had his first child, Kanye started doing a series of interviews with various radio personalities. Few, if any, of those interviewers have the experience, reputation, or uncompromising integrity of Sway Calloway, who hosts Sway In The Morning on Shade 45. From his years as a Wake Up Show co-host, in addition to driving MTV News, Sway’s out to get the facts. The Bay Area native asked West about why he relies on corporate backing for some of his ventures, when he might not need them. Kanye snapped, and barked “You ain’t got the answers!” to Sway. Cooler heads eventually prevailed from the two, but ‘Ye lived up to part of his persona, as Sway demonstrated his commitment to asking real questions in a season of media soft-ball throwers.
Heads, what was your favorite Hip-Hop image/photograph of 2013?