Sean Paul

Releasing his first album in over three years, Sean Paul is back on the road and as busy as ever. Having produced hit singles for Beyoncé and Rihanna in the past, Sean Paul has made a name for himself not only as a hit producer, but also as a solo reggae artist. While singles “Gimme the Light” and Billboard Hot 100 hit “Get Busy” accelerated his solo career, being heard on Beyoncé’s No. 1 single “Baby Boy” helped to elevate his staying power.

Last week Sean Paul filled us in on his newest single, “So Fine” as well as life dealing with the constant camera attention. Read below for more on his upcoming album and passion for music.

Tell us about your new single.
New single is called “So Fine.” I think it’s a perfect summer giant. It’s very bouncy. I usually cover stuff that you can hear in the clubs, in the cars. It’s raunchy but also sounds smooth. It has a cool attitude.

Other than that, the record I’ve been working on for three long years. I’m glad to be back on the road. The road is hectic right now. It’s called Imperial Blaze suggesting the king’s fire. I feel like I am a king of certain types of music right now. I’m doing it as hot as ever. Imperial Blaze comes out August 18th. I’m shooting a video for the first single next week.

You’ve collaborated with so many artists over the years. Is there one specific artist or song that stands out as a favorite or most memorable?
All of my work, to me, is just something I’ve put so much thought into. I want people to feel a good feeling off of it. I remember when I heard songs that I like, I try to put that feeling, whatever it is. It might be a madness that nobody else is understanding what I’m talking about. But, that’s what I try to do. All of them have been special to me. I can’t. Every experience; working with a different producer or a different artist is something that you learn from.

What triggers the passion inside of you?
There’s a lot of different things. My motivation towards music is always wanting to have my say out there. To be able to have my five minutes with all these press people and say, “Yo, what up?” And if there’s something really on my mind at the time, I can say it. That’s what motivates me. It’s good to be in the public eye and have my own opinions.

Do you ever get used to the camera flashes?
That’s crazy. It’s very blinding. They’re like, “Sean, here. Here.” I don’t know where I’m looking. I’m not used to it. When do I get used to it? I don’t know. Who is used to people screaming, “Hey! Hey!” in your face and taking pictures? I’m not used to it. It’s cool. I’m liking that they’re taking it, but I’m just not the type of person into that type of thing. I’m usually the person that likes to see everyone else before they see me. Sort of incognito.


Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em (or Soulja Boy) took the charts by storm in the fall of 2007 with hit single, “Crank That (Soulja Boy).” Not only did he invent a new dance that was everywhere in the clubs, but the song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. A pretty impressive feat for a kid just in high school.

His story is inspiring, having recorded and released his debut album independently, soon after his music taking off on the Internet and then signing a record deal a few months later. With current hits, “Kiss Me Thru the Phone” and “Turn My Swag On” heating up the charts, there’s nothing this 18-year-old can’t do. Read on for his advice to up-and-coming musicians and his definition of swag.

What to you is swag?
Swag is different for each person. For me, swag is the type of jewelry that I wear, the type of clothes I wear or how I have my hair shaped up in the morning. For another person, it’s your appearance. Your style is your swag.

I’ve heard about your notebook of goals. What’s your advice for other teens?
When I was in high school I had a composition notebook and I wrote my list of goals down that I wanted to accomplish in life. One of them was to have a platinum album, to be successful as a famous musician. My advice to anybody who wants to be successful, I just say; believe in hard work and determination because I am living proof that your dreams can come true.

What music beyond Hip-Hop are you listening to? Any rock artists?
I got Lady Gaga on the iPod right now. I’m got digging her latest album. If you want to count Lil Wayne as rock.

With all the money you spend on your bling, do you find it’s appropriate where there are people that can’t afford to eat every day?
I work hard for the money I got with all the hard work that I put in. Whatever I buy I feel as if I should be able to wear it. It’s like a trophy to me. I actually do an annual event every year in Mississippi to help raise money for the kids, but I had to miss that event to come here and perform.

You started as an independent artist and produced the album yourself. What’s your advice to upcoming artists?
I believe in hard work and determination. Any upcoming artist that wants to be successful at anything that they do, I would just say it is possible. Anything is possible. The sky is the limit.


Flo Rida

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

He’s been tearing up the charts with current single “Right Round” and who can forget 2008 hit, “Low?” Flo Rida chatted last week in Zootopia’s press room about his recent single, “Sugar” as well as starting his career touring with 2 Live Crew. Read on for more.

You sample a lot of material on your tracks. How do you decide what to feature in your songs?
I’m always trying different things. I’m a big fan of OutKast. They always try to broaden the horizon every time they drop an album and that’s what I do. It could have been me sampling some blues music or anything. It’s all about the soul and if the record gives me goose bumps after complete.

What songs are you looking forward to this summer?
Definitely my song with Nelly Furtado [“Jump”]. It’s the lead single for a new movie called, G4. We’re actually going to shoot the video in a couple of weeks and it’s definitely going to be huge. “Available” is a new single I have dropping as well with Akon.

Tell me about your current single “Sugar.”
I feel like the ladies around the room like sugar to be sweet. Sampling this Eiffel 65 record was definitely something I loved and I enjoyed. I love doing it at shows because the crowd definitely gets hyped and it’s a great response record.

When was the moment you realized that music was what you wanted to do as a career?
I actually got a chance to open up for Scarface at a nightclub and some guys from 2 Live Crew were there and they asked me to go to Hawaii. Knowing there were things I could do like that definitely motivated me.

Your song “Right Round” broke records for digital downloads. What do you feel about digital downloads vs. going to the store and buying the full album?
Some people are not fortunate enough to go out. There’s a recession right now, so if they can go online and order records than I think it’s a great thing.

What’s your guilty pleasure and why?
We’re gonna keep that on the [singing] low, low, low.

What’s it like performing in front of thousands of fans?
Wow. Just to feel the aura. I always think back to when I didn’t have a record deal. And now to put a smile on the world’s face, I can’t even explain it. It’s crazy.


All-American Rejects

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

The All-American Rejects tour more than most bands I know. It seems as if every few months they’re back in New York and I always wind up seeing them because their live show is like none other. Whether it’s frontman Tyson Ritter’s quirky and unexpected banter with the audience or his incredulous stage antics, you can’t help but get in a good laugh.

In real life, AAR are quite amusing as well. Just read their responses from Zootopia’s press room below and you’ll see what I mean. Currently in Europe, the guys will be on tour with Blink 182 this summer so be sure to check out their MySpace for the dates.

You’re touring with Blink 182 this summer. How did that come about?
I actually saw Tom (DeLonge of Blink 182) last week at a show and I told him, “It’s crazy we’re playing with you because I was throwing CDs at your feet at the very first concert I went to.” It was Bad Religion and Blink 182 and I was darting CDs at them and they just kept kicking them off stage. It’s amazing. It’s literally full circle. Between opening up for Bon Jovi last year and now we’re opening up for Blink 182 — I don’t think there’s anything we can’t do.

Tell me about your new single, “The Wind Blows.”
“The Wind Blows” is a different step for us. We’re definitely not just a pop rock band. Like I said, there are no boundaries for us.

What songs are you looking forward to this summer?
Songs of summer. I don’t know. The songs that you play with your top down in your car and just close your eyes while driving. I know that doesn’t sound too safe. There are some great summer songs. Don Henley, “Boys of Summer.” That’s as good as it gets.

There are a lot of album releases coming up. Which albums are you most looking forward to?
I guess we should say Eminem because he’s on our label. But, I like people that play a lot of instruments. I like to see a lot of instruments onstage.

Do you have any hidden talents or quirks?
Chris is a falconer. He falcons. Like, baby bird, there you go, lets eat it together. Crazy shit. True story.

You guys have had so much success. Do you feel that it happened quicker than most bands?
We were in a van for about five years playing bars and birthday parties. Quicker than some, I imagine. But we definitely paid our dues. It feels good to be here now.

Why is “Gives You Hell” such a huge hit?
I think everybody got hell the first of this year if they were losing their job. It’s so funny, when we put out When the World Comes Down, which is the name of our record, it was right before Obama was elected and everyone was like, “What a terrible title for a record, everything is going to be fine now.” Then all of a sudden a month into it the big bomb of the economy dropped and now everyone is saying, “Wow, what foresight you had.” I’m just glad we’re putting out music in this world right now.

What gives you hell?
I think its your teacher, its your boss, its the policeman that gave you a parking ticket. Mainly it’s the opposite sex. We know how to sing about heartbreak.

You were on “House” recently. Do you plan on doing more acting?
You’re gonna see us all over the place. I’m gonna do movies. Nick’s gonna do I don’t know, shit, he’s gonna do porn. Chris will do falconry professionally so you’ll see him on ESPN doing classes. There’s nothing this band can’t do.

Do you have any advice for bands who want to follow in your footsteps?
Don’t rely just on MySpace or the Inner Web to get your music out there. You still have to do it the old fashioned way and learn how to play your instrument. Get out there and play shows.



Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

With current single “Love Sex Magic” featuring Justin Timberlake climbing the charts and her recent appearance on “SNL,” Ciara is as popular as ever. It can’t hurt that tour dates have just been confirmed for summer shows with Jay-Z and Britney Spears. Read on for the details and Ciara’s secret to that fantastic body.

You have a pretty busy summer lined up.
I’ll be touring with Jay-Z a few dates in July; we’ll be doing five cities together. We’ll be doing two times at each city. I’m excited about it. I’ve always loved mixing the rap, R&B; and pop together. It’s always been a fun challenge for me but it’s also been very cool to be able to go on tour with a rapper like Jay-Z and then also be able to go on tour with Britney Spears which is what I’m doing in June. It’s fun to be able to do all those extremes.

In a battle scene who would win, Super C or Sasha Fierce?
You know what; I’m just going to say it would be a lot of fun. It would definitely be entertaining. I think Beyonce is really dope and talented. I definitely would get down and do my thing. I can’t really say but I would say it would be a lot of fun.

Sum up your song “Love Sex Magic.”
It’s all about having fun. Playing with the imagination a little bit and just kind of painting a picture for the mind of a guy in a show giving him a little fun, cool show: love, sex, magic.

Which songs are you most excited about this summer?
I’ll be honest, I can’t answer that question as good as I want to because I’m not really aware of every single song that’s out right now. I really am enjoying Lady Gaga and Flo Rida is doing pretty cool with some records. Also the Black Eyed Peas “Boom Boom Boom” is pretty fun. Those are a few things. Also, I have a record called “Work” with Missy Elliot which I’m excited about too and a song called “Like a Surgeon” so those will be a few of my songs as well.

What’s the one work out you can’t live without and why?
Honestly, I haven’t worked out in so long. But, I would say when I work out I love to do my squats and my lunges because it’s all about the toosh. I need to get that toosh sitting up pretty nicely. Lunges and squats are my favorite.


Jesse McCartney

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

With his current single, “How Do You Sleep?” climbing the charts and a tour with New Kids on the Block on the way, heartthrob Jesse McCartney’s life has been pretty busy as of late. It can’t hurt that the singer/actor/entertainer has been hailed “The Heir to Justin Timberlake’s Throne.”

McCartney, like Timberlake, first rose to fame as member of a boy band. Eventually branching out from Dream Street to a solo career, McCartney has proven his prowess as a songwriter. Remember hit Leona Lewis song “Bleeding Love?” Turns out McCartney along with frontman Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic co-wrote it. Are you convinced yet?

McCartney took some time out Saturday to chat about his growing popularity, new single and his idea of a romantic date. Let the swooning begin.

It’s been a year since you released Departure. What have you been up to?
I’ve been in the studio. I’ve been writing. I’ve been working with some other artists. I did a TV show on ABC called “Greek.” Other than that just cooking, hanging out at the house watching the Food Network.

Are you excited about touring with New Kids on the Block?
I’m looking forward to it. Natasha [Bedingfield] toured with them and she told me how great it was. It’s an opportunity for me to play my music for a little bit of an older crowd which will be nice.

What’s going to be your next single after “How Do You Sleep?”
It’s a new record I just finished. I’m very excited about it. It’s with T-Pain and is called “Body Language.” I did a re-release of the album about a month ago Departure: Recharged. It’s one of the records that I added onto the album. It’s like a “Leavin’ Part II” is how I sum it up and hopefully it’ll be another summer ’09 song.

The girls love you. How do you handle all the attention?
It’s interesting. It’s kind of overwhelming. You never get used to that I guess. The fans have been unbelievably supportive. It’s been an interesting ride, this whole music career. I started at kind of an awkward age and somehow made it out okay and I owe a lot to them [the fans]. They’re the heart of my career and the reason I can get up onstage every night.

Do you feel being in Dream Street has helped out with your solo career? What do you like better acting or singing?
Dream Street was definitely a big chapter in my book and I had certainly an unbelievable learning experience. I was very green to how it all worked and the whole recording process and touring process and it opened my eyes in a big way and it prepped me for what was to come. I don’t really have a preference. I like to consider myself an entertainer in whatever outlet it is, whether it is music or film or acting.

Where’s the most romantic spot for a date?
I have no idea. I think just good food. Maybe my house.

What was it like working with the cast of “Greek?”
It was great. I had a great time with all those guys. Scott Michael Foster became a really good friend of mine throughout the process of filming and even after. We shoot pool together now in Hollywood sometimes. That whole cast, the writers, they really do an amazing job and the actors know how to bring it off the paper to life.

What are your predictions of big songs for the summer?
I’m really excited for the Black Eyed Peas. I think that did it again and I’m very excited and anxious for the album. I heard the next single that they’re going to push and I think it’s going to be huge. I’m going to pat myself on the back a little bit. I’m hoping “Body Language” is going to be the next summer ’09 record. I’ve been working on making summer records and I really want to see it go.


Black Eyed Peas

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

They’ve sold millions of albums and have battled breakup rumors for years, but the Black Eyed Peas proved Saturday night that they’re not going anywhere. Their energetic Zootopia set at the IZOD Center in New Jersey had the crowd dancing and partying the night away. And, if their current radio hit, “Boom Boom Pow” is any indication of their upcoming June 9 release, The E.N.D. BEP’s will surely have the summer ’09 record.

While signing autographs for fans, Fergie was nice enough to chat with me about what’s going through her head while performing. Extremely down to earth, her answer may surprise you. Read on to learn what the rest of the gang had to say about the new album, working with Michael Jackson and what President Obama thinks of the Peas.

So tell us about your new album, The E.N.D. The Energy Never Dies. What does that mean? What is it all about? The E.N.D. The Energy Never Dies means a lot of things. But, most importantly it means the end of the rumors that the Black Eyed Peas are breaking up. It’s the end of an era. There used to be record stores like Virgin and Tower and Warehouse and Sam Goody and they’re no longer. The era is moving towards…we don’t know yet. But we’re going to continue to make music and tour and make people dance and make music that can change people’s lives and change our lives as well.

Everybody’s excited about Michael Jackson’s comeback tour. You and Fergie worked with Michael. What was that experience like working with him? The experience working with Michael Jackson was phenomenal. I flew out and worked with him in Ireland and produced songs on his Thriller 25 and a couple of songs on his new record. I don’t know what’s going to end up on the record, but it’s great. He’s a gift to the world.

You just did X Men. Have you ever thought of taking the acting route? That would be cool, but right now I’m focused on the Peas. X Men I filmed last year and I’m so thrilled to be a part of it. It’s a great movie. After the Peas run maybe I’ll think about it.

You set up a scholarship. Why?
I set up a scholarship, the i am scholarship, because someone at some point in time believed in me and my dreams. I made it out of the ghetto. I’m able to take care of my family and I want to provide that same opportunity for some kid that has dreams – especially in this economy. You don’t bail out on kids just because the finances are not there. You still have to let them know that their dreams can become a reality, so I wanted to do my part.

Fergie, looking back on all you’ve accomplished, what’s the highlight of your life so far?
The highlight of my life – going on tour with these guys. Seriously. Honestly, joining this band was such a blessing for me. Just them accepting me into their circle and becoming friends, it really gave me the confidence to be the artist that I had always wanted to be. I never would have been able to do a song like “My Humps” if it wasn’t for these guys and “Fergalicious” or anything like that, if they didn’t give me the confidence to tour and explore Hip-Hop music, one of the loves of my life.

Can you tell us about your next single?
Our second single is called “I Gotta Feeling.” It’s dedicated to all the party people out there in the world that want to go out and party. Mostly every song on the Black Eyed Peas record is painting a picture of our party life. It was a conscious decision to make this type of record. Times are really hard for a lot of people and you want to give them escape and you want to make them feel good about life, especially at these low points.

Taboo: This is the first time we actually had all four of us on a song simultaneously with the verses, which is something different for us. Usually we break up the verses and everybody has their parts. It was a good opportunity for us to show the world what would come of it.

What was the best thing Barack Obama has said to any of you? He told me that he likes my style and he likes the way that I dance.

Are you guys playing the “American Idol” finale? If so, what are you going to perform on it?
Oh. I don’t know if we can say that, ‘cause they told us not to. Guess I just blew it, right?

So what are you going to do?
[starts singing] Boom Boom Boom.

What do you think about when you’re onstage performing?
When to breathe ‘cause jumping around with these guys I realize I do have to sing so I can’t be too out of breath. I’m learning now to perform in heels. I used to not perform in heels. I only did three songs in heels; “Glamorous,” “Fergalicious” and “Big Girls.” “Big Girls” I really don’t have to move much. It’s a new thing for me, learning to dance in heels, so we’ll see how that goes. Also, connecting with the fans. It’s really not just performing out to the light, but really connecting with the people and looking at people.

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Concert Reviews

Zootopia Brings Diverse Lineup to New Jersey

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

Before I give my full report on Saturday’s Zootopia concert I have to preface this entry by explaining that I grew up listening to Z100. It was always my dream in middle and high school (I’ll admit in college too) to win tickets and attend a show. In fact, I can’t even count how many times I called the radio station in hopes to be caller 100!

Whether it was the Backstreet Boys in the 90s or the Jonas Brothers last year, Zootopia is one of the biggest concerts showcasing today’s hottest music and being behind the scenes always seemed so glamorous to me. Never in a million years would I have imagined I’d be attending and sitting in the press room interviewing the artists I grew up listening to. But, that’s exactly what I was doing Saturday night and loved every minute of it!

Upon arrival at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, NJ, Wendy and I were ushered into the press room shortly before 6 p.m. The back wall was lined with video cameras while the front of the room had a dozen or so photographers vying for the perfect location to capture the best shot of each artist. We made our way to the seats and shortly after none other than teen heartthrob Jesse McCartney entered the room. After his photo opp. he made his way to the mics for a quick Q&A.;

I realized right away how aggressive you have to be in a press conference set up and by the time the third artist came in, I made sure I got a question in. While one-on-one interviewing will always be my favorite, this set up was definitely a learning experience. I plan on typing up the Q&A;’s from each artist so you can have complete access to what was discussed. Each night this week I’ll post a new interview for you — how does that sound?

As much as I enjoyed the interviews, I had to catch some of the show. While I’ve seen the All-American Rejects numerous times in concert, their live show is always a treat. Whether it’s frontman Tyson Ritter making peculiar comments to the crowd or funny facial contortions, AAR’s energy and stage presence is undeniable. Playing a solid set of crowd favorites, “Dirty Little Secret” and “Move Along,” they switched gears up a bit by ending with latest single, slower ballad “The Wind Blows.” Riding the waves off chart topper “Gives You Hell,” “The Wind Blows” is sure to do the same. The guys talked about touring with Blink 182 this summer, so be sure to catch them soon!

Kelly Clarkson is another must-see live. Her arena friendly pop rock is solid and her vocals are always impressive. Not to mention, she had everyone around me singing along to “Since U Been Gone” (yes, even the guys). “I’m all about quality over quantity,” Clarkson told the crowd. “My personal philosophy is I do not hook up…unless it’s Hugh Jackman or Russell Crowe or someone really hot,” she joked before introducing current radio hit “I Do Not Hook Up.”

Jesse McCartney opened the night and most likely had all the girls swooning in the crowd. While I watched most of his set from the press room, his dancing and singing style was impressive. Having recently been hailed “The Heir to Justin Timberlake’s Throne,” while McCartney definitely has big shoes to fill, I’m rooting for him. As if that’s not enough, he’ll be touring this summer with New Kids On the Block and will surely win over the older women if he hasn’t done so already.

The rest of the night included appearance by Sean Paul, LMFAO and Taylor Momsen as well as the hosts for the evening — Z100’s radio station djs. Ciara’s performance made me wish I paid more attention in dance class, as her moves were like no one I’ve ever seen while Flo Rida and Soulja Boy wowed the crowd and surely increased the energy for Black Eyed Peas’ closing set.

If anything is certain from their performance Saturday night, the Peas will have the album of the summer. While “Boom Boom Pow” is heating up the charts, next single, “I Gotta Feeling” undeniably will to do the same. The band proved the breakup rumors to be false and their show demonstrated that they’re in it for the long haul. Playing past chart toppers, “Where Is the Love,” “My Humps” and “Let’s Get Retarted” the Peas had concertgoers at the IZOD Center on their feet, dancing and partying along until the last beat of “Boom Boom Pow” was played.
Stay tuned this week for interviews with each of the performers!


Zootopia 2009 – What Do You Want Covered?

I’ll be covering radio station Z100’s infamous Zootopia concert tomorrow night at the IZOD Center. For those of you that don’t know the line-up, Kelly Clarkson, Jesse McCartney, All-American Rejects, Ciara, Soulja Boy, Flo Rida and Black Eyed Peas will be performing along with some unannounced special guests.

I’ll have access to the press room where I can ask each artist questions as well as tickets to cover the show. My question for you is, what do you want to know? What are you dying to ask one of the artists?

I’m going to have to juggle the press room and the performances from the looks of it, so what would you rather read about — an exclusive interview or concert review? Let me know! Question submissions always welcome. For more information on the show and for last minute tickets, click here. I’ll be reporting live via Twitter so if you don’t yet, make sure you follow me for up-to-the-minute coverage!