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  1. The King’s back. T.I. releases the first video since his return from prison with “I’m Flexin’” featuring Big K.R.I.T. Directed by Motion Family.
  2. The mystery surrounding the gender of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s baby seems to be solved. According to Kelly Rowland, the famous couple is having a girl. Beyoncé’s BFF inadvertently revealed the gender of the baby when speaking to Us Weekly at the Cosmopolitan Women of the Year Awards in London on Thursday (Nov. 3). When asked what she’ll be giving the Carters at the baby shower, the “Motivation” singer said, “I don’t know,” referring to the unborn child as “her.” “I think her dad [Jay-Z] is gonna give her everything anyways, all I can give her is love.” Despite being born into a privileged family, Kelly insisted the child will remain grounded. “I think she’ll be very well behaved,” she added. “Her parents will make sure of that.” The Destiny’s Child diva echoed the sentiments in an interview with BANG Showbiz. “I have no idea what I’m going to buy Beyoncé at the baby shower because Jay is going to buy that little girl every single thing possible,” she said. “She won’t be spoilt, but she will be very well looked-after.” Beyoncé announced her pregnancy at the MTV Video Music Awards in August. Her and Jay-Z’s first child is due early next year.
  3. Pusha T heralds the “Changing of the Guards” on the bombastic opening track from his solo debut Fear of God II: Let Us Pray. The G.O.O.D. Music member cooks up some heavy bars (“Wish I could jailbreak my team like an iPhone”) over the anthemic Rico Beats production, while Diddy peppers the track with his signature ad-libs. Preview snippets from Pusha’s entire album before it drops on Tuesday.
  4. Wiz Khalifa scored crossover success this year with his Atlantic Records debut Rolling Papers. Now he’s back in the lab working on his second album, offering fans a hint at what’s to come. “I’m Really Excited About My Second Album. U Guys Are Gonna Really Enjoy This Music,” tweeted the Pittsburgh rapper, who’s currently touring in Europe. “These Are My Hardest Raps Ever.” Rolling Papers, which spawned the chart-topping single “Black and Yellow,” entered at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 with 197,000 copies, but drew criticism from some for being too commercial. Wiz intends to silence the naysayers with his next album, due in 2012. In recent weeks, he has released freestyles over Wale’s “Bait” and Meek Mill’s “House Party” beats. Early next year, he will star alongside Snoop Dogg in the stoner comedy Mac and Devin Go to High School.
  5. The Roots paints a violent picture with the first of four videos for the Big K.R.I.T.-assisted “Make My,” the lead single off the band’s conceptual album undun (Dec. 6). The black-and-white clip, which takes place in 1999, shows the demise of the story’s main character, Redford Stephens. “undun is the story of this kid who becomes criminal, but he wasn’t born criminal,” explained Roots drummer ?uestlove. “He’s not the nouveau exotic primitive bug-eyed gunrunner like Tupac’s character Bishop in Juice… he’s actually thoughtful and is neither victim nor hero. Just some kid who begins to order his world in a way that makes the most sense to him at a given moment… At the end of the day… isn’t that what we all do?”
  6. Nicki Minaj is about to have a major fashion moment. The rap diva has been tapped to perform at the launch event for Versace for H&M. According to Women’s Wear Daily, the “Super Bass” rapper will bring her colorful stage show to the launch event for the collection in New York on Tuesday, November 8. Fashion insiders will also be treated to a post-show performance by the one and only Prince. “I am so pleased to share with so many the excitement of this collaboration with H&M,” said Donatella Versace. “To have my friend, the great, the amazing, the one and only Prince, and the extraordinary Nicki Minaj both perform at the event, will create exactly the feeling of joy and glamour I want this partnership to express.” Will we see the Harajuku Barbie duet with the Purple One? Now that would be a “Moment 4 Life.”
  7. British singer-rapper Cher Lloyd wants to stay forever young on “Grow Up,” a dancehall-flavored cut off her debut Sticks & Stones, due in the U.K. on November 7. The former “X Factor” contestant reaches out to Busta Rhymes, who adds a tongue-twisting verse to the spirited track. Drink from their fountain of youth. [Xclusives Zone]
  8. Lil Wayne jumps on board Romeo Santos’ new album Formula Vol. 1 (Nov. 8). “She wanna ride that Wayne train, so I’ma bag her like baggage claim,” raps Weezy on the hauntingly seductive “All Aboard.” The Latin superstar also gets a hand from Usher, who appears on the Rico Love-penned single “Promise.” [Xclusives Zone]
  9. It’s fitting that Detroit singer/songwriter/producer Bei Maejor is playing the piano as Rap-Up.com enters the room. Judging by his prolific discography, the 24-year-old, born Brandon Green, is rarely away from an instrument or machine, having already etched out a prodigious career dating back to 2003. In addition to his own mixtapes, which include volumes 1 and 2 of his popular Upside Down series, the Grammy-nominated artist has worked with everyone from Trey Songz and Keri Hilson to Soulja Boy and Wiz Khalifa. Maejor boosted his profile with the release of his J. Cole-assisted single “Trouble” earlier this year. Now, the versatile hitmaker is focusing on his RCA Records debut, scheduled for release next year. Rap-Up.com spoke with the rising star about his early days, the definition of “upscale music,” his most surprising collaboration, and how his music has literally saved lives. 1. Growing up, what was the first aspect of music you got into? Definitely producing. I started when I was about 16, just having fun on [audio editing program] Cool Edit Pro. It was low budget; I had my microphone taped to my ceiling with toilet paper wrapped around it because I thought that would make a cleaner sound. I didn’t think much. I just started making songs in my neighborhood and I sucked, man. I ain’t gonna lie. But I just kept practicing and then sold beats locally for like $100 or whatever. When I first started, Timbaland was, and still is, my favorite producer. I’m from Detroit, so J Dilla was big too. 2. At what point did you realize you could make a career from music? The summer after I made my website, a lot of people started hitting me up online and there was a lot of interest from different managers. I got a meeting with Roc-A-Fella back in the day. I met Dame. He came in and was like, “Yo, whose beats are these?” They were mine, but back then, I was so scared of people stealing my beats, I was like, “Bei Maejor, Bei Maejor,” every five seconds. He was like, “Yo, man, why do you keep saying that? I can’t hear the beat. Stop doing that.” But that was when I knew it could pop off. 3. How did you link up with J. Cole for “Trouble”? I was a fan of him already, so when I [originally] did this song, I played it for industry people to hear what they thought. Somehow, Cole got a hold of it, but it was in rough form. And he just loved it. I gave him a beat for his album, but he ended up not using it. I did another track with him, though, but I’m not sure what he’s going to use it for. 4. What’s the status of your own album? I’m taking my time with it. I really want to make it a special piece of work, zone in, and take my time and not put that pressure on me right now. Maybe I’ll have the pressure the second or third album, but now I want to make it so that I take the time to shape it how I want. But I definitely got some people who I’m working with for sure. Trey Songz, Drake, T-Pain. I’d love to get them all on there, but we’ll see what happens. 5. How is making a mixtape different from recording your official debut? From a buzz-building perspective, I think I did it the wrong way because I treated my mixtapes—especially my first two—like albums and the things that tend to get big fast are more eclectic; things that couldn’t really be popular songs become big on mixtapes. Because of the style of music I make, I think I made it too polished and too commercial for people. 6. Stylistically, how would you define your album? I definitely created my own style called “upscale” or “upscale urban,” with “Trouble” being the first song utilizing this. If you look at urban music as General Motors, “upscale” is like the Cadillac. You got some leather in there, you got some rims. It’s not the Lamborghini like Usher or Rolls-Royce, which is distinguished and for an older crowd. Mine is still ghetto and can fit in the ‘hood, but is still a little sleek and clean. 7. You’ve worked with dozens of people. Name a collaboration your fans may be surprised to hear you did. When I was in Nashville a couple of months ago, I went to Rascal Flatts’ house. I was cool with them from Ne-Yo. I thought we were going to go to the studio and they were like, “Aww man, we’re just going to write songs right here, man. We got the guitar.” We wrote a song right there in the house. 8. You produced on the soundtracks for Bratz: The Movie and The Princess and the Frog. How did that come about and how was the experience? My whole life, ever since I was a little kid, I learned a lot of songs from Disney movies. Lion King? Those are crazy songs—”Hakuna Matata,” “Circle of Life.” [Sings] “Nants ingonyama…” I did ["Never Knew I Needed"] with Ne-Yo and I would come to the studio every day and he was working on huge stuff like Beyoncé. I’d be like, “Yo man, let’s work on Princess.” He was looking at me like I was crazy, like, “Why do you want to work on that so bad?” Because that was just personal for me and meant a lot to me. You know that’s the music I grew up on, so hopefully some new kid listens to that and be like, “Damn.” To see your name in the credits of a Disney movie like, “Damn, you’re in there. You’re in the game.” There are some things that may not be as big to the world or as big as a hit single, but they mean a lot to you. 9. A year from now, what do you hope to accomplish? I hope to just make a positive impact on people and for my songs to connect with them somehow and to build something bigger than just the music. I wrote a song called “Teardrops & Telephone Calls” [on 2010’s Upside Down 2] about this kid who’s going to commit suicide and ends up hitting me up and we got cool and he didn’t do it. At the time, it didn’t really happen. It was just my imagination. I have this number by the way, (313) 242-7775, where people hit me up and sometimes I pick up, text, whatever. One night earlier this year, I was checking my voicemail and there was this kid who was like, “Yo man, this is such and such. I was going to kill myself tonight and then I heard that song.” I was like, “Whoa,” and I called him back because I wanted to see who this guy was and I found out his whole story. He’s cool now, but that type of impact is more important than anything. This kid almost killed himself, so I feel like that was a blessing for him to have heard that. But that’s the type of impact I hope to be having on a bigger scale in the next year. 10. What would you be doing now if you weren’t involved in music? I’d be some type of businessman. I’m definitely not good at doing a job or cooperating with people. I’m gritty and I know what I want to do, so I think I would make my own company and figure it out. And I might be broke or I might be ballin’. One of the two; I’m not gonna be in the middle. I’m either going to not make it or I’m going to be huge and I’m cool with that. Take a risk and go all in. –Jason Newman
  10. Imagine the surprise on passengers’ faces when they turned around and saw Rihanna riding on the subway with them. That’s exactly what happened when the “We Found Love” singer decided to take the tube to one of her “LOUD” concerts at London’s O2 Arena last month. “I’m going to the show with the audience and they have no idea,” said an excited RiRi. “By the way, I’ve always wanted to do this.” Watch the reactions as surprised passengers notice that a superstar is in their presence.
  11. Fresh off the release of their debut single “Crash Your Party,” YouTube sensation Karmin shared which hip-hop artists have inspired them. “As far as rappers go, first is going to be Lauryn Hill,” Amy told MTV Buzzworthy. “Hearing her Miseducation album basically changed my life and got me into rapping. And then more recently I would have to say Missy Elliott, Eve, and Nicki Minaj.” The hip-pop duo, whose debut album is due next year on Epic Records, also expressed their desire to work with another one of their inspirations. “I think the one I’m looking forward to the most would probably be Kanye West,” revealed Amy. “I think he kinda inspired us to even start doing this hip-hop thing more aggressively, his [My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy] album really inspired us.” Nick chimed in with his list of favorite rappers. “Of course the Jay-Zs, the Drakes, the Lil Waynes,” he added, while eyeing a collaboration with Busta Rhymes and Nicki Minaj. Karmin has racked up millions of views on YouTube with their covers of Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj, and Eminem, but don’t expect to see them take on a Whitney Houston song anytime soon. “Have you ever seen a really good Whitney Houston cover?” asked Amy. “I don’t know if I have.”
  12. Alicia Keys was the belle of the ball at the 8th Annual Keep a Child Alive Black Ball at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City on Thursday evening (Nov. 3). The Grammy-winning songstress, who co-founded the non-profit organization, shimmered in a gold top, cream-colored blazer, and gold pointy-toe heels as she posed with her husband Swizz Beatz, who looked sharp in an all-black tux. The annual event benefits children and families affected by HIV/AIDS in India and Africa. Queen Latifah, Tyra Banks, Gayle King, Kerry Washington, Chanel Iman, Carmelo Anthony, and La La Vazquez were among the stars who dressed up to honor the spiritual, musical, and philanthropic legacy of George Harrison. Guests were treated to performances by Usher, will.i.am, Norah Jones, and Keys, who dueted with Jay Sean.
  13. T-Pain puts the pedal to the metal in the viral video for “Chicken,” a song that will not appear on his upcoming album rEVOLVEr (Dec. 6). T-Pedalz and his crew of guys, the Joker Mobile, face off against a team of badass girls, the Florida Orange. Pain gets in the driver’s seat and races his car down an empty road in the dangerous game. Will he swerve at the risk of being called a chicken or crash into his opponent? The suspense could kill you.
  14. Kelly Rowland was pretty in pink at the Cosmopolitan Ultimate Women of the Year Awards 2011 in London today. The “X Factor” judge, who had to cancel her appearance on the British talent show due to a throat infection, brightened up the red carpet in an elegant floor-length gown. While she hasn’t fully recovered, Kelly is ready to return to work. “There is only so much chicken and rice soup you can eat,” she told The Daily Mirror. “I still don’t have a full appetite and I’m still on meds so my stomach is just going crazy. My body is not hungry right now—it’s the weirdest thing.”
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