Category Archives: hip hop and rap

Zendaya: “Something New”

By Abby Nelson
For the last year, Zendaya has been a popular topic. She has become quite the singing sensation, with songs featuring Bobby Brackins and Ty Dolla $ign.
Zendaya recently released her latest single, ‘Something New’ featuring Chris Brown. The song is a new spin on the popular 1990s song, ‘Creep’ by TLC. The original instrumental is used throughout the song but Zendaya and Chris Brown put more of a modern spin on the song.
The song talks about wanting new love in your life. The lyrics show Zendaya’s maturity and how she has really grown up since her Disney Channel days. She has outgrown the younger crowd and is now loved by all.  Who would have thought that someone as popular and significant as Khloe Kardashian and Kobe Bryant would be obsessed with Zendaya. 
‘Creep’ by TLC is a classic hit and will always be a popular song but for this new generation, ‘Something New’ is the perfect spin. Zendaya is a great role model and has a funky style.  Adding Chris Brown to the song made this collaboration work so well. 
Listen to the original, ‘Creep’ by TLC and compare to Zendaya’s new hit. Which do you prefer? The classic or the new? 
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Drake’s Music Through The Years


By Abby Nelson

There is no doubt that Drake is one of the top artist’s in the rap industry. Drake tops chart after chart, selling millions of units each time new music is released.

Drake got his start in the entertainment business as Jimmy Brooks on Canada’s ‘Degrassi: The Next Generation’. By the time he was laid off of the show, Drake had already been investing his time into writing lyrics and producing songs with good friend, Noah ’40’.  He befriended a man by the name of Jas Prince who had heard his music. Prince was a personal friend of the infamous, Lil Wayne and sent some of Drake’s music to Wayne.   A few days later Drake got a call from Wayne, flew to New York City to meet with him and the rest is history.

He is one artist that has stuck true to himself throughout the years and has not changed to fit in with the typical rap genre styled music. In present day rap, common topics of interest are sex, drugs, guns, gangs and money.  But Drake is the son of a Jewish mom and African American father who was raised in Toronto, Canada in an upper middle class neighborhood. He was never exposed to gangs and drugs. He can only write about what he knows personally. I have great respect for him because of that. He is staying true to who he is. He writes about love, love lost, family, and has true emotion in his lyrics. He may get flack for that but it’s what he knows best.

“Sometimes I’m working and sometimes I’m just waiting. I write about my life, I don’t write about stories. A lot of classic rap is storytelling, but it’s storytelling about someone else. Fictional stories sometimes. I can’t do that. I have to write about my life. So, sometimes in order to complete a verse the way I want to or to finish a second verse on a song when I’ve already done the first one, I have to allow myself to either live a portion of life I haven’t lived yet or something has to set in.”Drake, Interview with Q 

Even after years of success, Drake still releases mixtapes. In February of 2015, Drake released ‘If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late’ as a “mixtape” on Spotify. He pulled a Beyonce move, by dropped the tape without any promoting or notice. The mixtape went viral within hours. This collection of songs shows just how far Drake as an artist has come and how much he has grown as a rapper.


The songs refer to his relationships with friends, family, and girls. The Drake you hear today is the exact same artist you heard on the ‘Heartbreak Drake’ mixtapes but he has perfected his craft. On this mixtape it shows. He is a more skilled writer. He has the ability of writing songs that people can relate to and understand what Drake is going through. He just tells his story with a sick beat behind it. He is a faster, more articulate rapper and listening to songs such as ‘HYFR’ he goes on a fast rant and shows similar abilities to Eminem. Eminem is known for his fast raps. When he raps, you can hear him articulate each and every word, regardless of the speed he is rapping. Drake over the years has picked up that skill. He is also a talented singer, so he has the ability to change the mood in his songs, shifting back and forth from singing to rapping.

He is a hard working, talented, versatile artist.

Fun Fact: Drake has had the same team of producers and engineers working with him since he was in high school making songs in his basement on cheap equipment. He stayed loyal to his friends who were putting in all the hours of hard work when he was unknown and now, those friends are recognized as some of the best producers and engineers in the industry. Noah ’40’ is recognized for hit after hit that he has created with the Toronto rapper.

If you listen to his collection of music from ‘Room For Improvement’ up until today’s latest release, ‘If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late’ you are hearing the same young Toronto artist that first hit the music scene in 2006.

“Kick Push” ft. Lupe Fiasco (2006) VS “Know Yourself” (2015)

Get the full story about your favorite hip-hop artist every Wednesday  on “Nels@Nite” only on WCRX, Chicago’s Underground from 7 to 9pm. 

Behind The Music: J. Cole


With a song or even just a verse, there is a message or story behind what the artist is singing or rapping about. J. Cole is one of the biggest names in the rap industry but his story to the top is like no other.

J. Cole began writing and rapping at a young age. By the age of 17, Cole had notebooks filled with lyrics, verses, rhymes and was posting self recorded videos on various social media sites under the name, Therapist. Shortly after, he released his first mixtape, “The Come Up.”  There was positive feedback but not exactly the feedback he wanted. He wanted to catch the ear of the right person– and that would be Jay Z.


He even stood outside of Jay Z’s studio and performed his songs hoping to catch a liking from his idol.  As time marched on, there was no word from Jay Z but that did not stop J. Cole from doing what he loves, music. In 2009, Cole released his second mixtape, “The Warm Up” which caught the attention of Jay Z.

J. Cole was in a car when he received the call from Jay Z saying he would be signing him to Roc Nation Records the next day. Moments later, Cole hears a police siren and subsequently he’s arrested. In the song, “Rise and Shine” off of his debut album, he talks about this arrest. He never told his mom he got arrested because they were struggling financially and she had enough to worry about. He knew come the next day, everything would change for them. In the ‘Interlude’ off the album, J. Cole tells the story of why he was arrested and the thoughts going through his head. He says, “That was the easiest night in jail someone could ever do.”

J. Cole conveys messages and tells a story through his lyrics.  He wrote a verse about the unrest in Ferguson  and social unrest in America and performed it on the David Letterman Show.

J. Cole performs “Be Free” on The David Letterman Show

Click the link to see the full performance.

Get the full story about your favorite hip-hop artist every Wednesday  on “Nels@Night” only on WCRX, Chicago’s Underground from 7 to 9pm.