Posts By Mark Graham

by (@unclegrambo)

Exclusive Interview: Ice-T Puts Planet Rock Target “Fake” Rick Ross On Blast, Nicknames Him “Identity Crisis”

“Don’t start that article with none of that Ice-T disses Rick Ross bullsh*t,” Ice-T tells me, mere moments after dissing Rick Ross.

The scene was the 11th floor of the Paley Center for Media, roughly an hour or so before last night’s world premiere screening of VH1’s latest Rock Doc, Planet Rock: The Story of Hip Hop and the Crack Generation. The green room was filled with some of the larger-than-life personalities that make this powerful movie what it is: Notorious crack kingpin turned socially conscious rapper Azie Faison (pictured above), cultural critic and highly regarded journalist Nelson George, and the O.G. himself, Ice-T (I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Ice-T’s bombshell wife, Coco, was typing away on her Blackberry while sitting on a couch on the other side of the room). Because Ice was very forthcoming with his thoughts, I’m going to honor his request and put his scathing words for the likes of Rick Ross, Lil Wayne and Kanye West on hold for a bit (but don’t worry, we’ll get to ‘em quick).

Planet Rock is the first documentary film to focus on the undeniable effect that the crack cocaine “epidemic” of the 1980s had on the world of hip-hop, and vice versa. After watching the doc and its strikingly honest interviews with former gangbangers turned music superstars like Snoop Dogg, B-Real of Cypress Hill, and RZA and Raekwon of the Wu-Tang Clan, you really get a vivid picture of not only how these worlds were intertwined from the outset, but also the incredible fallout that resulted when crack was introduced into these neighborhoods (which, some allege, was the direct result of C.I.A. intervention). Even Ice-T, who was out of the game when his single “6 In The Mornin” hit big in 1986, was running with some of the crack game’s biggest players.

Freeway Rick is my friend, he came to my wedding,” Ice-T tells me when I ask him if he ever crossed paths with Freeway Ricky Ross, who has a starring role in the documentary and was the crack game equivalent of Scarface‘s Tony Montana in mid-eighties era Los Angeles. “I knew all those cats, I grew up with them. People would ask me if Freeway Rick was a drug dealer, and I would tell them that I never saw him deal drugs. How can you say that’s what someone is if you never see it personally?”

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by (@unclegrambo)

Watch The Very First Of The New Pop Up Videos: Britney Spears, “Till The World Ends”

Get More: Britney Spears, Pop Up Video, Till The World Ends (Pop Up Video), Free Music Videos

VH1’s long dormant but universally loved program Pop Up Video is set to make its highly anticipated return to the small screen on October 3. Yes, that’s less than a month away, but we’ve seen the first batch of new Pop Ups and we couldn’t wait that long to share them with you!

Above, check out the very first of the new Pop Up Video treatments, which are brought to you by Starbucks, for “Till The World Ends” by the one and only Britney Spears. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to create your very own Pop Up Video, too, from a library of videos that includes everything from Jay-Z‘s rousing anthem “Empire State Of Mind” to the

by (@unclegrambo)

Read An Excerpt From Planet Rock Contributor Barry Michael Cooper’s Influential 1987 Article, “New Jack City Eats Its Young”

VH1’s latest Rock Doc, Planet Rock: The Story of Hip Hop and the Crack Generation, is set to premiere this Sunday, September 18, at 10 p.m. You’ve already seen the trailer, but as a means to whet your appetite, we’d like to share this excerpt from Barry Michael Cooper‘s essay “New Jack City Eats Its Young,” which originally appeared in the Village Voice in 1987 and served as the inspiration for the 1991 film, New Jack City. Cooper will be moderating a Planet Rock panel discussion at the Paley Center for Media in New York City tonight, which will feature appearances by Planet Rock narrator Ice-T, former cocaine kingpins Azie Faison and Freeway Rick Ross, journalist Nelson George, and Planet Rock producers Martin Torgoff and Richard Lowe. Cooper’s book, Hooked On The American Dream-Vol.1: New Jack City Eats Its Young, is now available at


By Barry Michael Cooper


“Yo-yo, where the money at?”

Lenny Higgins, 17 at the time, didn’t usually go to the store with his foster brother James, also 17, but on the night of March 1, 1987, James asked and Lenny obliged. It was 10:30. At Williamson’s Party Store, on Perry Park Boulevard on Detroit’s West Side, they bought sodas and played some games. They left about 10:45. As Lenny tells the story, he and James were approaching their corner of Heckler Street when a hooded figure ran across the street and stopped them in their tracks. Clad in a black jacket and black hooded sweatshirt, Mark Hunter, 24, pulled a .357 Magnum from his pants waist and stuck it in James’s temple.

“Yo-yo, where the money at?”

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by (@unclegrambo)

Posted: Demi Lovato Checks In From Her Unbroken Rehearsal Sessions

It’s been quite a month we’ve gotten to spend with our September Posted artist of the month, Demi Lovato, so far. She’s given us some great scoop on her new album, Unbroken, and took us behind the scenes at Perez Hilton’s birthday party. Currently, she’s in the midst of rehearsals for two big Unbroken preview shows in New York City and Los Angeles, but we’re thankful that she managed to find a few minutes to send us a quick update.

Before we let her share her experiences, we’re excited to announce that next Tuesday, 9/20, Demi will be popping by the VH1 offices here in Times Square. She’s agreed to let you, her fans, “Ask Her Anything,” so fire away! Leave your questions in the comments and she’ll answer as many as she can get to when she gets in next week. Now take it away, Demi!

I am getting sooooo excited for my upcoming shows in NY (9/17) and LA (9/23)!!! I have been rehearsing all week and I think everyone is going to love it! I have been having so much fun performing “Skyscraper” on shows like America’s Got Talent and the Do Something Awards, but I am really excited for all my fans to hear some of the other songs on my album. The dance numbers are so awesome!!!

There’s more from Demi, including two exclusive photos from the set of her Unbroken cover shoot, below!
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by (@unclegrambo)

Cyndi Lauper Becomes Latest Celebrity To Flub The National Anthem

Cyndi Lauper became the latest in a long line of singers to draw a temporary mental blank while singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before Saturday night’s U.S. Open women’s semifinal match. However, pop culture historians will most certainly not rank her momentary lapse of concentration alongside some of history’s most infamous anthem flubbers like Roseanne Barr, Carl Lewis or Christina Aguilera.

Lauper lost her way during the “O’er the ramparts we watched” section of Francis Scott Key‘s 1814 chart-topper, when instead of singing “were so gallantly streaming,” she belted out “as our flag was still streaming.” To her credit, though, she didn’t let the moment get to her, and she was able to finish the song without further incident. The blown lyric appeared to be a result of the gravity of the moment, as the native New Yorker was called on to deliver the national anthem just moments after a moment of silence for 9/11 victims had taken place. Lauper explained as much on Twitter in the moments following the incident, writing that “Whew, I just did the anthem for the US open. It was an awesome experience.I got choked up in the middle remembering 9/11.” Don’t sweat it, Cyndi, America will do doubt forgive you: after all, it’s pretty apparent that your true colors are red, white and blue.

Cyndi Lauper flubs a line of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ at U.S. Open [Music Mix/EW]

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by (@unclegrambo)

Check Out Some Unforgettable Images From The Concert For New York City

Starting at 4 p.m. ET this afternoon, VH1 will be airing six uninterrupted hours of footage from The Concert For New York City, which was originally held in New York City’s Madison Square Garden on October 20, 2001. We’ll be streaming the entire show this one-time only on, and you’ll also be able to tune-in on your television to watch, too. As a way to help you remember this epic event, we put together this gallery of images from that unforgettable evening. We’ve got snaps from the night’s biggest performances (Paul McCartney, The Who, Bon Jovi, etc.) and some awesome backstage photographs as well.

Don’t forget, the Robin Hood 9/11 Relief Foundation could still use your assistance, too. Oh, and one last thing: If you are looking for a schedule to find out when to tune-in to see your favorite artist, we’ve got it for you here: The Concert For New York City: 10 Years Later Air Schedule

View Photo Gallery

by (@unclegrambo)

The Horrible Crowes Bring A New Layer Of Emotional Resonance To Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream”

The Horrible Crowes are the new side project of Brian Fallon, the man best known as being the singer and songwriter of the Springsteen-revering New Jersey punk band The Gaslight Anthem. His new outfit played a sold-out show at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom last night, focusing mainly on the group’s new record, Elsie. However, The Horrible Crowes found the time to work an unexpected cover into their set: Katy Perry‘s “Teenage Dream.”

Indie acts have been cheekily covering Top 40 songs for as long as there have been Top 40 songs to mock—Traviscover of “Baby One More Time” remains a high-water mark in this genre—but instead of following that pattern, The Horrible Crowes decided to flip the script. Rather than mocking the song’s inherently anthemic qualities with, say, insincere fist-pumping during the chorus, Fallon instead infused the song with a sense of lovelorn regret, totally transforming its entire nature. In Perry’s version, the song is a come-on; in Fallon’s haunting take, it seems as if the narrator is reminiscing about his better days and a love that’s long since faded away. Suffice to say, if the Horrible Crowes ever decided to put this song on wax, it could do for “Teenage Dream” what the Cowboy Junkies once did for the Velvet Underground‘s “Sweet Jane.”

The Horrible Crowes – Teenage Dream (Katy Perry Cover) [JPCowz YouTube Page]

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by (@unclegrambo)

Shearer’s Spotlight: Spitballing Some Ideas For Other Potential Big 4 Festivals

Each Friday here on the VH1 Blog, our VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown host Jim Shearer (@jimshearer on Twitter) will be sharing his Shearer’s Spotlight with us. Be sure to tune into the Top 20 Countdown tomorrow morning when it airs on VH1 at 9 a.m. ET/PT.

Next Wednesday, Sept. 14, the Big 4 Festival will descend upon Yankee Stadium in New York City. The participants will include the “big four” bands (i.e., pillars, staples, torch bearers, etc.) of thrash metal music: Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax. Here are some other acts that could pull off a Big 4 Festival of their own:

1) Big 4 of Millennial Pop: Britney Spears, *NSYNC, Christina Aguilera, Backstreet Boys
This past summer, the Backstreet Boys created some buzz when they toured with their boy-band predecessors, New Kids On The Block, as NKOTBSB; but could you imagine the pandemonium they could create by teaming up with late ‘90s peer/rival, *NSYNC? The reunions alone would sell tickets on this tour: Justin and *NSYNC, Justin and Britney, Britney and Christina, and three old Mouseketeers back together again.

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by (@unclegrambo)

Find Out What Time Your Favorite Performers Will Be Appearing On The Concert For New York City: 10 Years Later will be streaming a special, one-time only re-broadcast of the Concert For New York City this Sunday afternoon, September 11th, starting at 4 p.m. ET; the entire broadcast will also be shown commercial-free on VH1 that afternoon, too. As a nation reflects back on the tenth anniversary of the most horrific attack to ever occur on American soil, we here at VH1 will be focused on remembering the way that the artistic community came together during the difficult days and weeks after 9/11 to not only to pay respect to those who lost their lives that day, but also to honor the heroes that emerged in the aftermath of the terrorist attack.

The Concert For New York City: 10 Years Later is being hosted by native New Yorker Ed Burns, and will feature memorable, once-in-a-lifetime performances from the likes of Paul McCartney, The Who, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Jay-Z, Destiny’s Child and many, many more. In order to make sure that you don’t miss the performances of your favorite artists, we’ve put together this handy schedule for you of who will be streaming/appearing on-air when. We hope you find it helpful!

And remember, even though it’s 10 years later, the Robin Hood Relief Fund could still use your assistance. Follow along for a schedule of when to tune-in to see the show’s most captivating moments…

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by (@unclegrambo)

Lady Gaga’s Endless Promotional Campaign For Born This Way Will Continue Into 2012 With New Year’s Eve Performance

Some have argued that the sales of Lady Gaga‘s Born This Way LP have been disappointing. Whether or not that’s actually true, you can’t lay any of the blame for the sales numbers on the Mother Monster’s promotional efforts. As we documented with our patented Gaga-Mometer™ a few months ago, she’s been pushing the merits of her album since way back on June 21, 2010, making stops at the Grammys, American Idol, the Howard Stern Show and the 2011 VMAs along the way. Soon, you’ll be able to add a Times Square concert for a million-plus revelers on New Year’s Eve to that list.

It was reported earlier today that Gaga has been booked to ring in 2012 with a performance on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest live from the heart of New York City. Meanwhile, Fergie will be stationed in Los Angeles and will host whatever the West Coast equivalent to a ball-drop is. No further details about Gaga’s performance have emerged, so at this point, we ask for you to keep your fingers crossed that Jo Calderone won’t be working on a set of new material that night.

Lady Gaga Will Spend New Year’s in Times Square [Vulture]

[Photo: Getty Images]