The New York Times Magazine: The Passion of Nicki Minaj

“The world’s biggest female rap superstar has meticulously crafted her own image — and maintained it with uncompromising control.”—The New York Times Magazine


Pop music is dominated almost exclusively by the female star — Beyoncé, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga and, as always, Madonna. Engaging in a frantic, complex game — crossing over many genres to keep up with the current caldron of hip-hop, electronic music and R&B; signing sponsorship deals to make up for the lack of album sales; performing live everywhere from sheikhs’ parties to worldwide arenas — these women arethe pop business now, and they’re not feeling particularly shy about telling us that. Their primary message has become one of being the woman you actually have to be behind the scenes to succeed today: powerful, outspoken and in control.

Nicki Minaj is the world’s biggest female hip-hop star, a top pop star and the first woman to achieve success in both genres. Like Beyoncé, who performed recently in Central Park with the words ‘‘boss’’ and ‘‘hustler’’ flashing on screens behind her, along with a grainy video in which she smashed a vacuum and a sewing machine, Minaj has become expert at modeling the ways that women can wield power in the industry. But she has also drawn attention to the ways in which power can be embodied by a woman standing up for herself and speaking her own mind. Minaj’s behavior isn’t exclusive to her tracks; she also exhibits it in the national telenovela that she, like the rest of these women, to a greater or lesser degree, is running about herself, feeding the public information about her paramours, ex-paramours, peccadilloes and beefs, all of it delivered in social media’s short, sharp bursts.

Perhaps you recall the three-act revenge drama that played out on various screens last month, as Minaj faced off against two major powers: Swift, the 25-year-old golden girl who may be the richest woman in music, and who spends time wholesomely baking cookies at her TriBeCa spread with a rotating cast of B.F.F.s; and Cyrus, the ex-Disney star who, more than five years ago, was extolling the virtues of purity rings but is now America’s pre-eminent ‘‘bad girl.’’ She first recreated herself as a pornified star who wore gold grilles on her teeth and introduced the mainstream to ‘‘twerking,’’ a dance originating in black circles in the South that involves shaking your buttocks, and more recently rebranded herself a ‘‘happy hippie’’ and ‘‘genderqueer,’’ neither male nor female.

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Currently Readying The Breakout Christmas Single ‘Christmas In The City,’ The Charismatic Chan Continues To Make The Holidays Part Of Her Own Musical Journey

With less than 80 days until Christmas, evocative singer/songwriter Elizabeth Chan is already becoming the musical star of choice to top off holiday song lovers’ annual seasonal playlist.  The New York City native has once again bridged Christmas’ exotic past with the social media age by kicking off an early announcement  of a new collection of holiday originals, penned by Chan and gift wrapped for the upcoming season a la her fourth holiday release, Red & Green (Merry Bright/RED/SONY) –on October 2.

Produced and written by Chan, the 12 song album is a collection of previously released holiday gems, and brand new offerings, including the title song, “Red & Green” augmented by anthemic chimes and Chan’s soaring voice.  The much anticipated single – “Christmas In The City,” – which holiday music aficionados taste-tested last Christmas to rave reviews and an overwhelming fan response – is already on the lists of 2015 holiday radio programmers. The popular artist fielded an overwhelming amount of requests to release it as her kickoff Christmas single for 2015. 

The video is becoming a favorite  capturing Chan’s almost mystical affection for the big apple-as-holiday setting, poignantly delivered via her impromptu snowglobe-like captures of New York’s transcendent holiday magic.  The song epitomizes the holiday season’s pull on Chan’s creative strings, and the incredible transformation she’s experienced the past few years, transitioning from her role as a respected Conde Nast executive (who openly walked away from her lucrative career in 2011) to pursue her dream of writing Christmas songs in pursuit of the all-time Christmas classic.

The release of Red & Green finds her poised to breakout across all platforms with this enchanting collection.  Already dubbed the ‘Queen of Christmas,’ she first cracked the Top Ten in 2013 on both the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart and USA Today’s Holiday Current Chart with the song “Fa La La.”  Welcomed by the media as an authentic Holiday newcomer with talent to spare – “’Fa La La,” with its ’80s New York pop vibe, is one of radio’s most-played new holiday tunes this year, right behind Kelly Clarkson’s Underneath the Tree,” raved USA Today – “She’s yet to write her own “White Christmas,” but there’s no denying the earnestness she brings to tales of holiday joy or reverie,” hailed the LA Times, Chan has sprinkled her upcoming, first full-length album with songs that not only inspire, but are destined to endure as perennial favorites for years to come.

The decision to follow her passion has become a unique calling for the tireless singer/songwriter, who in a few short years has garnered multiple award nominations and critical acclaim.

About Elizabeth Chan:

Elizabeth Chan’s story is a shining example of how pursuing one’s dreams coupled with a never-ending belief in the magic of the holidays can also inspire others.  Chan began writing songs on her own in 2011, (she would later benefit from the guidance of mega-producer Steve Lillywhite, who has worked with U2, Dave Matthews Band, Thirty Seconds To Mars, and others) with the New York City native amassing hundreds of holiday songs since she  began her incredible journey.

Chan’s passion for Holiday music and her considerable songwriting talent were featured in a Webby award nominated documentary series airing on Yahoo! Screen in 2012, produced by award winning filmmaker Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold).  The prolific Chan released her debut EP Naughty and Nice (which hit Top 5 of the iTunes Holiday Chart the first week of release) featuring the catchy single  “A Christmas Song”  . In 2013, “A Christmas Song” was nominated for Best Original Song by the Streamy Awards, now in its 5th year, honoring the best in online video and the creators behind it.  That same year, Elizabeth released the album Everyday Holidays that featured the single “Fa La La”, the song that gave Elizabeth her first bonafide Billboard charting hit. .

Chan followed up in 2014 with her EP Christmas in the City featuring the upcoming single; Her holiday popularity soaring, she also found herself in the enviable positon of having six Christmas songs playing on radio concurrently. Recognized for her passion and love for all things ‘Holiday,’ Elizabeth looks forward to the Christmas season of 2015 as an opportunity to spread her message of unconditional holiday love around the world through her music.

“I wait all year long for Christmas,” says Elizabeth, “and ‘Red & Green’ is definitely a glimpse into what life has been like for me these past few years. I can’t wait to share it with the world.”

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Tracey Miller,  / Tamara Lamb,   

DMC Proves He’s Still a Microphone Fiend

Concert Review

By Emanuel Wallace
Photo Credit: Emanuel Wallace

“Born to rock around the clock. You can’t say I’m not. And in case you forgot..I’m the Kiiiiiing of Rock.”

As if anyone could forget. Those opening lines from Run-DMC’s “Hit It Run” describe the career of Darryl “DMC” McDaniels in a nutshell. The word “seminal” isn’t strong enough to describe the influence that DMC, along with Rev Run and the late Jam Master Jay have had on the culture of hip-hop. They were the first group to land gold, platinum, and multi-platinum albums and also the first rap act to garner airplay on MTV. Their influence on fashion was undeniable — from the fedoras, to the fat gold chains and of course, the Adidas. The group was ultimately honored by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2009 as the second hip-hop act to be inducted, with the first being Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five.

Run-DMC officially disbanded as a group in the wake of Jam Master Jay’s murder in 2002, but they would occasionally reunite for performances. DMC would overcome alcoholism, depression andspasmodic dysphonia — a disorder that causes involuntary spasms of the larynx. These days, DMC also stands for Darryl Makes Comics, as McDaniels recently formed a company to embrace his childhood love for comic books. He’s a motivational speaker, and he’s still showcasing the devastating mic control he’s been known for over the course of these past 30 years.

Last night, Grog Shop was the place to be as DMC brought a live band with him in addition to DJ Charlie Chan. Opening acts Doxxbaby, Casse Barge and Ahptimus were well received too. You can see a slideshow of photos from the concert here.

Prior to DMC taking the stage, Chan asked the mixed crowd to have a moment of silence in memory of Jam Master Jay, to which they obliged. The band started playing and soon thereafter, the King emerged from behind the curtain and went straight into rocked-out renditions of “Sucka MCs,” “King of Rock,” “Peter Piper” and “Here We Go.” It wasn’t all classic material as the band also performed songs such as “Back From the Dead,” “Fired Up” and “Light It Up.”

“Mary, Mary” brought things back to the side of familiarity for most and then that segued into a cover of Ram Jam’s “Black Betty.” The set initially came to a close with electric performances of “It’s Tricky” and the cross-genre hit that started it all, “Walk This Way.” During the encore, DMC performed “My Adidas” and welcomed a gentleman to the stage who was sporting an Adidas tracksuit and McDaniels’ trademark frames.

Over the course of 30 years, DMC has rocked stages the world over. As he addressed the crowd, he expressed dissatisfaction in the perception that older emcees just can’t cut it anymore, saying “I’m like wine, I get better with time.” His performance proved just that. Whether it’s performing in Wembley Stadium for Live Aid or in front of the intimate crowd of Grog Shop, the King holds court — and he’ll certainly make sure you don’t forget that.

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