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Pharrell Williams, Common, Big Mo Biz, Ted Mason. Mi5 Recordings (Universal Music Group)

THIS IS HIP HOP, BABY! Pharrell Williams, Common, Big Mo Biz, Ted Mason. Mi5 Recordings (Universal Music Group)

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The best and the brightest from Urban and Hip Hop this album is a celebration of an American art form. Produced by Big Mo Biz and executive producer Ted Mason, released on the Mi5 Recordings Universal Music Group label. The artists included in this release are Common, Pharrell Williams, Ne-Yo, Mary J Blige, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Kinfolk, Trey Songz, the late Guru Gangstarr, Skript Keeper and Big Mo Biz.

Born in 1972 in Chicago, Illinois, Lonnie Lynn Jr. would become the underground rapper Common, making his album debut with Can I Borrow a Dollar? An artist known for often thoughtful, verbose lyricism and exploring varied sounds, his later albums included Like Water for Chocolate, Electric Circus, and Be, among others. A Grammy winner, Common has also turned to acting, as seen with roles in projects like Just Wright, The Odd Life of Timothy Green and Selma. For the latter film, he and vocalist/musician John Legend have won a Golden Globe and an Oscar for the song “Glory.”

Pharrell Williams:
Pharrell Williams is best known for his Grammy-winning work as a pop/R&B musician and producer, as well as for the huge No. 1 hit “Happy.” Born in 1973 in Virginia, Pharrell Williams started performing as a teen. He joined forces with his friend Chad Hugo and they became known as in-demand production team the Neptunes, working with such artists as Jay-Z, Gwen Stefani and Britney Spears. Returning to performing, Williams helped form the group N.E.R.D., which released albums like In Search Of… and Seeing Sounds. In 2013, he hit the pop charts in a major way, going to No. 1 with his solo effort “Happy” as well as helping to craft hits with Robin Thicke and Daft Punk. He joined the popular television competition The Voice in September 2014 as a coach.

Mary J Blige:
“Queen of Hip-Hop Soul” Mary J. Blige has influenced a generation of artists with hits like “Real Love” and “Be Without You.” She has also had a successful acting career, including playing Betty Shabazz in the TV movie Betty & Coretta.
Mary J. Blige was born on January 11, 1971, in the Bronx, New York. When a recording of the 17-year-old Blige singing karaoke booth came to the attention of Uptown Records, the company put her under contract immediately. She sang backup until the 1992 release of her first solo album, What’s the 411?, a record that re-defined modern soul. Blige has had several No. 1 Billboard hits and has won nine Grammy Awards.

Ne-Yo was one of the most successful songwriters and artists of the 2000s. His breakthrough didn’t come until late 2004, as the co-songwriter of Mario’s “Let Me Love You,” a number one Hot 100 hit that Billboard later determined to be the eighth most successful single of the decade. By the close of 2009, however, Ne-Yo had racked up a career’s worth of accomplishments. He released three albums, all of which went platinum in the United States. Seven of his singles, as well as five on which he appeared as a featured artist, peaked within the Top Ten of the country’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable” and Rihanna’s “Take a Bow,” two of the many songs he wrote for other artists, were smash hits as well. His music added a high level of sophistication to pop-R&B while appealing to younger audiences. The following decade, he wasn’t as busy as a recording artist and devoted time to artist development. Born Shaffer Smith in Camden, Arkansas and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, Ne-Yo broke into the music industry as a songwriter finally becoming a singer performer in his own right.

Snoop Dogg:
Snoop Dogg is a West Coast rapper who evolved under the tutelage of Dr. Dre, and has received fame for albums such as Doggystyle, Tha Doggfather and Reincarnation. Born Calvin Broadus on October 20, 1971, in Long Beach, California, Snoop Dogg got his nickname from his mother because she thought he looked like the character in the Peanuts cartoon. His first album, Doggystyle (1993), climbed its way to the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s hip-hop and Top 200 charts, and his music and trouble with the law have kept him in the headlines ever since. In early 2012, Snoop announced that he was working for the first time on an all-reggae album, Reincarnation. Later in 2012, he announced that, in conjunction with his reggae project, he was dropping “Dogg” from his name and becoming “Snoop Lion.”

Trey Songz:
Trey Songz is a Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter known for hits like “Can’t Help but Wait.”
Singer-songwriter Trey Songz was born in Virginia on November 28, 1984. In 2003, Songz signed a record deal and received a $100,000 advance. Two years later, he released his first album, I Gotta Make It. The album was a moderate success, selling 395,000 copies and peaking at No. 20 on the Billboard charts. Since then, he has released Trey Day and Ready, which have both garnered wide acclaim. In addition to making music, Songz founded the Songz for Peace Foundation to help curb youth violence.

Nakia Shine Coleman (born October 17, 1980), better known by his stage name Kia Shine, is an American Hip hop recording artist and producer from Memphis, Tennessee. He is perhaps best known for his commercial debut single “Krispy”, which is also the lead single from his debut album Due Season. He has worked with several other fellow rappers, such as Mike Jones, Yo Gotti, Nelly, Jim Jones and more. Kia Shine is a co-CEO with rapper Jack Frost of Rap Hustlaz. Kia Shine won the Southern Entertainment Award (S.E.A.) this year for best underground artist having sold over 200,000 albums with his independent label, Rap Hustlaz.

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