Prodigy can speak more than one language?

Software Morphs Rapper Prodigy Into Global Cipher
By Jenna Wortham

When Prodigy’s next album drops, it could debut in nearly 1,500 different languages without the rapper having to so much as crack a translation dictionary.

The lyrics to “H.N.I.C. Part 2” will be translated using proprietary speech-conversion software developed by Voxonic. The company says the software can deliver Prodigy’s lyrics in his own voice, in any spoken language.

“The prospect of having fans understand what I’m saying and repeat it in their language (drew me to) the company,” said Prodigy in a phone interview just before he began a jail term for illegal gun possession. “Now, fans will like more than just the beat or the rhythm. They’ll understand what I’m saying and relate to it.”

So far, one of Prodigy’s singles has been converted into Spanish, with negotiations ongoing to translate songs into German, French and Italian. The entire album, scheduled to drop March 9, could be released in any spoken language, from Urdu or Japanese to any of the 11 official languages recognized in South Africa. The music is being released by Voxonic’s Vox Music Group in partnership with AAO Music/Reality.

As voice-recognition technology improves, translation tools are being utilized from the internet to war zones — sometimes with unexpected results. Voxonic has high hopes for its application, both in the entertainment industry and beyond.

Voxonic president and avid rap music fan Arie Deutsch picked Prodigy for the project largely because of the rapper’s global appeal. One-half of the platinum-selling duo Mobb Deep, Prodigy boasts a loyal international fan base thanks to the group’s performances overseas since 1995.

“Hip-hop is a big genre internationally, but you have people around the world saying the words and not understanding them,” said Deutsch. “This will change that.”

Here’s how the Voxonic translation process works. After translating the lyrics by hand, the text is rerecorded by a professional speaker in the selected language. Proprietary software is used to extract phonemes, or basic sounds, from Prodigy’s original recording to create a voice model. The model is then applied to the spoken translation to produce the new lyrics in Prodigy’s voice.

“A 10-minute sample is all we need to imprint his voice in Spanish, Italian or any language,” said Deutsch.

Voxonic’s software is able to convert any bit of recorded text into 1,468 different languages with 99 percent accuracy, according to the company.

Peter Mahoney, vice president and general manager at Nuance, a speech technology company, said he has seen steady improvement in the accuracy of speech software over the last several years.

“Processors are getting faster and scientists are inventing better algorithms,” he said. “That allows us to do more sophisticated things that you couldn’t do before.”

Some musicologists wonder what will get lost in translation.

Mark Katz, professor of music at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music, was skeptical about whether the vocally morphed tracks would remain intelligible and authentic.

“What do you do about a song like Kelis’ ‘Milkshake’?” he asked. “We all know what it means, but how would you convey that in 1,400 languages? You couldn’t, and the song wouldn’t be the same.”

H. Samy Alim, a professor of anthropology at the University of California at Los Angeles who specializes in global hip-hop culture and sociolinguistics, also doubted the newly minted songs would retain the clever wordplay and innovative rhyme schemes inherent in popular music. Alim admitted he would “love to hear what it sounds like,” but said the industry — already overflowing with multilingual artists — isn’t exactly screaming for Voxonic’s product.

“Who wants to hear a poorly translated version of their favorite American song?” he said.

Besides, he laughed, “How do you translate ‘fo shizzle’ in a way that retains its creativity and humor for a global audience?”

Prodigy said hearing his automated self rapping in another language was a surreal experience: “It’s definitely weird. But this is going to be world-changing, and it sounds incredible.”

Other applications for the technology include movie dubbing and political speeches, but Deutsch is wagering on massive international crossover appeal in the music industry. And so is Prodigy, who was recently brought on as a partner at Vox Music Group.

“I can’t wait to hear myself rap in Arabic,” he said.

Original Source

Soulja Boy

“Crank That” is biggest-selling digital single of all time

Seventeen-year-old Soulja Boy has sold more than three million legal downloads of “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” — the first song ever to do so. It has also sold more than three million ring tones, was nominated for a Grammy (for Best Rap Song) and stayed at No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart for seven weeks. The accompanying music video has been viewed 28 million times on YouTube, and the instructional dance video has been viewed 22 million times.

“I can’t thank my fans enough,” says Soulja Boy. “Without them, all of this wouldn’t have been possible. The support they give me is beyond incredible. I have so many Soulja Boy Tell’em projects ready and I will continue to give them what they need in 2008. Yuuuuaaaa!!”


Lily Allen suffers miscarriage

Lily Allen, 22, has suffered a miscarriage, the Sun is reporting.

The singer had just returned from a vacation with boyfriend Ed Simmons, 37, of the Chemical Brothers, when she lost her baby.

““Lily and Ed are in a state of shock,” a source told the Sun. “The bad news has been really difficult for them to take and they are absolutely heartbroken.”

Says her spokesman: “We can confirm that Lily Allen has suffered a miscarriage. She and her partner Ed Simons will be making no further comment and we ask that their privacy be respected during this difficult time.”


Wu-Tang Clan

U-God sues Wu-Tang for $170k

TMZ and AllHipHop are reporting that U-God (real name Lamont Hawkins) is suing Wu Music Group–which is licensed to Universal Music–for $170,000 in back royalties.

The rapper filed the papers on January 8 at the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, claiming that he is owed money from the 8 Diagrams album advance (around $40k), last fall’s Rock the Bells tour (at least $50k) and a European record contract, among other things.

Spice 1 seriously wounded after shooting

Rapper Spice 1 is in hospital after being shot in the chest Monday (Dec. 3) while sleeping in his car in the driveway of his parents’ Hayward home.

“He said he dozed off in his car,” said Hayward Police Lt. Reid Lindblom to “He guessed he had been in his car for about 30 minutes.”

The shooting occured at about 12:30 a.m., when the rapper, real name Robert Green, noticed that someone was standing next to his car. A shot was fired through the window and Green was hit in the chest. The suspect was described as being a Hispanic male, around 5’7, dressed in all black. Nothing was stolen from the car. Police do not have a suspect or a motive.

Anyone with additional information is asked to call the Hayward Police Department at 510-293-7000.

Pimp C Found Dead in Hollywood Hotel Room

Pimp C Dead

Pimp C, real name Chad Butler, was found dead this morning in his room at the Mondrian Hotel on Sunset Strip in Hollywood. He was fully clothed and lying on his side on top of the bed. No drugs were found in the room, TMZ is reporting. An autopsy will be performed and toxicology results will be available in six to eight weeks.

Rick Martin, Pimp C’s manager, released the following statement:

This morning saw the loss of a man that was not only a client, but a very dear friend at a time when he had the most to live for. He was my best friend and I will always love him.

Chad’s tragic passing leaves behind mourners the world over, including his mother, wife and children whom Chad loved more than anything. An official cause of death has yet to be determined.

I was so very proud of Chad and the growth he has shown since his release from prison; as an artist and business man and as a person. As one half of the legendary Texas group UGK, Chad was finally seeing the results of the years of love and labor that he and Bun B have put in over the years, culminating in the tremendous success of their album, Underground Kingz. Chad was set to soar with not only a new solo deal on Jive Records, but a lucrative publishing deal, a new satellite radio show, several group projects and a national cologne endorsement. Chad had everything to live for, making his unexpected passing a travesty.

Right now, my number one concern is the well being and livelihood of his family who are the ones most deeply affected by this loss. All efforts will be made to ensure that they are properly cared for in this tragic time and beyond.

As Chad’s friend and manager, and on behalf of his family and those closest to him, we ask that you, the press keep reports of his passing to tributes to his amazing contributions as an artist and wait for the facts surrounding his death to come to light. Please let us all remember Pimp C as the kind and warmhearted man and rap music pioneer that he was.

Thank you,

Rick Martin / FM2 Inc.

Kanye’s mother dies suddenly is reporting that Kanye West’s mother, Dr. Donda West, died suddenly in Los Angeles last night. The cause of death was not immediately released. She was 58. More to come as details are released.


Update: Multiple sources are citing that Dr. West died of complications due to surgery, possibly plastic surgery. At this point, however, the claims are unsubstantiated.


Def Jam denies Nas’ new album title?

Original Source

by Catherine Donaldson-Evans

NEW YORK — A popular rap star’s shocking claim before a Big Apple audience that his next album will be titled “Nigga” was emphatically denied Tuesday by his record label.

Not only does the rapper known as Nas not have an album called “Nigga” coming out in December, as he told a concert crowd on Friday, but he apparently has no album coming out in December at all.

“There is no album release by Nas on the release schedule at this point,” a source close to Island Def Jam Music Group chairman Antonio “L.A.” Reid told

“And they would be unlikely to release an album with that title. How would that look at Wal-Mart?”

But there’s no doubt that Nas made the claim — which set the hip-hop community abuzz this week — during a Friday night performance at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City. The rapper’s “Greatest Hits” album is set to hit music store shelves in early November.

Nas — whose hits include “One Love” and “Hate Me Now” — told the crowd that he actually wanted to call his last record “Nigga,” but Def Jam wouldn’t hear of it, and made him change the name to “Hip Hop Is Dead.”

The rapper laced his between-song shout-outs with the N-word, which he frequently used to address his fans at the New York show, the last stop on the Sneaker Pimps tour (a promotional tour for the sneaker industry, as the name implies).

“Power to the people. Power to the real people!” Nas yelled to the cheering crowd, raising one arm triumphantly in the air. “This is our m—f— world. We’re going to do it our m—f— way. … Put your fist like this: real niggas only!”

The inflammatory word pops up throughout Nas’ rap lyrics, sometimes written in the plural with a “z” on the end.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson denounced the rapper’s remarks about his desired album title.

“The title using the ‘N’ word is morally offensive and socially distasteful,” Jackson said in a statement. “Nas has the right to degrade and denigrate in the name of free speech, but there is no honor in it.

“Radio and television stations have no obligation to play it and self-respecting people have no obligation to buy it. I wish he would use his talents to lift up and inspire, not degrade, making mockery of racism.”

The NAACP this week also threw up its hands at the news of Nas’ claim, saying the idea showed a lack of creativity and was only perpetuating toxic terminology.

“We will not support and we will not continually be assailed by other individuals who want to use that type of term in our presence,” said national NAACP spokesman Richard McIntire. “This has gone on long enough.”

McIntire said the absence of such racial slurs characterizes the “real history of rap,” a genre of music in which rhyming words are spoken, not sung.

“The NAACP believes in free speech. We are not a censorship organization,” said Vic Bulluck, executive director of the organization’s Hollywood bureau. “But we think [the N-word] is pejorative, no matter who uses it — even if it’s to sell records. It shows a real lack of creative imagination.”

Even Don Imus’ camp weighed in, amid the controversy surrounding the shock jock’s anticipated return to the airwaves in December, six months after he was fired for calling members of the Rutgers University women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos” on the air.

In a rather surprising meeting of the minds, Imus’ lawyer gave the thumbs-up to Nas’ proposed record title.

“It’s a good thing,” Martin Garbus wrote in an e-mail to “Words like that should be deprived of their meanings, and then they can’t hurt.”

Several prominent members of the African-American community who have been vocal throughout the Imus scandal, including the Rev. Al Sharpton and Oprah Winfrey, were unavailable for comment on Nas’ remarks.

Beanie Sigel Jay-Z Lil Wayne

The Official Tracklisting for Jay-Zs American Gangster

The Official Tracklisting for Jay-Zs American Gangster

1. Intro
2. Pray
3. American Dreamin’
4. Hello Brooklyn 2.0 feat. Lil Wayne
5. No Hook
6. Roc Boys (And The Winner Is)…
7. Sweet
8. I Know
9. Party Life
10. Ignorant Sh*t feat. Beanie Sigel
11. Say Hello
12. Success feat. Nas
13. Fallin’

Bonus Tracks
14. Blue Magic
15. American Gangster

Jay-Z Nas

Nas new album entitled Nigga – reveals controversial title of new LP


By Shaheem Reid

NEW YORK — The n-word it is.

On Friday night at New York’s Roseland Ballroom, Nas announced the title of his next album: He said it will be called Nigga and released in December. A source close to the project confirmed the name on Saturday.

Nas has said he’d planned to use that title for his last LP before he changed it to Hip-Hop Is Dead. If the December date holds firm, Nas will have a very busy winter. On November 6 he’s releasing his Greatest Hits LP. A video for one of the two new songs on the project, “Surviving the Times,” will be shot soon. Last week, super producer Jermaine Dupri — who has already completed tracks for Jay-Z’s American Gangster — told MTV News he would love to be involved in Nas’ upcoming new LP.

Nas headlined the last stop of the Sneaker Pimps Tour on Friday, where newcomers such as Mista Mal as well as legends EPMD and Slick Rick had sets. Even Jeru Da Damaja showed up and rocked the mic.

Nas kept fans antsy by not going on until well after 1 a.m., but they left visibly — and audibly — pleased.

He opened with “Hip-Hop Is Dead,” then went into his catalog for records such as “One Love” and “Hate Me Now.” God’s Son ended with “Made You Look,” during which he surprised the fans by jumping into the crowd. Once among the people, he began jumping up and down and inciting the people to jump with him. One of Nas’ security guards dove into the audience after him, pulling him back to the stage, where he stood none the worse for wear.

“He touched my hand and gave me positive energy,” one woman said as the house lights came on.

Besides phat rhymes, spectators saw some of the most exclusive kicks you can hope to get, as sneakers from all over the world were displayed. There was also a pit for professional skaters who sailed up and down ramps. Still, most of the skaters had to put their boards down when the acts came on, especially Nas