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Music

Fly Interview: Meet Universal Music’s Rising Bilingual Crooner Yunel Cruz

Yunel Cruz is a singer and songwriter from New York City who burst onto the scene with his Billboard charting bachata hit “Mi Dominicanita,” in 2010. Born Jofre Cruz, he went on to sign to Universal Music Latin Entertainment‘s Machete Music imprint home to Don Omar and other notable latin artists.

After the release of his Something Different EP in 2010, Cruz went on to land four more records on the Billboard tropical songs chart including two No. 1’s with “Ay Amiga” and “No Vuelve.” Most recently he released his first bilingual record featuring R&B star Ne-Yo and reggaeton artist J. Alvarez; garnering millions of Spotify streams and views along the way.

Back in his hometown of NYC while prepping for his performance at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for Soulfrito Fest 2017 alongside some of the hottest names in urban and latin music; SFPL‘s own Arlene Danna chatted with the rising bilingual crooner about his career, love for music, working with Ne-Yo and much more.

Audiences first became acquainted with you back in 2010 with the release of your bachata hit “Mi Dominicanita.” Since you’ve landed on the Billboard charts several times including snagging two No.1’s. How has your life changed since you released your first EP Something Different?

Wow, it’s changed a lot. I think that, you know it’s been a journey that you embark on and you don’t really truly know what to expect. When we released that first single, at least for me I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t know the acceptance was going to be so huge. It started off in New York, then the Dominican Republic and then it just went crazy. With that first single I got to travel to places I would have never imagined. I went to Ecuador and other parts of South America. Here in the United States we went to Utah, San Diego, L.A.. So it’s crazy. My life has changed a ton. I got to move from the Northeast in Boston and now I reside in Miami. It’s been a long journey and one that I’ve enjoyed a lot but my life has definitely changed in every way.

Your latest single “Sin Miedo” features reggaetonero J. Alvarez and R&B singer Ne-Yo. How did that collaboration come about? 

The collaboration came about because I had the record. I was working with my producer Lenny Medina. He’s worked with Romeo Santos and Enrique Iglesias. We had the record and the minute I heard “Sin Miedo” I loved it. The beat is crazy, and I went you know what let’s reach out and get this fire. We reached out to Ne-Yo and he sent me his verse and it was amazing. When Ne-Yo recorded his part it was beautiful, but it made the song kind of long. So I was trying to figure out what we were going to do with the record. Afterwards I was like you know what let’s put a reggaetonero on it since it would be my first record that’s both english and spanish. Before all the singles that we released were bachata singles. People don’t know that I do R&B, that I do Hip-Hop, that I do all kinds of music. You know I grew up in New York but it’s like a lot of people don’t know that I have all those other genres in me. So I was like you know what let’s reach out to J. Alvarez. We’re good friends and he’s an amazing artist who I respect a lot. He works independently and I respect that. When I started I was an independent artist as well. Now I’m actually signed to Universal. Been with them for a few years but I respect him very much. We we’re going to reach out to Maluma, but at the time he just finished doing a record with Shakira and Ricky Martin so he couldn’t jump on a third single at the time because the release time wasn’t going to work. So J. Alvarez said I’m on it, he recorded the verse it was fire and there it was, that was the record.

So you immediately had Ne-Yo in mind when you heard the record?

Yes, it just sounded like Ne-Yo to me as soon as I heard it. He’s one of the artists that I grew up admiring a ton. R&B artists are Ne-Yo and Usher for me but he’s one of my top favorite artists that I grew up emulating. For me it was an honor to grow up and actually work with him. You know it’s kind of crazy because when you start making music you don’t know where you’re going to be tomorrow. You just make music with love and from the heart. I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined that I one day I would be recording and working with one of my idols. So that to me was incredible and what made it even more special was how humble and great of a person he is. It’s unreal. We sat down and spent time together. He’s just a unbelieveable soul, so it’s cool.

You guys shot the video in L.A. how was that experience?

I thought it was cool. I wanted L.A. because I wanted a different feel. I had shot “Ay Amiga” in Miami and I wanted a different look and feel to it. It was off the chain. I love the vibe in L.A. I wanted to bring that to the video. It’s kind of crazy because we had a different theme in mind. We kind of wanted to do like a racing thing and then when I read the script I was like okay this is like Fast and Furious no we’re not going to do that. So we went with the party scene and it was dope. Everything worked out.

“Sin Miedo” manages to fuse together multiple genres. It isn’t just bachata, or reggaeton, or pop. How would you describe it? 

I would describe “Sin Miedo” as a bilingual latin american song. It’s a dope fusion. If you speak spanish you can vibe to it, if you like english music you can vibe to it. It’s a big fusion of different flavors and that’s what makes it dope. I love the record and people have been responding well to it. If you see the streaming numbers 1.7 million so far, and people on YouTube supporting it; it’s beautiful.

Yunel Cruz at the 2017 Billboard Latin Music Awards

Is this the sound audiences should be expecting on your forthcoming debut Divina Voluntad

For sure. That’s definitely the sound. I’m working very hard to change the sound of what people are accustomed to hearing from me, you know that romantic side. People are going to be shocked with the new records. I have a couple of other special collaborations that people are going to really dig and enjoy.

Are you able to give us any hints on who you’ve been collaborating with?

We have a couple really big collabs that I can’t say now, but I will make sure I get it to you first. It’s going to be cool. I think people are going to dig the new Yunel and the direction that we’re going. I’m looking forward to you guys hearing the new music.

You wrote your first song at age 9 so it’s safe to say that music has always been your passion. Are there any influences in your life that have pushed you in that direction? 

Yes, I’ve been writing my whole life. I think so. When I was younger I started writing because of my Mom. She told me that if I wanted something fun to do that opens your mind just write your emotions. That’s where it came from to write music. I’ve worked with really big artists and songwriters as well and for me I just find I have a passion for writing my own stuff and what I feel. Then to get to perform those songs and to get the support from people it’s pretty cool. You create something from your heart and people vibe with it, it’s one of the coolest feelings ever.

Besides singing do you have any other musical talents? 

I play a little guitar, I used to play the trombone when I was younger. I haven’t played it in a long time. Music is my thing so I try to touch different instruments and enjoy the time when I’m in the studio and just play around with them too.

You’ll be performing at Soulfrito Fest 2017 alongside some of the biggest in urban and latin music like Rick Ross and Zion y Lennox. How have you been preparing for your performance? 

I’ve been just getting myself ready by figuring out the show. On my end it’s a little more complex because it’s not a show that’s set like this is the set that we’re doing. It’s a change and it’s going to be the first time people are going to see me doing my bilingual thing. Singing in both english and spanish on stage it’s going to be pretty cool for me and I’m just really excited. New York is home so it’s going to be a good time.

You can catch Yunel performing Friday June 9th at Soulfrito Fest 2017 at the Barclays Center alongside Rick Ross, Zion y Lennox, Ivy Queen, Young M.A., Fetty Wap, Cardi B, and more!

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Music

Fly Banger: Ne-Yo Teaches The Meaning of Self-Worth In “Earn Ur Love”

If it’s that easy, I don’t want it.

Ne-Yo comes right back into pocket with a special music gem of love and knowing your self-worth. The featured track “Earn Ur Love” sets the standard of — that you’re worth more just a nice bag and fancy things that money can buy. In other words, make someone earn your love and not just easily give it away, especially when one is willing to do the work to win your love and trust.

Ne-Yo says:

A Good Man will earn you. He’ll work for it and won’t mind working for it because he recognizes your worth. Ladies, find a man that’ll “Earn Your Love.” Enjoy this appetizer guys. Album coming soon.

Check it out above.

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Music

New Music: JALLAL feat. Ne-Yo “Toss & Turn” Produced by Chad Hugo

Following the success of his single “Imma Dog” rising rapper and streaming sensation JALLAL has teamed up with producer Chad Hugo of The Neptunes and Grammy award winning crooner Ne-Yo for his second single “Toss & Turn.” The song reflects on the mistakes people make in relationships and is the second track from Jallal’s forthcoming mixtape Off The Radar which is due later this month. The 23-year-old LA native has built a massive underground fan base on the stage by touring with the likes of Lupe Fiasco and mentor Mos Def (Yasiin Bey) and online by building an audience that has garnered him over 40 million streams combined thus far with the various songs he’s released on Soundcloud.

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Music

Fly Streams: La’Porsha Renae, Haddy Racks, Chloe & Halle and Kevin Ross

Today, singer/songwriter La’Porsha Renae shares her highly anticipated debut album Already All Ready via Motown Records. The 13-track album, which features the smash single “Good Woman,” is available for purchase/stream here. Since the release of “Good Woman,” La’Porsha has made appearances on shows such as The Harry Show, Good Day LA, Good Day NY where she also gave heart-pouring performances, increasing the profile of the single which currently sits at #7 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart. The album features production from mega-talented producers Ne-Yo, Harmony “H-Money” Samuels, Edgar “JV” Etienne, and more. ‘Already All Ready’ showcases La’Porsha’s powerhouse and multi-faceted vocals through genre-blending tracks that shows her versatility as an innovative star that is definitely here to stay.

La’Porsha uses the influence of her favorite artists like Tina Turner, Prince, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston and fuses her own young and fresh vibe to the songs creating a unique sound that conveys emotion and excitement.

“The album cover represents all of my past insecurities, and everything I advocate for. I represent beautiful, full figured women, single mothers and natural haired women, and black lives,” says La’Porsha in regards to the album art.

When asked about the meaning of the album, La’Porsha said:

“The title Already All Ready was chosen because many of what I just named is not considered to be ideal or socially popular when describing a rising star. I embraced everything that I thought would hold me back from pursuing my dreams, and used my insecurities to give me the courage to inspire and advocate for others who possessed many of the same insecurities I had. I also wanted to honor single mothers and defy the stereotypical dress code of a thick, brown-skinned, single mother and domestic violence survivor. I’m proud of my curves, my daughter, as well as the harsh past that helped shape me into the strong woman I am today.”

La’Porsha Renae was introduced to the world via the stage of the 15th and final season of American Idol. Although American Idol is the medium that introduced Renae to the world, she has been signing since the tender age of six. She vividly recalls singing “Fallin'” by Alicia Keys in her mother’s beauty shop. She grew up singing for her mother’s clients but had no idea that she would one day share her talent with the world and become the runner up on one of the most popular talent discovery shows of all time. Since the finale of the show, La’Porsha has been signed to 19 Recordings/Motown Records. Her single “Battles” was tapped as the theme song for the gold medal-winning U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. From McComb, Mississippi to American Idol, La’Porsha is now ready to reveal everything that she wasn’t able to on the show.

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Music

New Music: La’Porsha Renae – “Somebody Does” [Written & Produced by Ne-Yo]

Singer/Songwriter La’Porsha Renae released her newest single “Somebody Does”. In the upbeat catchy single, the American Idol Alum entices listeners about a falling out love story with her soulful voice. “Somebody Does” is the second single from her upcoming debut album, Already All Ready and was written and produced by Grammy Award winning artist, Ne-Yo.

‘Already All Ready’ will be released on March 31 via 19 Recordings/Motown Records.

Listen to “Somebody Does” above.

Follow La’Porsha Renae:
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Music

Candice Boyd Delivers a Trap-Soul Version of “Carol Of The Bells” [New Music]

Just off the heels of her appearance on Taraji P. Henson‘s White Hot Holidays with Ne-Yo, singer/songwriter Candice Boyd of Compound University/Epic Records brings in the holiday with her trap-soul version entitled “Carol Of The Bells,” a twist of the classic Christmas tune.

Candice currently has a trending single with rapper French Montana called “Damn Good Time” which is available on iTunes.

Check it out the Holiday tune above.

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Entertainment

Beyonce, Chance the Rapper and Fat Joe & Remy Ma Win Big at Soul Train Awards 2016

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SOUL TRAIN AWARDS 2016 celebrated the best in Soul, R&B and Hip-Hop by highlighting both returning legends and breakout stars with unrivaled musical moments and titillating performances. The awards show, which aired tonight on CENTRIC and BET, was hosted once again by the funkadelic Godmother of neo-soul, Erykah Badu, who also served as Executive Producer.

Beyoncé led the night’s winners dominating in top categories including Video of the Year, Album/Mixtape of the Year, Best R&B/Soul Female Artist, and Song of the Year. Fat Joe and Remy Ma featuring French Montana and Infared took home two awards of their own, Rhythm & Bars Award (Formerly Best Hip-Hop Song of the Year) and Best Collaboration, for their smash hit “All the Way Up.” Artists were honored across 12 different categories and additional winners included Kanye West featuring Teyana Taylor for Best Dance Performance for “Fade,” Chance the Rapper (Best New Artist), Anderson .Paak (Centric Certified Award), Andra Day “Rise Up” (The Ashford & Simpson Songwriter’s Award), Maxwell (Best R&B/Soul Male Artist), and Kirk Franklin “123 Victory” (Best Gospel/Inspirational Song.)

The evening marked the inaugural Soul Train Awards since BET Networks officially acquired Soul Train earlier this year and it did not disappoint. The night featured crowd-loving classics and current favorites from the best Soul artists of yesterday and today.

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Dru Hill kicked off the Soul Train Awards 2016 with the ultimate throwback of their 90s R&B jams including “Tell Me,” “In My Bed,” and “Beauty.”

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Dru Hill lead singer Sisqó then took the stage solo to perform his late 90’s mega-hit “Thong Song.”

 

An endearing and  inspired Jill Scott presented Brandy with the second annual Lady of Soul Award, who went on to blow the crowd away with a full dance and stunning vocal performance of her most beloved hits including “Almost Doesn’t Count,” “What About Us,” “Full Moon,” “I Wanna Be Down,” “The Boy Is Mine,” “Talk About Our Love,” “Have You Ever,” and “Sitting On Top Of The World,” joined by MA$E.

 

Soulful newcomers Anderson .Paak and BJ the Chicago Kid performed “Waters” and “Cha Cha” singer D.R.A.M. joined Badu on stage for their recently released single, “WiFi.”

The awards ended on a high note with Teddy Riley pulling out all the stops for an unforgettable showcase following his receiving of the night’s highest honor, the Legend Award. Riley brought out retro hitmakers and past collaborators including Doug E. Fresh, Bobby Brown, Tito Jackson, Wreckx-N-Effect and Guy for a medley of classics including “My Prerogative,” “Remember the Time,” “Rump Shaker,” and more.

Alongside the amazing performances, the second annual Soul Cypher, featuring Erykah Badu, Tyrese, Ne-Yo, Angie Stone and the incomparable Gladys Knight was another musical moment not to be forgotten.

SOUL TRAIN AWARDS 2016 WINNERS

Best New Artist – Chance the Rapper

Best R&B/Soul Male Artist – Maxwell

Centric Certified Award – Anderson .Paak

Video of the Year – Beyoncé – “Formation”

Best Gospel/Inspirational Song – Kirk Franklin – “123 Victory”

Album/Mixtape of the Year – Beyoncé – “Lemonade”

Rhythm & Bars Award (Formerly Best Hip-Hop Song of the Year) – Fat Joe & Remy Ma featuring French Montana & Infared – “All the Way Up”

Best R&B/Soul Female Artist – Beyoncé

Song of the Year – Beyoncé

The Ashford & Simpson Songwriter’s Award – “Rise Up” – Written by Andra Day and Jennifer Decilveo (Andra Day)

Best Dance Performance – Kanye West (Dance Performance featuring Teyana Taylor) – “Fade”

Best Collaboration – Fat Joe & Remy Ma featuring French Montana & Infared – “All the Way Up”

The SOUL TRAIN AWARDS 2016 are produced by Jesse Collins Entertainment. Executive Producers of the network telecast are as follows: Debra Lee, Stephen G. Hill and Connie Orlando from BET; and Jesse Collins for Jesse Collins Entertainment.

Photo Credit: Getty Images for BET

More photos below:

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Entertainment

Watch: First Look at BET’s New Series “About the Business” – Starring Eva Marcille & Crystal Renay [Video]

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We have the first look of the extended super trailer for BET’s newest series, ABOUT THE BUSINESS. Catch up with actress Eva “The Diva” Marcille, who is winning with not one but TWO series on the air this February. And meet model Crystal Renay, who is soon-to-be married to hitmaker Ne-Yo, plus more. 

‘ATB’ one-hour docuseries following a tight-knit group of true friends and frenemies with big dreams and big drama in the elite world of urban Hollywood.  During the day, they are on their grind in the high-stakes world of entertainment; and at night, this fashionable clique balances career and family while navigating Los Angeles’ African American celebrity circles.

Guest appearances include Nick Cannon and Ne-Yo.

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Meet the Cast:
Eva Marcille’s acting career is on fire with three TV shows on the air: About the Business, Real Husbands of Hollywood and Born Again Virgin. However, Eva knows that the entertainment business can be fickle, so she is diversifying by investing in a luxury container home business with her mother and project manager, Krista Kolley – with the ultimate goal of building a Container Home Community empire! We will watch Eva navigate the challenges of taking on a totally new business venture, and working with family and friends. Meanwhile, Eva also looks forward to spending more quality time with her daughter, while she juggles high-profile new and old flames in her dating life.

Crystal Renay is a successful model facing two big milestones: she is newly engaged to singer, Ne-Yo, and pregnant with her long-sought-after first child. With her A-list wedding approaching and a baby on the way, the former video vixen hires friend Sparkle to plan the big event to ease some of the stress. Will Crystal’s lofty demands push her friendship over the edge? Meanwhile, Crystal also tries to pull a career about-face and start her own infant clothing line, but will this bridezilla have the time and energy?

EJ King is a celebrity stylist wrapping up a world tour with Chris Brown, and is looking to branch out in the world of fashion. We will follow EJ as he works to capitalize on the success of the tour, and design his own fashion line for Cross Colours. Does EJ have what it takes to transition from stylist to fashion mogul? EJ is also on the hunt for love, but despite recently losing 60 pounds, EJ still struggles with his self-esteem. He soon considers taking drastic steps to alter his appearance, but will those changes lead to love and happiness?

Danielle Crawley heads up marketing for Nick Cannon’s Ncredible Entertainment, but she is spreading her wings by launching her own casting company. We will watch as Danielle proves that she has an eye for talent and running her own business. Danielle will also be forced to make tough choices when former-client and rising vocal talent, Alex Amore, signs with close friends Sparkle and Krista. Will business get territorial and dirty among the friends?

Sparkle Holmes owns A List Group LA, a successful events, public relations and talent management company, which caters to stars like Nelly and Chris Brown. Sparkle is managing her model friend, Crystal Renay, and has taken the lead in planning all the festivities surrounding her wedding to hit maker, Ne-Yo. Crystal recently brought in a new business partner, Krista Kolley, but their working styles soon clash. Can the new partners deliver flawless events without imploding? Personally, Sparkle recently ended a 12-year romantic relationship with a woman, and is now struggling to find love – and her identity – as she finds herself attracted to men.

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Entertainment

Happy New Year: Top 20 Moments of 2015

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As we literally countdown the hours of 2015, check out our Top 20 recap of the Best and Hilarious Moments of the year. Trust us, this is our best line-up yet as the past 12 months was filled with some of the most news and happenings probably more than any year that we could remember.

Check it out after the jump!

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Entertainment Music

JADAKISS FEAT. NE-YO & NIPSEY HUSSLE – “AINT NOTHIN NEW”

Just off the heels of his new album release of Top 5 Dead or Alive, Jadakiss circles back with a new visual for the single-cut “Ain’t Nothin New” featuring Nipsey Hussle and Ne-Yo, directed by Clifton Bell.

Clad in a dope shearling, custom Timberland 8-inch boots and a fancy sports car after getting a fresh cut, Kiss hits the Harlem streets along with a few of his cohorts, while later hitting the club. Being a slight bit paranoid, as he felt he and his boys were being watched, they still continued to party throughout the night until it was time to go. But when they exit through the main doors, a few gun shots ring-out, and the video comes to an end. To Be Continued….

Check it out in FULL below: