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Opinion Relays Edition

Rock it out: summer 2011’s hottest music

Zidek is a first-year public relations and psychology major and can be contacted at paige.zidek@drake.edu.

This summer’s going to be scorching — and not just because of the temperature. It’s a well-known fact in the music biz that summer is home to the hottest singles in pop music. Just last year Katy Perry sang about “sun-kissed California Gurls” while the Black Eyed Peas made us wish every night was a “good good night.” Taio Cruz told us to “put our hands up in the air,” and Ke$ha made getting crazy cool.  Expect this summer to be just as big (maybe even bigger). Like phoenixes from the ashes, some familiar faces have been re-emerging on the scene, and they’re taking no prisoners. Here’s who’s set to take 2011.

The Battle for Rap Royalty

July 2010 marked the fourth month of rapper Lil’ Wayne’s stint in jail and his fourth month away from the throne at the top of the pop music charts. Though his absence from the airwaves disappointed millions of Weezy fans, the old saying held true: “while the cat’s away, the mice will play.”  And play they did.

Summer 2010 saw a variety of old and new MCs vying for Weezy’s title as reigning rapper.  Ontario newbie Drake crooned about “finding your love” while Eminem blazed up the charts with his Grammy-nominated album “Recovery.”

But this summer, the tables will turn as the battle for rap royalty becomes an all-out war.

Eminem’s “Recovery” marked his successful return to the game after a two-year hiatus and a flopped release (“Relapse”). Its militant first single, “Not Afraid” became the go-to anthem for anyone looking to make a comeback in 2010. And we couldn’t escape the wailing chorus of “Love the Way you Lie,” which was played everywhere, from shopping malls to your mother’s car. By summer 2011, the real Slim Shady will be showing no signs of slowing down. Em is set to perform at the Nashville Bonnaroo Music and Arts festival in June and is also a rumored headliner for Chicago’s Lollapalooza.  With these two huge gigs under his belt (and possibly more tour dates to come), expect to be hearing a lot more about Slim in 2011.

Rap music’s favorite loud mouth, Kanye West, was silenced for a while after the backlash surrounding the now infamous Taylor-Swift-interruption at the ’09 VMAs. But in 2010, he came back with a vengeance, releasing “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” a critically acclaimed hodgepodge of jams that were indeed beautiful, dark, and twisted. If that wasn’t enough, the MC plans to release a collaborative album with another of rap’s finest, Jay-Z. And there’s still more. Kan yeezy has tweeted that he plans to release his newest solo album in the summer; and if he has anything to say about it, it will probably be the “best album of all time. All time.”

Let’s not forget about Lil’ Wayne. After being released from Rikers prison in 2010 with a fresh crop of beats, the New Orleans MC remained fairly quiet, appearing only on a duet with Birdman and releasing the explosive “6 Foot 7 Foot.” But expect all that to change, as Weezy plans to release “Tha Carter IV,” the highly anticipated follow-up to 2008’s “Tha Carter III,” on May 16th. While the album title lacks in creativity, don’t expect that to carry over to the rhymes. Expect more of Weezy’s usual wordplay and aggressive beats.

Though Lil’ Wayne is a regular rap Midas, turning every single he touches to gold, I’m pulling for Kan yeezy to win this rap battle. With two highly anticipated albums in the works for summer (and of course, his controversial statements), it’s a safe bet he’ll be in the tabloids for a while.

Gaga, Ooh-La-La

It’s no secret that Lady Gaga was one of the biggest pop stars of 2010. After releasing her Billboard-smash debut, “The Fame,” Gaga added two more number one singles to her repertoire with the follow up to “The Fame, The Fame Monster.” Add two multi-million dollar legs of her extravagant Monster Ball Tour, heightened comparisons to Madonna, all those crazy outfits (meat dress, anyone?) and you’ve got a pop phenomenon who keeps all eyes on her. 2011 should be no different– at the beginning of this year, Gaga announced plans to release her next album, “Born this Way,” on May 23rd. Expect this album to cause as much controversy as its first single of the same name. According to Rolling Stone, several of the tracks sound very different from what Gaga has previously released. “Edge of Glory” is a “massive power ballad with heavy club beats” that even features a saxophone solo; “You and I” is a piano crooner sounding similar to Billy Joel; there’s even a song that proudly declares (in true Gaga fashion) “I am my hair!” Whether you love or hate Gaga, expect her to rule the charts this summer.

Keep your eyes and ears peeled for these artists this summer — and for new faces to emerge on the scene. As we emerge from the dead of “sprinter,” the weather (and the music) can only get hotter. Happy listening!

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