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– You know it’s hot when: even people from the south and west are complaining of the heat. It was a scorcher up on Montage Mountain Tuesday. If I had a dollar for every time I was asked, “Is it always this hot in Pennsylvania?” I could’ve bought a couple rounds of drinks at the beer stand.

– The mood backstage was very mellow and low key in the afternoon and early evening. Despite requests from Lil Wayne’s management that all backstage interviews complete by 6 pm, I found myself leaving Keri Hilson’s dressing room almost at 6:30. Hilson is not just a perfectionist with her music, but with her look as well – working with her makeup artist and manager to ensure that she looked pristine and that the lighting and scenery in her small dressing room was perfect. She did and it was, and you’ll be able to see it all soon on my blog.

– Staff backstage at Montage Mountain commented that security was just as tight as Wayne’s last visit in 2009. If you recall, some workers told me back then that in their 10 plus years at the venue, they had never seen such a strong security detail.

– The Far East Movement was a little late to my interview backstage, and I suppose I could excuse them: I can’t tell you how many times I misjudged the length of that drive from Wilkes-Barre to Moosic. FEM stayed at The Woodlands Monday and Tuesday evening, and took full advantages of some of the various amenities, including the Club Havana Deck Bar and the pool. Post-show on Tuesday, two of the “Like a G6” rappers could even be spotted jogging around the resort.

– FEM wasn’t the only group of artists there… yes, Lil Wayne and the rest of Young Money spent their time in Northeastern PA inside The Woodlands. Wayne checked in Monday evening, and was spotted Tuesday in The Woods large parking lot working on his skateboarding skills. After the show, Weezy retreated to his room where he allegedly worked on music until the wee hours of the morning. If you’ve seen “The Carter” documentary then you know that in addition to mobile recording equipment on his tour bus, Weezy can literally set-up a studio in the middle of his hotel room and spit lines. I guess if we hear any reference to Northeastern PA or he name-checks the Kornfeld’s on Tha Carter IV, we’ll have our confirmation.

– Special thanks to Live Nation for once again bringing Lil Wayne to Northeastern PA. Even I was a bit taken aback that the company was going to take another chance on Weezy in this market, primarily due to the negative, mostly unfair, and almost completely biased coverage his show received from “news outlets” and “know-it-alls” in 2009. However thanks to the area’s support and the help of a few, select media outlets (Who else offered $9.71 lawn seats?!), it seems as if this was once again another successful hip hop concert in NEPA, with hopefully more to come.

Don’t call it a comeback, but feel free to file this one in the “Throwback” section – Paramore is returning to the Vans Warped Tour.

Hayley Williams and company will join the trek for six dates this summer, starting on Thursday July 14 at Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain in Scranton. The band joins a list of other Warped Tour alums returning to the tour – including main stage acts 3OH!3 and Gym Class Heroes. Canadian pop-rockers Simple Plan also rejoin for the group’s first “Warped” stint since 2003.

Paramore had an interesting holiday season – at the end of December last year the band announced that two of its founding members, Zac and Josh Farro, would be departing. Statements have been exchanged publicly between the Farro brothers and the remaining members of Paramore – namely Josh and Hayley. Despite the tumultuous times, Williams told MTV News earlier this year that not only will Paramore stay together, but the band will release new music in 2011.

Crunk-rockers 3OH!3 have had a many tours of duty at “Warped” – as both a relatively unknown act in 2008 and prior – and as the main attraction in 2009 – riding high that summer off of the number one hit, “Don’t Trust Me.” Travie McCoy and Gym Class Heroes are certainly no stranger to Nat and Sean – the two groups have traveled together both on the summer festival and other dates. This is GCH’s first proper tour since McCoy launched a solo career capped with the smash song, “Billionaire” featuring Bruno Mars.

Check out previous Warped Tour coverage here.

Switchfoot lead singer Jon Foreman knows that the band’s next album, Vice Verses, will be released in 2011. That’s about all Foreman knows about the next album.

“We’ve got like, 20 songs… well, 40 songs, 20 that we’ve cut it down to (with a) bunch of songs left over from the last session,” he revealed, referring to the tracks that didn’t make Hello Hurricane. “It’s a matter of trying to figure out whether it should be a double record or what it looks like.”

The boys from San Diego are currently touring in support of The Goo Goo Dolls and Hurricane. Foreman admitted that writing and recording in bulk, followed by the task of whittling down your beloved songs to the best of the best, is difficult.

Download the interview


The guys, currently on tour with The Goo Goo Dolls, also chatted about playing the U.S. Open of Surfing recently back in their home state of California.


“(Hello Hurricane) was the hardest record we’ve ever made,” said the front man. “It was pretty near-impossible to cut. The idea that you record this song that means a lot to you, and you know that there’s 60 of those songs that no one is ever going to hear.”

Foreman insists Switchfoot will implement a more selective and proactive approach to writing, recording, and choosing material for Vice Verses. Although at least he and the band know this much is selected: the title and its title track are already chosen.

“In the song ‘Vice Verses’, there’s a line that intimates the idea that every blessing is a curse,” Foreman said, referencing the band’s independent record label, studio ownership, and distribution deal with a major label. “So the curse of having your own studio and free time is recording all these songs that you believe in.”

And if Foreman knows anything else, it’s that this curse of his is a blessing.

How ironic given that last summer, Lil Wayne kicked off his “America’s Most Wanted Music Festival” in right here in NEPA at Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain. Anyways, enjoy (NOTE: NOT CLEAN VERSION!).

Big thanks to my homie DJ Woogie for putting me up on this.


Check dates here.
Full lineup here.

Of course, some of the highlights…
– The Cab
– Hey Monday
– Sum 41
– We The Kings

And headlining…

THE ALL-AMERICAN REJECTS!

As politically active as Young Jeezy was last fall, it only made sense that last week, he felt right at home in what the pundits called, “The Ground Zero of the Presidential Election.”

“I appreciate Scranton for standing behind (President Obama),” Jeezy told me backstage at the first stop on the “America’s Most Wanted Music Festival.” Obama won both Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties. “We here now, we’re trying to make the world a better place.”

The Atlanta-rapper is both realistic and patient – he believes it’ll take President Obama two terms to fix the various big ticket issues our country faces. But he also recognizes the other half of the winning ticket.

“Joe Biden! What up homie!” he cheerfully shouted when I reminded him that Vice President Biden is from the Electric City.

The conversation quickly turned to music, as Jeezy is working on his fourth studio LP: Thug Motivation 103. No release date is set – and the rapper is rather evasive on details. Jeezy did tell me that fans can expect, “a little bit of everything,” referring to a conglomerate of material that people grew accustomed to between Thug Motivation 101 and The Recession.

“Everything still pretty much in the can right now,” Jeezy revealed. “It’s gonna be a very special album, but at the same time, the streets gonna love this, Scranton are gonna love this, people are gonna love this album.”

Still, Jeezy would not as much as divulge any type of timeline for the record’s release, simply stating that he’ll drop it once it’s finished. You would think that if it’s already in production, it’ll be released by the time fellow Atlanta rapper T.I. leaves jail. Young Jeezy told me that through their respective camps he keeps in touch with T.I.P.

“He’s gotta pay his debt to society and get back on it. We here for him though.”

Don’t necessarily call it a homecoming to hip-hop, but for MTV News reporter Sway Calloway, it sure felt good to cover the America’s Most Wanted Music Festival’s first date in Scranton, PA.

“I’ve been on the road doing a lot of stuff with MTV,” explained Calloway – mentioning the Michael Jackson memorial as well as numerous political events. “I really wanted to come back to the core of how I got in this game, and that’s through rap, hip-hop music.”

Producers and MTV News beat reporter Shaheem Reid joined Calloway to cover the event. The team from MTV arrived on Sunday and caught Lil Wayne’s dress rehearsal. By all accounts, it seemed as if the crowd at Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain would be in for a special show. But the event impressed Calloway on other levels as well.

“Especially in this time of economic crisis, people said you can’t put together a tour,” said Sway. “Young Money Records, Lil Wayne, stuck their neck out there and they got truly America’s most wanted.”

The lineup is something to marvel at – the front of the bill includes Jeremih (top 10 hit in “Birthday Sex”) and Pleasure P, formerly of Pretty Ricky. Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em takes the stage next, followed by Young Jeezy and Wayne – who brings his entire Young Mula crew for the ride. At least for now, that will be sans Drake, who reinjured an already torn ACL on Friday in Camden, NJ. The R&B singer returned to his home of Toronto, where he will undergo surgery this week.

But with a tour this deep, almost any hit to the card is sustainable, especially when you have one of your opening acts tossing out thousands of dollars to the crowd.

“I’ve seen that gimmick over the years a thousand times,” Sway noted of Soulja’s parting act. While performing “Turn My Swag On,” the 19 year-old reached in to his pocket and began tossing out Ben Franklin’s to the crowd as if he was shooting free throws in a gym. “Soulja Boy is the first person I’ve personally witnessed to throw out real, $100 bills, continuously for at least six minutes.”

The MTV reporter estimated that Soulja gave “at least $5,000” to the fans.

“I talked to people who walked away with a couple hundred dollars,” he said. “(Soulja Boy) paid them, to come see him.”

Certainly no one needed any more incentive to show up. Over 12,000 people entered Montage Mountain for the event – a solid figure in an area that has generally struggled to support hip-hop and rhythmic shows. Again, just another testament to the lineup put forth by Wayne. The “maturity” of the acts also impressed Calloway. While we spoke, Young Jeezy performed behind us, backed by a 9-piece band.

“Music is a universal communicator,” said Sway. “You see people right now, partying together, to one beat… and it’s a great venue.”

R&B newcomer Jeremih learned an important lesson on his first day of touring: sometimes, you need to roll with the punches.

“The keyboard should’ve been here,” he explained while backstage at Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain. “It’s on its way; it was 15 pounds over capacity for the plane limit.”

But at least the singer himself made it. Jeremih flew to Scranton from El Paso, TX – touching down in NEPA around 4:30. He quickly drove to the venue, and snuck in a quick sound check before doors were opened to the public. I spoke with him just past 6 p.m., approximately 40 minutes later he hit the stage to croon for 15 minutes, ending with the up-tempo version of his Top 10 hit, “Birthday Sex.”

But if you’re headed to another stop on the America’s Most Wanted Music Festival, don’t assume that you’ll hear that particular cut.

“It all depends on what people are really feelin’,” said Jeremih. “It was up to me, I’d perform both of ‘em.”

After consulting with myself and Kidd Kraddick In The Morning producer Adam, Jeremih and his manager decided on the up-tempo remix, as that is the version heard on 97 BHT.

Jeremih isn’t your average R&B singer. Born Jeremih Felton in Chicago, the singer entered the University of Illinois at age 17. The early entry to college forced Felton to grow up quickly, and he would soon learn a lot about himself and his surroundings.

“I ended up getting a hold of some IDs,” revealed Jeremih, who blamed his downfall in part on living away from home in a co-ed dorm. “Long story short, I’m the youngest kid in there, but the oldest dude in there.”

The singer soon found himself with a revoked license. But Jeremih credits that experience with helping his career: during that two year period, he was forced to sit home and work on his craft. Jeremih transferred to Columbia College Chicago. He left a semester short of a degree to pursue his career, but plans on finishing at some point.

“Education is key,” said Jeremih. “It got me this far.”

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the most tech-savvy artist of our generation is using all of his gadgets while on tour this summer to continue creating, producing, and finishing projects.

“I got the studio bus actually on the road, the whole tour,” explained Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em. “So I’m recording my third album, I was tellin’ ya about, The DeAndre Way, it drops in November. I’m recording my album while we’re on tour. So ya’ll can look out for the Soulja Boy/Drake collaboration.”

I sat down with Soulja during Lil Wayne’s set on the opening night of the America’s Most Wanted Music Festival. The summer long tour features Weezy and his Young Money crew, Young Jeezy, Soulja Boy and S.O.D.M.G., Drake, and Jeremih. Pleasure P, formerly of Pretty Ricky, also made it on to the bill.

Drake, who just signed a deal with Universal Records that affords him a $2 million advance, called Soulja, “the smartest artist of our generation, period,” on The Ralphie Radio Show in June. It seems the respect is mutual.

“Drake is a real dude. Most rappers, they don’t like to give the other rappers props,” Soulja Boy said. “He showed me my respect. Drake is a good artist.”

At least when it comes to artistry, it seems most of the rappers on the bill are taking cues from the headliner. Even after the first show, Soulja Boy already found himself inspired and pushed by Weezy.

“I just got through watching Wayne’s show. I’m about to go back to the drawing board,” revealed Soulja. “I feel like, my next show, I just gotta go back and critique everything a little bit, but we straight though.”

However, I’m sure one part of the performance that will not change is the end. The crowd inside Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain exploded when Soulja dropped “Turn My Swag On.” The first few rows of the venue near came to a boil soon after – when the 19 year-old began tossing out $100 bills in to the crowd. MTV News reporter Sway Calloway estimated that Soulja gave back atleast $5,000 to the crowd. But for the Chicago-born rapper, the money itself wasn’t much of a driving factor behind the move.

“I flash back in my head to when I was 15, 14 years -old, just wanted to become a rap star,” he said. “For me to make it, and to become a millionaire, and for my dreams to come true, all that just be flashing through my head.”

South Philly-born Amber Rose showed up at opening night of the America’s Most Wanted Music Festival. The model and former exotic dancer has appeared in videos and print campaigns with Young Jeezy and Kanye West, and has been romantically linked to West as well.


Rose recently appeared with West in a Louis Vuitton ad.