Learn more about the Diddy-signed Cleveland rapper, MGK.
MGK's had quite a year since signing to Bad Boy Records last summer. He's had several legit hits and one of the biggest remixes of the year with his "Wild Boy (Remix)," which clocks in at seven rappers strong, including Mystikal, and Jackass's Steve-O (who's just on the intro, and not technically rapping, in case you were curious/worried). And if MGK's boss, Diddy, has been looking for his own answer to the great white hope, Eminem, then he's finally found it.
The Cleveland, Ohio emcee reps his hometown hard, and his city seems to answer with unconditional support for the 22-year-old. But so does New York: He's had two successful runs at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, and he's made several appearances on BET. But MGK's rapid-fire delivery and unchained energy levels tend to hush any haters, if not change their minds completely. There's something uncanny and irresistible about being from the Midwest and being able to speed rap with technical precision. MGK fits in well with hometown heroes Bone Thugs, as well as Tech N9ne (Kansas) and Twista (Chicago) -- both of whom happen to be featured on his upcoming debut album, Lace Up.
Watch MGK videos and interviews after the jump.
Get to know the Pharrell- and Ne-Yo-approved Conor Maynard.
Tell us if this reminds you of someone: teenaged YouTube star with millions of views, major R&B singers as mentors and awesome hair. Hmm... Justin, is that you? U.K. singer Conor Maynard may hear the British Bieber thing a lot, but the breakthrough artist definitely deserves a spotlight of his own.
The rising star made his mark with killer covers of Usher, Ne-Yo and Rihanna, with his uploads scoring more than 68 million YouTube views -- including 3.8 million for his original track "Vegas Girl," an electro-influenced banger that proved that he's not just a cover act. He's already hooked up with equally crushable U.K. export Rita Ora for the duet "Better Than You," and had Ne-Yo and Pharrell battling to sign him as he prepped for his transatlantic takeover. He wound up on EMI and spent a week in Miami with the Neptunes producer anyway. (Rough life, bro!)
"There's a track featuring Ne-Yo, there's a track featuring Pharrell, there's a track written by Frank Ocean," Maynard says of his star-powered debut album, Contrast, due Sept. 18. Swag on a hundred, thousand, 68 million -- and growing. "I actually have to move quite soon because fans found out where I live," Maynard says. If you're not already a Mayniac, then get ready to convert.
+ Download Conor Maynard's "Drowning," and watch his "Vegas Girl" video, interviews and performances after the jump.
Pop star Olly Murs has already taken over the U.K. Find out why he's got his sights set on the U.S.
When we listen to Olly Murs, the singer seems like a born musician, but the U.K. newcomer didn't grow up with dreams of pop stardom. "I was more of a soccer fan, really, than music," he says, explaining that he got into Stevie Wonder and James Brown, who are now major influences, later in life. "It wasn't until I was about 23 that I started singing." That's the age Murs competed on the U.K. version of "The X Factor," where he impressed judgment gargoyle Simon Cowell and finished second -- nabbing a major label deal and a self-titled debut album that moved more than 600,000 copies in the U.K.
The man's now ready to begin conquering America, a takeover that's already in the works: He's opening for One Direction on the fellow Brits' current North American tour. "When people say it's a British invasion, I mean, it would be great to be a part of that. At the moment, I feel like I'm on a boat, trying to get to the States," Murs says. "I'm hoping that the One Direction fans are going to warm to me." Things are definitely heating up: He'll drop his U.S. debut, In Case You Didn't Know, (now you do!) on Sept. 25, with the track list combining the best songs from his first two U.K. releases. He'll lead off with the dancehall-influenced "Heart Skips A Beat," the team-up with Chiddy Bang that he's already performed on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno." Y'know, just getting his U.S. late-night debut out of the way before his debut record even drops.
"It's a feel-good song," he says of the relatable track. "It's about a relationship that's gone a little bit sour, and you want it to be great again." Or in Murs' case, the start of a rad brand-new one. Watch the singer hit the stage below and hang on to your heartbeat.
+ Watch Olly Murs' live performances and exclusive interviews after the jump.
UK singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran is staging a serious British Invasion. The musician's debut album, entitled + (as in the plus sign), landed at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 this month -- after 10 months on his homeland chart, which he topped last year. On his rise to fame, he's performed at the 2012 mtvU Woodies, toured with Snow Patrol and sold out his own U.S. headlining tour in 12 minutes. No big deal, right? And no big ego either. "It's quite nice that the U.S. fans are involved and want to come to the shows," the humble star said. ("Quite nice"? We'd be commissioning an airplane to write those kind of wins across the sky. But that's just us.)
Ed Sheeran has scored more than 2.5 million Twitter followers, definitely enough to sell out a lot more gigs. He's even made a fan of Taylor Swift, whom he's been working with for her own upcoming album. Makes sense -- we know they're both big cat people. And not only is Sheeran pretty adorable himself (it's the boy-next-door guilelessness and that emotive British songwriting-as-storytelling thing David Gray does so well), but after listening to the eclectic +, it's easy to tell why everybody's got the album on repeat.
"My music is a mixture of a lot of acoustic music -- of folk, hip-hop, soul," Sheeran says, which makes sense since he's a huge hip-hop fan and even teamed up with Yelawolf. "I think YouTube has destroyed the genre barrier. People can be into Justin Bieber and Eminem at the same time. It's a good thing." Also a good thing? All of the Ed Sheeran videos, interviews and performances we've hooked up for you below. Get into it:
+ Watch Ed Sheeran's "The A Team" live performance below, and get more performances and interviews after the jump.
"The A Team (Live)"
Los Angeles rockers White Arrows are open-minded dudes: Like Fool's Gold or Vampire Weekend, the band has a sound that's equal parts indie edge and global groove. The band's gotten hometown love from L.A. Weekly and KCRW. The influential L.A. radio station praised the band for their live performance -- a skill White Arrows had a chance to master with a monthlong residency at an Echo Park club in 2011, an L.A. indie rite of passage. With their chops honed, the group headed to Europe this spring to rock festivals like Liverpool Sound City and The Great Escape. They've even gotten the attention of Justin Timberlake (!!!) who said of their "Get Gone" video, "Cool video. Song reminds me of Phil Collins: 'Take Me Home.'" High praise, indeed.
In addition to possibly bringing sexy back, White Arrows are making the most of the world's current fruit situation: "[Guitarist JP Caballero] listened to an NPR special about bananas, and how in 20 years or something there will be far less bananas," frontman Mickey Church explains. "He would start eating 20 to 40 bananas a day." Potassium: crucial! Beyond the vitamins though, the band also made sure their musical chemistry was cool with the universe before recording their debut album, Dry Land is Not a Myth, which dropped last Tuesday. "We went to an astrologer and made sure our signs were OK," JP says. The stars are definitely aligning for White Arrows.
+ Watch White Arrows play the song live below. And check out more performances and interviews after the jump.
Get Gone (Live)
Life's pretty good for Rita Ora. The effortlessly, endlessly soulful singer signed to Jay-Z's Roc Nation as a teenager, and after two years of making records, she's more than ready for her own time in the spotlight. The musician, who was born in Kosovo and now lives in the U.K., is already a hit with the Brits with her chilling, Drake-penned No. 1 single, "R.I.P." And while you've got a day pass to your local beach this summer, the 21-year-old's going to be opening for Coldplay (best summer internship ever). Thanks, Uncle Hov.
"When I first got introduced to Jay, I was 18," she says, explaining how her demos turned Jay-Z and the Roc Nation crew into believers. "He's one of the most influential people in my life."
While her singles demonstrate her pop side (and willingness to party), the singer knows her hip-hop history: "How We Do (Party)" pays tribute to Notorious B.I.G.'s "Party and Bulls***" with its upbeat hooks. "I've been a huge hip-hop fan for a while," she says. "We wanted a summer party anthem… I thought, how can I take this hip-hop track and turn it into a 'me' song?" Ora definitely completed the transformation with style, and promises "a few surprises" on her upcoming debut album. Below, see how Rita Ora does in her "How We Do (Party)" video and watch live performances and exclusive interviews.
+ Watch Rita Ora interviews, performances and more after the jump.
Scottish soul and R&B singer Emeli Sande got her start like so many noteworthy artists -- as a songwriter...and a soon-to-be doctor. Before music became her full-time gig, Emeli was studying medicine at the University of Glasgow while keeping songwriting just a hobby. It was during her fourth year in school when she wrote the hook for a song called "Diamond Rings" and gave it to English rapper Chipmunk. With Sande's vocals on the track, the song became a top 10 hit, and after penning songs for Cher Lloyd, Susan Boyle and Cheryl Cole (to name a few), Emeli soon landed a record deal with EMI. Needless to say, medicine would have to wait.
Emeli's made her mark overseas already, having won the coveted Critic's Choice statue at the 2012 Brit Awards, but now it's time for you to get to know the "Heaven" singer. We sat down with Emeli, our PUSH artist of the week, and she opened up to us about her first U.S. album release, what she learned from writing for other artists before launching her solo career, and the importance of a hard day's work: "You always hope maybe [your music] can do well, but you never know. And so finally, to feel like the hard work has paid off, it's such a relief, and it was really encouraging to keep doing what I was doing." We're guessing 13-plus million views on her "Next To Me" video is a bit of a relief as well.
Emeli Sande's Our Version Of Events is out stateside June 5.
+ Watch Emeli Sande's live performance of "Next To Me" below, and check out more interviews and videos after the jump.
You might not know French DJ Martin Solveig's name offhand, but you definitely know his work. His 2010 smash single "Hello," featuring Canadian electropop act Dragonette, peaked at No. 1 in five countries around the world. It's also absolutely impossible to get out of your head once you've heard it -- you may still be humming it from the song's cameos on "90210," "The Vampire Diaries" or "Gossip Girl," to name a few. The track was such a success that Solveig was recruited to put his Midas touch on Madonna's most recent album, MDNA. Not a bad name to have on your résumé.
We caught up with Martin, our PUSH artist of the week, and he let us in on what it was like working with the Material Girl, as well as his penchant for playing large stadiums and the team effort that went into his track, the über-infectious and many-times-remixed "The Night Out": "When we decided to release it properly as a single, I called many of my friends to make remixes, so it was really a group work." Must be nice to have your friends lend you a hand with remixes on the fly -- the only thing my friends help me out with is moving (and that's only if free food and drinks are involved).
Martin Solveig's Smash is out now. And whatever you do, do NOT miss him when he performs live as the house DJ at the 2012 MTV Movie Awards, Sunday, June 3 at 9/8c!
+ Watch Martin Solveig's "Hello" video below, and check out more videos and interviews with Martin Solveig after the jump.
Chances are you've heard Kimbra's voice once or twice before. Actually, if you've lived on planet Earth for the past year or so, you've probably heard her guest verse in fellow PUSH alum Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know" at least 100 times by now. But Kimbra's been a solo musician in her native New Zealand since she was just a little girl. She debuted her first music video on the New Zealand children's TV show "What Now," and she sang the national anthem in front of 27,000 people when she was only 10 years old. In the years since (there's only been 12 of them), she signed with new management and relocated to Australia. Kimbra's first single, "Settle Down," was released in late 2010 to critical acclaim, and of course you all know the aforementioned megahit "Somebody." And here we are -- Kimbra's our PUSH artist of the week.
Get to know the girl from Down Under in our performance and interview videos. The "Warrior" singer sits down to discuss her unique take on fashion -- "It's important because it's an extension of the sonic world" -- and the intricate body paint she donned for the cover of her debut album, Vows. Speaking of body paint, Kimbra let us in on how long that Gotye "Somebody" video took to shoot, and how she's probably had enough body paint experience for a while: "Then [after the Vows cover shoot] I went on to do a 12-hour shoot for the Gotye video, so I've had a lot of experience being naked with copious amounts of paint on my body." Not sure anyone's necessarily complaining about that.
Kimbra's Vows is out now on Warner Bros.
+ Watch Kimbra's "Settle Down" video below, and check out more performances and interviews after the jump.
T. Mills (aka Travis Tatum Mills) started making music like any other millennial from SoCal might -- in his bedroom on his laptop. But T. was able to turn his little hobby into a real deal record contract in just about two years. "I made a Myspace page and I put some pictures up, and kids just started finding my page," Mills says about being discovered. But it's not like it just fell into this lap -- he worked hard for his fanbase. "I would literally spend eight to nine hours a day on my computer, adding kids and talking to my fans." After heading out on the road and scoring a coveted spot on 2009's Warped Tour, T. eventually inked a deal with Columbia in 2011. Boom. Time to get famous.
T.'s probably most known for his to-the-point track, "Vans On," which tactfully informs women that he will, when asked politely, "love" them with his Vans on (!!!). But there's much more to learn about the Cali rapper than his bedroom style. Check out our exclusive video interviews with Mills where he opens up about his Leaving Home EP, his unexpected fanbase and being the subject of various tattoo art: "It's just crazy to me that someone would want my name on their body for the rest of their life... And sometimes I'm like, 'Yo, when you get married, what's your husband gonna say?'" That's a ton of tat insight, especially coming from someone who has a "F*** The Haters" tattoo on his face. As for what fans can look forward to from T. on his upcoming debut album, Mills is moving on up. "I feel like every body of work I put out, it just keeps on improving... I try to take full advantage of the recording process and just improve. I feel like when you get comfortable that's when things kinda stay still." Damn. T. Mills should make e-cards.
+ Download a free copy of T. Mills' "Diemonds" (produced by The Monsters and The Strangerz) from his upcoming mixtape "Thrillionaire." Check out his video "Vans On" below, and peep our video interviews after the jump.