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Five years ago today, the highly-anticipated third installment in Jay Z's Blueprint series finally became a reality, as Jay premiered the album's first official single, "D.O.A. (Death Of Auto-Tune)" on Hot 97. After T-Pain broke through to the mainstream in 2005, the rapper-turned-singer's auto-tuned style spawned countless imitators and adopters and ruled both the charts and the airwaves, simultaneously frustrating and delighting listeners, depending on which side of the fence you were on. When Kanye West dropped his desperately-anguished 808s And Heartbreak in November 2008, it marked a newfound acceptance for the form and a bold new direction for Kanye's career as he transitioned away from the sped-up-soul beats and tongue-in-cheek punchlines that he'd built his career on.

Six months later, Jamie Foxx and T-Pain's torturously-auto-tuned "Blame It" was wrapping up a 14-week run on top of the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and Jay Z had apparently seen enough. With lyrics like "This is anti-auto-tune/Death of the ringtone/This ain’t for iTunes/This ain’t for sing-alongs" and "My raps don’t have melodies/This should make niggas wanna go and commit felonies/Get your chain tooken/I may do it myself, I’m so Brooklyn," he made his point loud and clear. Many people responded—T-Pain and Lil Wayne among them—and others thought that the song was a pointed shot straight at Kanye (since the two embarked on Watch The Throne shortly after, it probably wasn't). But either way, the heir to The Notorious B.I.G.'s throne had spoken, and the matter may have been settled.

Except it wasn't. The track, and the wave of anti-auto-tune that followed, may have sent T-Pain into exile, but as 808s And Heartbreak became latently appreciated for its brutal honesty and bold sound, auto-tune persisted in the hip-hop world. And then came Future, the Dungeon Family-affiliated hook-master from Atlanta who unabashedly broke through to hip-hop stardom by mangling his vocals to such a degree that the phrase "unintelligible Future verse" was celebrated as something positive rather than cringe-worthy. It was Future, as well as the persistence of Kanye and Wayne, who pulled the effect back from the dead, paving the way for the Kirko Bangzes, Rich Homie Quans and Young Thugs—not to mention T-Pain's pseudo-comeback—that we have on our hands today.

Auto-Tune may have started out with a bad rap, but since Hov tried to kill it five years ago, hip-hop has seen plenty of great songs that lean on the effect. XXL has put together 30 of those to commemorate the anniversary of auto-tune's "death." Turn up. —Christopher Harris, Marvin Jules and XXL Staff

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30 Great Auto-Tuned Songs Since Jay Z’s “Death Of Auto-Tune”

On Going Against His Faith:
Lecrae: Another common misconception is that we’re perfect people. But we’re not, we’re people who embrace our imperfections. That’s what a Christian is, a person who embraces his imperfections and says, "Man, I am so not perfect and I need to put my trust in someone who is." That’s me, ‘cause I don’t carry myself like I got it all together, I carry myself like I know who does. So all the time, I mess up all the time. But I have a power, a strength and faith to keep me following in what I believe in and get back on track.

On Going Against His Faith:

Lecrae: Another common misconception is that we’re perfect people. But we’re not, we’re people who embrace our imperfections. That’s what a Christian is, a person who embraces his imperfections and says, "Man, I am so not perfect and I need to put my trust in someone who is." That’s me, ‘cause I don’t carry myself like I got it all together, I carry myself like I know who does. So all the time, I mess up all the time. But I have a power, a strength and faith to keep me following in what I believe in and get back on track.
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Lecrae Is Dropping A New Album In August

Earlier this week, Houston based MC Lecrae announced via Twitter that he is releasing his seventh studio album, Anomaly, in August. After making the announcement with a tweet that read, "My name is Lecrae and my new album Anomaly drops August 2014," NFL player Justin Tuck and NBA player Jeremy Lin showed support of the album by sending out their own messages (as seen in the gallery above) on their social media accounts...

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xxl freshmen managers jarren benton

Jarren Benton

Manager: Damien Ritter
Company: Funk Volume
The Road To The XXL 2014 Freshmen Cover: We brought Jarren on [to Funk Volume] in 2012, and right when he came on he had a project that was pretty much already done in Freebasing With Kevin Bacon. So when that cycle ended, he started working on My Grandma's Basement, and that was the first project he released under Funk Volume last year. But then we had a bunch of tours—Dizzy Wright had the Smokeout Conversations Tour, and then the Funk Volume 2012 Tour—so with what he was releasing and then getting him out on the road, he was able to start building his own fan base. So that's how the initial momentum started.

And then with the release of his album and his own visuals under Funk Volume, it just got tighter and the vision got bigger. So eventually it caught the wind of you guys, and you guys were able to nominate him. And once the nomination and the votes get started, we have a pretty nice platform, and the fans are very supportive of the things that we do. So when it comes to voting and voting artists, our fans are super supportive, and they just stepped up to the plate and made it happen. The strategy is to let [the fans] all know through all the different touch points that we have. With the way things are these days, you have so many different platforms to touch fans—Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and all the guys have those—so when we're trying to get a message out, we make sure everybody knows and create a lot of momentum and energy. It's not a very complex strategy, it's just firing from all cylinders.

I think [what sets Funk Volume apart] is that we're a pretty tight-knit bunch, and we communicate relatively well. We've really taken advantage of that to build every project. I mean, it serves every artist well—whether we're trying to get votes or trying to push a project—it's just beneficial for everybody, when it's their turn to get exposure or to push a project, they get everybody supporting them. So it's just in everybody's best interests to be supportive so that the whole team can move forward and the momentum overall can get bigger.

I always tell the guys that it's constantly building on small wins. I look at everything as a small win; I try not to let my highs get me too high or my lows get me too low, you just keep moving. We build on every success that we have, so looking forward it's like, let's take this—let's not rest or lean on it—let's see how we can build on it to make whatever is in front of us bigger than the last thing that we did. —As told to Dan Rys
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What We Learned: Jarren Benton’s ‘Ask Me Anything’ Session On Reddit

Next up on XXL Freshmen 2014 invasion of Reddit’s Ask Me Anything Session is Jarren Benton. Benton answered fans questions about Funk Volume, his album and his appreciation for FV fans...

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Hall of Fame 2014 Summer Lookbook
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Hall Of Fame Hits The Ring With Summer 2014 Lookbook

California based brand, Hall of Fame, returns with their 2014 summer lookbook. Ready to knock out the competition with their new collection, HOF followed professional boxer, Zach "Kid Yamaka" Wohlman through a day in the life of his training camp at Wild Card Boxing Club, better known as the home of boxing coach, Freddie Roach...

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