Whitney Houston has died at age 48 according to her publicist Kristen Foster. The cause and nature of her death are undisclosed at the moment. This is really terrible news. Her death comes right before the Grammy Awards that are set to air tomorrow. Rest in peace Whitney. You will surely be missed and we have lost one of the GREATEST SINGERS of ALL TIME!
Los, one of the best indie artists in the game right now, has recently created a huge buzz for himself with the release of his “The Crown Ain’t Safe” mixtape. Add to this the fact that he just landed a deal with Diddy on Bad Boy, and I would say we have the next big thing on our hands. As exciting as this all may be, there is one small problem: this isn’t his first time on the Bad Boy label. In 2005 he joined the Bad Boy family, only to be dropped from the label in 2008. Everyone knows that Diddy has to the power to build you as the next best thing, but he also has a history of making bad decisions where it pertains to his artists. Should Los have gone back to Bad Boy?
It’s obvious that there is/was tension between Diddy and Los. Los
On the other hand, it looks like Diddy may have had a change of heart and may be trying to resurrect Bad Boy’s lifeline. He was quoted as saying “It’s time for a whole new generation; it’s time for a whole new movement. So we got Machine Gun Kelly, French Montana, Red Cafe; we got Cassie. We also have a new artist named Los that we signed. It’s official. We’re trying to put that young, youthful energy out in the air and do it the only way that Bad Boy can do it.” Could it be that Diddy has found the error of his old ways?
Regardless of a label, Los is talented and smart (if you listen to any of his bars, then you would agree). Since we’re on the outside looking in, we may not see why Los went back. Shouldn’t we have enough trust in him to make the best decisions for his career? On the other hand, history has been known to repeat itself. If you fool me once, then it’s shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. I sure hope for Los’ sake that he remembers “the crown ain’t safe” for everyone, so tread carefully.
There has always been a debate on whether artists/producers should stay local or move out of their state to get success. The next few articles will check different points of view on this topic and their reason. First up, DC rapper and producer, Judah.
CG: Why did you decide to stay in DC to do music?
JUDAH: I decided to stay in DC for various reasons. Definitely, one being my family. My family is here; my mother, sister, nieces and everyone like that. I traveled a lot; I’ve lived in both LA and even New York. However, my creative energy and whole creative process started here in DC and remains in DC. I got to stay here. Plus, it’s hard to know what’s going on in your region or your area, when you’re not there. To help out all the artists in my area, I had to be here with them. I need to know who’s hot, who’s got it going on and I just need to stay in the mix. I love it in DC.I left to go to school and play football and went other places, but I always came back to DC. As far as musically, creativity and business… you just can’t beat it.
CG: Speaking of DC, you specialize in “gogo”.Do you feel since you are à gogo” producer, it’s beneficial for you to stay in DC?
JUDAH: No, not really. I wouldn’t even consider myself à gogo” producer. I took a lot of elements from gogo.I took the aggression and some of the patterns from it. Like they say,” When in Rome, do what the Romans do”. understand what is going on, you have to be in that area. I take elements from it;I don’t saturate my music with it. At the end of the day, the nation is still not familiar with gogo and have turned a blind eye to it.Honestly, if I was here or there, my music would still have that element in it.
CG: Name some local artists that you have worked with.
JUDAH: I’ve worked with Tabi Booney, Phil Ade, Wale, Marky XO, Diamond District and I broke out a lot of new artists that are buzzing.
CG: Do you think staying locally has helped you to work with these artists?
JUDAH: It helped, but those guys are younger than me. I’m 33. I was doing it for at least seven years before they started buzzing. When they came out, they knew about me. They came to me out of respect. I was buzzing before they were on your radar.
CG: Ok, I can see how a buzz can help you locally. Now,let’s flip it. With your buzz, who are some artists that you have worked with outside of your state?
JUDAH: I’ve worked with Ras Kass, Mick Boogie, Stalley, Currency, C-Rayz Walz, Yukmouth, GLC and I’ve scored video games (Saints Row 2).
CG: Do you see yourself more as a producer or rapper?
JUDAH: I’m just really a producer. I write a lot of songs. If I write and like a song and an artist doesn’t like it, I’ll use it for myself. At the end of the day,I don’t want to be a rapper. I really just want to be a producer. If the rap is hot and nobody wants it, I’ll put it out myself. I did that with my track”Sundressesand Sandals”.
CG: Do you think it’s easier for producers to get noticed locally?
JUDAH: Honestly, I think you need to lock down your area first. You need to produce for the artists in your region. You learn many different things in training and get experience before you go nationwide. You won’t be green. If you lock down your area, you can win in other areas. It can’t hurt you. I’m still training myself.
CG: I know it’s everywhere, but do you feel DC suffers from the “crab in a bucket” mentality?
JUDAH: Like you said,it’s everywhere. We don’t have too many people who came out from here to be successful. We only had three people to come out of here that you can say made it. There is Wale, Raheem DeVaughn and Tabi Bonney. And actually, Tabi Bonney hasn’t really had a deal, but he has had national exposure. We are looking at only three people who have broke ground on a nationwide level. Everybody wants to be first and “make it”. If we had more people making it, you wouldn’t see that mentality so much. Since it’s so seldom though, people are going to do whatever they have to do.
CG: How do you counter attack that?
JUDAH: Personally, I understand that it happens everywhere. You have to spread the love around.It’s all about opportunities. I’m about giving opportunities. I started a website called http://www.forthedmvonly.com for DMV artists only. It’s for music and videos. It’s not biased. There are a lot of websites that won’t post any of our artists. They only post people in their circles. You can’t have the same people doing the same things. You can’t have the same people doing the same shows and not giving other people a chance. When you have and give more opportunities, then you tend to feel less hated and show more love.
CG: In closing, what advice do you have for artists that want to stay local to make it big?
JUDAH: Lock it down. Be strategic about your moves. When you make it,make sure your city is proud of you. Be 100% honest with what you do. People are watching you. So, be careful when you say you’re putting your city on your back. If they don’t feel like you’re doing that, then they are going to call you out.
CG: Any last words or shout outs?
JUDAH: I appreciate you. I have a new instrumental album coming out. My Amber Rose instrumental album did better well. This new one will come out in February and will come out on universal indie. It’s called “Please Understand She Saved You”.It’s going to be a dope concept and has a lot of hidden messages. You can also check me out on at http://www.judah.bandcamp.com
Hip hop is notorious for the stigma of inhabiting ignorant and selfish examples for artists, forcing non-fans to view the hip hop culture negatively. By hearing the name, Charmingly Ghetto, one would think that he fits the stereotype,however, this couldn’t be any further from the truth. Charmingly Ghetto expresses the importance of reading, the essence of rap and building relationships with this interview with Dead End Hip Hop.
ChicanGeorge: Your name is one of the best and most interesting in hip hop. How did you get it?
CG: I wouldn’t say that I got it from somewhere, per-say. I would say that the idea came to me from my readings, life experiences and the fact that I felt personality wise that no one could ever really place me in a box when identifying who I was. I embraced the ideals addressed through W.E.B. DuBois’ theory of double consciousness and by embodying this duality of the man of color in America is inherent within me, and in my opinion others like me. We can adapt to our surroundings yet we are knowledgeable of the latter as well, but sans the bravado. This shared existence is what I really try to put through in my music and I hope that it resonates.
ChicanGeorge: Wow! I’m impressed you read and are living out W.E.B. Dubois’ theories. I think a lot of artist today don’t read like they should. What are your thoughts on that?
CG: I think that it is important for anyone, whether artist or not to read, you know? I think that since we are told to read in school and many times read literature that we may not be interested in, it discourages us from reading for our own enlightenment thus setting us back from self progress. I think that people should find a genre or a type of book that they enjoy reading so reading isn’t a task; its more of something to enjoy.
ChicanGeorge: Your wordplay is crazy! Who were some of your influences coming up?
CG: My influences lyrically coming up were artists like Common, Nas, 2Pac, Eminem; people who loved words and loved to weave them so effortlessly even more. I just like to really go in with the lyrics, even so much sometimes that I have to take a step back and assess where I am with the flow as I may lose myself. I really appreciate you listening so intently though. I really caught the lyrical breakdown that you did on that review (which I might add was the most thorough I’ve seen on my music in “print” thus far). That was dope really reassured me that people were out here listening closely. Respect.
ChicanGeorge: The “Study A’Broad” project was one of the best projects I reviewed this year. What was your inspiration behind it?
CG: My inspiration was the urgency to put together a project that I felt could resonate with people all over the world regardless of their musical or cultural preferences and void of exclusion in the creative process. I thought about the grand scheme of things and the fact that hip hop music is appreciated everywhere. Combine that with the fact that I was very humbled by these cats to take the time to really listen to my music and reach out, it was only right to do work. And do work we did. I’m very proud of this project.
ChicanGeorge: So do you feel that networking and strong relationships between the producer and artist are important?
CG: Building up such constructive relationships between producers is essential to the growth of the relationship indeed. This enables the ability for tracks to better fit an MC and even the overall vibe and cohesiveness sound of a project. It only makes sense for a more complete body of work in the long run because there is just so much more creativity poured into the music which is something that I learned after having just released this project not too long ago. Networking is definitely key as they say your reach is only as far as who you know. If that’s the case then you have to keep pushing the music to he far corners of the world.
ChicanGeorge: How did you enjoy working with producers outside of the U.S.?
CG: I loved it! Great respect for their knowledge of the art form and the ideas and innovation they wished to bring to the table. I learned a lot and still do on a daily basis. Big respect for the international love!
ChicanGeorge: With that in mind, do you think hip hop has a bigger influence inside or outside the U.S.?
CG: I think hip hop and its influences reach out to the people who are avid and unequivocal listeners of music. These type of people you can find anywhere, regardless of space and time. I’m speaking on the person that is digging for a sound that they remember as well as the cat that’s just looking for a new sound to vibe to can find what they want in hip hop, which is a hybrid genre in my opinion much like funk and soul music. You have to identify elements within the music that you connect with and then engulf yourself in them. And anyone can do that. They just have to want to.
@ the end of the day….Did Busta and Mystikal make the right choice to join Cash Money?
Busta Ryhmes and Mystikal share many similarities in the world of hip hop. Both have some of the most uncanny cadences on their tracks, and bring high energy to their songs and live performances. They even both share bad run-ins with the law. With all of that in common, they also share something else …both are two of the newest artists signed to Cash Money. Some love it; some hate it. Let’s take a look at both sides of the story.
Many people say this is a great fit for Busta and Mystikal. Cash Money’s spotlight has been bright the past few years and both vets deserve to get their shine on. Busta, known for rapping over any type of beat and having some of the illest flow out there, would fit perfectly with Cash Money’s style. Not to mention the pivotal part he played in mending the East Coast/West Coast feud, which showed that artists on both ends of spectrum can come together in the name of hip hop. Mystikal, a native New Orleanian working with Mannie Fresh on a mixtape, will bring a dash of danger, intrigue and rawness to the Cash Money family. If things work, Cash Money can place themselves to give the push and commercial success that both artists have lacked the past few years.
On the other hand, this could be a disaster in the making. With both artists being veterans in the hip hop game, every move needs to be strategic. It could appear that this move could ultimately move them 2 steps forward to success or 10 steps back to hip hop roadkill. Lyrically both are in the realm of their own but will they be able to stand up with the heavy hitters of today?
@ the end of the day….Can east coast rappers sound like southern rappers?
East coast rappers songs sound lyrical with soul sampling production. Southern rappers have a more laid back, party sound over 808s and “trap” style production. There is an unspoken rule between the two coast…the Jim Crow rule. In other words, the two styles are supposed to stay segregated. With the current buzz of Asap Rocky, there seems to be a problem. See, this Harlem rapper sounds like he’s from Houston. Should this be a problem? Is he opening doors for creativity or making a mockery of his coast? The question remains…can east coast rappers sound southern? Let’s look at both sides of the Mason Dixon of hip hop on this debate.
By an east coast rapper sounding southern, East coast artists and east coast hip hop fans feel disrespected. New York is considered the mecca of hip hop. All of the pioneers came from here. Majority of the classic albums of all time come from East coast artists, who had east coast flows. They were considered the leaders of hip hop and by sounding southern, it seems as though they are followers. Within that same thought, many east coast artists change their style to generate more money. Southern artists seem to be making more money and getting more spotlight, so many are trying to follow suit. On the flip side, the Jim Crow rule seems biased. It’s more acceptable for southern artists to sound lyrical and use samples, but not for east coast artists to sound “crunk”. Similar to Chaundon, many east coast fans feel there is a NYID problem.
Trying to sound like your coast can limit your creativity. Sometimes, the artists may not originally be from the coast they are living in. Also, they actually may be influenced by another coast. Being limited to sounding a certain way can also limit fan bases as well. When Mims (a New York rapper) dropped “This is why I’m hot“, it was a hit. It was played throughout other regions; it had placement on commercials and had a huge rock remix for it. However, he was ridiculed by east coast fans. Is it really fair that Mims can’t “get on” if he isn’t repping right?
Asap Rocky has talent. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be getting a 3 million dollar deal from RCA/Polo Grounds. Maybe, Asap Rocky is looking beyond coasts. He has received co-signs from Jim Jones and Drake so he must be doing something right. He also made a good point about influences when discussing Wu-Tang in a Complex interview. He said that they never went to China, but we’re influenced by the culture. This is a good point. Are we making this debate bigger than it actually is? Is hip hop waiting for a rap version of MLK to bring us all together? @ the end of the day…it shouldn’t be about the coast but rather, who can influence the most.
@ the end of the day…can artists be successful as rappers and actors?
What do The Fat boys, Kid N Play, Lady of Rage, Queen Latifah and Ice-T have in common? They are all best known as actors. Wait a minute…I meant to say best known as rappers? Depending on what generation and type of music listener you ask, this question (also including others to the list) can be difficult to answer. It seems to be a stigma to artists that become actors (or vice versa). Once they cross over from the video screen to the silver screen they walk a fine, unbalanced line with fans.. Take a look at Drake and Childish Gambino. Both have gained respect and suffered the wrath of harsh criticism from hip hop heads. With Drake, some think that Jimmy should get back in his wheelchair and roll back to Degrassi. And with Childish Gambino, some are thinking “Is Donald Glover for real or is this a like a Lonely Island spoof thing?”. With both of their albums dropping this week, “can artists be successful as rappers and actors?”.
1. Dedication is debatable. Within hip hop, artists put their all into their careers. So, when fans see someone bouncing back and forth, it looks suspect. Are they doing it to get more exposure? Are they doing it for more money? Can you truly give each the same focus and attention at the same time and put out a quality product?
2. Authenticity is affected. Hip Hop is about keeping it real (we will save that debate for another blog). So, when you are a rapper that’s an actor…how do we know that you’re…not just acting? If you’re too well of an actor, its quite possible that fans may think that your lyrics and style is all for show.
3. Skills over success. Just because you are successful in one area, doesn’t mean that you will be equally successful in the other. We have seen several movies ruined because rappers thought that they could act. We have also seen/heard freestyles from actors that have made us not want to even listen to the original track again. Rule of thumb – if you aren’t good at rapping, then acting can be hit or miss.
Even though we see so many people violate these points, there are many that don’t. Will Smith, Ice Cube, Mos Def and Queen Latifah are a few names that show success on both sides. There is one thing that people can’t forget about this issue – both of these jobs are considered art. Rapping and acting allow individuals to express themselves freely. As artists (speaking of both rap and acting), you live to mature and transcend your work. We can see that Drake and Childish Gambino are doing that. When the lights are on and the cameras are rolling/the pro tools are recording…hip hop and movie fans simply want to see the action.
Many of you have asked for our Top 10 list of emcees. Unable to put together an actual show for you all at the moment, we decided to drop the list on the website. We will work on putting together a short video discussing our selections but until then, check it out below and as always, let us know what you think. What are your thoughts on the list below? Are surprised make the list? What is your top 10 emcees you are currently listening to?
MODEST MEDIA – In Order:
- Kendrick Lamar
- Tyler the Creator
- Jay Electronica
- J. Cole
FEEFO – No particular order:
- Big KRIT
- CyHi Da Prynce
- King Mez
- Tyler The Creator
BEEZY – No particular order:
- Black Thought
- Kendrick Lamar
- J Cole
- Jean Grae
- Royce Da 5’9
- Danny Brown
KINGE – No order:
- Kendrick Lamar
- Joe Budden
- Tyler the Creator
- Childish Gambino
- Gilbere Forte
- Cobe Obeah
@ the end of the day…Does Wale have “ambition”?
Ambition is defined as “a desire for a accomplishment, distinction, power, or wealth and the willingness to strive for its attainment”. Wale feels as though his life embodies the very definition of this as he strives for “legendary” status with his release of “Ambition”. Unfortunately, many hip hop fans may beg to differ. Many feel that he has lost his edge, blaming Maybach Music Group for stunting his growth as an artist. Many feel that his new found arrogance has made him delusional. So, this brings us to the question of the article: Does Wale have “ambition“?
Ever since Wale gained hip hop head nods with “100 Miles & Running” and “The Mixtape about Nothing” (which is tied as my favorite concept project to ever be created) and many other mixtapes, it was obvious that he had the ambition to be known with hip hop greats. He received a placement on Madden ’09 with his track “Breakdown” and dropped “Attention Deficit“. Regardless of sales (and shipping problems), it was a powerful album. Due to not being considered of having “commercial success”, many people felt as though Wale was headed on a decline. As he signed with Maybach Music Group, many felt as though Rick Ross was going to have a negative influence on his future projects. They felt that he was getting away from his “go go” roots and his great lyrics that he had before vanished. Many felt that this move was more for the money and not the love of hip hop.
In a previous article I wrote (Is Maybach Music Group really the Mami Heat of Rap?), I considered Wale the “Lebron James of hip hop”. Just like Lebron, when Wale made his “trade” his “fans” felt it was more of a selfish move. However, both moved for the same reason…to have better odds of having a legendary status. With that, he received the “villain” title. Just like small forwards, Wale usually scores most of the “points” for the team (stepping out of majority of commercial verses and actually bringing deeper bars than his other “team mates” and also showing that he can “score” by making great mixtapes). Wale has also went on the defense on his beat selection as well. Whether he is rapping over a Best Kept Secret, Judah, 9th Wonder or Lex Luger beat…his lyrical content remains to still been the same. Fans complained that he didn’t have enough “riding music” from “Attention Deficit” (which I think was the direction he was going…hence the title), now he’s making more commercial sounding tracks. Maybe his arrogance is being mistaken for frustration from support of his fans?
Ambition is currently out and is being well received. Many are saying that it’s Wale’s best work yet. Wale’s twitter timeline has been filled up over the past couple of days with encouragement, support and RT’s of fans as well as celebs speaking on the project . Whether you jumped on his band wagon from his current buzz or have been a die-hard fan, one thing is for sure. @ the end of the day…Wale’s desire to let everyone know he has ambition for Ambition to get a Grammy is well seen.