Thursday, September 30, 2010

Barack Obama Talks Music With Rolling Stone

The Commander-in-chief says while he's got some old school tracks on his iPod, he's also bumping Nas, Jay-Z and Lil Wayne.
Barack Obama will grace the cover of Rolling Stone magazine's upcoming issue. In the cover story, the president speaks on several topics, including the kinds of music he listens to.

"My iPod now has about 2,000 songs and it is a source of great pleasure to me," he told the magazine. "I am probably still more heavily weighted toward the music of my childhood than I am the new stuff. There's still a lot of Stevie Wonder, a lot of Bob Dylan, a lot of Rolling Stones, a lot of R&B, a lot of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Those are the old standards."

Obama also added that he's been delving into Hip Hop lately. During his campaign trail in 2008, he'd met with both Jay-Z and Kanye West, who he hoped would help him to reach out to the youth.

"Thanks to Reggie [Love, the president's personal aide], my rap palate has greatly improved. Jay-Z used to be sort of what predominated, but now I've got a little Nas and a little Lil Wayne and some other stuff, but I would not claim to be an expert. Malia and Sasha are now getting old enough to where they start hipping me to things. Music is still a great source of joy and occasional solace in the midst of what can be some difficult days."

Although President Obama did talk music, he also touched heavily on some more serious issues. Midterm elections are coming up and Democrats are predicted to lose key seats.

"We have to get folks off the sidelines," he said. "People need to shake off this lethargy, people need to buck up. Bringing about change is hard--that's what I said during the campaign. It has been hard and we've got some lumps to show for it. But if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren't serious in the first place. If you're serious, now's exactly the time that people have to step up."
-Salima Koroma

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Blog Entry #4 Howard University Convocation

In the 143rd Opening Convocation Dr. Ben Carson gave an enlightening speech of the future at Howard University and being able to use our talents for the world to see. Dr. Ben Carson began being very light-hearted leaving a disclaimer that he wasn’t trying to offend others. He spoke about how being open-minded is opens many avenues for everyone. He started giving personal stories of school and life in general having the whole crowd feel very comfortable in such a prestigious event of Howard University. He certainly gave a message to the audience that you had to recognize who was responsible for your own destiny. That you are willing to work with the surrounding environment no matter the circumstances to gain the knowledge you believe you need. Going above and beyond what is expected that leads to students to realize their worth and filling the missing gaps students may confront while in school or in life. He told us as students that we can’t criticize, but find the solutions. We have identified the issues in society, but we can’t just sit around, we have to find the solutions to the issues of the society. As students we need to use our brains to think outside the box. Using the story of one of his operational successes he provided that our talents should be used to elevate people and we can measure our success not by our pay, but how much our triumphs lift-up those around us. He ends with discussing that God is our creator and our values and beliefs should be defined around him. He emphasizes that religion can bring our nation together in a time where we need to fix the social unrest and use the original principles by the Constitution.

iStandard Producer Showcase - DC Style

The nationally renowned iStandard Producer Showcase makes its debut in the DMV area, in our nation's capital Washington, D.C. to be exact, on Tuesday, October 19th, and Wednesday, October 20th!

Over these 2 evenings, 24 producers will showcase their tracks in front of an esteemed industry panel and the most vibrant and condusive setting!

Judges confirmed so far for this event are Best Kept Secret (Producers for Wale), Omen (Producer for Drake, Luda, Fab, The Dream, etc.), Stay Gettin Entertainment (Producers for Camron, Jim Jones, Juelz Santana, etc.) with many more to be announced...
 Purchase tickets below

Number of tickets

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

10 Tips for Success in the Recording Studio

1. Know what you want to sound like- as you write and rehearse songs, think about what sort of sounds  you like and how you’d like your material to come across sonically. It’s good to be able to describe the sound you’re after to the producer/engineer at the studio in reasonably specific terms. Also, make sure everyone in the band is more or less on the same page about your sound.
2. Know what you actually DO sound like- it's good to have a realistic picture of your sound so you know both your strengths and weaknesses going into the studio. For instance, if you want a massive drum sound but your drummer's kit (or playing) isn't up to snuff, you'll likely be disappointed in the studio. The same thing goes for guitar and bass sounds, and particularly vocals. If there are performance or equipment issues, it's a lot easier and cheaper to address those before the studio clock is running.
3. Record and listen to yourselves- these days almost every band has access to some sort of cheap or free recording method, be it Garageband on your computer or even an old cassette player. It's surprising how few bands make a habit of recording and listening to themselves. Don't worry about how the recordings sound, they're for your own reference only. The important thing is to hear how all of the instruments and vocals work together as a whole. It's also a very good thing to get used to playing while you're being recorded.
4. Go to a studio/engineer that will understand you- do a bit of research and find a place that will be sympathetic to your sound. Talk to other local bands that you like and see where they've worked successfully. Find an engineer or producer who you respect, and who will also respect you and be into what you're doing. It makes a HUGE difference to work with someone who is actively helping you rather than just punching the clock.
5. Be open to change- the studio environment is very different from your rehearsal space or a live show, so it's good to be able to adapt to what works best in the new situation. Sometimes instruments, amps, and drums that work in a less critical environment may come up short in the studio. Also, sounds can blend together (or clash) in ways you might not expect. It's good to have an open mind about things like amplifier settings, drum set up and tuning, etc. Having your own sound and approach is very important, but do listen to the engineer's suggestions about these things. Sometimes it's hard to understand why doing something different is better until you hear it back through the studio speakers.
6. Don't bite off too much- a common mistake new bands make is to try to record too many songs on their first studio session. Everyone has their favorite songs, and everyone wants to hear everything recorded. However, it's really important to give yourselves enough time to learn and react to the recording process. Trying to do too many songs in too short of a time often leads to none of them turning out very well. If you're going into the studio for just a day or two to start, you might want to consider doing a really good job on two or three of your songs. Pick the “best” to try first, and have one or two in reserve in case one of the others isn't working out. This first session will teach everyone in the band a ton about how the recording process, and the band itself, work. It may be a good idea to do a single initial session, learn from that experience, and then go back to the studio to do more songs with that experience under your belts.
7. Budget realistically- following on from the last point, make sure you know how much you have to spend on recording and be realistic about what that money will get you. Remember that, in addition to recording, you'll need to do mixes. Also, be sure to budget recording media (hard drive for computer recording, tape for analog) into your overall picture. Like many of life's projects, recording can often take a bit longer and cost a bit more than planned. Pragmatic budgeting and, above all, your own preparedness can head off surprises down the road. Figure out what you want to achieve and what your budget is and communicate that clearly to the studio before you go in. The studio will often have good suggestions about how to make things work within whatever budget you have.
8. Another note about budgeting- while it may seem like a good strategy to work in the cheapest possible recording environment as a new band, this isn't necessarily the best choice. A professional studio with good sounding rooms, functioning gear and a knowledgeable staff can be much more cost-effective than someplace with poor equipment and/or inexperienced engineers. This is most particularly the case when recording live drums, acoustic instruments, and vocals. There's no need to book the fanciest place in town for your first session, but these days most towns in the US have pro studios priced within reach of indie artists. Working at a pro room with a quality engineer will often get you good sounding results more quickly than you might expect.
9. Party with care- everyone's probably super excited about the session, and nerves may also be running a little high. It's tempting to pound a few beers or do whatever else to add to the mood and maybe relax a little. It's good to keep a handle on partying during the session. Remember that you're paying money to be there and you only have a limited time to do what's most important, which is getting your music recorded. There's plenty of time to celebrate afterward when you listen back to it all. Another, less obvious thing to avoid is going into the studio with a hangover!
10. Above all, keep things in perspective- it's a big deal to do your first studio recordings, but it's also important to have fun with it. Don't get too worried, frustrated, or angry if things don't turn out exactly the way you had planned. Anytime a group of people work together things can go in unexpected directions. Sometimes the best results come from being open to “rolling with it” and seeing what comes out the other end. If things go off the rails, don't get too upset. If someone in the band is having trouble performing, cut them slack and don't get too critical. There'll be plenty of time for analysis afterwards. Ultimately you can only be as good as you are that very moment, so it's important to make that moment as cool as you can. While you're at the session, keeping a positive attitude and working as a team will make all of your preparation and effort much more likely to pay off. 
-Ed Ackerson

iStandard Exclusive iNterview w/ Symbolic One aka S1

Kanye West’s [Cover Story Excerpt] LEAK


What is the definition of cool?

Michael Jackson made “Heal the World.” He could do that because he was golden. He was himself. He didn’t have to try to be cool. Think about a lot of your favorite bands and groups. Would they make a song called “Heal the World”? No, because they are too concerned about their leather jackets. Ironically, they are probably wearing leather jackets because of Michael Jackson. Once you’re put in power, you have to take advantage of the position you’re in to make the world better. There were times when I thought I was making the world better, or maybe I just wasn’t thinking at all.

I’ve been dealing with the MTV incident every day of my life since it happened. The single thing that hurt me the most is when I found out how much Taylor Swift wanted to work with me. It wasn’t about Black or White, it wasn’t about wrong or right, it wasn’t about real or fake. It was about humanity, and at no point in life can you think that you’re such a god that you do not have to deal with humanity.

My biggest goal is to be anchored in taste and beauty, and there are some things that I’ve done that are just blatantly distasteful. As I grow up, I want to be able to apply good taste at all times. Knowing the audience, knowing who you’re talking to and how to be expressive and get your point across without being offensive is the key. It’s not about, Hey, I’m going to be offensive, and I’m going to be difficult. It’s like, No, I’m not going to be difficult.

Timing is everything. Good timing is a sign of good taste. I’ve heard people say, “Kanye told the truth. Beyoncé should’ve won.” But that doesn’t mean it was the right moment for me to express those feelings. There are certain people that know how to tell you things at the perfect time for you to be able to accept them properly. I wasn’t that person then.

I stress that the incident wasn’t about Taylor personally. And it definitely wasn’t about race. Where I messed up is, at the end of the day, it’s your show, Taylor. It’s your show, MTV. The relationship with the public and with your fans is like the relationship with your girlfriend. How could I not, at a certain point, be like, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have been at the awards show. I’m sorry.” Not that I don’t deserve to get beat up or change who I am inside, to make sure that that doesn’t happen again. But damn, it was, like, a neo–Emmett Till. A media massacre. I was neo–Emmett Till’d, if I could turn Emmett Till into a verb.

I wasn’t expecting the reaction I got. When I did things like that or the “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people” moment, it wasn’t a matter of being selfish, from where I stood. It’s more like I was being selfless—that I would risk everything to express what I felt was the truth. In this case, it was like I was driving a car and I needed to run this red light to make it to the airport, but by me running this red light, I ran someone over in the process, and that’s what people saw from a distance. Now I’m the biggest jerk in the world. Good morning, Kanye West, this is your life.

I knew I wasn’t in a great spot publicly after the incident, but I would just block it out and work as hard as possible and let my work be my saving grace. In a way, I had thrown a Molotov cocktail at my own career, and it gave me an opportunity, for the first time, to go away and find out who I was. Because I felt very alone. The only person that came to visit me the night it happened was Mos Def. He came to my house right afterward and said, “Move. You’re not going to be able to make it out here. You can’t make it in America right now. You have to move.”

And that’s what I did. I went to Japan for three weeks, then moved to Rome for the rest of the year. I worked as an intern at Fendi. On weekends, I would fly to Paris and sometimes take off four days just to be in Stockholm, Sweden, just to meet with Johnny who runs Acne, or the Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair, to find the perfect pair of jeans.

People asked Miles Davis, “What do you want to be remembered for?” He said, “That I’m Black.” People know Kanye West is Black, if they never did before. That’s one good thing, that when that house burned down and it was just the base, they saw that base was Black. Regardless of whatever Polo shirts or tight jeans or suits were worn, whatever complexion of whoever I was dating, whoever my friends were, you saw that the base was Black.

I spent the last year improving every element of myself as a person. By default, my raps are way better now, because I’m at a point where I don’t have to come up with lines—I just think of what I’m really doing and make it rhyme. January first of this year, I started back in the studio. I knew for a while I was going to start that day. I still had a lot of pain, and I needed to write that pain out, and it’s on my new album. But toward the end is when the Kanye West music really came. Everything is a form of my music, but the style of 808s & Heartbreak is better served by Drake and Kid Cudi than it is by me. I think they could both carry that sound better than I could, and also being that Cudi helped design that sound. That style of music is very nighttime, very streetlights. It’s, like, “streetlights glowing.” All that. It’s so funny, in a way. On one end, Drake probably sits and thinks, Wow, I want to make a song like “Power.” And I’ll sit around and be like, Man, I want to make a song like “Say Something. ”

Drake was the first thing that actually scared me and put pressure on me, because it was the first thing that was blatantly from a similar perspective and lane. When I feel pressure, I step my game up. So I believe that Drake made great music for people to love and enjoy, but he also forced me to step my game up, because I have to be Kanye West.

Drake & J. Cole – Who Dat [Live In New York]

During the New York stop of the ‘Light Dreams And Nightmares Tour’, Drake brought out J. Cole to perform ‘Who Dat"

Sunday, September 26, 2010

GM audio engineer lists Top 10 songs to test your car's stereo

Test driving the sound system when you're car shopping can be as key to your long-term satisfaction as checking out the handling. So we thought you'd like to see this list of Top 10 songs for testing car audio quality from General Motors audio engineer Matt Kirsch, who led the sound work on the Chevrolet Cruze.

Here are Kirsch's "10 Songs for an Audio Test Drive" and what he says to listen for in each track:
  1. "Don't Know Why" by Norah Jones. Listen for Norah's voice to sound natural, and centered in front of you.
  2. "Diamonds and Rust" by Joan Baez. Listen for strong vocals, and for the instruments to be set across a wide sound stage
  3. "No One" by Alicia Keys. Listen for clarity in Alicia's vocals and spacious background sound.
  4. "Hotel California" by the Eagles. Listen for the clarity and dynamic range during the opening guitar solo, and of course the powerful drum beat.
  5. "Boom Boom Pow"by the Black Eyed Peas. Listen for powerful, accurate bass beats, even at full volume.
  6. "Rock that Body"by the Black Eyed Peas. Listen clear, intelligible lyrics over the powerful, persistent bass beat.
  7. "Hide and Seek"by Imogen Heap. Listen for the enveloping ambience of the song, building on the openness and dynamic vocals.
  8. "He Mele No Lilo" by Mark Keali'i Ho'omalu from Lilo and Stitch.Listen for the ambience and staging as the children's chorus is offset by powerful bass.
  9. "Bird on a Wire" by Johnny Cash. Listen for the clarity in Johnny's distinctive voice, and his guitar to sound natural and free of any coloration.
  10. "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box"by Radiohead. Listen for the punch from the percussive bass, and the ring of the steel drums
-Fred Meier/Drive On

From Kanye to J.Cole: Critics Weigh In On Most Anticipated Albums

The fourth quarter of 2010 is upon us and over the next few months, some of hip-hop’s most acclaimed acts will be dropping albums. The question is, who do we really want to hear?

Kanye West (Dark Twisted Fantasy, date TBD), Nicki Minaj (Pink Friday; Nov. 23rd), Kid Cudi (Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager; Nov 9th), and Soulja Boy (The TDeandre Way; November 2nd) are all dropping records. But then there are also projects coming just before the fourth quarter hits, like Young Jeezy’s TM103, Ice Cube’s I Am The West, Gucci Mane’s The Appeal, and newcomer Donnis’ Fashionably Late, among others, all due to hit retailers September 28th.

We spoke to a host of hip-hop music critics for what albums they’re anticipating before the end of the year. Not surprisingly, a few obvious mainstays topped their wish lists.

The Game's R.E.D. Album

"I think the constant push-backs have pulled him out of the conversation a bit," said Jake Paine- Editor in Chief at "Game has been amazingly consistent in his three existing albums, despite controversy and setbacks, though I hope he's not as guest-heavy as he was on L.A.X. Truth be told, I haven't liked what I've heard leak thus far, but I think that Game is the best voice for Dr. Dre beats since Slim Shady recovered and Snoop Dogg started ego trippin'."

Kanye West's Dark Twisted Fantasy

"Kanye West by leaps and bounds because of the 'Can he do it again?' sentiment that's been surrounding him lately," said Alvin “Aqua Boogie” Blanco, freelance writer. "Actually, it's more like, 'Will he f--- this up?' I think "Power" is a great song but it's not the runaway smash he was probably banking on it being. "Runaway" won back some of his detractors—though they were probably never on his side to begin with—and with Cam'Ron throwing shots his way it looks like he's hitting all the key points needed in the run up to a major hip-hop release."

"‘Ye is perhaps the game's most passionate artist and after pushing the envelope on 808s & Heartbreak, you have to believe he is back with something to prove on this new joint," added XXL's Deputy Editor Rob Markman. "He's enlisted Rza, Q-Tip and Pete Rock to help with the production, that's a must-hear if there ever was one."

Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday

"I'm really interested to hear what [this album] will sound like," said Brian “B. Dot” Miller of "Aside from "Your Love" it still remains to be seen if she can hold her own for an entire album without it sounding like a mixtape."

"While I look forward to seeing who Nicki collaborates with and hearing her re-visit that raw flow she exhibited earlier in her career, the biggest anticipation I have for this album is how many units it sells," said Hot97 and Sirius/XM radio personality Dee Vazquez. "As unfair as it may be Nicki has to make an impressive debut in order to prove the female emcee is a viable investment."

Kid Cudi's Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager

"Even though Kanye's G.O.O.D. Music's marquee man, his recent leaks- "Runaway" and "Monster"- show that his current musical practices are more mortal than the superhuman nature we know him for," said Trent “TC” Clark, Managing Editor at "Instead, I'd say the hints Kid Cudi has given us from Man On The Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager could be the infectious sing-a-long of the winter."

Clark wasn't the only Cudi fan.

"I'm sold off the audacity of the album title alone," Ernest Baker, Complex's Assistant Editor. "Like several polarizing rock stars before him, Kid Cudi is the spokesperson for this generation of cynical, lonely, heartbroken drug abusers and he knows it. The five songs that have leaked so far sound great, too."

Tyler's Wolf

"[He’s] the creator of LA's Odd Future collective who are quickly becoming the teenage skate punk equivalent to Wu Tang and Tyler is their RZA," said Andrew “Noz” Nosnitsky of "His [beats] are built from sloppy and squashed Neptunes synths and his raps are like a half speed amalgamation of MF Doom, early Eminem and Lil B."

J. Cole's Cole World

"History shows that many of our current greats started their runs with their debut albums," said John Gotty of "The one where they gave us their life's living and waiting crammed into a one shot deal to share who they are with the world. He seemed to go through an apprenticeship while on the road for The Blueprint 3 tour and didn't release much recorded material. In recent months, he's picked up the pace by releasing several notable freestyles and releasing "Who Dat" - presumably one of the album's singles - all of which have been noteworthy. And now that he's begun to add producing to his repertoire, the Faytettenam rookie is poised to make his mark in 2010's last quarter."

Gucci Mane's The Appeal

"I'm looking forward to Gucci's project but almost less for how it sounds and more for how it's received," said Benjamin Meadows-Ingram, Senior Editor at XXL. "Soulja Boy gets more and more interesting with every release so I'm looking forward to seeing how that project plays for him. Lil Boosie’s a great, underrated rapper who's in jail, and that sucks. It will be great to hear new material from him but it will only serve as a reminder of what could have been if he'd been free this whole past year and able to put in even more work. I’m looking forward to the Webbie album as well. He talks slick and his beats bang."

Yelawolf's Trunk Muzik

"Along with rappers like CyHi and Pill, Yelawolf is a newer artist who realizes the values of underground rap can happily exist within the music that’s currently popular in the clubs and on the charts," said Ben Detrick, writer for XXL, The Village Voice and the New York Times. "It’ll be interesting to see if his full-length LP can draw these strands together as effectively as his “Trunk Muzik” mixtape did. Also, he’s white-which always makes for fascinating socio-political arguments within hip-hop."

David Banner and 9th Wonder's Death of a Popstar

"David Banner has been handcuffed to the conformity of southern rap since the days of “Cadillac on 22s,” said Steve Horowitz, Associate Editor at YRB. “Variety” doesn’t really come to mind when the Mississippi native’s name hits the tongue. But based on the preliminary leaks from his full-length collaboration project with producer 9th Wonder, there’s more than one musical shade to a dude whose rap star tunnel vision birthed songs like “Syrup Sipping” and “F--- You Hoes.” The duo stretches out a concept about how there will never be another pop star of Michael Jackson or even Usher-caliber over nine tracks of crackly beats that, so far, sound comfy beneath Banner’s guttural, jagged rhymes. With this joint, North Cackalacka and Mississippi could be more in-tune than ever before."

Foreign Exchange's Authenticity

"The grown man in me is heavily anticipating Foreign Exchange's Authenticity," Andreas Hale, writer for XXL and, told RapFix. "What Phonte and Nicolay have done as a group puts them on another level musically and it's a pleasant departure from the hyper-sexual R&B and the windfall of hip-hop albums slated for release in the fourth quarter. If it is sonically anything like Leave It All Behind, I think we'll be in for a treat come this October."

-Paul Cantor

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Video: Rising Icons: J.Cole

J. Cole, the up-and-coming hip-hop star from Fayetteville, North Carolina, sees his career advance when he becomes the first artist signed to Jay-Z’s record label, Roc Nation, and prepares for the release of his first studio album in October 2010.

Big Daddy Kane On Complete MCs

GetFreshKid Interview with Big Daddy Kane August 2010 from GetFreshKid on Vimeo.

Brand New: J. Cole – The Plan

There’s nothing like a track full of basketball metaphors, what with the NBA season only about a month away. This track was revealed not too long ago, as an addition to the new NBA Elite game, but the platform is far beneath the quality of this song. I’m hoping the Verizon Center plays this track while the Wizards are playing: I’m sayin, they have a terrible tendency to play the same songs over and over every year! Tigger, switch those tracks! Ah well! “I was schoolin’ your father, boy, that make you my grandson!”

Download Track

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Drake, Thank Me Later Gets an XL

Thank Me Later
(Aspire/Young Money/Cash Money)

Beats: XXL
Lyrics: XL
Originality: XL

You only get one chance to make a first impression. Err…sort of. Despite its debut status, Aubrey “Drake” Graham’s Thank Me Later is no introductory effort. Since the release of the Toronto native’s free mixtape, So Far Gone, in February 2009, Drizzy’s been able to rattle off a veritable checklist of career highlights in just over a year. The project’s success earned him a reported multimillion-dollar deal with his mentor Lil Wayne’s Young Money label, it spawned two hit singles (“Best I Ever Had” and “Successful”), and the shortened EP version went on to sell over 470,000 copies. With his newfound celebrity status, Drake’s been embraced by hip-hop’s greats, lending a hook to Jay-Z’s Blueprint 3 (“Off That”) and collaborating with Eminem on “Forever.” He’s also been party to a bevy of Cash Money–affiliated projects (Young Money’s We Are Young Money LP and Birdman’s Pricele$$), headlined awards shows, graced magazine covers and appeared in a Sprite commercial. A year makes a world of difference, and things definitely done changed for the former star of the popular teen TV series, Degrassi: The Next Generation. So now what?

When an artist delivers a critically acclaimed project—be it a mixtape or an album—they’ll always be measured against it. Such is the case here, as it’s difficult not to compare Thank Me Later with So Far Gone. Luckily, Drake largely sticks to what’s worked for him in the past—which is to say a healthy mix of singing and rapping, elaborate arrangements that find whole new songs almost tacked on to others, and deeply reflective subject matter. Perhaps the best example of this is “The Resistance,” where Drizzy laments, “What am I afraid of?/This is supposed to be what dreams are made of/But people I don’t have the time to hang with/Always look at me and say the same shit/‘You promised me you’d never change.’” He’s equally revealing on “Fireworks,” where he alludes to his brief fling with Rihanna, and “Unforgettable,” which finds him celebrating his carpe-diem ethos as he experiences his meteoric rise.

The project has a bunch of surefire hits. The Kanye West–produced “Find Your Love” is all lo-fi drums and rich piano chords, not unlike something that might have appeared on ’Ye’s 808s & Heartbreak. But with Drake, who has a better command of his voice, it’s a straight-up summertime R&B smash. Similar R&B territory is explored on the slow-jam-ish “Shut It Down,” a duet with The-Dream that finds Drake imploring, “Put those fucking heels on and work it, girl/Let that mirror show you what you’re doing.” He’s equally encouraging on the Swizz Beatz–produced “Fancy,” which, for the better part, is just a nod to beautiful women, but then veers off into an experimental, ambient mix, which Drake just raps over. Very cool. And if there’s any doubt the kid can flat out spit, there are the obligatory Young Money collabs “Up All Night” (with Nicki Minaj) and “Miss Me” (with Lil Wayne).

Perhaps the only thing that takes away from what is essentially a stellar debut LP is that, much like the fact that he both rhymes and sings, Drake sometimes sounds kind of confused about what he wants. “Light Up,” with Jay-Z, is all about not getting caught up in the Hollywood lifestyle, but then “Karaoke” finds him reflecting about a past relationship gone sour under the flashing lights. Luckily, instances of this confusion are few and far between.

Drake initially endeared himself to fans by combining lyrical skill with infectious melodies, all while maintaining an everyman’s sensibility. Just an upper-middle-class kid—yeah, perhaps a little well off, so what?—trying to make it. On Thank Me Later, he explores what it’s like to have done that—to have become successful. Turns out, it’s not exactly what he thought it would be. But it still sounds pretty damn remarkable.

For that, you should thank him now. —Paul Cantor

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Drake speaks about his upcoming R&B mixtape, "It’s Never Enough"

While Drake's R&B mixtape, It's Never Enough, might not drop in October, he does plan to put it out before the end of the year.

"I don't know if it'll be next month," he told MTV News on Saturday during his VMA rehearsal. "I'm hoping for Christmastime. I'd really love to get it out for Christmastime. Next month, I'll be on tour. I'm gonna really get to put the finishing touches on it in November and December. Because it's a mixtape, I don't have to wait for the production of it."

Drake has a wealth of material for the tape already, and he said it reflects his crew's tastes.

"It's feeling really good, man," Drizzy said of the tape. "It's a lot of great music that we all enjoy listening to as a team. Gearing up for my next album, preparing people. What I said on my next album is that I didn't necessarily wanna have full R&B songs. I just wanna find a balance like I did on So Far Gone. I wanna have more songs on my next album. I wanna give people that music. I'm really excited about It's Never Enough. I might pick a beautiful woman and shoot a video. I have some ideas."

The 23-year-old artist said all the R&B songs we've heard him on over the past few months are just references for other artists; nothing from the new mixtape has leaked, knock on wood.

"It's all new music," he said of It's Never Enough. "So all those are references. I had some references that were for Jamie Foxx, some that were for Rita Ora from Roc Nation. All the R&B stuff that recently leaked, that's not for the tape."

Drizzy didn't want to give too many more details about the tape. He even talked about dropping the tape all at one time, without any songs coming out prior. One record he did say he was excited for people to hear is a record called "I Get Lonely Too."

"It's actually the first song on the mixtape," he said.
-Shaheem Reid

Songwriting 101: Try New Formulas For Your Songs

Structure is everything in songwriting; without structure, you’ve got a song that listeners just won’t understand and can’t get into. It’s why we talk so much about the form of a song. An easily discernible form makes it more likely that listeners will remember a song. Because song forms aren’t usually unique (often, some variation on the verse-chorus-bridge format), it’s the method, or formula, you use that will make your song distinctive or not.

If you start the composition process the same way every time, you may notice a “sameness” in the results. If you’re looking to be unique, you need to break out and find new methods of putting a song together.

For example, with students of mine who start the songwriting process with a chord progression, I notice a similar backing rhythm and tempo in all their songs, coupled with what sounds at times to be an uninteresting melodic shape. Those who start with interesting poetry often place the emphasis there, and other song elements can feel disorganized.

Where you place your focus at the start of the process can often determine how the song proceeds from there. And that is where the sameness can happen.

It’s important to note that there is no one right way to start a song, and that’s actually the point of this posting. As there is no one right way, you will reap the benefits of starting your next song differently from the last song you wrote. By choosing a unique way to start your song, you have a better hope of developing a new songwriting formula. And that new formula will likely take you in a unique direction.

If you feel comfortable starting your songs with the chords, and then adding the other elements, it’s time to break out and try something new. Try creating a melody that has shape and direction, and you’ll likely notice that that melody is implying an underlying chord structure you never considered before, and you’ve just started something unique!

Songwriting partnerships are a great way to ensure that you have a better chance of creating something fresh and distinctive. Two or more people throwing ideas into the pot may seem complicated and frustrating, but if you’ve got a partnership where all partners treat each other’s ideas with respect, you’ve got the potential for something great to happen. And in my opinion, some of the best songs in the world have come from these kind of partnerships.
- Gary Ewer

Producer Bangladesh On Drive And Determination

Music producer Bangladesh explains the drive and determination that makes him successful. This video is part of a Ford sponsored program called Producer 10. You will also see commentary on determination from Jazz Bassist Ron Carter, Lifestyle Specialist Kenny Burns, and Sports Journalist Stephen A. Smith.

Drive & Determination from Steed Media Group on Vimeo.

Lyrics, Royalties and The Business of Songwriting

So you think you can write a song? Maybe you stand out among the competition, but if you want to make a living this way you’ll need more than the right melody, lyrics and rhythm to keep you afloat. Your business savvy better equal your talent. But before you start working the system you must understand a few things about how the system works.

How do royalties work?

Royalties are classed according to the media by which a piece of music is experienced. Mechanical royalties are paid for physical sales, i.e., CDs, digital downloads, vinyl records and tapes. Performance royalties accrue as a song is played via the radio, piped in music service or live performance at a music venue. Synchronization royalties or “sync fees” are earned when a piece of music is “synchronized” with a piece of film as in motion pictures, television programs and advertisements. There are now also streaming royalties for a number of internet and digital uses, such as when companies make songs available on their website and telephone service providers sell ringtones.

Radio airplay usually pays the most. When you have a hit song it’s heard repeatedly all over the country and sometimes the world, making it possible to quickly garner substantial royalties. Physical sales are way down from where they used to be as many people skip buying albums to purchase singles. Illegal downloads also hurt profits in this camp. These days, a performing songwriter may make most of his or her money doing live performances of their songs.

Radio airplay is collected by BMI (Broadcast Music Inc), ASCAP (American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers) and SESAC (originally stood for Society of European Stage Authors & Composers). Their methods for collecting royalties and paying their songwriters vary, but generally they collect money each quarter, take out operating expenses and distribute the remainder to songwriters based on the amount of airplay they received during the quarter.

Mechanical royalties, funds collected on the sale of a physical product, is set by copyright law at 9.1 cents per song. According to Bruce Burch, director of the University of Georgia’s Music Business Program and former creative director for EMI Music Publishing, the world’s largest music publisher, synchronization fees are negotiated according to several criteria. Contracts take into consideration such factors as how much of a song is used by the licensee, how popular the song is (hits and classics generally receive higher payments) and the popularity of the songwriter or artist. Sync fees can be set as low as zero, such as when a new artist offers their song to a television show that cannot pay but allows exposure to a new audience. At the other end of the spectrum they can bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions, for top film composers like John Williams, who has been nominated for 45 Academy Awards, winning five.

What about ownership rights?

It’s all about the deal. There are two ownership shares of a song: the writer’s share and that of the publisher. A writer owns both rights until he assigns the publishing rights, usually for a monetary advance against the song’s future earnings. Starting out novice songwriters must typically sign deals in which they have to give up all publishing rights. A more established songwriter, who perhaps enters a publishing deal with a song already recorded, will usually be able to negotiate an agreement in which he or she retains 50 percent of the publishing rights. Sometimes a songwriter can negotiate reversion rights, an arrangement whereby publishing rights revert back to the songwriter after a certain period of time.

What are you waiting for? (OR How do you get started?)

Now that you know the basic economics of songwriting, here’s some advice from folks at the top of their game.

Study up. Do your research. “This game will eat you up and spit you out. You’re sitting in a lion’s den,” said Sean Garrett, who earned his nickname, “The Pen”, from Jay-Z. He’s written and produced over 17 number one hits for the likes of Usher, Beyonce and Mary J. Blige, in part because he took the time to learn the business. There’s a ton of resources from websites, blogs and seminars, to books like Everything You Need to Know About the Music Business by Donald Passman and Music, Money and Success by Todd and Jeff Brabec.

Protect your material. Register and secure copyrights for your music. When you’re protected you don’t have to worry about somebody helping themselves to your hard work. “Don’t be afraid of putting your music out there,” says Marcello “Cool” Valenzano of the super-producing duo, Cool & Dre, who has worked with Lil Wayne, Queen Latifah and Nas. ” Let people hear it. Don’t think you can hold onto it until you meet Beyonce. Protection is key, particularly in the digital age where work is frequently leaked and illegally downloaded.

Be flexible. “As a writer, be open to working with different people,” advised Valenzano. ” Be smart, don’t think you will write an entire song by yourself. Be open to collaborating with other writers and producers.”

Think outside the box too. Camaron Ochs, an upstart folk/indie pop singer-songwriter, is using social media and online marketing to grow her fan base and drive album and concert ticket sales. “Using Facebook, Twitter and MySpace beats passing out flyers, but it’s work,” she said. “You have to post often and engage people. “The industry is upside down, be creative about how to get your music out there.”

Flexibility gives you an edge, especially when you’re starting out. If the terms of a deal aren’t exactly what you want, evaluate the long-term gains.

“How much are you willing to pay to get into the party?” asked Chris Henderson, who was recently honored at the ASCAP Pop Music Awards for his work writing and producing Jamie Foxx’s “Blame It”, which held the number one spot on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop songs chart for 14 consecutive weeks.

“I told myself early on, I will sometimes sacrifice pay or credit, but never both. Sometimes you take less pay if you get the credit, which gets you attention and positions you to get paid more the next time,” said Henderson.

From the beginning Garrett knew his value and would compromise but so much on compensation. “When I came in the game, I was like, cut the BS. I’m working my tail off. I’m dropping hits. I want to get paid. Respect my hustle,” he said.

For Valenzano the choice sometimes comes down to simple mathematics: “What if the record is a hit?” he asked. “Would you rather have 50 percent of a million or 100 percent of zero dollars? Get your foot in the game, don’t overlook your shot.”

Get help. “You can be talented, but without the right team, it’s hard to make money,” warned Makeba Riddick, who has written for Janet Jackson, Rihanna, Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez and collaborated with producers like Timbaland.

“I always had someone from A&R [Artists and Repertoire, the division of a record label charged with guiding an artist’s development] because they have an incentive to put you on projects,” she said. Your team should include an accountant, business manager, and attorney. Experience matters, and experience in the music business is even better. How do you find these pros? “Depending on how good you are, they will find you,” said Riddick.

Having someone to help you manage your money is of great importance. “You might bet a deal where you get a lump sum of $50,000-$80,000,” said Riddick. “Without an accountant you can blow right through that money. You also want an accountant so that you stay on top of your taxes and to gauge your spending.”

You need someone watching your back. “You don’t know all the fundamentals yet, so you need a manager. You could write four tracks with multiple samples, and may not get paid if you don’t know the inner workings,” she said.

Simply put, “Inspect what you expect. You think you got a hit song on the radio, but if you didn’t handle your business right, you don’t. What looks good ain’t always good,” said Garrett.

Hone your craft. “Creatively focus on what you know, songs that connect, that strike a cord with people because they agree with it, or they want to learn from what you’re talking about,” said Henderson. “Life should be your research.”

According to Garrett the ability “to be able to interpret life in song is a gift from God.” Manage that gift well and it will support you for years to come.

For sure there will be mistakes along the way, and as is the case with any worthwhile endeavor, a certain amount of rejection must be expected. “But if you pitch 1000 songs in a year, that means you still get 10 of them recorded and if just one is a hit you can make a pretty good living,” said Burch. Ka-ching is a sweet song indeed.

-Sheryl Nance-Nash


I had the pleasure of getting this exclusive info for Team Breezy. I won’t say much, I’ll just let the interview do the talking. And, Frank E – make sure you take good care of our boy, Breezy! We, the fans, are trusting you! LOL!

1. How did you guys come up with the song, “Yeah 3x”?
I was working late one night in the studio when I got a call from my manager. Chris was working in the studio down the street and wanted to me to come down and listen to some tracks. I walked in, met Chris for the first time, and played him 1 track. He sat there for 4 minutes listening, then said, “Ok, I’m ready.” He jumped in the booth and wrote the whole thing on the spot.
2. Who wrote it?
Chris did and he wrote it in about 15 minutes. I didn’t realize that he wrote so much until then. I was really impressed.
3. Is the song from Chris’ forthcoming album?
Chris told me he has two songs in mind for the singles for his album – “Yeah 3x” is the pop/rhythmic/crossover single, and he has one more that leans more urban.
4. Will there be a music video?
While we were working on the song, he described to me in detail his vision for the song, the music video, everything… he’s talented beyond belief and has a vision for his work.
5. Will you and Chris be working together again?
We have plans to work again soon in LA. Chris is great to work with because he works fast and off immediate inspiration. His vocals seem effortless, and watching him in the booth is like a mini concert. Be ready for more from Chris Brown and DJ Frank E!

- Dominique
The album title comes from his latest tattoo. If you haven’t seen or heard about it, its the word fame in the acronym form F.A.M.E. (Forgiving All My Enemies).

The Music Venture Capital Business Model (Or A New Perspective)

As the music business evolves and moves beyond the antiquated copyright exploitation model, it makes increasing amounts of sense to further explore the thoughts I’ve shared on the parallels between the future of our business and the current ways of the venture capital/tech start-up world. Every artist (the creative) and their manager (the business person, and together with the artist the product developer) should consider themselves creative entrepreneurs, not much different from the small team of Dave (the graphic designer/artist), Jason (the product developer) and Spencer (the business guy) at online portfolio start-up Carbonmade.

How It Works In The Current Tech Start-Up Business

In a simplified version of the start-up world the scenario goes as follows: a small team of creatives and business people create a product (an app, a web service, site, etc.) and bring it to market in a Beta form, while continuously improving and providing updates. They might initially be self-funded and bootstrapping, or they could be funded with the help of one or more Angel Investors. If the product catches on with a small group of passionate early adopters, and there is potential for a much wider base of users, the team might seek out additional investors to be able to shoot for this larger market. These second level investors could be Venture Capitalists (VCs) , who differ from Angels mostly in the scale of finances they can provide (bigger), the additional knowledge they can share to help speed up growth, and the support network they can provide. The original start-up shares ownership in the company with both rounds of investors. The investors are either looking for an exit (a sale of the start-up to a large company like Google), or sustained profits over time.

How It Could Work In The Future Music Business

When we translate this to the music industry we can draw some parallels. An artist and their manager start developing products together. They record demos/singles/EPs, produce a stage show and play small concerts, create artwork for branding and marketing, build a website (each of which are products!), and release them to friends/family/early adopters. This could be self-funded, or in part funded with smaller amounts of money from wonderfully nice family members, friends or through a service like Kickstarter or Pledge Music. In exchange the investors become small stake-holders in the career of the start-up team of artist and manager. (Note the difference from typical Kickstarter campaigns which are more like fancy pre-sales for the future product.)

With each product release, like a single, we build our customer base (or we could say fan base, but that’s so 2001), and as we learn from their feedback we adjust. Please note that I am not suggesting to change the art to fit an audience, but rather that we adapt the business elements (how do we offer the products, at which price point, through which channels, etc.).

As the start-up team bootstraps their way to an increased customer base, we add more members to the team to facilitate more growth and increased revenue. A booking agent can help us improve distribution of our live show product, visual artists can help us create more effective branding and marketing materials, an attorney can help us secure better deals, etc. These are contractors for the most part, and won’t take ownership.

An indie label or marketing firm might come on board in a second round of investments, and those could be considered bigger Angels, or even VCs depending on the level of investment/commitment. In exchange for a share of the profit they add value through additional manpower/skills, an increased network of supporters, additional funding, and services (royalty accounting, legal, distribution, synch pitching).

If the music is of a certain popular mass-appeal nature, an artist/music start-up can engage in a third round of investments. This time it would involve major investors (major labels). In exchange for a more substantial amount of money than a previous investor they acquire an additional chunk of equity (a co-release with the indie), or they can buy the angel’s piece of equity (upstream deal, master ownership). They can also offer additional services as part of the deal including radio support, mainstream media pr, etc.

The original start-up team won’t be looking for an exit, but a continuous stream of profits based on the different revenues streams that are developed. Angels could look for an exit in subsequent investment rounds (uncle Bob wants his money back and has no ambition to permanently operate in the music business!), and our version of VCs will look for partial ownership and continuous profit streams through catalog.

The Benefits

The benefits of this model over the current ways of the industry are obvious and plentiful.

* Artists maintain creative control and (partial) ownership of their creations.
* Investors gain ownership in all profit streams, but only in exchange for quantifiable contributions to the process.
* Early investors (including managers who put in sweat equity) who have stood the most risk and exhibited the most vision, stand to benefit at greater rates than those who jump on the bandwagon later. This will stimulate a new wave of artist development, rather than the current wave of lazy “wait-and-see” A&R behavior.
* The financial aspects of an artists career would gain incredible amounts of transparency, and accounting would be simplified.
* The quality of music would arguably benefit from the increased artistic influence of artists and their trusted advisors (producers, indies), the decreased artistic influence of suits, and greater diversity.
* Roles would be delineated much more clearly and people would focus on their strengths. Stay in your lane.
* Major Labels get to remake themselves and focus on their strengths
* Indie labels and new style management/label hybrids are better positioned to take back their rightful place as quality gatekeepers and this benefits our customers by freeing them from the clutter that has is so rampant in the world of music discovery.
* The increased sphere of societal influence will belong to the creators, and not the financiers.
* Job creation would take place in the music business as entire Major Label departments would spin off into a cottage industry of providers for start-ups and investors.
* Opportunities for music industry people to act shady are reduced, and the opportunity for artists to waste a ton of money is as well. A fairness doctrine.

A Few Things We’ll Need To Make This Happen

* An uncluttered way for Angels to find artist start-ups seeking investments (a curated myspace meets kickstarter?).
* A template legal and financial structure that protects investors and artists alike. And subsequently, music attorneys that can practice “real law”, and not just weird mystery theater entertainment law.
* A set of proper and relevant business analytics and post-Soundscan metrics that matter, both for artists and Angels, and a dashboard in which we can clearly track them.
* A new perspective, vision and a willingness to let go of the broken system we operate under at the moment. This will be easy for new artists, but hard and scary for those artists still making money right now under the old system.

-Wesley Verhoeve

Friday, September 17, 2010

Blog Entry #3 Obama's Book

Reading Obama's book " Dreams From My Father" really opened my eyes to see that nothing is impossible. Obama went through so much trying to find his true self with being mixed with white and black. In Obama's book he talked about how he didn't have any positive African American men to show him how to be a African American man, so he had to learn the hard way. Reading the book has encouraged me to be the best that I can be and never settle for less. I am so happy that I had the chance to read such an inspirational book.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

America’s 10 Greatest Indie Record Stores

1. Amoeba Records – Hollywood, San Francisco, and Berkeley, CA

With three locations in the great state, Amoeba is the clear choice for music-loving Californians. Their stores are huge, their merchandise is eclectic, and their staff’s knowledge level is just mind-blowing. They even stock cassette tapes! And Amoeba’s community ethos isn’t just talk — the store has devoted itself to Gulf Coast relief and has already raised over $150k for organizations such as Oxfam and New Orleans Musicians Clinic. They’re also famous for their epic in-stores (which those of us on the East Coast can check out on the web): this month features both Richard Thompson and Local Natives.

2. Electric Fetus – Minneapolis, MN

Another small, indie chain, Electric Fetus also has shops in Duluth and St. Cloud. Despite its, er, contemporary name, EF has existed for over 40 years, and it is so beloved that after a tornado devastated the store a year ago, local bands (including Cloud Cult) came together for a benefit to help the place get back on its feet. Electric Fetus is known for its off-kilter picks and support for the Twin Cities music scene. The shop hosts all sorts of in-stores and listening parties, and this weekend (September 17-18) it’s having a mega-garage sale.

3. Waterloo Records – Austin, TX

Sure, music fans, critics, and industry types go to SXSW for the live music — but they always leave Austin with tales of the Shangri-La that is Waterloo Records. At a whopping 6,400 square feet, the place is sure to spark New Yorkers’ envy, and with nearly a 30-year legacy, it’s absolutely integral to the city’s music scene. Their staff picks are always ace (and never obvious), and this fall’s in-store performances feature the likes of The Black Angels and Ra Ra Riot. As if we weren’t already eating our hearts out, we hear those shows often include free beer.

4. Criminal Records – Atlanta, GA

You know Record Store Day, that yearly limited edition-vinyl-buying spree that takes place at all the best indie outlets across the country? Well, we can thank Eric Levin, co-founder of AIMS (the Association of Independent Media Stores) and the owner of Criminal Records, for that rocking-est of all holidays. It serves as something of a community center for Atlanta’s local music scene, and its selection of comics is a great side draw. Once packed into a tiny space, Criminal made the move to a larger space in 2009, which we assume means they’re doing just fine.

5. Princeton Record Exchange – Princeton, NJ

We know, we know: The idea of schlepping all the way out to Jersey to buy vinyl in a town most famous for its Ivy League pedigree is not terribly appealing. But the evangelists of Princeton Record Exchange will not be silenced. The name of the game here is variety, and prices are low. The 4,300-square foot space stocks music of all kinds (including an extensive selection of classical music), teeming with over 140,000 units of merch, including CDs, DVDs, and vinyl records. At the center of it all is Barry Weisfeld, a true music guru and collect-aholic, who has owned the store since it opened three decades ago.

6. True Vine – Baltimore, MD

It’s far from the biggest store on this list, and it hasn’t been around for 30 or 40 years, like many of them. But it is perhaps the first perfect record store Baltimore has ever had. There’s always something great playing there, whoever happens to be working is bound to be friendly and knowledgeable (but never snobby), and they have a knack for stocking at least one thing you’ve been searching for everywhere. According to local alt weekly City Paper, “The store’s rate of turnover is almost Herculean,” which is no surprise in a town that cares so much about music. So it makes sense that it’s also the best place in the world to buy music by Baltimore acts, released on tiny, local labels. Considering the city has one of the best scenes in the world right now, that’s no small thing.

7. Reckless Records – Chicago, IL

With three locations within the city limits, Reckless is the first name in Chicago independent record stores. The Wicker Park shop clearly provided inspiration for High Fidelity‘s very similar Championship Vinyl — and your reaction to that bit of info may well predict how you’ll feel about it. Us? We like our record stores eclectic, their employees nerdy, and their walls bedecked in ancient, rare posters, so Reckless is just fine with us.

8. Academy Records Annex – Brooklyn, NY

Other Music may be the obvious pick, but those with ultra-obscure taste and lots of patience for crate digging will find their paradise across the East River, at Williamsburg’s Academy Record Annex. The first thing you’ll encounter, on your right, upon entering the big-for-New-York store is a rack of obscure vinyl bound to send your bank account into the single digits. Farther in, there’s a vigilantly curated selection of new records, which skews toward cult reissues, local underground favorites, and releases that will warm avant-garde experimentalists’ hearts. The rest of the used LPs in this all-vinyl haven are worth a perusal, but it’s those first two sections that will make you a believer.

9. Shangri-La Records – Memphis, TN

Few cities have a musical legacy to rival Memphis’s, but so many of its landmarks have become fluorescent-lit tourist traps that it can be frustrating for music lovers in search of the real thing. Thankfully, they should look no farther than Shangri-La, which caters to the collectors set — they even stock 78s! Plus, it’s located in an adorable house. There are some records you can only find in the South, and this is an excellent place to start looking.

10. Other Music – New York, NY

The day Noho’s branch of Tower Records closed its doors, leaving long-time indie rival Other Music standing triumphantly across the street, felt like a David and Goliath-level victory. So despite its relatively small size, one of the last great indie record stores in downtown Manhattan is an obvious choice. No, you can’t find Jason Derulo’s latest embarrassment there – in fact, the wonderfully, infallibly elitist staff at OM probably won’t even admit to knowing who that dude is. But if you like your music obscure (or at least independent), you will gawk at the wall of rare LPs that line one wall. You will clutch that Black Randy and the Metrosquad reissue you’ve been searching for. You will pack in to check out your favorite band at a cramped but fantastic in-store. You will part with more of your hard-earned cash than you thought possible. And you will love every minute of it.
-Judy Berman

Melanie Fiona - In Studio Acoustic Session

Video by | More on Melanie Fiona

Exclusive behing the scenes of the making of Melanie Fiona's acoustic album 'The Bridge (Acoustic Version)' - EP

Raheem DeVaughn – Single (Lil Wayne Cover)

Raheem remakes Lil Wayne’s ode to being single into what else but a love song. Way to take such a pure innocent song about how you just wish a crazy woman would leave you alone and turn it into a love making anthem. I ain’t mad at cha.

Jay-Z Brings Out Coldplay’s Chris Martin

Jay-Z’s got a long list of friends. And one of them includes Coldplay lead singer, Chris Martin. He sang the chorus to “Heart Of The City” and then played the keys to “Clocks” as Jay recited the lyrics to “Lost”. Afterward, they took it up a notch with “Viva La Vida”. Stadium status, indeed.

Ice Cube I Am The West Album Trailer

We’re used to seeing Cube on the big screen. In fact, for his official album trailer, he promotes three upcoming videos including, “She Couldn’t Make It On Her Own”, “You Know How I Am”, and “Too West Coast”. I Am The West in stores September 28th.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

VIDEO: Wale - The Work

The Board Administration presents "The Work' Music Video by Wale and shot by Banks Films. The Work is featured off the mixtape "More About Nothing". This video focuses on the other side of Washington D.C. many are unfamiliar with. Shot by Banks Films.

Directed by David Banks (

Produced by LeGreg Harrison

Assistant to Director - Malcolm Banks

Shot with the Canon 5D

For more information contact Banks

Jay-Z, Kanye West & Nicki Minaj “Power (Remix)” x “Monster”

Jay-Z brought out the big guns last night at Yankee Stadium. Early into his set, he and Kanye West performed “Power (Remix)” and then ushered in Nicki Minaj for “Monster”.

Monday, September 13, 2010

RAtheMC "Heart Of A Champion" Album Review by JS aka The Best

DMV female rapper RAtheMC debut album "Heart Of A Champion" was released on DC's premier label Studio 43 with all of the production done by AB The Producer. The album begins with a nice mellow groove sample which starts her adventure on "Pretend". On the track titled "The Grind" RA describes her "grind" as an artist and how she "has big dreams, and never wanna wake up". RA's 1st single "Intoxicated" is a track sampling Hip-Hop Legend Lauryn Hill but with a new fresh twist. This is one of those tracks you can play while riding through the DMV. On the synth heavy track "One Shot", she shows her drive to get that one shot that to get to the next level. With tracks like "Dreams" and "One Life" focuses primarily on her lyrics with deep metaphors and a flow of a rapper from the "Golden Era" of Hip Hop. The female MC shows that the money and fame will never "Change" the person she is on her road to success. On "Pricey", Ishan Bilal assists RA on the hook, and together they deliver and "priceless" track. "Lights" is the type of track you could play on a Friday night out with your significant other. In "Smile" RA tells the story of how she misses what she used to have with a lover and just wants to see him smile. When I went to RA's videoshoot for "Heart Of A Champion" earlier this year I knew that this album was going to be a classic. This is a motivational track for anybody who isn't afraid to go out for what they truly want through the valleys and the peaks and emerge with the "Heart Of A Champion". On the laid back tune "Good Friends" tells the story of a close friendship and how good friends are hard to come by, and with the help of AB The Producer on the hook. "So Gone, So Long" closes out the album and labelmate XO delivers a fierce, rapid flow over the beat, while RA closes out the album strong. AB The Producer shows his versatility as a producer on the album as a whole. Overall this is defintely an album that has the potential to put RAtheMC on the map.

-Jerome "JS aka The Best" Smith

Download "Heart Of A Champion" here

Friday, September 10, 2010

Blog Entry #2 Current Event

This past Sunday was the 2010 Video Music Awards. Eminem and Rihanna opened up the show performing "Not Afraid" and "Love The Way You Lie". Chelsea Handler
was the host of the show. Kanye West and Taylor Swift was still on the mind of many fans from what had happened last year. Lady Gaga took home most of the awards for the event that night. Some of the artist that performed were Drake, Usher, B.O.B, Justin Beiber, Pharell, and Linkin Park. Kanye West closed out the show performing his new song "Runaway" with special guest Pusha T

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Buy "The Grand Cinema" Limited Edition Album

Autographed CD's of "The Grand Cinema" Limited Edition album are now
available. Click the Buy Now button below

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Brand New: Villematic- J. Cole

It seems that Jermaine has got that itch to release something for the Dreamvillains, not only that but we might even be treated to a mixtape. I got a tip that Hollywood Cole was looking for the beat to Kanye’s new leak so I gladly sent it over and the little nigga from the Vill murdered it.

Download Link

Friday, September 3, 2010

Blog Entry #1 A More Perfect Union

In President Barack Obama's speech, "A more perfect union", he discusses topics such as whites' and blacks' perspectives on race, Reverand Wright's political and racial comments, the media, and how segregation still exists in the 21st century.
Obama asks everyone to move on from the past racial history. Moreover, we as African Americans can improve race relations by supporting other races and, as a whole, to better our nation, instead of blaming one race of the situation we may be in our lives. During President Obama's campaign, some African Americans said that he wasn't "black enough", but, in the future, we need to judge our presidential candidates not based on race, but by character and their vision to help improve our nation. American's as a whole need to come together to solve our problems such as the war with Iraq, education, and health care

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Jeremiah - Down on Me feat 50 Cent

To paraphrase British poet Lord Tennyson, “Tis better to have dropped a number one called Birthday Sex than to have never hit at all.” Ok, so that’s a very, very loose interpretation of Tennyson’s words, but the sentiment still holds true on Jeremih’s latest effort to recapture that b-day booty-knocking magic on new single Down on Me (which miraculously isn’t as dirty as the title may suggest). In typical Jeremih fashion, the beat, from producer Mick Schultz, is minimal, centered around bouncing percussion, and the young singer’s vocals are auto-tune tinged, melodically catchy and, of course, bedroom-centric. Perhaps most notably, he continues his trend of recruiting major rappers for guest verses. Following Ludacris’ inclusion on previous effort iLike with what can only be described as a Magic Stick-esque verse from none other than 50 Cent. It’s a catchy combination, but is it enough to propel Jeremih back to the top of the charts? We’ll find out soon in the comments below. At this rate, we should expect at least one more big-name single by the time Jeremih’s sophomore album All About You drops September 28.
Contributed by Nathan S

Download Link