Kali Uchis

“Musically and aesthetically, the culture of it just inspires me”

Colombian-American singer-songwriter Karly-Marina Loaiza, or, as she is commonly referred to by countless die-hard fans, Kali Uchis, is notorious for making her grand entrance into the music industry in 2012, following the release of  her mixtape, Drunken Babble. The genre-bending vocalist was given the nickname “Kali Uchis” by her father. Uchis has stated that she is influenced by music of the 1960’s, with its mix of early soul, R&B and doo-wop, saying, “Musically and aesthetically, the culture of it just inspires me.” She also mentioned that she enjoys jazz, stating during her career beginnings that she draws musical inspiration from Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, Curtis Mayfield, Loose Ends, Ralfi Pagan and Irma Thomas.

While growing up, she frequently moved between Columbia to America, all the while still managing to learn how to play both the piano, and saxophone. Uchis was even part of Jazz band, before graduating from T. C. Williams High School.  Sounds like the perfect studious child, right? Not exactly. Uchis often skipped classes to spend time in the photo lab, making experimental short films, where she found a newfound interest and talent for creating mix-tape cover art. She also wrote poetry, songs and music, but did not initially intend to sing, as she was drawn more towards being the magic that happens behind the scene, via directing films, rather than being the direct talent in the spotlight.

Nevertheless, the spotlight is exactly where she landed. In 2015, Uchis released her first EP, Por Vida, further increasing her recognition, which erected more hype and enthusiasm for her 2018 debut studio album, Isolation. This debut album received widespread acclaim from critics, with Llana Kaplan, of The Independent writing that Uchis “has been largely underrated the past few years, but Isolation might just finally give her the attention she deserves”.

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Lucky Daye

“It was this thing my mom was in, this little cult-church thing,” Lucky tells me over the phone “It was just all music that we made up. I would just clap rhythms and sing whatever I saw. Any words that I could find. ”

If you’re completely bananas over singers like Frank Ocean and Pharrell Williams, then boy, have I got a gem for you! New Orleans-born, LA-based singer, Lucky Daye has been setting the R&B industry on fire! However, what’s just as equally as interesting as his taste in music, is his musical origins: a religious cult. Shocker, right!? With the pure Funk that Daye produces, one would think that he grew up listening to music and singing in the church, as is typical for majority of now famous singers. The twist here is that Daye was expressly forbidden from the world of music altogether, and all secular music, spending his formative years raised in a religious cult that his mother belonged to.

Daye recalled, “It was this thing my mom was in, this little cult-church thing. It was just all music that we made up. I would just clap rhythms and sing whatever I saw. Any words that I could find. Once we got out, I realized I was kinda behind,” he says of his musical tastes. “So I started listening to everything. And because I thought I was behind, I went backward instead of forward.” Having left the cult at eight years of age, Daye, who is presently signed to RCA, and recently released his debut album, I, which consists of five tracks, signals the return of true, quality R&B. I can think of no finer example of this, than Daye’s third track, “Extra” and lead single “Roll Some Mo,” which finds Daye’s vocals placed over bountiful funky-fresh bass lines.

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Kiana Ledé

American singer, songwriter, actress and pianist, Kiana Ledé Brown has been making a name for herself, essentially since birth.  As a child, Brown began to regularly perform in school plays and beauty pageants while taking voice lessons and piano study. In 2011, Brown’s mother discovered Kidz Bop, a website for kids to upload and share videos of themselves performing, and, only rightfully so, uploaded a video of Ledé performing an original number on the piano, with Brown selected as a finalist. After performing Adele’s “Someone Like You” to earn her a place in the Top 4, Brown won the 2011 KIDZ Star USA Grand Prize out of 45,000 submissions, the largest national talent competition for kids age 15 and under.Image result for kiana ledeAs far as talent goes, Ledé has got a boat load of it. Expanding her endeavors, Ledé starred as Zoe Vaughn on the second season of MTV’s horror series Scream. Since then, she has put out singles on all major streaming platforms, such as “Fairplay” and, “Ex”, which have more than garnished literally millions of plays. From acting, to singing, to playing the piano, it is as clear as crystal that this talented young lady is quite deserving of the limelight.

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H.I.M.

“It’s never cool to copy someone’s whole concept and call it a ‘response’ to try to come up.  Be you!  Be original.”

Queens, New York native H.I.M, which, if you didn’t know (and many don’t) is an acronym for Her In Mind is an R&B vocalist who has just enough mystery surrounding his identity as H.E.R. His debut album was marketed and mastered superbly in terms of strategic genius. With H.E.R.’s rising success, came H.I.M.’s (yes, I am using proper English, the names just make it sound so improper).

H.I.M’s career officially began in 2016 when he released his debut album, H.I.M Volume 1, following the release of H.E.R Volume 1. Fans immediately went banana with endless amounts of conspiracy theories, the most popular of them all being that H.I.M.’s album was a collaborated effort and sub-responses to H.E.R.’s, and that they were actually an item, who were in the process of unraveling a joint album called (and here’s the kicker) T.H.E.M. H.I.M and H.E.R’s album covers, musical styles and song titles were all purposely related.  But is that the right word for it? Or would “copied” be a better fit?

Imitation truly the highest form of flattery, but H.E.R didn’t find this concept cute or amusing in the least bit. The two have never even met. When you really break down the action for what it is, you’ll realize that in truth, he pretty much stole H.E.R.’s entire concept, he just did it amazingly well. Spotify said that H.I.M. “created a more complete response album than anything that has been made and does it from a genuine perspective” meaning that the world still praises him for his musical style that he completely plagiarized. In all honesty though, though not original, I completely see the genius behind the tact. Nevertheless, it would have come across as completely authentic and creative, had he created this idea with someone who had not already reached fame. Because H.E.R. was an already a well-established artist, H.I.M.’s genius translated as a person who was essentially riding the coattails of an already famous person’s coattails. As irony would have it though, after hearing of this “H.I.M.” H.E.R. actually took to Twitter to sub-tweet H.I.M. for stealing her well—everything.  The tweet read, “It’s never cool to copy someone’s whole concept and call it a ‘response’ to try to come up.  Be you!  Be original.” What do you think? Is he in the clear, because let’s face it, dude’s music is AMAZING, or should he be placed in the negative light for pretty much being a copycat? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Mac Ayres

New Yorker singer-songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, Mac Ayres is getting the credit that has been due for some time now, receiving both acknowledgement and accolades as an accomplished R&B and Neo-Soul vocalist. Ayres, who began singing in elementary school, and is self-taught on the guitar, bass and piano, is known for writing and recording nearly all of his music at home. His introduction, and passion for music began to bud at the age of 11, when his mom bought him a Yamaha keyboard. From that moment, his start as a lifelong music performer was history.

Ayres even went as far as attending Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts from 2014 until he decided to leave in the spring of 2017. This decision, however, did not put a halt to his ascension into the music industry. Ayres gained widespread acclaim from his debut single “Easy,” charting at over 1,000,000 plays globally within the first 2 months of its release, and even gaining support from Jonas Brothers’ member, Joe Jonas via his social media channels. To date, the single now stands at over 16 million plays on Spotify alone.

Following the success of his single, Ayres then released his debut EP, Drive Slow, in 2017, which earned him featured spots on Billboard, Pigeons & Planes, Tidal, and a few additional notable streaming hubs. This success only increased as Ayres toured Europe, Asia, and The Americas, selling out more than 90% of his headlining shows. His most recent sophomore album, Something To Feel was released to critical acclaim in August of 2018 and even featured in Vibe Magazine as well as Billboard (again). Ayres’ Something To Feel tour is already sold out in the United States and is quickly selling out in Europe, but of you live in Asia, or are planning to visit in 2019, then you’re in luck, as that’s where the tour will continue.

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Ravyn Lanae

Chicago native, Ravyn Lenae Washington, referred to as simply, Ravyn Lanae is most notably known for her smooth and sultry vocals. Lenae’s first EP, Moon Shoes, was originally released for free in 2015, but was later reissued by Atlantic Records, because, why give out gold for free, when you can clearly make a huge profit, right? Atlantic Record’s strategic gamble paid off, as it drew praise from critics, who praised her for her “fluid vocals and spare, poetic lyrics.”

After becoming officially signed to Atlantic Records, Lenae appeared as a feature on both Mick Jenkins’ album, The Healing Component, as well as on Noname’s song “Forever“. These endeavors would later prove useful, as she went on to tour with, and open for Noname on her Telefone Tour in 2017. Lanae then released her sophomore EP, Midnight Moonlight only a few months later, before performing at SXSW alongside lyricist, Smino. After all of this limelight, in August she would then go on to open for SZA on her Ctrl Tour, and release her own album, titled, Crush, which was entirely produced by The Internet’s very own, Steve Lacy.

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The album’s catchiest track, “Sticky,” emphasizes Lenae’s  own lyrics in relation to a well— horrible relationship, while paying attention to carefully enchant listeners as Lacy’s riffs play melodically in the background. Lenae, who has mentioned OutKast, Timbaland, Eminem, India. Arie, and Erykah Badu as her musical influences, literally just opened for Jorja Smith this past Sunday in Dallas. For everyone who missed this performance, I have got to say with full-sincerity…I am truly sorry that you missed a once in a lifetime show.

     Apple Music | Spotify

 

 

Jorja Smith

“When things are going on in the world, I think it’s important to touch on them, because as a musician, you can make people listen. As soon as people press play, you’ve got their attention.”

English singer-songwriter, Jorja Smith has released several singles since 2016, and has even collaborated with big-name artists, such as Drake, Kali Uchis, and Stormzy, which has more than given her the clout and respect necessary to list her name alongside the greats. Not to mention, that in In January 2016, her release of her debut single, “Blue Lights“, on SoundCloud brung in 400,000 plays on the website within only a month of being uploaded.  Her second single “Where Did I Go?” released was even  singled out by Drake as one of his favorite tracks of the moment in Entertainment Weekly. In November 2016, she released her four-track debut extended play, Project 11. Within the same month, Smith was selected as one of the fifteen rising acts on BBC Music’s Sound of 2017 songlist , and finished fourth on the list. Speaking of Drake, Smith even had the opportunity of performing as a special guest on his Boy Meets World Tour in February and March, going on to further being featured on tracks “Get it Together”, and “Jorja’s Interlude” on his mixtape More Life.

Remember when Drake first began gaining popularity, and you could find him featured on every artist’s tracks? The same is true of Smith. I’d even go as far as calling her the Feature Queen. In May, she was featured on Kali Uchis’ song “Tyrant“, the lead single of Uchis’ debut album Isolation. Having said all this, there’s way no re to Smith than simply being a “feature”. She released her third single, “Teenage Fantasy”, in June, followed by a two month gap, in which she and Grime artist, Preditah released, single “On My Mind“. In September 2017, she began dating singer and producer Joel Compass, much to the dismay of collaborator, Drake. You can hear all about that dirty laundry on song, “Jaded”, from Drake’s latest album, Scorpion. Still, this is a story for another time, and as we all know, there are two sides to every story.

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Photography by: Joaquin Cabello

Smith, who describes being “obsessed” with Amy Winehouse’s 2003 debut album Frank as a teenager and being inspired by the singer’s raw approach to songwriting, describes her own songs as “related to social issues’, saying that, “When things are going on in the world, I think it’s important to touch on them, because as a musician, you can make people listen. As soon as people press play, you’ve got their attention.” Her debut album, Lost & Found, written over a five-year period, was announced in April and released in June of this year (2018). During the month of the album’s release, Smith began touring in support of the album, and of course, if you don’t know where I’ll be at Dec. 2nd, just take a wild guess. It rhymes with P-orja Pith’s Poncert.

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Miguel & Nazanin: Wedding Special

“I think I’ve come so far as a man and I’m just starting to feel solid where I can be like, ‘You know what? I think I can hold this down legitimately.”

As a general rule of thumb, I try not to post more than two segments per week, and they’re nine times out of ten, posted at 11 am on the dot. Only on rare occasions do I break this trend, and a rare occasion this is. So, one of my all-time favorite R&B vocalists recently got hitched, and really, what kind of fan would I be, if I didn’t announce that, and then follow it up with a highlight? So, as promised, here is the announcement: If you did not already hear the news, let me break it to you, Miguel Jontel Pimentel and Nazanin Mandi have tied the knot!!! The couple were wedded on November 24, 2018 at Hummingbird Nest Ranch in Santa Susana, CA.

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Miguel and Nazanin met back when they were both 18 years old. She was interviewing him for a behind-the-scenes DVD he was putting out to promote his very first music video, when she asked him a question that wasn’t on her Q&A. The question being if he had a girlfriend. Real smooth, right? He flashed a debonair smirk, saying, “No, but I’m looking for one.” Even smoother! From there, they exchanged numbers, and he called the very next day to ask Nazanin out on a date (that’s how you do it my fellow guys. No games played). Since then, they had nowhere to go but up! A true love story at its finest.

As someone who’s actually spoken with Miguel, I can easily admit, there truly is not anyone more deserving of this wonderful news than he. He is such a down to earth, well-rounded guy, with nothing to offer but positive energy, and when you meet genuine people like that, you cannot help, but to wish the best for them. Opening up about why he hadn’t rushed into matrimony, Miguel told Hot 97 in 2015 that he just “wasn’t raised like that.” “I think I’ve come so far as a man and I’m just starting to feel solid where I can be like, ‘You know what? I think I can hold this down legitimately.” I think now people throw things around like marriage. I just wasn’t raised like that,” he said. “I just follow my instincts,” he continued.

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“I think she’s learned that and she’s had to adjust and had to learn and also embrace. And I love her more for that.” I think we could all learn a lot from Miguel’s philosophy. Often times we rush into things because we have this socially given image in our brains of how things are supposed to be, even going as far as to compare ourselves to people that we’ve never even met. But timing is key. Not the timing of when other’s do things, or rushed timing from the pressures of society, or even family. At the end of the day, each and every person has only one life to live, so what’s the point of rushing through it? Comparison is often the thief of joy, and the goal is happiness and joy, right? Of course it is. So here’s to Miguel and Nazandi Pimentel, sincerely wishing you ALL the joy and happiness in the world!

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: DIZZY CRANE

Romy Dya

The first time I wrote a song I was 10 years old. It was about loving myself, because I was always being bullied at school. So music was my therapy and it still is.”

Globally famous for singing alongside British singer, Jamie Scott on David Guetta and Martin Garrix’s song,So Far Away,” singer-songwriter, Romy Dya has fans on the edge of their seats, eagerly awaiting her next endeavors. With powerfully smooth Contemporary R&B vocals, and a reputation for writing for Dutch artists, Sharon Doorson, Roxeanne Hazes, and Maan, it comes as no surprise that Dya is catching the attention of many listeners. Having spoken to Dya, I had the special privilege of uncovering the answers to some of the inquiries that fans might have themselves.

 

Where were you born and raised?

Holland, in a little village called Broek op Langedijk.

 

Is your family musically inclined as well?

Yes, they are! My mom used to be a singer and my dad plays the guitar.

 

Can you remember the first time you wrote/sung a song?

The first time I sang a song I was 4 years old. I sung ‘Gloria EstefanandMiami Sound Machine-Rhythm is Gonna Get You’. That’s when I already knew I wanted to be a singer when I grew up. The first time I wrote a song I was 10 years old. It was about loving myself, because I was always being bullied at school. So music was my therapy and it still is.

 

Who gave you the support to begin writing? Who did you play the early songs for?

My parents. 

 

You write all of your own music; where do you draw inspiration from when you write songs and what’s your favorite part about the process?

I draw my inspiration from daily life. Love, problems I’m facing, but also friends, family, books, movies or series. My favorite part about the process is recording it, because it comes to live and you can feel the emotion of the song like you’re telling a story. 

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Photography by: Dizzy Crane

 

As listeners, we can all assume what artist’s songs are about, but I find it more beneficial to be direct and ask. What is “Smile on My Face” about? What does it mean personally to you?

“Smile on my face” is about turning a negative situation into a positive one. My dad always used to tell me that there was always something positive even in a negative situation. I always used to be a drama queen. I still am sometimes [she laughingly admitted], but last year was one of the toughest years in my life. I had hit rock bottom. I was overworked, my relationship ended after 12 years, I was broke, had a lot of debt, and I lost my job. I cried a lot, but I told myself almost everyday in the mirror: ‘Girl, you got this. You’re strong, beautiful and you’re a Child of God. Put a smile on your face and go.’ 

 

Who are your biggest writing influences, and who would you like to collaborate with in the future?

My biggest writing influences are Sia, Bebe Rexha and Bibi Bourelly when it comes to writing songs for myself or others. I’d like to collaborate with Russ, because I really like his way of rapping and I especially like his song ’Since I was broke’. He’s talking about the law of attraction there which I do believe in and that song has been an inspiration for ‘Smile on my face’ too.

 

For our readers who have never heard your music, explain your sound in 5 words

  1. Vulnerable
  2. Powerful
  3. Edgy Pop
  4. Jazzy
  5. Soul

(Vulnerable and powerful at the same time, an edgy pop sound combined with some jazz and soul influences).

 

If I was to turn on your iPod right now, what five artists/songs would I see on your recently played list?

H.E.R., SZA, GoldLink, Jorja Smith, Xavier Omar. 

 

I’ve let plenty of people hear your music, and we all agree that we can’t wait for more! Are there any plans for new singles, or an EP on the way? What’s next for Romy Dya?

My next single is coming out on January the 11th. And I’m planning to release every month in 2019. And yes there will be an EP in 2019! I’m also still working as a songwriter for other artists, cause I’m determined to win Grammy’s.

Apple Music | Spotify

 

 

AJ West

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Son of Allen West and Stephanie Smith, AJ West is known long and wide for being a basketball standout at Division 1 college, University of Nevada. Nevertheless, being one of the premier rebounders in college basketball, AJ is a double-double threat, very-well on his way to becoming a triple threat, adding music his mix of ambitions. I recently heard some of the music that AJ was working on, and knew immediately that he had something special going for him. The interview can be found below:

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Give me a little background on yourself and your upbringing: Where were you born, and when did music become a serious passion/interest to you in comparison to basketball?
I was born in Brooklyn, New York. And music started becoming more serious around 2012. Before that I did music I rapped and stuff but one time I hopped on a track, a producer and friend made for me and he told me how good it was and that I should just strictly sing. That’s when I realized my talent for it and got better and better. Music has always been a real hobby for me and second to basketball because I’ve been playing ball since I was 9 I played D1 college ball and now play professionally. It wasn’t till recently that I said, “Hey you know, let me release a good project and see where it takes me.”
If you had to choose between music and basketball, which would you choose, and why?
Its a tough decision at the moment I know how to make money and support myself with basketball, the foundation is already there. With music its a waiting game, so we’ll see what the future holds but I’m for-sure passionate in it now.
Who are your favorite musicians? Groups? CD’s?
Chris Brown, Bryson Tiller, Drake, Khalid, The Weeknd & Tyus. I try to study everything those artist put out and incorporate it into my music. Favorite all time R&B CD is probably the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Who would you most want to collaborate on a song/project with?
Chris Brown
Who are your biggest musical influences?
100% Breezy that’s been my idol it this R&B game for at least 10 years. He’s my modern day G.O.A.T. From his young stuff to new that man can’t miss.
When do your ideas for songs come to you?
On the spot for sure. Ill listen to a beat and start humming melodies then record them for reference. After that i’ll come up with a concept and insert lyrics.
Do you perform in public? Describe those occasions? Concerts, radio, TV?
I have never not once preformed in public. In the following year I’m looking to branch out and possibly do that.
How often and for how long do you practice (singing)?
I don’t practice at all. My real practice is just making songs and getting better and trying to come up with the craziest melodies I can think of. I call it ‘Taking the song to church’
In your phone right now, which 5 artists would be in your most recently played playlist?
Chris Brown, Sam Smith, Miguel, XXXTentacion, and Drake
How do you balance your music with other obligations?
Its tough to be honest basketball is a lot of work but during my free time I try and make as much music as possible.
Describe your music using only 5 words:
Trapsoul with a incorporation of 90’s vibes and Neo-soul.
What’s next for AJ West? A focus on Sports, engineering, an EP, or all three? Any local performances where listeners can see you perform?
2019 is a year I’m looking to take music more seriously and see what comes out of it. Getting together with real producers and really pushing my stuff out there. No performances are scheduled at the moment.

 

 

Nao

“My friends kept telling me about the term ‘Saturn Returns’. It’s this idea that Saturn takes 29 years to orbit from when you’re born and it is the planet of blessings and growth”

Born Neo Jessica Joshua, but better known as Nao, renowned British singer-songwriter and record producer, Nao has been consistently producing music that can at best be described as soulful electronic music, fused with funk and R&B. You’ve got to love the singers that cross genre barriers! Nao, who coined the term “wonky funk” to describe her style released her sophomore, and most recent album, Saturn, in October (2018) of this year. Although Nao was born in Nottingham, at a young age, she moved to East London, where she studied vocal jazz at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, later, moving forward to becoming a back-up vocalist for artists like Kwabs and Jarvis Cocker. “I could hide behind it,” she reflects. “I just could rock up on stage, do a good or bad job, and no one cared. It wasn’t about me. But as soon as you started putting your own music out, it’s stressful because you’re like, ‘How am I coming across as a person?’”

Following this segue into a music career, Nao began singing in an all-girl beatboxing a cappella group called The Boxettes, for six years, until she released her first EP, So Good in October of 2014. The EP was “so good” in fact, that it reached number 4 on the iTunes electronic chart, and the title track, “So Good” ft. A.K. Paul, made the BBC Radio 1 and BBC 1Xtra national playlists in the United Kingdom. This was followed by a second EP, entitled, February 15 in 2015, and a debut album, For All We Know, in 2016.

Apple Music | Spotify

In her album, Saturn, Nao examines her personal growth, romantic upheaval, and the nuances that accompany young –adulthood, all under title, and scope of an astrological lens, focusing on heartbreak and the regenerative process that follows. When asked about the album’s connotation, Nao states, “My friends kept telling me about the term ‘Saturn Returns’. It’s this idea that Saturn takes 29 years to orbit from when you’re born and it is the planet of blessings and growth. So by the time you’re around 29, between 27 and 32, something big happens in your life. It’s like waking up and coming of age, like: ‘I’ve been going through my twenties and what have I been doing in this relationship?’ What have I been doing in this job?’ You start to rethink everything – old stuff that your parents taught you or ideas that you believed in. It’s like a complete shedding of skin and it can be painful.”In addition to her recent album release, NAO will also be internationally touring beginning Dec. 6th, kicking off the first show in Tokyo, Japan. The upcoming tour dates will be posted below, should you want to experience the magic behind the name, Nao.

 

Tour Dates-NAO

Sam Era

“Life experiences, sometimes writing about what I have experienced is the only way I can deal with it and work through those emotions.”

Arizona is just teeming with talent, ranging from singers such as, Alice Cooper, and Stevie Nicks, to actors like, Emma Stone and Alexandra Ship; Arizona is definitely the place to find the gifted. As such, it is no surprise that this is where Phoenix’s newest R&B singer/songwriter Sam Era reigns from. A master of transforming the nuances of heartbreak and ended relationships into enthralling melodies, Era illustrates the darker side to today’s modern R&B sound. Era spent her early childhood years studying both the Classical, and Jazz music genres, pursuing her passion for music even further in college. Her music career officially launched when her cover of Beyonce’s hit- single, “Crazy In Love,” gained some attention, leading to her introduction, and collaboration with producer, Devon Hancock. Having released her debut single, “Nothing Was The Same” in September, her name has caught the attention of countless listeners on Spotify, boosting her amounts of listens to the thousands with ease. I had the immense pleasure of chatting with Sam about “Nothing Was The Same” and what projects are set to release in the future.

 

“Since your release of “Nothing Was the Same” your fan-base has only grown to higher levels. As listeners, I’m sure we can all draw our own conclusions about what the song is about, but I’m sure the fans would love to hear from you what the song is about.

“Nothing Was The Same’ is about getting your heart broken and the emotions you face while dealing with it. Ultimately it is a classic tale of unrequited love. Long story short: I really loved a guy, who didn’t love me back, but liked me enough to keep me around for when he was bored or didn’t have anyone else to keep him company. It made me feel so unworthy. However, at the time I was so blinded I really didn’t see it until much, much later, but I guess hindsight is 20/20 in both life and relationships.”

 

“Nothing Was the Same” tells the story of being in a one sided relationship, what other type of topics can listeners expect on your new project?

“A lot of relationship gone bad songs! I don’t want to say I’m a one trick pony but you’re supposed to write about what you know right? There are more heavy topics as well as lighter topics, one of my favorite songs on the record is a song called “About Me” which is a Jazz inspired party song.”

 

Who are your biggest musical inspirations?

In terms of purely musical career I would say Kanye.  Sound wise, so many people. A lot of 90’s R&B, Jazz, Classic Rock influences. Popular artists I look up to are 6lack, The Weeknd, Lana Del Rey, Drake, Alina Baraz.”

 

Who would you most want to collaborate with?

“Ahh, that’s a tough one!!! My dream collab would probably be The Weeknd.”

 

What inspires you the most to create your music?

“Life experiences, sometimes writing about what I have experienced is the only way I can deal with it and work through those emotions.”

 

Record label vs. Independence, which would you choose, and why?

“That’s so tough!  I think it depends on what you want!  Being independent is tough especially if you can’t financially afford to just be a full time musician.  But it does come with more creative freedom.  However if the goal is to get the maximum amount of people to hear your music a label would be a better choice.”

 

In Relation to the “safe job” vs. following your dreams, and having the safety net: Which would you recommend to fans trying to follow in your footsteps?

I say do both! Don’t put your dreams aside but don’t put your day to day well-being at risk either.”

 

When can we expect your new album? What will it be titled, and what platform can listeners find it on?
“January 11th! It’s called Songs for the Broken Heart, and will be available on all major [streaming] platforms.”

     Apple Music| Spotify

 

Anderson .Paak

           “When you go everywhere, you just hold on to the things that made you

If Brandon Paak Anderson, who initially went by the appellation, Breezy Lovejoy, but currently goes by, Anderson .Paak, isn’t on your list of favorites, then, can you really consider yourself a true “music head”? .Paak, whose Neo-soul, Funk, R&B, and Hip-hop sound mixture earned him a record deal with Dr. Dre (Aftermath Entertainment) in 2016. The American musician and record producer from Oxnard, California Began gaining attention in 2012, following the debut of his debut album, O.B.E. Vol. 1. Following this releases well-received reception, .Paak released Venice in 2014, followed by Malibu, in 2016, earning himself a nomination for Best Urban Contemporary Album at the Grammy Awards.

Apart from his solo career, Paak is also one-half of NxWorries, alongside record producer Knxwledge. He is accompanied by the band The Free Nationals, who play a variety of instruments such as electric guitar, bass, piano, keyboards and drums and also serve as backing vocalists. Paak, who is set to release his third album this Friday, entitled, Oxnard, named after the Southern California city where he grew up, held a listening party for the unreleased album earlier this Monday, which of course, I attended. The whole vibe in the atmosphere was pretty chill, with low lights, alcohol, fine wines, and even finer women. .Paak entered the room dancing, accompanied by the DJ playing his single, “Tints”, and immediately began greeting the listeners, taking pictures (with almost EVERY fan), and autographing both, vinyls and CD’s alike.

I’ve got to say, it’s one thing when a celebrity makes good music, but is a, for lack of better words, a shitty person. I’ve heard plenty of cases where celebrities, like Nicki Minaj (back when she made good music…waaaaayyyy back, because lord knows her music is garbage now) would meet fans and treat them with the utmost disrespect, almost as if it were a bother to meet the people who support their music. But, it’s a completely different feeling when a celebrity you “ride for” is genuinely good at their craft, and even more so, genuinely a good, kind person.

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.Paak, joked around with the audience, and performed a couple of tracks from Oxnard (which were fire, by the way). When asked why he named the upcoming album after his hometown, .Paak replied with, “When you go everywhere, you just hold on to the things that made you.” After the performances, he let us all know that he had to go, leaving the crowd with a “farewell, and goodnight”. The fun surrounding this up and coming album is far from over though. Beginning at 2 p.m., at the Performing Arts & Convention Center fittingly, in his hometown of Oxnard, California Paak is throwing Andy’s Oxnard Carnival to celebrate the release of Oxnard . If you don’t have a random hundred dollars laying around to spend on a trip to California, I think it goes without saying, that Oxnard is deserving of a purchase (yes, I said “purchase”, not stream).

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Harry Edohoukwa

“There’s this big house, that is me, and these different rooms, that are different genres, and each time a door opens, it could be Funk, Rap, Reggae, Screaming, it really depends on how I’m feeling at the time, and what a track calls for”

If there is anyone who enjoys discovering brand new music, it goes 100% without saying, that it is unequivocally me (obviously). Having an ear for good, quality music and an eye that can easily recognize a musical flame before it becomes an all-out blazing inferno is literally what I live for! As such, if you have NOT yet heard of Harry Edohoukwa, then prepare for your whole life to be forever changed! Harry Edohoukwa, whose musical style is comprised of both reggae and hip-hop melodies, is a McKinney native, whose future has nowhere to go, but up! I had the pleasure of seeing Edohoukwa perform at Deep Ellum Art Co., where he opened for hip-hop artist, Duckwrth. Before he even spoke a single word into the microphone, there was an unmistakable electric in the air that let you know that this young artist had a lot to say; and a lot he said, indeed!

Dressed in a satin white shirt, and black leather pants, Edohoukwa, unleashed a mouthful of lyrics literally bursting with emotion. I don’t mean lyrics where you have to infer or assume what the artist meant, I mean actual emotion that translated so smoothly, that it evoked the same emotion in the listeners! Whether it was the disbelief in the lyrics, “If you love me like you say you do,” or the fiery rage from “Rick Flair’s“, “If you want to bitch, then bitch about it,” the crowd parroted every word back with just as much force. Don’t even get me started on the women in the crowd. The way they screamed and extended their arms to reach out in attempts to touch Edohoukwa was almost reminiscent to the concerts of Michael Jackson, himself. With such a huge comparison and bigger shoes to fill, I had to know more about this talented musician. After sitting down with Edohoukwa, I learned that, like most artists, he knew that music was his calling from a very young age.

I compared the way that the women were screaming for you to the likeness of Michael Jackson. Those are pretty BIG shoes to fill. Let me ask you this, when did you realize that this was the life for you?

“I think I’ve always known that [music is what I wanted to do]. I always freestyled in 5th grade and recorded for the first time in 6th grade. I kind of left it alone, after that, but got back into it during my sophomore year of high school.”

 

So, what genre, exactly, would you call the music that you make?

“If you could help me with that, that would be awesome. I don’t know if it’s rapping, or singing, or screaming. Its rap, reggae, funk, rock. I wouldn’t know how to put it in words really. There’s this big house, that is me, and these different rooms, that are different genres, and each time a door opens, it could be Funk, Rap, Reggae, Screaming, it really depends on how I’m feeling at the time, and what a track calls for. It’s really hard to label!”

 

So, for starters, I have to know, Team Apple or Team Android?

“iPhone! Only because I have an iPhone. I used to be team Blackberry. Actually, fuck Apple and Android. I like the Blackberry.  I love the keyboard. I always look at owners of Blackberries as people who know shit, and get shit done. [If you’re a Blackberry owner] You don’t need apps, because you’re all about your business. I’m an artist through and through, but I love the business side, plus I don’t like the weight of Androids.”

 

Often times, I have found that the artists that play nonstop on a person’s phone can tell more about them than actual words. Who do you consider worthy enough to loop through your headphones on the daily?

“I listen to a lot of reggae. There’s Bob Marley, Beres Hammond, whose Music is Life album is amazing, Lucky Dube, who, out of everyone I list is probably my favorite. If you’re going to listen to Dube, “Trinity”, “Monster”, “It’s Not Easy,” and “Prisoner” would be good songs to listen to, Fleetwood Mack, Abba, that’s some old school music, Gunna, and Ama Lou.”

 

If you had to name a few people, who would you list as your musical inspirations?

“That’s easy. Lucky Dube, Beres Hammond, Bob Marley, James Brown, Jim Morrison [of the Doors], Paul Simon, Chance the Rapper, Jay Z, Kanye West, Bob Dylan, who inspired me to start taking storytelling and song writing to another level, and Kid Cudi, who was the biggest inspiration, that made me resent labels and conventional rapping.”

 

What are your thoughts about record deals, and the idea that you absolutely have to sign to a label to be successful?

“If I was signed, they’d be expecting this out of me, and that out of me, and that’s not what I want. I know you have to do what you have to do to start doing what you want to do, but I’d choose 100% no record label. They’d have to come up with a crazy offer, which they wouldn’t do, because no one really offers you what you deserve. It wouldn’t be a good business practice. Praise god there are examples like Chance the Rapper! I remember, this girl asked me [in college] ‘Do you ever feel bad that you are the same age as Chance, and that he’s doing music and we’re studying for test?’ But I’m not mad, and I probably would’ve gone down the whole record label route [if it weren’t for him], but seeing him do it the way he’s done it, just seeing this shows me that it is possible [without a record label]. Signing a deal doesn’t sound liberating. I’d rather build a team.”

 

The last question I have for you is: Who do you make music for?

I’m making music for the people. That’s all it’s about; connecting to people. I want people to be like, ‘Hey man I was really tripping, and listening to “Joy”, and it really helped me through.’ I’m here to be a vessel, so whatever God wants to me to say, I’m here to say it, and I don’t want to be limited to any genre, limited to any race, limited to any country, or anything. I’m really shooting for the top of the top.”

 

Currently, Harry Edohoukwa has released three hit singles, “Ric Flair”, “Joy”, and “Mrs. Mrs.”, while also releasing his debut EP, Silhouettes (Circa ’17) in April of this year. Now, if you have been totally convinced, and are interested in joining the “Harry Edohoukwa” wave, I’d suggest you jump on board before it inevitably turns into a massive tsunami!

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Billie Bodega

“Lighting is the biggest contributing factor to my inspiration. I see everything in pictures, and music adopts various colors for me.”

Los Angeles native, Billie Bodega, has been undoubtedly, and meticulously planning her musical debut, choosing NOW as the perfect time to unveil her mellifluous voice to the world. Although she is an actress, well-known for recurring roles in The Tracy Morgan Show (2003), Zoey 101 (2005), Movie Surfers (2006), and The Wrong Child (2016), Bodega, has been hard at work on an R&B project, surprising everyone in March of this year with the release of her smooth, and sultry vocals on her first single and music video “Ocean Blues.” Creating her pseudonym earlier this year, Bodega recalls, “[My name was] self-dubbed after a very lucid dream in which I was drinking a carafe of wine in a Grecian garden filled with goats”.

From a young age, she learned to play several string and woodwind instruments, and discovered both a love and passion for singing in her school choir. Though a musician, actress, dancer, and singer, Bodega also held a high value on the importance of education, prompting her move to Cambridge, Massachusetts to pursue her degree. Upon the completion of her studies at Harvard University, where she graduated with honors, Bodega returned to Los Angeles, where she began recording. November 2nd , six months after the success of “Ocean Blues,” Bodega released her debut EP,  Ko͞o dāˈtä. If I had to guess, I would say that Ko͞o dāˈtä, which is comprised of seven songs, collectively tells the story of regaining control, but why “guess” when you can find out from the source herself? I recently had the extreme pleasure of being able to chat with Billie Bodega to find out exactly what she intended the EP to mean, as well as to gain further insight into the budding R&B singer’s life as a whole.

Continue reading “Billie Bodega”

IAMDDB!

“We all go through intense feelings and experiences and shit”

Coming third in the BBC’s Sound of 2018 list, all eyes are eagerly awaiting Manchester rapper-singer, IAMDDBs next move. With her smooth intermingled hip-hop and urban jazz melodies, it’s no surprise why. Born Diana Debrito – hence the clever name, IAMDDB, takes inspiration from Samba, Bob Marley, and Nat King Cole. After her trip to Angola (a west-coast country of south-central Africa) for several months, becoming heavily involved in the local jazz scene, following a bad breakup. After being fully immersed in the music scene, she returned to the UK, refreshed, healed, and inspired to make music. Her Hoodrich Vol 3 mixtape released in 2017, conveying an artist at ease with a deeply expressive theatricality. “We all go through intense feelings and experiences and shit,” she said in a recent interview with Crack magazine, “and if my music can help somebody get through something, then my job’s done. I’m just a vessel to make people feel better.”

IAMDDB is notorious for shutting down many festival stages with what she calls, “trap infused jazz”. If this wasn’t enough, just when it didn’t seem as if the budding star could soar any higher, following her recent back and forth with Steff London, she blessed listeners with her latest offering, Flightmode Vol. 4. IAMDDB’s most recent tour collaboration with Red Bull Music, named Flightmode Live, after her forthcoming mixtape sold out only a mere minutes of being listed online, which also, is no surprise. So, if you’re looking for a little change from the garbage on the radio, take IAMDDB on for a spin.

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Dynamic Duo: VanJess!

“I want fans to get that we are trying to make real music. We put a lot of work into it. We want to bring something different, something relatable.”

VanJess, the Nigerian-American R&B duo, comprised of sisters, Ivana and Jessica Nwokike launched their musical careers while performing covers of popular songs on YouTube. After covering Drake’s club banger, “Headlines” the two sisters viral success skyrocketed their names into success, pushing the pair to pursue a serious career in music, outside of doing covers. The two, who are only a year apart, honestly look almost like twins, and rightfully so, they appear to have an unspoken bond that allows them to read each other’s minds, as they sing and dance in perfect harmony while they perform. Their sound is so impeccably mitotic, that at times it can be difficult to tell which sister is singing which part, as they flawlessly play off one another’s voices. Ivana, whose voice is deeper, will often be found singing lead (though they do switch as the song calls for it), while Jessica, whose voice is lighter, sings as the accompanying. Being inspired by Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, TLC, and Xscape, definitely shines through their 90’s R&B sound.

By 2011, the duo hired a full-time manager, and set on to record songs in an actual studio. In 2015, the two re-released their EP, 00 till Escape in 2015, which in turn charted in the iTunes top ten, trending worldwide. This success led VanJess to complete, and release their first full-length album, Silk Canvas in July of this year. Silk Canvass, which includes collaborations with Masego, GoldLink, Lil Simz, Leikeli47, and Berhana, is a soulful reflection and introduction to VanJess’ most vulnerable moments, speaking on the moments of collapse from heartbreaks, and also the  recovery process of arising with newfound confidence. Jess, of VanJess explains that “I want fans to get that we are trying to make real music. We put a lot of work into it. We want to bring something different, something relatable.” With that being said, you might as well get well-acquainted with VanJess, because their music isn’t going anywhere, but to the top of music charts! 

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ABRA

“I really wanted to start off with an attitude of confidence as opposed to the heartbroken stuff people are used to — that sad girl shit. It’s time to regain your self-esteem and know who you are”

Have you ever met someone who you cannot quite place into one category of— well, anything? This is essentially the case with the next artist. Is her musical style Synthpop, Electronic Freestyle, Alternative R&B, or Indie pop?  It is either none of these, or all of these, nevertheless, being unable to be labeled or categorized is typically what sets the truly special people apart from the norm, allowing their true charm to freely flow. Without further ado, today’s segment will be featuring the magic that is ABRA! Born in Queens, New York, to a family of missionaries, ABRA spent her early years in London, where her parents built the church they would ultimately work in. Her introduction to singing came from this very church, where she sang on the praise and worship team. After London, her family settled into the suburbs of Gwinnett County outside Atlanta. “When you move a lot like that, you’re always seen as the new kid,” she said. “I have a deep sense of non-belonging.” Music clearly became the one constant in a world of continuous change, which allowed her to perfect the craft that she is now known for.

At age 14, having settled down in Atlanta, ABRA began playing the guitar, which led to the eventual uploading of her acoustic covers of popular rap songs to YouTube. From here, it was as they say “history”, as she was discovered by Awful Records founder and rapper, Father, who was intrigued by her covers, who encouraged her to make her own original music, which would later lead to ABRA joining the label in 2014. With a wide range of vocal abilities, ABRA’S debut EP, BLQ Velvet contained tracks with a completely smooth 90’s R&B vibe, leaving its follow-up album, Rose, with an even greater rewind in time, encompassing an early 80’s Pop and Electronic Freestyle. All the same, her latest project Princess, released in 2016, combines the best of both albums, playing on the soulful ambiances of BLQ Velvet, and the playfulness of Rose. Most artists (whether musically inclined, or not) can attest to the fact that there is much positive inspiration that can come from pain and despair, and ABRA, as a creative is no different here. “When I started out, I had a lot of pain on my chest and a lot of bitterness. BLQ Velvet was [a way] to make myself feel better. It was a really cathartic project. Ever since then, I’ve had a lot less spite-fueled successes.” In Princess, listeners can hear the shift in lyrics, as they give off more of an enlightened, positive mood, in comparison to her previous two albums, which have been more on the morose and vulnerable side. It is more than apparent that ABRA was in a place of happiness as she created this project, as she goes as far as to say that, “I really wanted to start off with an attitude of confidence as opposed to the heartbroken stuff people are used to — that sad girl shit. It’s time to regain your self-esteem and know who you are.” I couldn’t agree more. Now, if you’re looking for an artist who cannot be placed in a box of a specific style, because she literally has all the style in the world, ABRA is the artist to give a shot.

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Masego

“I just try to be real. I’m a flawed human being, and I want my music to look at the whole picture. I think it’s beautiful to set yourself up to be judged for who you really are.”

Micah Davis, aka, Masego, is an international, genre-bending entertainer who is actually somewhat difficult to place in any one genre of music, though his style has a Hip-hop, Jazz, and Electronic flair to it. Masego, who refers to his own musical style as “TrapHouseJazz,” has collaborated with artists, SiR, GoldLink, and SPZRKT, while also sharing the same stage with Chance the Rapper, and Kehlani, with this being only the tip of the iceberg for his collaborations. 2016 seemed to have been a significantly successful year for Masego, as his music began catching the ears of many listeners, one of which included veteran producer, DJ Jazzy Jeff, who then introduced him to TDE producer, Sounwave, adding him to the list of collaborators.

The question presented, however, is how exactly did Masego set on his path towards gaining entry into the music industry? Masego, who has stated that that John P. Kee, Andre 3000, and Cab Calloway were major influences to his music, has spoken numerous times about self-teaching himself to play the piano, saxophone, and various drum machines in order to impress his crush back in his early years of high school. Ironically, it was here that he donned the name “Masego” (which translates to “blessing” in Tswana), after completing a senior project on South African culture, where he discovered that his family had roots in South Africa.

Bringing the timeline back to the present, as of today, Masego’s song, “Tadow” has collectively brought in more than 52 million views on Youtube, while his record hit “Navajo”, first premiering on “Colors” (the Berlin streaming platform), has been streamed well-over 20 million times, explaining why his current Lady, Lady Worldwide Tour (named after his debut album Lady, Lady) sold out within mere minutes. The full-length album itself, is a compilation of real-life thoughts shared through both real, and imagined narratives, illustrating the bliss and uncertainty that the different types of black romance brings. When asked about the album, Masego says, “I just try to be real. I’m a flawed human being, and I want my music to look at the whole picture. I think it’s beautiful to set yourself up to be judged for who you really are.” I feel like it is my responsibility to tell you all that Masego himself (who is still currently on tour), will be performing in Dallas, TX. this Thursday (yes, that is literally tomorrow), so if you do have some type of special pull, favors to rack in, or connections to see his performance, I’d suggest you use them now.

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LaVoyce: The Voice Worth Listening To

“There’s this Album Release Party tonight. You down?”

It goes without question that I was. It doesn’t take much to get me out of the house these days, especially where the promise and enticement of good music is involved. Little did I know that good music is not what I’d be walking into, rather, what I’d be walking into was an all-encompassing performance of great music! Front and center of the stage stood, Dallas, TX.’s very own professional, R&B singer and songwriter, Demi LaVoyce, who at the time, was providing a synopsis of her new song, “Invisible,” before playing it for the audience. It goes without saying that the beautifully talented artists’ music kept every head in the room nodding to her rhythmic melodies. LaVoyce’s newly released album, Bloom, can best be described as a soulfully vivid portrayal of her personal experiences with the good and bad aspects of relationships, bringing the listeners along for the roller-coaster ride, that is a great relationship turned sour, writing about the high points of falling in love, the low points of falling out of love, and the transitioning point of being more than fine alone, with a new sense of confidence and a fresh outlook on life.

LaVoyce, who is classically trained and very well versed across the board in Jazz, R&B, Hip-Hop vocals, and Gospel, has been both, singing and writing songs since the age of seven. This musical experience was more than exemplified as she wrapped up the night by performing “Juice,” the final song of her album. The two songs that caught my attention, and favor were “Lions & Tigers,” and “In my Bag” (with “In my Bag” being my absolute number one). I feel personally inspired and thankful for having the opportunity to have heard this budding star’s debut album, and am proud to proclaim that I am a Demi LaVoyce fan. If you too want to join this wave of fandom, then for sure go on any streaming platform (Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, etc.) and purchase/stream Bloom.

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R&B is Alive and Well!

As I’d already written a segment on this artist, I was somewhat hesitant to do another so early, but credit has to be given where it’s due, so again, let’s talk about Ella Mai. Last time I addressed Mai, I did say that her upcoming album would be worth the purchase and the wait, right? Well, call me a clairvoyant, psychic, or just intuitive, because it is just that, if not more. Ella Mai’s self-titled debut album, Ella Mai, proves that R&B is indeed alive and well! Mai’s debut full-length release features production from DJ Mustard and guest appearances from Chris Brown, H.E.R., and John Legend, all of which come together to form a vulnerable story about both the highs and lows of love.

However, the adage of “Be careful of what you wish for” couldn’t be more true about one particular song on the album. For the longest, die-hard fans outright begged for an Ella Mai-Chris Brown collaboration, which only made sense, as Mai rose to stardom by initially covering multiple Chris Brown songs, via Instagram, that even grabbed Brown’s attention, to the point that he began singing snippets of her songs in return. That collaboration happened in “Whatchamacallit”, but not quite how fans imagined it. Fans were expecting a love duet, but in return got a song about cheating, and its new lingo, coined “Whatchamacallit”. Sadly, the song is fitting of the times and will more than likely see radio time, which of course, is great for Mai, but not so much for the younger listeners that blindly follow the fads and trends set by today’s artists (We all remember the infamously catchy Jhené Aiko line, “Eat the booty like groceries” trend that spread like wildfire).

Regardless, the album has plenty of other songs that will no doubt make their way to radio play-time, and rightfully so. The top three songs of the album (in my opinion), include “Sauce”, “Good, Bad”, and “Dangerous”, all of which are songs that are featureless, so major kudos to Ella for that. If you haven’t gone out and purchased, Ella’s album, go ahead and cop that. Remember, it’s the support from the fans that fuels the artists’ creative processes (and pockets).

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Ella Mai: Trippin’ or Not?

If you’ve been active on social media, no doubt you’ve seen the plentiful memes of Jacquees with captions reading, “Don’t let me cover your song,” or something to that effect. These memes started popping up all over the internet after it was assumed that up and coming “Boo’d Up” R&B artist, Ella Mai made Jacquees take down his cover of her most recently released track, “Trip”. It was later revealed by DJ Mustard, that this was in fact, his own demand, given with good reason, of course. After a short period of time, Jacquees’ rendition of Ella’s new song began to attract more listeners, which led to an overwhelmingly huge gap in streams, in comparison with the original version. After receiving Ella’s request, Jacquees complied, removing all traces of the cover. This unpopular request led many to flood social media with comments calling Ella petty and lame, amongst other negative remarks.

Nevertheless, I do see the purpose in having him remove it. With an album set to drop nine days away, she needs all the solo attention that she can get. This is her time to shine, not Ella Mai and Jacquees time to shine. You have to keep in mind that she’s an artist who’s had a strong underground fan base for quite a while, but only recently has she caught airtime on radio stations because of her catchy single “Boo’d Up”, despite her much better sounding songs. Having heard both versions of the song myself, I personally would’ve handled the situation slightly different, and there still might be time to do it (though I doubt DJ Mustard will).

Hypothetically speaking, if I were one of Ella’s Public Relations Representatives, I would have advised Ella to reach out to Jacquees to officially (keyword being “officially”) be a feature on “Trip”, at least as a bonus song for the album. All the same, as an artist, (and we all know the saying about artists being sensitive about their sh*t) I would probably feel some type of way if I was literally backed into the corner of having to work with someone that I didn’t originally envision for a song, not to mention the added funds that would have to be dispensed for extra studio time. All in all though, as the saying goes, and as Kanye is currently demonstrating, “All press is good press,” especially in the music industry. Ella Mai’s album, self-titled, Ella Mai is available for preorder as of September 21st, and is set to release on October 12th, and will without a doubt be an EP worth purchasing.

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Mac Miller: Gone, But Never Forgotten

“Where were you when you heard?” “Hey man, are you good” “Did you hear?”

Around 4 pm today, my phone pinged with text after text like these. I didn’t know what had happened, but I knew as soon as I responded, to ask what was going on, I’d be in for a major heart break, so I didn’t respond…I didn’t have to. Something was seriously wrong. I felt it in my stomach. It’s the kind of eerie, gut wrenching feeling that you get before knowing you’re about to receive horrible news; and truly horrible it was.

I didn’t have to respond to any message to figure out what had taken place. The buzz around the office was enough to confirm the recent loss. That, and the coworkers that actually came to my desk to ask, if I’d heard the news of rapper, Mac Miller’s passing. As a major Mac Miller fan, I honestly thought it was some type of social media stunt. People are pronounced “dead” all the time in memes and online trollings as jokes. This wasn’t one of those times, nor was it a joke.

Mac Miller was found, and pronounced dead after an apparent drug overdose around noon, this Friday in his San Fernando home. Only a couple of years prior had Miller himself said, “I’d rather be the corny white rapper than the drugged-out mess who can’t even get out of his house. Overdosing is just not cool. You don’t go down history because you overdose. You just die.”

However, in cases like this, you don’t “just die”. In the Hip-Hop community, in the hearts of the fans, and in the hearts of his family there’s a shared pain that we understand all too well. Someone near and dear to us was taken way too soon.

In 2014 Miller released his mixtape, Faces, which was almost wholly centered on personal drug use. It’s here that he also makes references to a premature death. It’s almost eerie how artists who leave this earth at far too young ages somehow seem to predict their ill-fate.

Nevertheless, if there’s anything that someone who’s been around for a minute can tell you, it’s this, “In every dark cloud, there is a silver lining”. Every moment in life has the potential to be learned from, if you can find it’s teachable moment. I think it is my place to spread the news of October being National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. It is during this month that drug awareness is raised in an effort to lessen the stigma surrounding real life’s issues, while also shedding a light on healthy coping methods. Miller may have ascended to a higher plane, but his legacy of music, honesty, vulnerability, carefree spirit, and all around good vibes will never be forgotten.

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Did You Sign to TDE?

“So how was it meeting Kendrick Lamar, and the rest of TDE?” “Did you sign with TDE?” “How do you know Kendrick?”

The list of questions that I got after posting this picture was endless. They weren’t bothersome, but there were quite a lot, so I’ll just answer them hic et nunc (here and now in Latin). For starters, meeting Kendrick Lamar was hella dope, but not as long as you’d think. The whole process lasted maybe two minutes at the most. That’s me being generous.

Before I even turned the corner, I just knew what I was going to say. “What’s up K dot? When shit hits the fan, I’ll still be a fan.” Clever right? True Kung Fu Kenny fans would get the saying. Being no newcomer to being around celebrities, I just knew, I’d be fine. Being starstruck was for the inexperienced, and surely I’d had enough experience to be fine, right?

Wrong! So here’s how it ended up panning out instead:

Kendrick: Hey Champ, thanks for coming out today. I genuinely appreciate it

Me: (Looks around at other TDE members) No prob, man.

Me: (Getting up from taking the pictures). Aight, y’all be easy.

TDE: Aight.

tde

That was it. No cleverly planned out lyric or questions on my end at all. I honestly only forgot because I wasn’t expecting a majority of the label to be there. If SZA would’ve actually been there at the moment, I would’ve been lucky to have gotten the few words out that I did manage to let escape out. There’s always next time though (yes, there HAS to be a next time).

Tinashe: Mislabeled?

Tee-na-shay or Tin-ash? Is that how you say it? This question kills me every time I hear it. Never would I have imagined that someone who has so much potential, her own home-studio, a background in acting, amazing vocals, three released albums, three extremely popular mixtapes, and a more than dedicated fan base would not be subjected to this question. However, the reality of the matter is, that’s exactly what’s happening. Tinashe‘s Aaliyah-like vibes and phenomenal mixtapes are what propelled her popularity from the very beginning. There wasn’t a person who had any type of knowledge of the underground music scene who didn’t know about Tinashe. From the start, she was seen as the “next BIG thing”. So, what happened? Why isn’t she as BIG as she should be?

The easiest answer, and her biggest mistake, was signing to a record label. As a devout fan from the Reverie and in Case We Die, mixtape days, I can vouch for this statement. Tinashe’s connection to RCA has always been her Echelles’ Heel. Before signing, she had 100% freedom to make the music that she wanted, and the music that the fans clung to. However, I do understand that remaining unsigned has its drawbacks, the worst being lack of funds and marketing. Nevertheless, it’s still more than doable; perhaps more difficult, but, still doable. The poster boy for remaining unsigned and still acquiring extreme success in the music industry is of course, Chance the Rapper. Not everyone can pull of this feat though, but if anyone could have achieved it, it for sure would’ve been Tinashe.

So what exactly has resulted from her signing to RCA though? Let’s delve into that. For starters, Aquarius, Tinashe’s freshman album was pushed back later than it should have been. So what, right? All of her original fans stayed loyal, and even opted to get the special edition, where fan’s (who purchased this edition) could have their name put in the album book/poster. But the following album release was disastrous! Tinashe’s third album, Joyride seemed to have been a flop, and with good reason. Not only had the chill sound that brought fans over change, but there was a HUGE delay in the album’s release, which caused her to release Nightride as her sophomore album instead. For those who’ve gotten confused, here’s the breakdown:

1. Aquarius released in 2014

2. Nightride released in 2016 (in place of Joyride, thanks to the label)

3.) Joyride released in 2018 (years later, with half of the songs already heard her fans)

Because of this, if you’d gone to the Joyride tour (which of course, I did), then you’d essentially heard half of the tracks years early, as she exclusively performed them. Tinashe herself said that RCA constantly delayed her album release, so that they could better focus and market newcomer, Zayn Malik’s album instead.

If you thought that was bad enough, don’t worry, it gets worse. Just recently, Tinashe was set to release a fourth album, Nashe, or so she thought. RCA put a quick halt to that project no sooner had she released tracks, “Like I Used to” and “Throw a Fit . It’s like they don’t want her to be great, or at least, not too great. Keep in mind, this is the very same label that houses Chris Brown, Childish Gambino, SZA, Justin Timberlake, and many more, leaving the likes of Tinashe, Bryson Tiller, and a few more artists without much shine, recording time, or marketing. It’s all very reminiscent of the TLC 360 deal. Nevertheless, I guess all we can hope is that her contract comes to a close soon, so that she can get back to making the music that captures the hearts and ears of many.

Apple Music | Spotify

 

Doja Cat: MOOOre Than Meets the Eye!

“I was just trolling, out of boredom, and then the memes were everywhere”

If you’re someone who keeps up with social media, and like most people, you don’t live underneath a rock (no offense, Patrick Star), then chances are you’ve heard the famous lyrics, “Bitch I’m a cow, Bitch I’m a cow. I’m not a cat, I don’t say meow”. Catchy, right? This fun song instantly went viral, within mere minutes. The song was so catchy in fact, that multiple unknown artists remixed it and placed it on Spotify before the actual artist could! With a song as trivial as Mooo, people started to question who the artist, (Doja Cat) actually was, and what she had to offer, while others wrote her off as a viral sensation.

Anyone who knows anything about Doja Cat knows that she has much mooore to offer than her recent viral hit. Doja Cat, known for her song So HighSo High, has been on the music scene for a while now, with many other musical accomplishments. The 22 year old, California native recently released her sophomore album in March with RCA Records.

When interviewed about the popularity of Mooo, Doja admittedly said that she never expected it to be such a BIG deal. “I was just trolling, out of boredom, and then the memes were everywhere.” If this is the offspring of boredom, then I wish many more hours of boredom upon this budding star. The video’s release couldn’t have come at a better time: right before her announcement of a 2018 tour! From what’s been seen so far, tickets are going pretty fast, and with good reason. Die-hard fans who’ve been supporting Doja since her SoundCloud days were no doubt the biggest reason for the tour’s high demand, but let’s not forget the new bandwagon fans, whose contribution and Mooo’s can be heard nationwide!

If you haven’t checked her albums, Purrr! and Amala out, then really, what are you doing with your life? You’re sitting on your couch, and your life is just passing you by (for my people old enough to remember those Everest College commercials). Seriously though, if you’re into the indie-R&B/neosoul vibe, give the albums a listen.

Apple Music | Spotify

Noteworthy Artists

 

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”   — Plato

In a world full of mumble rappers, there still are amazing artists actually worth listening to. You just have to know where to start. For those of you who think today’s music is falling off, you might want to take the time to reconsider, and check these artists out (the list is in no particular order).

1. Earthgang

2. J.I.D

3. Duckwrth

4. Smino

5. Saba

6. Boogie

7. SiR

8. GoldLink

9. Kyle Dion

10. Masego

11. Elhae 

12. Jalen Santoy

13. The Internet

14. KYLE

15. Kali Uchis

16. Ravyn Lanae

17. Ruth B.

18. Jorja SmithJorja Smith

19. Isaiah Rashad

20. Ella Mai 

21. Trevor Jackson

22. Topaz Jones 

23. Noname

24. KWAYE

25. Doja Cat

26. Raveena