Danileigh

“Prince reached out to me via email and said he wanted me to direct and write a treatment for his music video”

Originally from South Florida (and later settling in Los Angeles, California), dancer, singer, songwriter, and creative director extraordinaire, Danielle Curiel, aka, DaniLeigh, has singlehandedly skyrocketed her way to fame in November 2015, following the release of her debut single “D.O.S.E.” on YouTube and SoundCloud. Since its release, the track has since accumulated hundreds of thousands of views on both platforms.

From the age 12 she had always been interested, and avidly practiced dancing, later gaining an interest in singing, and uploading covers of popular songs onto YouTube at only 14 years-old. This hard-work would not go unnoticed for long. Ironically enough, an artist world-renowned for also using a mononym noticed young Danileigh’s potential.

The legendary one himself, Prince, was so moved by the talented young artist that he sought her out to star in, write, and direct the video for his song, “Breakfast Can Wait.” “That was crazy,” Dani recalled. “Prince reached out to me via email and said he wanted me to direct and write a treatment for his music video. He gave me a whole budget and I made the video happen. That was the peak of my career. It was the first that time that all eyes were on me.” After working on the video, Prince would remain a mentor for the young artist until his tragic death in 2016. “I always say I wish Prince was here to see all of this happening with me right now,” Dani says on her website. “It’s okay though. I know he’s watching.”

Danileigh, who co-wrote J.Lo’s single “Dinero,” featuring DJ Khaled and Cardi B. has received two nominations for Best Latin Video and Best Collaboration at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards. She even went viral as she completed Drake’s #InMyFeelings challenge, gaining a cameo appearance in the credits at the end of Drake’s official “In My Feelings” music video. Shortly after, she released her single “Lil Bebe,” which has gained countless amounts of radio airplay, in addition to thousands of streams on Spotify.

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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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DUCKWRTH

 

“I couldn’t really listen to hip-hop… I couldn’t go outside until I was about 16, ’cause my mom thought I was going to get shot in South Central”

You asked for it, and here it is: A new gem for you all to discover! South Central LA rapper, singer, and graphic designer, Jared Lee, more commonly known as Duckwrth (no relation to Kendrick Lamar) is literally on the brink of breaking out of the Underground status, and with good reason. Signed to Universal Records, (which might be the best option, as this record-label seems to allow him full creative freedom), Duckwrth, has opened for like-minded artist, Anderson .Paak, and continues to create his own high-energy, punk-rap sound.  He is also well-known for illustrating all of the artwork that accompanies the projects that he has released, in addition to creating the visual branding for artists like T. Mills and IAMSU!

Duckwrth, who considers himself a GPK (Grand Pastor’s Kid) was raised Pentecostal, where he was essentially sheltered from experiencing life to it’s fullest as a kid, “I couldn’t really listen to hip-hop… I couldn’t go outside until I was about 16, ’cause my mom thought I was going to get shot in South Central.” Still, he was able to break the mold, and create his own world through his art and music, going as far as releasing his first solo album, I’m Uugly, in 2016.The album was comprised of songs that covered love and even went as far as to address police brutality, which in turn, caught the attention of Urban Outfitters, who then booked him for their 2017 SXSW showcase. Following its predecessor’s release, An Xtra Uugly Mixtape, released in 2017, spreading Duckwrth’s music to an international level.

He now has hopes that his upcoming U.S. tour will expand to other countries. “For me to actually be able to go overseas is big because a lot of people from my neighborhood, they don’t even get to leave my fuckin’ neighborhood,” Duckwrth said. “I need that experience, ’cause I need to be able to take that back, and tell the people that are in my neighborhood that it’s possible, I did it.” For those of you intrigued enough to give this amazingly talented creative’s music a shot, Duckwrth is currently on the road, conducting his The Falling Man Tour, and will be in Dallas, TX. November 2nd. Obviously, I will be there, front and center. The real question is, where will you be?

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Earthgang

It goes without saying, that it is long past overdue for me to have created a segment on this hip hop duo, so today’s belated segment will consist of all things Earthgang. The American duo, composed of Atlanta-based rappers, Johnny Venus and WowGr8 (previously known as Doctur Dot) released its first EP, The Better Party, in 2010, followed by several singles and six albums, including Rags in 2017, Robots (also released in 2017), and Royalty in 2018. The duo’s sound, often compared to that of OutKast, can best be described as lyrical, meaningful hip hop that tells a story with each track. If I’m being 100% honest, since 2010, I have more than relished at being one of the select few to know about this duo. I’m sure that dedicated music heads can relate. It is essentially a love-hate relationship in which we, as the listeners know about artists before they blow up, so they’re pretty much our “secret weapons” to pull out when in music debates, but at the same time, because we know they’re so talented, we also want the world to know and love them as much as we do.

The only issue that I’ve seen from time to time (not always) is that, when artists sign to a label and gain recognition, their style of music changes, as if they “sold out” for the record deal. Nevertheless, this doesn’t seem to be the case with Earthgang. They recently, as of the end of August, signed to Dreamville Records, joining the roster alongside J. Cole (establisher of the label) BAS, COZ, J.I.D, Lute, Ari, and Omen. Since then, they have released two songs, “Up,” and “Stuck” (ft. Arin Ray), both of which have still retained their original sound, something that has been consistent since their early days. As Earthgang is no longer a secret anymore, and signed to one of the biggest labels in the game right now, old fans and new fans alike can all sit back in anticipation for the new album, Mirrorland that is rumored to be released before the end of this year.

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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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Tobi Lou

“So I found a joy in talking about sad shit sometimes and having fun being sad”

If you’re anything like me, you love the clout and bragging rights that come from knowing about an artist while they’re still in the developing stages of the renowned “underground”. You wanted it, and here it is: A new artist’s music to check out (thank me later). Up and coming star, Tobi Lou, whose career is pretty much still in its beginning phases, has an extraordinarily unique style and sound that can best be described as somewhat resembling a fusion between OutKast and Chance the Rapper.

When asked in an interview, Lou, ironically being from Chicago (the birthplace of Chance the Rapper as well), said that one of his all time favorite songs is “Hey Ya!” by OutKast, stating that “Most people don’t know that André 3000 is talking about the saddest shit on that song, because it’s masked with happiness. He’s talking about divorce and why love doesn’t last and shit, but he’s like, ‘You don’t want to hear me, you just want to dance.’ So I found a joy in talking about sad shit sometimes and having fun being sad.”

This is more than fitting, as Lou’s music and recent videos paint an upbeat, inviting picture full of cartoon characters, and whimsical visuals that can easily be danced to, despite often being about dreary, and somewhat more serious topics. Working with artists such as Galamatias and Smino, Lou is definitely a rising star to keep an eye on. His most recent EP, Tobi Lou and the Juice, was released in early August of this year, and if I am being honest (which I ALWAYS am), it is more than 100% worth the listen, if you haven’t already (You’re still here? Still reading? No! Go listen to that album).

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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).

I Had a Dream(ville)

I had a dream that great rappers, and even great lyricists would come together in one single label, and create a worthwhile sound, so that their music could be judged not by the catchiness of the beats, but the content of their words. I think Martin would be proud of that intro, and even prouder of the record label that has taken major steps in realizing this dream: Dreamville Records. The label, established by J. Cole and his manager Ibrahim Hamad, is comprised of. Cole himself, BAS, COZ, Earthgang, J.I.D, Lute, Ari, and Omen, all of who are considerably talented on their own. Earthgang, the duo most recently signed to Dreamville are currently touring, and opening for Cole on his KOD Tour, exposing the general masses to their unique style.

Of course, it goes without saying that those who follow underground rising stars already knew about all of these label-members before their signage, but, it’s good that every new signee will now be getting the marketing shine necessary to spread the knowledge of their music to those who limit themselves to whatever is on the radio. For the longest, whenever someone would dare utter that “Hip-Hop is dead”, the typical response would be, “Nah man, we got Cole and Kendrick!” As the adage goes, knowledge is power, and now you have a few more nuggets of knowledge to aid in Hip-Hop’s defense.

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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