2005 Client Roster: DJ Dynamite

Interview: DJ Dynamite

Interview: DJ Dynamite
By Kandis Knight

It was the night of Lil’ Scrappy’s Bred to Die Born to Live album release party in Atlanta. I arrived at the venue early enough to scope out the crowd and enjoy the soul food buffet.

Before long, I spot Petey Pablo’s Philly born, South “Cack” (Carolina) raised dj, Dj Dynamite, “Did you try a Crunk Juice Bomb?” he asks me.

Several bombs later, I get the full scoop on Dynamite, who started djing in the late 80s due to his affinity for the late Jam Master J. “I liked the simple fact of the matter that he was so cool with the art of djing,” Dynamite adds before taking one more “Crunk Bomb” to the dome.

Dynamite fondly recalls the day he first saw the video Walk This Way and fell in love with Jam Master J’s scratches. “That was like the coolest thing I ever seen. I was fascinated then I saw Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick The Show and I loved the hip-hop game from that point it became my following.”

When Dynamite was twelve years-old the young hip-hop fanatic received a mixer for Christmas. “Then my cousin suggested I get two turntables. I got one turntable, a component set. It had two tape decks, the receiver and one mix table at the top. I had to go inside the component system to plug it into my mixer.”

As Lil’ Scrappy enters the room we are briefly interrupted by all the commotion. We stop to say hello and take pictures and congratulate Scrappy on his album.

Back in the day Dynamite was in a dj crew called the Boulevard Rockers, Dj E Ski was instrumental in shaping Dynamite’s career. “He showed me the ropes and how to be a dj and go from record to record, when to scratch and when not to scratch.”

Dynamite quickly began his search for vinyl. “I would take my little money and I would go buy records. The first records I had was the Beastie Boys, Paul Revere and New Edition Cool It Now, then LL Cool J Radio and from that point on there was no turning back.”

But life was not always happy hip-hoppy for Dynamite, who lost his mother when he was an infant. “My dad raised me with a sense of purpose and being. My dad taught me right from wrong it was not easy.”

Dynamite realized young that he had his biggest supporter in his dad. “I always knew that when my time for school was up, I was going to be a dj. Early on my dad used to always tell me to get my education but I had a different belief.”

In the summer of 1996, Dynamite’s career was in high swing. “I gigged for Teddy Riley and Black Street in Miami. It was their White Linen and Platinum Mansion Party on South Beach right across the street from Tony Montana’s house, Gloria Estefan was on her yacht checking the party out,” he laughs. “I got a $1000.00 bonus that night.”

He also picked up Teddy Riley as a main client. “After that I did most of Teddy Riley’s parties, I met Pharrell and The Neptunes, Timbaland and many more over the years. The more parties the more people knew me, like a chain reaction.”

In 1999, Dynamite started rocking with the hottest entertainment company in Charleston, South Carolina, Raw Dogg Entertainment. We were a dj crew. One of our members, Ricky Lee actually landed a job at Hot 98.9 in Charleston and he brought us all on board and we were there doing big things. We had the number one show on the radio in the market, along with a kid named Charlemagne Tha God, who works alongside Wendy Williams.

“By 2001 Hot 98.9 brought in a new Program Director, but I was already busy in the club circuit doing parties across the east coast.” Around that time, Dynamite’s career hit overdrive, he received a tap on the shoulder and a nod.

“I got a phone call from Dj B-Lord who was Petey Pablo’s Tour dj he had some misfortune and asked me to go with Petey Pablo on tour.”

At the time Petey Pablo was on top of the game, and standing right behind him was Dynamite. “I was nervous the Sugar Hill Gang was opening for us. They were up performing and they did Rapper’s Delight and I am in the back thinking I was dreaming.” I finally have to retire from the Crunk Bombs, Dynamite and I both look over at all the action on the dance floor, the entire room is bouncing. Dynamite nods his head across the room, DJ Drama and Lil’ Scrappy are looking back. I had to snap this picture.

“Now a days a dj is not just a dj anymore he is an artist. Djs now a days get more money than the actual artist themselves. You got to be an entertainer. It is a digital era, someone like me goes to Germany and overseas.” -Dj Dynamite

So back to the story, two months later B-Lord called Dynamite again and asked if he could go back on the road again. Dynamite was Pablo’s dj on the Same Eyes on Me album tour. “There were some classic joints on that album.”

Before long, Dynamite was on television. “I have been on Rap City thirteen times, I’ve been on 106th & Park, I’ve been on the Apollo.”

With all his experience, Dynamite is still just a normal guy. “New djs coming along stick with it, practice makes purpose you got to perfect you craft and believe in yourself. I believe all djs should have real wax roots before they jump into anything digital. If you go to a venue that doesn’t have a digital set up you have to be able to jump on the ones and twos.”

Some people think turntablism is becoming extinct, but to Dynamite it is fundamental. “You can be a dj and fly around the world, however any kid can grab a lap top, some turntables then undercut you on the money. At the end of the day they can have all the music they want but if you don’t have the art and craft side of it you are missing the essence of djing.”


2005 Client Roster: Sota Fats

Sota Fats (Minneapolis)
Published at Hip-Hop Club
By Kandis Knight

Sota Fats is the contemporary, ultra smooth, college-educated, community activist, hip-hop business impresario from the same gutter and grime whence rappers like The Notorious B.I.G. emerged. With similar swag, Fats delivers music that picks up where the late, great B.I.G. left off. (R.I.P. Biggie).

This is music that is guaranteed to make you hit your back button.

Yes, you heard me, Minneapolis, the North Star state, with deep musical roots, is offering the music industry the long awaited epitome of the Rap/Rock Star. “I have a one album retail deal with Koch Records, I will be in Best Buy, FYE, you know? I got my own bins. I retained all my publishing,” explains the hyper-savvy emcee.

Sota Fats, born Jason Brown grew up in Minneapolis. His single Rock Star Sh*t featuring Dipset’s Jim Jones has a solid budget behind it, a music video produced by Dan Kimmura of Adfx LLC (Minneapolis) and is already getting rotation on both coasts.

“I am the best looking big nigga this side of the Mississippi River !” proclaims Fats from his upcoming album The Perfect Candidate Bricks & Politiks distributed on Copycat/Koch Records, which is packed full of hits for every taste.

However, the road to success included loosing his best friend and the second half of his duo. Famis Franklin was murdered in early 2007 on a blustery cold night. “At first I was driven by the entrepreneurial side of the rap industry. Since Famis got killed the goal is to make our life long goal a reality, we are all Famis now,” whispers the passionate 27-year-old, with a determined glare. “It is no coincidence his name was Famis.”

Fats is definitely both thought provoking and grimy but at the end of the day, he is the man everyone wants to party with. His music reflects his complicated nature and daily struggles as a black man in America. One side of his persona many people will appreciate is his business savvy.
His mother was an astute business woman who insisted her son learn everything there is to know about hustling. Fats naturally grew into a contemporary business man, who often raps about his former life as a notorious street dealer however a lot has changed.
Famis was murdered as he lay on his sister’s couch in crime ridden North Minneapolis , the murder is still unsolved, leaving the wound gaping for Fats and his entire crew. “His murder was a call to action for me. It caused me to step up my game and use this talent for something that will change the way things are.”

With his best friend Famis at his side, Fats and the Weon Records Crew has been busy in their studio since 2002, making over four albums (Nation Business, Radio Mix Vol. 1-1, The Baller Street Journal, Citiology, State Rehab and MN Fats) and being featured on fifty albums. Combined, the crew has sold an estimated ten thousand albums in the upper Midwest.
For more information www.myspace.com/mnfats

--By Kandis Knight

2005 Client Roster: Sota Fats, Biography

By Kandis Knight

Minnesota Fats is a modern day music mogul, ultra smooth, college-educated, urban savvy.  He is a business man yet a true hip-hop impresario and he has been steadily building a Midwest fan base for over ten years.  In 2007 he inked a lucrative national distribution deal through Koch Records.

Since the days of selling cds out of his trunk across the Midwest to opening for major artists on tour, Minnesota Fats’ music has always been dense, heavy hitting, lyrically ahead of its time and true to the streets.  His stage performance is captivating, he magically transforms in front of a crowd.  It is no wonder, Fats is well known and respected by people from all walks of life.

Minnesota Fats, born Jason Brown grew up in North Minneapolis.  He struggled as many young African-American men struggle.  “I didn’t go to high school, I went to jail,” Fats explains.  To turn the tides, Fats has kept his profile up as a respected community activist by taking part in Community Action Against Police Brutality, Madd Dads and he also founded the WEON Street Foundation six years ago, which gives away toys on Christmas and buys school supplies.

Today, Fats controls his life.  “I have a one album retail deal with Koch Records, I will be in Best Buy, FYE, you know?  I got my own bins.  I retained all my publishing, once they recoup I make 4.35 cents per album,” he laughs.

Fats new single, Rock Star Sh*t featuring Dipset’s Jim Jones is already getting spins and mark’s his official entrance into the hip-hop game.  “Everybody claims to be a rock star now days, but they don’t even hang out with any rock stars.  I am from Minneapolis.  I am surrounded by them and we make music together, I will show everyone how to be a real rock star.” 

Fat’s solo debut album, The Perfect Candidate” Bricks & Politiks, will distributed on Copycat/Koch Records on October 9th, 2007 and does feature some rock songs, some inspirational songs, some love songs and a lot of heavy hitting rap.  “He was not afraid to push the envelop and fuse music genres together and attempt things that have not been done before,” explains producer Shawn J.   

Although Fats has so much to look forward to, this is one artist who has so much to be thankful for already.  Fat’s stage partner, Famis Franklin was murdered in early 2007 on a blustery cold night.  “At first I was driven by the entrepreneurial side of the rap industry. Since Famis got killed the goal is to make our life long goal a reality, we are all Famis now,” whispers the passionate twenty-seven year, with a determined glare. “It is no coincidence his name was Famis.”

With his best friend Famis at his side, Fats and the Weon Records Crew has been busy in their studio since 2002, making over four albums (Nation Business, Radio Mix Vol. 1-1, The Baller Street Journal, Citiology, State Rehab and MN Fats) and being featured on fifty albums and sold an estimated ten thousand albums in the upper Midwest.   

“People might listen to my music and not understand it, but I am constantly sending messages, sometimes I am just making party tracks, or shit for the hood, but I especially like to make songs that make people think.” 

Over the years, the crew has struggled yet managed to keep the vision alive.  “Cats was jealous of Famis, he was a dapper young man.  We are on the verge of big things still,” he sighs, then moans.  “His murder was a call to action for me.  It caused me to step up my game and use this talent for something that will change the way things are.”

Since Famis’ murder, MN Fats has gotten a lot more reflective and has a lot more to say. Tragedy has propelled him to a higher level. 

“I have evolved as an artist, I can’t fabricate shit.  If I can’t get fans when I am coming from the heart, then I mid as well be a lawyer and extort drug dealers because this is real music from yours truly. I can’t do anything else but keep it real at this point.”

2005 Client Roster: Rahki

Interview: Rahki
Published in Indie Street Magazine
By Kandis Knight

When Minnesota Timberwolves point guard, Troy Hudson opened the doors to his posh Minneapolis studio, he hired a 24-year-old producer to his in house staff, a decision that made many question.

“Rahki is one of the most all around talented and creative producers out there, that’s why it’s great to have him on the Nutty Boyz team,” explains T-Hud.

Rahki has released several of his own albums, Rocky Vol. 1 & 2, Rocky vs. FiC, Beat Bang and Who Made the Beat Bang vol. 1. "A beat should take an artist on a journey. I want people to feel my music before an artist puts lyrics to it," says Rahki, a music prodigy who grew up making music and was teaching music to his classmates by the time he reached junior high school.

The young producer has come a long way since teaching peers how to play instruments. His long list of credits include work with many artists such as, Memphis Bleek, Freeway, 36 Mafia, David Banner, UGK, Trick Daddy and countless other Midwestern artists. Rahki is known to many in the Midwest as the young Kanye West.

When Def Jam artist, Freeway heard Rock City’s Beat Bang he immediately hit the studio to do a remix. “This kid is focused!” says Freeway.

“His sound is different so national recording artists take a big interest in him. Rahki’s beats go hard to the core of your soul,” explains Mark Webster, Rahki’s manager and Midwestern Def Jam representative.

Rahki helped to secure big name features for T-Hud and produced the majority of the tracks on T-Hud’s newest album, Drafted, which was released on July 17th, 2007 distributed by EMI/Capitol Records.

Rahki also landed his first album placement this year with Def Jam/DTP Recording artist Small World, whose album is slated to drop September 18th 2007. “Rahki is gonna be on every album I drop,” says Small World.

Artists from all across the country are getting in line to get their Rahki beat before the young producer reaches critical acclaim, for more information visit: http://www.myspace.com/rockcityproductions.

2005 Client Roster: Rahki

Artist Biography:
Rocky City (Minneapolis)
By Kandis Knight

Rocky a.k.a Rock City, grew up on the south side of Minneapolis, MN. His sound is uniquely different from that of his fellow Midwestern peers. Many people know him for his drive and hustle. "A beat should take an artist on a journey. I want people to feel my music before an artist puts lyrics to it," says the young producer.

As a child, Rock City’s musical ear and talent for using sounds was noticed by many and it developed into his lifelong passion for making music. At the age of 10, Rock City began teaching himself how to play the keyboard, key by key, until he perfected his skill. Rock City was eventually involved in jazz band, he learned drums and percussion while in Church.

In the 8th grade, other students watched Rock City's musical talent flourish. He became a popular member on the drum line and eventually started teaching his fellow classmates how to play various instruments. Rock City also made a hobby out of writing music, this only added to his multifaceted background.

As a teen, Rock City learned how to create his own beats, from rap songs and television shows and was extremely passionate about orchestras. As a High School student, Rock City began marketing and street promotions with a Minneapolis based entertainment company called The Pharohs Entertainment.

By grinding hard and proving himself loyal, the company invested in studio equipment so Rock City could pursue his musical passion. Today, Rock City has produced numerous albums and songs. Including Rocky Vol.1 a producers mixtape with acapellas featuring Jay-Z, Nelly, Lil' Flip, MOP.

The success of Rock City Vol. 1 caused Minneapolis to quickly warm up to the young producer. Instantly his telephone phone started ringing. Everyone wanted a Rock City beat. In less than 12 months every track from Rocky Vol. 1 was sold and Rock City’s talent caught the attention of an A&R from Interscope, who seeks out tracks from Rock City to this day.

Recently, Rock City signed a deal as inhouse producer with Minnesota Timberwolves Troy Hudson "T-Hud" who recently started an independent record label, Nutty Boyz Entertainment. Rock City has since helped to secure features for T-Hud including 36 Mafia, Freeway, David Banner, UGK, and Trick Daddy.

T-Hud’s album Drafted is set to drop July 17th, 2007 distributedby EMI/Capitol Records.

The Minneapolis City Pages recently wrote up Rock City’s latest production, Rocky vs. FiC, which received great reviews. FIC (Rapper/MC) who Rocky battled on this project with his tracks, caught the attention of a Rocafella Recording Artist Freeway. Freeway heard a track entitled Beat Bang and immediately wanted to hit the studio and do a remix.

After the Freeway’s remix released the entire Twin Cities was cheering for Rock City as the hometown’s most adored producer. The Beat Bang project led to Rock City’s second project entitled Who Made the Beat Bang featuring a musical mixture of industry accapellas from Lupe Fiasco, Cam'ron, Young Buck, Bubba Sparxx and also highlighted local Twin Cities talent such as, Street Kingz (Featured in Cocaine City and Ozone Magazine), T-Hud (Troy Hudson of the MN Timberwolves, Nutty Boyz Ent), and FiC with a track from Memphis Bleek.

Rock City landed his 1st album placement his year with Def Jam/DTP Recording artist Small World, whose album is slated to drop September 18th 2007.

Musical Influences: Neptunes, Justblaze, Timbaland, scott storch, Dre, and Hi-tek i guess who ever is popping at the time.

Equipment used: Protools, Acid 4.0, MPC 1000, sample cd's, TritonKeyboard Fantom, Stanton turntable, and live instruments.

-Rocky Vol. 1 (all tracks produced by Rock City)
-Rocky vs. FiC (all tracks produced by Rock City)
-Who Made the Beat Bang vol. 1 (all tracks produced by Rock City)

Produced by Rockcity:
-FiC ft. Freeway,
Beat Bang (remix)
-FiC ft. Memphis Bleek,
Timing-Chuck Wooley ft. Freeway,
Out-T-Hud ft. UGK,
Good Weather Music-T-Hud ft. 36 Mafia,

Gangsta Awards Producer of the Year,
Twin Cities Hip-Hop Awards 2006 Producer of the Year,
KMOJ 2006 Song of the Year, "I Rep MN" produced by Rockcity, Twin Hip-Hop Awards

2005 Client Roster: A & R

Interview: A & R (St. Paul)
By Kandis Knight

In 2003, a Minnesota artist started traveling to the south to promote his music. Unbeknownst to many 24 months later he succeeded in getting regular radio rotation on V 103 in Florida, thanks to Sony representative Brandon Kemp who took an interest in a St. Paul native, going by the name of Street and his single, So Fresh.

Coming from a small town in the Midwest, Street was floored when his single started taking off and pressure started to build. “I remember when it happened, I was chilling at the crib and I just came from my radio interview in Tallahassee and my boy calls me on the phone screaming in the background and then I heard my song playing.”

However with the national spotlight shining brightly, Street quickly ran into legal issues. The name Street was already trademarked by an Atlanta artist. He had to change in order to get to the next level of his career. “A & R is the initials of my government name Antonio Richardson. I knew A & R would make people curious, people always think I am referring to a representative from a label, but I am just me,” says the humble musician.

For A & R music comes naturally. “Sometimes I will think of the whole song in my head. Sometimes I will get into the feeling and really I don’t think about it when I am making it, I just let it come out. I don’t force my music. That is how you get the worst kind of music. I just let the beat come to me and I let the rest come out. I don’t write on paper anymore.”

So Fresh was a song that Jawn Blaze produced using a Jill Scott sample. Blaze and A & R finished the beat and laid the vocals in 45 minutes.

Although music comes rather easy for A & R, life has been difficult. A & R had to overcome debilitating poverty. “The closet in the living room was where we kept all of our pallets to sleep on,” he interjects before quickly changing the subject. “Obviously we didn’t have a lot of company growing up.”

A & R was born and raised in St. Paul, MN (Selby Side). “There was no other place like it in the world. It was like The Wire. I lived on Marshall and Milton. Back then my best friend got shot on two separate occasions in one day. I wrote a song called 6 In The Morning, about the shooting and the next day, when my house got raided.”

Despite the families economic plight, life in his home was generally upbeat. “My mother listened to the GAP Band, Switch, Bar-Kays, Earth Wind and Fire, that kind of music influenced me.”

With a shoe string budget, putting out full length albums has been challenging, so A & R consistently releases mix cds to keep his name hot in the streets. The end of April 2007 A & R will be releasing 3500 copies of his fourth mix cd, Do It Like We Do It For T.V. Do It Like We Do It For T.V. is the follow up to Greenhaven part 1 and 2 and All Eyes on Me 2007 and will feature 20 tracks produced by 2yn (St. Paul), Tek (St. Paul), Rock City (Minneapolis).

“One of my favorite songs on Do It Like We Do It For T.V. is Niggaville, in response to the Kramer fiasco. I explain the reason behind the word Nigga and how it is like a state of mind that a lot of people are in and the pros and cons of the word.”

In June A & R’s fifth mix cd, a compilation called The Best of A & R will drop. In 2008, A & R’s debut full length album will drop.

In parting, A & R has this advice for aspiring artists. “Stay consistent. A lot of people will put out an album that is really hot and then you won’t hear form them for three years and they expect to have that same buzz when they decide to come back. It don’t work like that. I also when an artist puts out a new project it should always “out do” your last project. If it is not close to it in quality then you should not even put it out. You should show progress project after project.”

2005 Client Roster: A & R

Artist Bio: A & R (Minneapolis)
By Kandis Knight

With a name like A & R, Minneapolis rapper Antonio Richards (where A & R is derived from) wants everyone to know he is 100% artist and nothing more.

“I am very complicated, very original, very focused,” says the gleaming twenty-five year old, who is poised to take Midwest music to a new plateau.

“The name A & R best sums me up. Music, is what I do, it’s what I live, it’s what I breathe.”

One listen and you will know this is an artist who is not afraid to take chances and has a keen sense of style and what sounds good.

For A & R, music began when he penned his first song. “I was 9 years-old it wasn’t really cool to rap back then,” he explains. “I remember hiding my notebooks from my boys so they wouldn’t make fun of my raps.”

With no label backing, A & R has received national radio air play (Atlanta 100.3, St. Louis 100.3, Tallahassee 90.2 etc.) “I have been making a name for myself with no label backing, no promo team just straight hard work and the strength of my music.”

“A & R has some serious support, a top notch production squad and the business organization in place that will propel his career far past the competition,” says Mark Webster, Jr., A & R’s manager and CEO of Rock City Productions (Mpls).

“I don’t look at myself as a rapper. I look at myself as a quality brand, that will give people a certain type of product consistently for years to come.”

2005 Client Roster: Cheap Cologne

Cheap Cologne (Minneapolis)
Published in The Pulse of The Twin Cities
by Kandis Knight

Minneapolis Hip-Hop producer extraordinaire Cheap Cologne’s roots are deep. At 32, he’s watched Hip-Hop evolve from its very beginnings, soaking in Chaka Khan and Grandmaster Flash when they first hit the scene. These days he appreciates all the different styles of modern Hip-Hop, from the underground (Pigeon John) to the mainstream (Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott) his diverse tastes are abundantly evident in his production. Cheap Cologne surveys the scene.
Cheap Cologne (aka John K. in the work-a-day-world), a former break-dancer and DJ, is now comfortably situated on the music production side of Hip-Hop, attending classes at the Institute of Production and Recording in Minneapolis to continue polishing up his skills. All his hard work is paying off—Cheap Cologne recently inked a recording deal with San Francisco based Bomb Hip-Hop.
I recently sat down with Minneapolis native Cheap Cologne (http://www.broke-ass.com/) to get the scoop on his new recording deal and album, Just A Little Sample (released this week). “I’m happy that the label took it upon themselves to put [the record] out,” said Cheap Cologne.When talking about his aspirations for Just A Little Sample, Cheap Cologne remains humble.
“If 2,000 of them are created and 500 of them are given away for promos and the other 1,500 of them go into the 99-cent bin, people are still going to have the music—I’m not too concerned about the money,” said Cheap Cologne. Toph One, a writer for XLR8R Magazine (http://www.xlr8r.com/) called Cheap Cologne’s music “part indie rock/hip-hop with turntablism and jazz licks and MCs.”
The description is fitting yet doesn’t quite properly convey the unique aesthetic value of the album. Minneapolis musicians have always broken new ground, especially when it comes to fusing diverse genres of music, and Just A Little Sample is no exception. Just A Little Sample is a groundbreaking collage of vocal social commentary over an expert jumble of up-tempo Hip-Hop beats with snappy high hats, kicks and poppy snares.
Kind of jazzy and a bit movie soundtrack-ish at points, Just A Little Sample’s blend of ambient styles has something for everyone. “Girls and boys, this is listening time” says the ’60s-style schoolteacher on “Operation,” the opening cut of Cologne’s 16-track album. The introductory song does a great job of preparing the listener for the sonically adventurous ride ahead (which features cameos by popular underground Hip-Hop artists including, Pigeon John, Paul Z, Slug, Circus and Awol One). “Believe Me” is a sinister track featuring the vocal clips of Charles Manson complaining about his treatment behind bars and letting listeners into a few of his diabolical thoughts. Just when the gloom and doom of “Believe Me” is about to become overwhelming for listeners, the hopeful and upbeat “Seventy One” comes to the rescue, with a helping of Bob Marley style happiness.
An instrumental track, “Seventy One” could very well be a song about the highs and lows of life or love. “Floating Away,” featuring Elias, has a hook that is reminiscent of a jovial seventies television show theme song coupled with matter-of-fact inspirational lyrics (“I’m floating away, up on a cloud one shiny day.”) “Faustus’ Diary” featuring Gentle Jones is a downer, providing another jarring dose of sad reality a la “Believe Me.”
The song sets forth a grim tale (Dr. John Faustas mutiliates a prostitute and then ends his own life) guaranteed to make the listener reflect on the darker side of life. Just when the exploration of the insane psyche is beginning to become wearing, you’re brought back to reality, well “Dreality” (with special guest DJ T-Rock)—a title derived from the words “dream” and “reality.” The suitably surreal music captures that Saturday morning hangover feeling exceptionally well.
“City vs. Soil” featuring Gentle Jones and Unsung is a hodgepodge of environmentally conscious punch lines and phrases certain to raise the anxiety levels of anyone concerned with the earth’s well being. Or at the very least inspire Jane and John Doe to start thinking about the issue. Set to a near trance-like musical accompaniment “City vs. Soil” requires close following in order to fully comprehend the gurgle of different sounds and thoughts that make up the track.President Bush (senior) also makes a cameo describing the Gulf war in “Sound Familiar?”
The similarities between the sampled speech and his son’s recent speeches surrounding the Iraqi war are downright eerie, oozing with all of the same egotism and political venom. Paired with a haunted, sci-fi beat, the track expertly captures the feel of the escalation of warfare and probably should have been titled “De Ja Vu’.”All of the tracks on this diversely styled album are vivid constructions, fitting of the colorful cover design provided for them by graffiti artist Charlie Kraft. Cheap Cologne isn’t afraid to venture into challenging territory (musically, politically or psychologically) and seems intent on daring his listeners to follow him throughout the winding trip that is Just A Little Sample.

Cheap Cologne V. The FEDS
Published in The Pulse of The Twin Cities
by Kandis Knight
The last time I hung out with Cheap Cologne I didn't notice all of the tats. Also there appears to be a certain "rock star" quality about him now that I hadn't noticed before. Being in Cheap Cologne’s presence is akin to listening to his music—meaning it’s a laid-back, cool and intellectually elevating way to spend some time. Maybe these changes have something to do with all the shit Cologne’s been through this past year, I think we can all agree that being chased down by the feds is no joke.
Cologne has made it through seemingly unphased, weathering the storm only seems to have made this local Hip-Hop super star's chi stronger. Cheap Cologne mulls over the fed’s next step. I was cruising Dunation when I first caught wind of the “feds vs. cologne” ruckus. The feds were cracking down on people who distribute pirated music from the internet and Cheap Cologne had became one of their targets. “One man versus the federal government—there’s a losing argument,” I thought to myself.
Cheap Cologne had made an album called The Double Black Album in which he put Jay-Z's lyrics to Metallica's music and created a new album. "I bought the Metallica Black Album on vinyl so I could scratch it and add it to part of the project," said Cheap Cologne. "I started with a couple songs using just loops, the Metallica whole parts as loops. Then I decided to break it down even more and sample just the individual kicks and snares from the drum kit and make my own beats behind it and still add their guitar melodies behind it. So every sound on there is from the Metallica record, even the scratches."
Almost immediately after Cologne decided to go public with his creation things began heating up between him and the authorities. "No later than one week after I got the CDs back I received an e-mail from the anti-piracy division at the RIAA threatening me with a $250,000 copyright infringement suit per copyright," said Cologne. "Basically I thought, ‘oh shit the whole project is shut down, at least I got some copies out there so people could listen to it before I got into trouble.’ I took it off my website."
A true musical genius loves to share his discoveries with the world, though. Before long I started seeing Cheap Cologne's name in Rolling Stone, then in Entertainment Weekly. Finally, I thought. A local producer has generated a national stir. I was delighted despite the fact that Entertainment Weekly didn't give Minneapolis any shine!
Nevertheless this is good for the Twin Cities Hip-Hop community. Cheap Cologne is constantly getting better at his craft and expanding his knowledge about the music industry, he is an artist who can make us all proud.
Something else Mr. Cologne is interested in—besides dodging federal prosecutors—is the local Hip-Hop scene. He's worked with all of the best. Anyway, shortly after the publicity surrounding The Double Black Album hit the national press, Mr. Cologne's website began to receive hits. "I had 150 thousand people on http://www.broke-ass.com/ in March,” recalls Cologne.
“My server was calling me saying ‘you're going over your limit this is going to cost you a fortune’. So I had to pay more for my hosting service so I could handle the hits and the transfer rates."
Cologne’s press schedule has been busy (The New York Times were his most recent interviewers before yours truly). It will be interesting to see how Cologne's career goes from here. For now, it looks as though the fear of prosecution has passed. Just recently, Cologne got a phone call from someone at The RIAA saying the warning e-mail they sent out was a mistake.
The feds made a mistake? Cologne explains, the agent said ‘I'm not telling you anything, I’m just letting you know that from our standpoint it was a mistake.’" “I said, ‘Well what does that mean?’ The agent said, ‘Sir I’m just letting you know that it was a mistake.’ After that he wouldn't tell me anything more. And I was like, ‘What are you telling me?’ And he said, ‘Well I’m not your attorney I’m just telling you it was a mistake.’
And I thought ‘Oh well, I'll lay low for a little while,’ but I didn't get any calls or anymore letters for a couple days and then I was like, ‘Screw it—I’m going to get it out there!’”
For more information about Cheap Cologne please visit http://www.broke-ass.com/. To listen to The Double Black Album you can go to http://www.bannedmusic.org/ (who estimated four to five weeks ago that 100-150 thousand people had downloaded The Double Black Album). Cheap Cologne has a new CD out called Sexy Grandma Remixes.
Like the true pioneer he is, he’s got an interesting CD cover (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it).Also, Cologne also has an instrumental CD coming out that he says emcees can do whatever they want with. Primarily though, he wants people to realize he makes good music and there’s more to him than the scandal surrounding The Double Black Album. “I want people to recognize me as a producer, not just a guy who did one of those remix albums.”

2005 Client Roster: Cheap Cologne

Artist Biography: Cheap Cologne (Minneapolis)
By Kandis Knight

Midwestern producer, Cheap Cologne While growing up, to become one of The Midwest’s most prolific hip-hop producers, Cheap Cologne’s young musical tastes were molded by groups such as, Grandmaster Flash, Run DMC, BDP, Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys, whom he enjoyed breakdancing to as a kid.

Always a lover of fine music yet still too young to be able to stay up late, Cheap Cologne would set his tape player to record late night hip-hop shows so he could listen to them the next day.

In the 80’s and early 90’s Cheap Cologne would branch off to enjoy other genres of music only to add more depth to his growing musical repertoire. In high school, he listened to bands like Metallica, KISS, Motley Crue, and Slayer. He soon was beckoned back to hip-hop music when groups like Tribe Called Quest, House of Pain and Pharcyde broke onto the scene in the mid 90’s.

In 1991, Cheap Cologne began making mix tapes and DJ’ing house parties across the Midwest. His ascent was slowed when he was involved in a serious car crash in 1997. While on the road to recovery, he bought a MPC 2000 and never looked back.

To date, Cheap Cologne has produced and recorded tracks with The Lordz Of Brooklyn featuring Busta Rhymes, Slug, I Self Devine & Musab from Rhymesayers, Z-Man, Slim Kid Tre (Pharcyde) DJ Quest, The Shapeshifters, Pigeon John, Braille, DJ T-Rock to name a few.

Cheap Cologne has played festivals such as Canada's North By Northeast (NXNE), VANS Warped Tour, Bomb Hip-Hop’s “Return of The DJ Tour” and released his debut album "Just A Little Sample" on the California based Bomb Hip-Hop label.

In 2004, Cheap Cologne was pulled into the RIAA witchhunt for hip-hop producers using “pirated samples” along with New York producer Dangermouse. That experience thrust Cologne into the national spotlight. He received national media exposure from many publications including Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone and The New York Times.

Cheap Cologne’s brand of production, infusing the best of rock and hip-hop in his production, is as organic to Minneapolis as Prince who infused Rock with blues, funk and r & b in the early 80’s. Cheap Cologne’s unique production will make him an industry icon representing the rich musical city of Minneapolis for years to come.

Cheap Cologne is the quintessential poster boy of hip-hop/rock fusion. Listening to his music gives you a taste of what can happen when rock music meets hip-hop then explodes at the seams, something industry insiders have been predicting for years. He may well be one of the first in waves of true hip-hop/rock producers to come along who will redefine hip-hop through rock music, he is master of both genres.

Article: Local Urban Investing

Invest in YOUR Local Hip-Hop
by Kandis Knight

As I write about local Hip-Hop every week I have to try to reach out to the business community, especially young business owners. I witness my share of talented local Hip-Hop artists. These artists are unsung heroes just waiting for the opportunity to hit the road and never look back. Hip-Hop is a part of the Twin Cities economy: every day local CDs are purchased, merchandise is sold, events are being planned, business-to-business transactions are taking place ... and Hip-Hop’s legion of a fans is growing.

Your company can garner huge returns from Hip-Hop with minimum investment. So before you "mis" judge Hip-Hop and write it off as some nemesis to the community, please take some time out to think about the Twin Cities Hip-Hop market. Twin Cities Hip-Hop "heads" (fans) encompass a large market, people from the ages of 14-35 (and expanding) of diverse racial and socio-economic backgrounds consider themselves Hip-Hop fans.

Does this sound like your target market or a market you'd love to tap into? Listen, this demographic is very brand loyal and supportive of those companies that acknowledge and support Hip-Hop culture.Much like fans of independent rock music, the Twin Cities has a very young, vibrant Hip-Hop community. The Twin Cities has a sturdy Hip-Hop infrastructure; there are Web Sites, journalists, radio shows, stores, festivals and events all focused solely on Hip-Hop.

For a large or small investment your company can sponsor a local Hip-Hop show, CD release, Hip-Hop newspaper column, radio show or weekly Hip-Hop event. Your corporate identity can be associated with a local Hip-Hop artist who reaches regional or even national success—positively impacting your bottom line for years to come. And to think we aren't even talking about celebrity endorsements yet! You might be thinking. “Why would I want my company associated with a Hip-Hop show or group?” There are myriad reasons. For starters, Twin Cities Hip-Hop groups are reaching national and even international fame. In fact, the next major superstar(s) to come out of Minnesota may very well be of the Hip-Hop genre.

Now close your eyes and imagine a local band that is looking for businesses to sponsor their music shows and invest in a movie pilot they are developing. Would you see the benefit in supporting this group? What if the band was called Prince and The Revolution and the movie they were developing was called “Purple Rain”? I know I’m reaching here, but the point is that there are hundreds of talented local Hip-Hop artists who have the same desire and ambition as an early ‘80s Prince and The Revolution. The difference—there are no financial supporters in the business community stepping up to the plate.

I say this even though everyone reading this article knows the city would benefit greatly if we were once again thrust into the national entertainment spotlight like we were back in the days of “Purple Rain.” So back to Earth, there are many young creative Hip-Hop entrepreneurs who have created a community here in the Twin Cities all around Hip-Hop culture. If your company is a small neighborhood business you can truly benefit by sponsoring a local Hip-Hop show simply by having your marketing message reaching outside of your neighborhood on the back of fliers promoting a Hip-Hop show or event.

Who doesn’t want their company or brand to be considered cool by thousands of young people across the Twin Cities and the Midwest? Here’s a real world hypothetical if you still don’t get it. Do you own a restaurant, clothing, music or shoe store? A coupon on the back of 10,000 fliers promoting a local Hip-Hop show will cost you as little as two hundred dollars and will reach your target market quicker than you can say "P. Diddy". And there’s no need to worry about distributing your coupons or fliers because Hip-Hop promoters employ street teams full of young, passionate, troopers ready to paper the town for their love of Hip-Hop.

Let's say Pappalo's Pizza Company sponsors MC John Doe's Hip-Hop show by giving away coupons for a free slice of pizza. After the show 300 hungry kids jam into Pappalo's with their coupons in hand and each kid buys a soda and maybe an extra slice of pizza. By the end of the night Pappalo's Pizza made a huge profit, the fans and customers are happy and Pappalo's helped a local Hip-Hop artist further his career.

Most importantly is the residual effect of sponsorship, these kids are going to remember Pappalo's Pizza is a cool place to hang out and it is open until 2:00 a.m. and supports local Hip-Hop shows and MC John Doe whom everyone loves.If you need more examples, look at Pizza Luce, the all around "cool" pizza place. Pizza Luce has followed the market trends for years. They have sponsored more than their share of rock, Hip-Hop and alternative events. No wonder the company is raking in over $5 millon a year! So don't be skurred (scared) to invest in local Hip-Hop.

The summer is coming and last year the Twin Cities was bustling with plenty of Hip-Hop events and only the savvy business owners realized the potential and helped "the cause" by offering sponsorship dollars and only the savvy venue owners opened their doors to begin building relationships with this Hip-Hop community. Can you envision your logo and coupons on thousands of fliers, T-shirts, stickers, album covers, posters, hats, Web Sites, newspapers, radio shows all related to Hip-Hop? Now you're thinking!

If you’re interested in investing in local Hip-Hop shows I encourage you to do so. There are thousands of events that go on yearly and I have a long contact list if you'd like to get started on this today.

Prince doesn’t have to be the only Minnesota artist to make it to the national spotlight when there are hundreds of talented young Hip-Hop artists, producers, DJs, journalists and promoters looking for that break to make it to the next level. We’ll all benefit if the next big Hip-Hop star emerges from our hometown and takes the world by storm. It’s going to happen!

Interview: Edupoetic

Edupoetic (Minneapolis)
Published in The Pulse of The Twin Cities
by Kandis Knight

St. Paul, is the sleepy old capital of Minnesota.  One very gray and gloomy day, I ventured  across the river in search of energy and light.  I was going to meet Frank Sentwali one of the founding members of The Minnesota Spoken Word Association and lead artist of the Twin Cities most eclectic spoken word/Hip-Hop crew Edupoetic.

While the vibe around the Selby and Milton Avenue area was pretty gloomy, it was bright and vibrant inside the Golden Thyme Coffee Shop.  On this day, the "happy oaisis" was filled to capacity with a diverse cross section of urban-hipster professionals. I didn’t have to wait long because Sentwali was right on time and never missing a beat, true to form. As he walked through the door everyone knew his name and wanted his attention.

“Hey Frank, can you come and put on a show for the kids at our church?” said one older gentleman. “Hey Frank, how is the program doing at Central?” said a younger woman. Frank Sentwali is one of the founding members of the Minnesota Spoken Word Association, and he is a man of the people. His passion was instantly ignited by the flurry of attention and his face lit up as he graciously responded to his community.

Before I introduced myself I sat back and watched each exchange. After Sentwali found his way to my table he sat down and took a deep breath, fulfilled for the moment, but ready for what would come next.“I am getting old around town I won’t be news soon," said a joking Sentwali, his deep voice simultaneously exuding confidence and consciousness.

Although Edupoetic has been gigging sparsely as of late it’s with good reason—the group just finished up recording a new album, Patriotic Duty, due out this month and featuring all live band music. “We got our start at Jazzville on Robert and 10th Street in downtown St. Paul back in 1997,” recalls Sentwali. “We had an open mic there on Monday nights you may remember. The place was really just a little hole in the wall and many people were afraid to go there except on a Monday night, but we groomed our talent there.”

Jazzville was the premier spoken word spot before spoken word even became trendy here in the Twin Cities. "In addition to our regular poets and artists, we attracted drug dealers, crackheads, alcoholics, homeless mainly because we were spitting this conscious based, socio-political poetry that identified with the struggles of your everyday people. It was more than just some poetry spot—it became like a church. It was Monday night service through poetry.”

The crew recently began a spoken word night on Sundays at Arnellia’s nightclub in St. Paul hoping to recreate the vibe of Jazzville. It features music by DJ Chuck Chizzle and Big Reese and an open mic. “Last weeks energy at Arnelia’s reminded me of the more popular Jazzville nights and we only had five poets show up.” In addition to promoting events, doing educational programs for youth, recording and being a family man, Sentwali is also the co-host of Urban Griots Fridays at noon on KMOJ, 89.9 FM.

The radio show features spoken word from artists around the country and a smooth jazzy vibe. Through the years the Edupoetic collective has seen members come and go. Currently the crew seems rather cohesive. “Right now our active members include Ahanti Young on vocals and percussion. Ahanti is also an actor with Penumbra Theater Company. Tiyo Siyolo is our lead vocalist and songwriter. Andrea Reynolds (Queen Dre) vocalist and songwriter, Jason Murray our bass player and myself,” smiled the modest Sentwali.

“We also do the Dinkytowner the second Saturday of every month. Last Saturday we did a rocking full band set. We did a lot of jam band music and a lot of instrumental. The month before that we did percussion and an upright bass poetry set.”

So you may be wondering exactly what is Edupoetic? Edupoetic is socio-conscious, politically conscious poetry and entertainment in all formats according to Sentwali who makes no distinctions between spoken word and Hip-Hop.

“It is all Hip-Hop. Rap was influenced and created as an offspring of spoken word poetry or performance poetry. Now we are starting to come full circle, thirty years later. The spoken word poetry of today is taking on the influence of rap and Hip-Hop culture. We are dealing with a younger generation of people who are getting burned out in the whole ‘gangsta rap,’ ‘bling-bling’ style of entertainment. Spoken word is giving people a voice that is acceptable amongst their peers that is their own as opposed to a voice that is fabricated by commercial entertainment.”

Sentwali also has a few words in parting to those heads who are reluctant to check out a poetry set. “If you are interested in Hip-Hop but you won’t go to a poetry reading, that is like disrespecting your ancestors. Before they called it rap they called it poetry and rap is simply rhythm and poetry, it is an acronym R-A-P. Understand what rap is. If you are a rapper you are a poet and if you understand you are a poet then you understand you have a responsibility to be versatile in your format.”