Interview: MURS

Murs (Los Angeles)
Published in The Pulse of The Twin Cities
by Kandis Knight

It was another chilly Saturday in the Twin Towns, and according to my watch, the doors for the RJD2 and Prince Po concert at the Triple Rock were soon to open, I felt torn. I knew it was going to be a sold out show.

I promised my friends that we would all go down to the show together. But I knew I could make it up to them by the end of the night, I had something spicy brewing. My interview for this week was a once-in-a-lifetime spontaneous type of occurrence and I didn’t get to really tell them what I was up to. I just went with the flow because it was a blessing.


7:45 p.m.

I found myself frantically rushing around my house getting ready to go to the studio for what would soon become one of my favorite interviews of all time. I almost cried when I burned a hole in the skirt I was going to wear and tripped over my cat three times.

Maybe it was the universe trying to remind me to slow down and it ain’t April any more. I didn’t let it get me too frazzled, hey, I thought, I was just going with the flow. As I applied makeup and did my hair, the call I was expecting came in. “Hello,” I said.“Hello ma’am,” said a charming voice on the other line.

“We can do the interview at the studio.”

“What time?” I gulped.

“Now,” he chuckled.

Exactly what I didn’t want him to say. But I was still anxious to meet him especially after we had talked a little online. I frantically put everything into overdrive. But I had to chill out when I got outside. It was getting rather frigid to say the least. When we finally arrived, things were hot and steamy at Joe Mabbot’s Hideaway Studio snuggled in a warehouse near the mighty Mississippi river.

On a night when most of us are getting ready to go out and check out a show or getting our drink on, the Rhymesayers were getting busy doing the things that keep them on top of the game. As I pulled up to the studio, a dark mysterious car, resembling the batmobile approached; the way the lights were shining down on the warehouse made me feel like we were in a comic strip scene. A mysterious silhouette emerged from the shadows. It was Ant with his game face on.

8:14 p.m.

As soon as we opened the studio door, we were greeted by a black dog being pursued by a gentleman who was bent over and looking down with the concern of a very loving owner. “Taffy, come here Taffy, Taffy I love you, I love you Taffy.” Wow I thought, watching this man tenderly petting Taffy. I never saw a black man so into his dog. Then he stood up, wiped his hands off and greeted me.

“Hello, I’m MURS.” Yes, it was him, Definitive Jux’s all-star and superhero to many, the rapper from the Living Legends crew who guested on roughly 20 albums (all of them hugely influential in the rap underground) until finally releasing his own solo record, The Beginning of the End, in 2003.

We shake, our eyes finally meet and I laugh. I guess I wasn’t prepared for such an on-the-spot welcome. But, as I soon learned, it’s hard to know what to expect because MURS is pure comedy. “Come on in,” said MURS. I follow, thinking what a charming introduction, despite the fact that somehow my hands now smell like Miss Taffy.

8:21 p.m.

“Hello Kandis, come on into the smoking room,” said Slug.

I smiled. MURS followed. We eventually decided I would write the story from the position of an observer and I would let them continue working. MURS and Slug are in the studio working on the follow-up to their 2002 collaborative EP, Felt, dubbed a “tribute to Cristina Ricci” and an indie-rap classic. My larger plan is to hopefully tag along to KFAI where MURS and Slug are going to be on RSE Radio with Prince Po and then hopefully we can all go down to the RJD2 show at the Triple Rock. I cross my fingers. Once things are settled, Slug, whose work ethic never seems to slacken, heads right back into the booth. “8,7,6,5,4, and 3 and 2 and 1 and when I’m on the mic the women cum, down with A.N.T., MURS and your not and I got more rhymes than California got cops.” He’s relentless.

8:30 p.m.

I look to my left, and MURS is there smiling and talking shit about sports. Slug is in the booth laying shit down. To my right is Ant calmly bobbing his head, surveying. Joe is busy on the computer.

“This is great,” I think to myself, life is good and I’m surrounded by some extremely great energy here. MURS can’t help but bust a few good jokes every time the music stops. His energy level will never taper off for the duration of the night. It must be his vegan diet and new drug and alcohol free way of life.

Murs is truly high off life. His energy practically makes the room buzz.

“Sean Daley is in the house!” he screams. I’m slowly getting used to MURS’ sudden unexplained outbursts—it’s obvious he likes to stir shit up. I wonder if our Minnesota-ness makes him antsy. Despite his jokes, MURS is still paying careful attention to what’s going on with the music. He exchanges tips and speaks up when Slug is having a problem with a verse.

“You played with the word beaver last time when you said it and maybe that’s what’s setting your buzzing off,” says MURS. “I’m feeling you MURS,” replies Slug, and he proceeds to nail the verse.“That was it right there,” says Ant authoritatively.

Music magic I think, this shit sounds dope!Watching these two interact is like watching two brothers, of course Slug is the older, more “refined” veteran and MURS is the hyper “fun loving” younger (regardless of their actual respective ages). Their synergy in the studio is amazing and tonight I have heard two tracks that are definitely going to break some ground.

10:30 p.m.

We arrived at KFAI. Rhymesayer’s Radio was blazing (KFAI 90.3 F.M. Saturday’s from 9 p.m.-11:00 p.m.). Prince Po was just getting ready to hit the booth. Everyone was in the zone to say the least. Prince Po hit the mic ferociously, his freestyles were raw and his veteran confidence was interesting to witness in such an up close and personal setting. Everyone just stood there bobbing our heads in unison looking on. Kevin was keeping the tables hot and Siddiq was holding down the hosting and fundraising side of things.

As soon as Slug and MURS hit the booth RSE Radio was instantly transformed into “The Slug and MURS show.” The two wildly charismatic emcees easily fell into their roles as radio show personalities. I don’t think there’s anything they can’t do and rapping may just be the beginning of it. By the end of the night I decided MURS would make a great comedian because he kept everyone laughing every chance he got.

He let me know that 2005 may mark his acting debut so that means his career can take off in more than one direction. Once we left the studio, MURS realized he left his Pizza Luce brownie behind. We waited close to 10 minutes for someone to bring it down. Sweets are really important to this guy.

11:30 p.m.

We arrived at the Triple Rock and were greeted witha capacity crowd for progressive turntable maestro RJD2’s headlining gig. People were being turned away and didn’t look very happy about it. The place was so crowded it was hard to even find a good place to stand. MURS opted to go for a more incognito look. He donned a skull cap, a mesh hat and a hoodie. The Living Legends logo on the back of his jacket probably made some people curious but he didn’t get asked too many questions.

The guys from Hanger 18 were selling T-shirts but I didn’t bring enough money to buy one, I was pissed. All at once it was like a trance fell over everyone. RJD2 was going on. I forgot about MURS and the interview (no disrespect). I forgot about my friends. For a moment I forgot about where I was, we all just sort of kicked back and enjoyed the ride.

When we left the show it was very late. I left my car two blocks away in the Radio K parking lot so it was nice of MURS to walk us to our cars even though it was so cold outside. We agreed to meet for breakfast to wrap things up. I was still processing everything he had to say.

DAY 2

As soon as we entered Bryant Lake Bowl, MURS heard the sound of pins crashing, he looked over my shoulder and said, “Only in Minnesota do you see white people bowling this early in the morning!”

I think he liked the concept.Over breakfast we were finally able to talk. “I’m about as street as [the indie rap] underground gets and Slug is about as Emo as it gets so we are the last two people you’d think would be doing an album together.”

MURS humbly admits he plays the role of student when he gets in the studio with Slug and Ant. “They teach me so much, I’m not the best rapper and hopefully I teach them something too. Probably not though, because they’re really good at what they do. The first album I did with Slug I learned a lot and I recorded stuff with Ant and I learned a lot from him also.”

For someone as busy as MURS (he’s guested on more than 20 albums and is constantly in musical demand) the demands made by the music industry might seem overwhelming, but he’s managed to remain level headed in the midst of his daily chaos.

“I don’t know anything about the music industry,” he claimed. “I would be a poor model to follow. I just do what I want. I like money but there are some things I won’t do for money. Do what you feel. I can’t tell anybody anything about the music industry. It’s a hard life—how about that?”

I also found out MURS is a huge fan of Disney movies. “I bought ‘Aladinn,’ I got to buy ‘Mulan.’ I know all the songs by heart. I loved ‘The Little Mermaid.’ Do you know the words to that song?” He starts singing. In the future MURS would like to do a song with DJ Quick and other legendary West Coast rappers. For now he is focusing on wrapping up Felt 2 with Slug, his tour and getting back in the studio with 9th Wonder in North Carolina. Murs’ blog site on Myspace.com says he never goes home, and I believe it.

This man is truly devoted to his craft. If you don’t have a MURS CD in your collection make sure you fix that. His ties to the local scene are evident and his talent is worth way more than the cost of a CD. He’s got lyrics that will have your mind spinning for days!

Interview: Juelz Santana

Juelz Santana (New York)
by Kandis Knight

It’s rare when a national Hip-Hop artist signed to a label as large as Roc-A-fella comes to Minneapolis to “chill” out. Last week, Juelz Santana, the 21-year-old vice president of Cam’ron’s Diplomats crew, was in Minneapolis on an official mission. To “chill out,” meet as many people as he could, shake as many hands as he could, hug as many fans, take a boatload of pictures and flood our streets with his new mix CD, More Crack.

The Diplomats are geniuses at colonizing cities like Minneapolis and finding out what the lay of the land is like here for the next project their crew may have in line. This is the basic formula for how the Diplomats have started an underground movement in city after city. Although the Diplomats founder, Cam’Ron is no longer signed to Def Jam, Santana and his large entourage of bejeweled New York City hood stars is no less confident then when Cam’ron was at the top of the charts with “Oh Boy” and “Hey Ma”.

Kandis: You brought a new mix CD with you today called More Crack. When is your next album due?

Santana: We will be setting a release date soon and all that so stay tuned.

Kandis: On this mix CD, I hear constant promotions for your next album and I really like the way you did that. Not a lot of emcees in Minneapolis are hip to dropping mix CDs to promote their albums. What else have you been up to?

Santana: I’m very excited, it’s beautiful right now. I built my own studio, I got so much music that people have never even heard. I feel like I totally stepped my game up and took it to the next level. Now I’m just ready to prove it to the world. I’m going to be releasing another mix CD a month before my album drops. Know what I mean? I got one record that’s real big in the city (New York) and it’s already on everybody’s countdown. It’s a record called “Mic Check.”

Kandis: Have you been to Minneapolis before?

Santana: I have been here once before but I didn’t get to enjoy it like I really wanted to (Smiles).

Kandis: We’ll definitely make sure you have a great time. So what else do you want people to know about you?

Santana: Basically that I’m here to take over everything first of all, not be the King of New York, not be the King of Minneapolis, I’m here to take over everything. I have been working so hard and I don’t think there are too many people out there fucking with me. I got three mix CDs out and one album From Me To You, which did fairly well but was not up to my standards. I feel like I can be where other people are at, especially with the work I have been putting in this last year and a half. I’m up here with a mix tape and it’s not even my album. Ya know what I’m saying?

Kandis: You’re definitely doing your thing, not many people are grinding like that. DJ Green Lantern is hosting this mix CD. He just won a big award out in New York last week for the mix cd he did with Jada Kiss, Mix Tape of the Year?

Santana: Yup, shout out to DJ Green Lantern.

Kandis: How did you feel about your last album, From Me To You?

Santana: My last album was real personal, I enjoyed making this mix CD, I was able to be more creative and just have fun. My love for music was always crazy but now it is ridiculous. Before it was like, If I make it then I make it—I know I’m good. But now I’m just determined. If it ain’t this album, and if it ain’t the next album, it’s still going to happen. I promise that. That’s what I’m feeling right now. I’m comfortable with my work ethic.

Kandis: If there’s anything that you could do differently what would you change?

Santana: Nothing, I like the way everything is going down. I never really wanted to take off fast, people got to know me from my first album and it solidified my spot in the game. I didn’t overly commercialize myself the first time around. People want to hear what I got to say with my next album. People want to know what’s up with Juelz Santana. We make music for the hood, we the only “real” people who have not totally crossed over but we got urban on smash. We kinda stay in our gangsta music Dipet Anthem mode.

Kandis: How do you explain your cult like following? I heard the kids at The Perpich School for The Arts got a little out of hand when you and your crew showed up there.

Santana: We have a movement, even though we may not have five million people messing with us, we got loyal fans. They love us, they want to be Diplomats. I have saw girls with Diplomats tattooed on their necks. People don’t go out and just buy our records, they feel us. They travel to come to our shows, state to state.

Kandis: Do you want to speak up about all the beef going on in the Hip-Hop community?

Santana: Not really, it’s not affecting me or anyone in my crew. Us as rappers, our opinions are effective. Even if I didn’t like this person or that person, it’s not fair to just come out and say that on wax. My word people listen to and if that is how you feel you keep that to yourself. What’s going on now doesn’t concern us but everybody knows how we get down. When it’s time to man up, we man up. I’m just comfortable with making my music now.

Kandis: What about tour plans?

Santana: There’s a big tour being planned but I’m focusing all my attention on my next album. A lot of people haven’t gotten to know me as Juelz Santana, they got to know The Diplomats. That’s why I’m doing my run early before my album comes out so people can know. I put out this mix CD, it ain’t no label, I put this out on my own. I currently don’t even know what label I’m on because so much shit happened with Def Jam. But I got it so crazy in the city that everybody is trying to sign me right now, everybody. Without the help of any label I got regular rotation on Hot 97 and other major radio stations. When labels are paying to get their artists regular rotation. I’m doing what I got to do.

Kandis: What’s it like being the Vice President of The Diplomats?

Santana: It’s cool because I love everybody on the Diplomats like I love myself. I’m working extra hard. I’m so focused on what I’m doing. When I leave here as soon as I get home I’m back in the studio. I just had my first son so he’s my drive now. I don’t never want my son to have to depend on anybody even though I’m always going to teach him morals and how to be a independent man. I want him to have the kind of life I didn’t have.

Kandis: With all the stuff you saw go down with Def Jam, what are your feelings about the industry?

Santana: It’s shady, everybody. You got to make sure you keep good people around you. Everybody is trying to get you and everything is not what it is cracked up to be. These labels are just wack now, they forgot how to put artists out. You just get one hot song and they think that’s putting out an album. When Jay Z came out he was not the biggest rapper but the people around him believed in him, and they made people understand that this guy is going to be somebody. Labels forgot how to do that.

You can find out more information about Juelz Santana by visiting RockAFella.com or Juelz.com and you can pick up your copy of Juelz Santana’s More Crack mix CD at Digital City or Urban Lights.

Interview: Trina

Interview: Trina
Published in Word on Tha Streetz
By Kandis Knight

Before the interview began Trina made it clear. “Don’t ask about my personal life because it just opens the doors,” she didn’t look too happy. On this day, the Diamond Princess laid curled up like a panther in her crushed velvet tracksuit.

Instead, she wanted to keep things positive and focus on business. “I am working on my fourth album, it is more of a comfort zone for me,” she reclined into her velvety throne, alone on a posh love seat in her suite at the Buckhead Intercontinental Hotel in Atlanta.

She was obviously referring to her “on and off” again relationship with Lil’ Wayne. In July, gossip website Mediatakeout.com reported that Trina was engaged to Lil’ Wayne who is rumored to be romancing Supahead (see Supahead’s controversial video at www.karrine.com).

Her royal badnessss has been experiencing her share of struggles as of late. In addition to her personal life, she severed ties with her distributing label, Atlantic Records in 2006 (Slip-N-Slide is still her label home). According to Trina she was not dropped from Atlantic as people have speculated. “It was a mutual decision, I had the choice to record another album with Atlantic or not to.” Atlantic representatives were contacted but refused to comment.

Trina’s fourth album is tentatively called Baddest Bitch 2 and is slated to be released December 19th, 2007. “I do have a deal in the works but I am not allowed to speak on it until it is finalized,” she smiles and makes faces while typing vigorously in her diamond encrusted blackberry.

“I am in charge. I can work with the producers I like, Scott Storch, Cool and Dray, Swiss Beats. I can do what I want versus what the label wants me to do. I go to the studio without the label.”

Trina’s most recent album, 2006’s Glamorest Life reached it’s height at number 11 on The Billboard 200 and sold close to 400,000 copies in the US, according to Soundscan.

“The project before (The Glamorest Life ) I don’t think they (Atlantic) did everything they should of done. I didn’t see the vision they saw in it.” Trina has generally released an album every two years since 2000. “Everything didn’t gel together. Do I stay with them or do I gamble. Or do I take the chance? I had to ask myself,” she explained.

Even with her toughest game face on, it was easy to sense her insecurity about the decision. “I didn’t know if it was the right decision to ask to be released. Most of the work on my project didn’t get done. It was very disappointing to me.”

Another thing that disappointed Trina was the way Khia came at her in the media. “I don’t even know her (Khia) and at the time that beef was serious. In my mind, a true beef should be about money or a fall out but I don’t know her.”

Trina alludes to the beef being more about gaining publicity than genuine. “It all happened around the same time she was trying to get a name. The business is about being competitive. Everybody wants to win. I am good, I am content, there is not an insecure bone in my body. I have never had to say anything negative about another woman. She came out and she was just talking shit about me and you don’t know me, you never held a conversation with me.”

Although feminists would be slow to accept Trina amongst their ranks, Trina expresses a sense of responsibility despite the fact that she did fire back at Khia’s attack. “I am not cool with the woman bashing thing. I want to see other women prosper. I am cool with every female in the industry so there has to be a problem and it is not coming from me.” Trina has a message for Khia. “The little bit of press you got is all you are gonna get. It’s over.”

Then in a very polite manner, she admits to stepping out of character for a moment. “I had to tell her I hear her. But she needs to do her. She don’t know nothing about Trina. She is supposed to be a mother so she should carry herself different. It is foul to me,” she crosses her legs and straightens her back, still holding her head high.

“When you are a female you are the underdog. You got to stay level headed. It is a lot to take. The guys in the industry can say anything, whatever guys do and say it is acceptable but when a girl says something everyone judges. There are girl groupies and guy groupies. I put myself in the frame where I am thinking like a dude. I am ten steps ahead of whatever they do. The game is hard. It is a hard grind. It is still like having a 24 hour job. When you are a female, everything is critical. People don’t understand that.”

Her blackberry lights up but she doesn’t miss a beat, she begins rapid fire-texting and talking. “You have to accept bad photos, video, everything. You got magazines and the public and fans, everybody is criticizing everything you do. I am still a human. I have great days and I have horrible days. I am human I am not a robot. I am happy most of the time sometimes I get sad, sometimes I cry. I go through things like any female. I just have a special job, it is rare, there are not as many female rappers as there are singers. I don’t want to be 100% perfect. I have industry friends, and regular friends, I have some that are just regular it makes me stay regular, I want to go to Wal-Mart, I want to go to the movies, I don’t want to seem untouchable.”

The door bell rings, it is room service rolling in carts of fancy food and drinks, she puts her blackberry down and stands up, then sneaks a peak in the mirror.

“It is hard to always be up. If I walk out of this building and anything is not right I am gonna hear about it in the media. I can be having a great day and then hear something in the media and it may mess with my spirit. I just like to let it go and move forward. Whatever I did yesterday it is done. I am starting over today. I am not trying to go back. Mentally for me I like to close my eyes and see myself going forward and I don’t like to doubt myself.”

As she settled into her dining experience she had one last thing to say. “This is me, I am only hype when I am on stage, the rest of the time I am mellow. This is me.”

Interview: K-Smith

Interview: K-Smith
Published in Indie Street Magazine
By Kandis Knight

“I can actually rap and make good records,” laughs the “soon to be everywhere” 17-year-old Philadelphia emcee K-Smith, when asked what distinguishes his music career from that of his “uber” famous uncle’s. If you have not heard by now, Will Smith’s nephew turned protégé K-Smith a.k.a. “The Real Fresh Prince” is already beginning to make the industry stir.

If you don’t believe me, check out his first debut single titled Better Man, featuring none other than the King of teenage crooning, Omarion. -Was that a torch being passed in that video? K-Smith is perfectly positioned and aiming for teeny bopper super stardom.

“We didn’t go to a label yet, I am fortunate enough to know someone who can fund my project,” laughs K-Smith, the former basketball shooting guard. “I called “O” (Omarion) up personally and asked him to get on the record,” says Smith, exhibiting full strength Smith family swagger.

K-Smith’s debut album, titled Streetz to Hollywood will be released first quarter 2008 on Overbrook (Will Smith’s label)/The Coalition (The Coalition is also home to rapper Eve).

The title is a reflection of the storyline of Will Smith’s popular 80’s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Just like elder Smith’s former sitcom character, K-Smith was “rescued” off the ruff and rugged streets of Philadelphia by his rich Hollywood uncle. If art imitates life, this is a case book example.

“They wild ‘n out in Philly right now! I go back to Philly, to see my little brother, family, and the rest of my friends. In Philly, they show me the most love, its crazy, I think they are happy that I am from Philly and I got a cross over record because every time I go back to Philly they show me so much, love, the radio stations, the people,” chuckles the up beat young charmer.

K-Smith quickly admits life prior to his uncle’s intervention was typical for an inner city African-American male. “My real dad, I didn’t know him…I was around the wrong crowd, I was raising myself, I was getting into fights, little stuff with the law. I went to juvie (juvenile detention).”

Today things are a lot different for Smith whose business savvy can easily be traced back to Big Willy himself. “We were like, let’s go ahead, get the first single poppin’, get it number one, make it a smash then labels will offer more.” Smith promises once his music career slows down he will be heading to college to major in something music business related.

For now, team Smith is loaded and poised for supernova status. It is a good thing this Philly kid is not lacking any confidence. “I feel like the only time there is pressure is when you are insecure or unsure of yourself, when you are not sure if you can come through in a clutch,” he interjects. “Me (pauses) getting into the music industry, they call me “Will Smith’s protégé”, so it makes him relevant again in the music industry.”

It will be interesting to see K-Smith’s talent emerge from behind his uncle’s “larger than life” shadow. However, K-Smith is quick to explain, that what we will hear on Streetz to Hollywood is genuine to him as an artist.

“He doesn’t dictate anything to me, so I have all control over my project as far as the creative process, but he definitely is working with me on the business side of things. He is helping me to set myself up as a brand and not just as a musician, setting myself up so I have a long career.”

And to the “nay sayers” who are already forming their opinions, Smith promises he is not a fly by night artist. “A lot of artists don’t know how to set themselves up as a brand. They are misled. There are a lot of artists who can make a hot song but they are not stars.” His eyes twinkle. “You can see a star…you can see them, when they walk in a room they light it up. They draw people to them.”

Drawing people in is not difficult for Smith, definitely a family trait, like rising straight to the top. Thanks to his uncle’s rolodex, K-Smith is already well known in music industry circles and is excited to work with everyone, especially the young hit makers. “I will work with everybody, Lil’ Mama, we are in talks to work with now, Omarion, Bow Wow, B5, they are all my people, everybody in the whole young movement.”

Like his uncle Smith is covering all ground, so he is also working closely with music veterans also. “I just got out the studio with DJ Drama and Cannon, I was in with T.I.’s people the other day. I have really been working, getting it popping. My uncle tells me you can’t just get into the music industry, now it is like a three year run and you have to go hard, you have to constantly be in it. You have to constantly give it your all. It is hard work.”

So what has been the biggest lesson Uncle Will has taught? “The greatest lesson I have learned this year is patience. It is not overnight success. I promise you that…I shot my video four months ago and we are just now getting to release it. Everything is a process, you got to set everything up the right way.”

Although this is K-Smith’s debut album, he has been trained by the best to be ready for this moment. “The music industry right now is missing artists that can make full albums. You have hot singles and hot songs on the radio but there are not a lot of people who know how to make a full “hot” album, you know, a good album. And a lot of artists don’t know how to brand themselves, it’s not about the record, it is about the artist. Their record is bigger than them.”

As for his album, K-Smith says it will be “young, sexy with a little bit of edge to it. I got a lot of records for my ladies because, you know, I am a lover boy. I am a ladies man.”

Speaking of ladies men, we can expect Will to dust off his emcee skills and bless us with a few hot versus somewhere on Streetz to Hollywood. “My uncle is a busy man, his schedule is crazy but we get in and do some things in the studio,” he laughs. “We got some things on the album for y’all, trust me, me and Jeff (DJ Jazzy Jeff) are going to get into that also, there might be a couple big shows that we got working on where Jeff might be my DJ since I am the real Fresh Prince. Who knows?”

For more information visit: http://www.myspace.com/ksmithmovement

2007 Client Roster: IOTA PHI THETA Fraternity



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:            Kandis Knight
     LuCreative Publicity
                             770-882-****

HOT 107.9’s Beyonce to host
IOTA PHI THETA Fraternity’s
Job Fair and Health Expo 

Atlanta, GA ­– On August 3rd, 2007 from 10:00 a.m. -3:00 p.m. join BEYONCE (Hot 107.9) and companies including AETNA, the FBI, State Farm, Comcast, DeKalb County Workforce Development and DeKalb County Board of Health (and many more) along with the distinguished gentlemen of IOTA PHI THETA Fraternity for the 2007 Public Employment and Health Expo at the Crown Plaza Ravinia Ballroom.  To be followed by a step show at 7:00 p.m.

There will be a press conference on Thursday August 2nd at 8 p.m. followed by a VIP Reception all taking place at the Crown Plaza Ravinia Ballroom.  Organizers hope all media outlets can pitch in advertising and coverage of the event to help more people hear about the job fair.  “This is an event that we hope will benefit the people who are looking for ways to improve their lives.  I am thankful vendors were found who share this common vision and want to show their support,” says DeKalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson. 

The Public Employment and Health Expo is a part of IOTA PHI THETA’s weekend activities as they celebrate their 31st Annual Conclave in Atlanta.  The fraternity is expecting hundreds of fraternity members, from across the country, to pour into Atlanta as the weekend progresses.  The men of IOTA PHI THETA will be present at many events across the city of Atlanta.

“IOTA is committed in its founding to our environment, community and family.  These principles are at the forefront of anything we do as an organization.  We look forward toward finding ways to provide resources and training in Atlanta.  Our brothers in Atlanta have done a wonderful job so far, we are bringing our conclave to Atlanta for this reason,” says founding member Lonnie Spruill Jr.

IOTA PHI THETA was founded in 1963 and is a national fraternal organization with over 198 chapters across the country including Georgia. 

The Crown Plaza Ravinia Ballroom is located at 4355 Ashford Dunwoody Road, Atlanta, GA 30346 (next to Perimeter Mall). 

BUSINESS ATTIRE IS REQUIRED.

FOR MORE INFORMATION or visit:


2007 Client Roster: J. Carter

J. Carter (Atlanta)
Published in Grip Magazine

By Kandis Knight

Around the corner from the trendy Slice Pizza on Peters Street is the swanky Midtown loft that houses Atlanta’s premiere entertainment company, Sol Fusion. Walking into the art deco loft is a fresh and exciting experience. Much like the cutting edged events the group is well known for producing.

From the art on the walls, the vibrant colors and the ethnocentric music, the Sol Fusion mantra is evident. It is all about a “progressive urban” vibe. “I am from Harlem, Sugarhill is an area in Harlem that is about real progressive, urban culture. You meet everyone from corner office executives, to thugs who can pass for attorneys,” explains J. Carter, the young, charismatic owner of Sol Fusion.

J. Carter brought that “progressive, urban” culture with him to Atlanta in 1990 when his father’s job relocated. Carter, a Business Economics graduate of Florida A & M is not new to the entertainment game. His promotions career started while in high school and followed him through college where he threw parties for his fraternity Omega Psi Phi.

“When I came to Atlanta, I didn’t understand the lingo, the style or the music. Once I understood it, I loved it. I will never move back to NYC.”

Another reason why Carter will never move back to New York is because he has been busy carving out a niche in the entertainment market. Since 2002, Sol Fusion: An Intercontinental Lovefest has been capitalizing on Atlanta’s rich diversity. A carefully selected mixture of music styles; hip-hop, funk, soul, reggae, the classics, Latin vibes and alternative rock are what attracts the multi-ethnic broad of partygoers, up to 1500 monthly.

To add to the success of his company and monthly events, Carter recently became part owner of Sugarhill and Motions nightclubs in Atlanta’s Underground. Carter lives a lifestyle many of us can only dream of. “I don’t call myself a promoter, I am more like a social politician.” His phone rings and he jumps up to wheel and deal, then promptly comes back to interject a thought.

“You know, the best thing about having my own venue is now I have more creative control over some of the things I want to do,” he explains. “Before I had to wheel and deal with venue owners and restaurants as far as how far I can take it and what I can do and what I can’t do. Now there is no cap on the creativity.”

Within a four year period, Sol Fusion has touched over 100,000 people, and was voted the #1 club event in Atlanta in 2005. All of the success has impressed big name sponsors, such as Heineken who sponsored Sol Fusion for an entire year.

“If your intentions are genuine your rewards will follow,” says Carter. “Put in the hard work and keep your intentions pure,” he smiles.

The constant flow of money, beautiful women, and hot parties has not changed Carter. “A lot of new promoter’s get into it because they think there is going to be a lot of ladies, cash and opportunities to meet celebrities,” he explains.

“That’s cool but I think you should just keep it humble. If you are in it just to make money, after awhile that poison will kill you.”

Another company under the Sol Fusion umbrella is Diamond Lounge Creative. Diamond Lounge is a very visible Atlanta marketing firm that recently produced all of the creative branding for the Shirley Franklin campaign.

Looking into the future it seems like the sky is the limit for this young ATL hustler. “For 2007 we are going to renovate Motions and expand Sol Fusion to four more cities, we are looking at Charlotte, Orlando, Birmingham and possibly LA.”

For more information please visit http://www.sol-fusion.com/

2007 Client Roster: Kadalack Boyz (ColliPark Records)

Kadalack Boyz (Atlanta)
Published in Grip Magazine
By Kandis Knight

The Kadalack Boyz, Tex James, Skinny-P, Tok, Sphidaman and JLuke met as kids and eventually started throwing parties, shows and making music together. “Loyalty brought us together, we are a brotherhood. When we move, we move in numbers. We have the look of a gang, but we are just a group of ‘brothas’ responsibly working together in unity and making good music. There is strength and power in loyalty,” smiles Tex James, the group’s official muscle.

At the height of ATL’s famed ‘Freaknik’ days, the Kadalack Boyz became well known for their “freeway exit” parties and their pimped out Cadillac’s that rolled low in the back on Daytons and Vogues, and featured fresh candy paint and ghost patterns every summer.

“The girls eventually started calling us the Kadalack Boyz when we would roll up at the park and the name stuck.” The group that has always been aggressive at branding their name eventually proved they are just as aggressive at making music. “Coming from the south our music is more aggressive. It has real street appeal. Think of it as a soundtrack of the streets from a group’s point of view,” Tex explains.

It didn’t take long for things to take off for The Kadalack Boyz. In 1999, around the same time Pastor Troy’s first album came out The Kadalack Boyz released a track called “Get a Lac” produced by Jerry Smokin’ Beat and CoCo Brother (both of Hot 107.9), it took off.

“It’s the originality, and the realness of our music that people like. We talk about what we really do and what we have been through. This is not studio rappin’ this is what we have been through in our life. We all grew up together so this is not a put together group from Macon,” explains Skinny P. They all laugh.

“Yeah, the picture we paint is exactly who we are. We want you to catch the beat and listen to the words. Many rappers say whatever they feel like saying or something other people said. We are saying what is really going on, what happens in our life,” interjects Luke.

“Back then, we were making so much noise in the streets and people were hearing about us but everybody was like who are they with? We started working D-Lo, he was our business partner. Then one day Mr. Collipark (a.k.a. DJ Smurf a.k.a. Beat-n-Azz a.k.a. Micheal Crooms) called my phone. Mr. Collipark has worked with the likes of Lil' Jon, Ying Yang Twins, BG, YoungBloodz, Trick Daddy, Mike Jones, Pitbull, Young Jeezy, Avant, David Banner, Bun B, Wyclef Jean and Bone Crusher.

“I want to do business with y’all” he told me,” explains Tex.

Mr. Collipark is a super producer who likes to learn from other artists. “He is cool he just lets us do our own thing he is the type of producer who does him and lets you sit back and do yours he is eager to see what you do on his tracks.” They all nod their heads in agreement.

Sphidaman eagerly chimes in “Never slippin’ it is a lot of stuff going on right now so you can’t be out here slipplin, there is a war going on and people are dieing every day, never slippin to me is telling me to be on our grind every day . This year is OUR year. They been hearing about us we got a nice buzz but we are more than just a buzz in the street. This is the year that we get in.”

Never Slippin is a new track on The Kadalack Boyz latest project, a full length album titled Street Related to be released in March 2007 on Collipark/D-Lo. Dope Boy Bounce, will be the first single to be released off the Street Related album. “Dope Boy Bounce is a summer jam, it is about that ATL swagger cause its tempo is slower but females can get wild on it and the trap boys will really appreciate it,” says Tok.

www.myspace.com/kadalackboyz

Interview: Atmosphere

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Atmosphere (Minneapolis)
by Kandis Knight

I recently had the chance to sit down with Slug of Atmosphere, aka Seven, aka Sean Daley, at his Uptown Minneapolis home, just before the release of his group’s highly anticipated new album. The undisputed reigning group of the Rhymesayer’s Empire and Twin Cities Hip-Hop, Atmosphere’s latest long-player, Seven’s Travels, was released this Tuesday to hordes of anxiously awaiting beat-heads.

When I arrived at Slug’s humble abode, his cat Lucy greeted me at the door, looking at me quizzically and sticking her nose into the air. I had heard her name (or was that namesake?) immortalized in more than one Atmosphere tune, but I resisted the strong urge to ask the animal any questions.

As Lucy led me up the stairs I heard multiple footsteps and suddenly found myself faced with the smiling visage of Atmosphere affiliated local turntablist Mr. Dibbs. I introduced myself and we begin chatting a little about his upcoming tour plans with Atmosphere. He’s an incredibly sweet, nice and well-spoken guy. Suddenly, I hear Slug’s voice. “I didn’t get a chance to take a shower, is that OK?” “I don’t mind,” I reply.

Lucy kind of smirks at me and it’s obvious she doesn’t mind either. In walks Slug with no shirt on. “Do you mind?” he says. Lucy looks at him and then back at me for my reaction. I take a look at him and see an interesting fusion of JFK Junior’s boyish charm, George Clooney’s GQ factor and Sean Penn’s bad boy appeal that’s instantly riveting. I bite my lip.

“No, be comfortable in your own house,” I murmur.

“Do you mind if I smoke?” he asks.

“No,” I quickly respond—flattered by his consideration.

“Never mind that I’m here, just be you.”

As Slug shuffles through the house, Lucy is still busy trying to keep my attention. Slug sees what’s going down and doesn’t hesitate to tell me that Lucy’s a slut.

We settle in to Slug’s kitchen as the interview begins.

Kandis: So do you think you’ve blown up?

Slug: I can’t tell. Some people tell me that I have and some people tell me that I am about to. Some people tell me that I won’t because I’m “underground.” What is blown up? Selling a million records? OK, well I’m nowhere near that.

Kandis: Do you consider yourself a local celebrity? Do people walk up to you on the streets?

Slug: More people walk up to me on the streets of Los Angeles, Chicago and New York than they do in Minneapolis. I’m bigger in those cities, but I think that’s because people are used to seeing me here. So if someone sees me walking down the street at four in the afternoon drunk they’re like “there he is again.” But if they see me at a restaurant in Los Angeles people are kind of like “Oh my God.” I get more attention in those cities.

Kandis: Do you like the fame?

Slug: No, (obviously annoyed to the point that he gets up and begins shuffling around). As good as I am at talking to people and being social and all of that stupid shit I’m very neurotic about fame. I want money, though. Don’t get me wrong. I want to make enough money to provide for my grandchildren. But if the fame comes with [the money] I’m a little wary. It’s weird saying things like that, though, because I’m [actively] taking steps to become famous, so it’s almost like “What are you doing if you don’t want the fame?” So the whole thing kind of freaks me out. I know why I’m taking these steps to become famous though, because if I can get famous—even just for 15 seconds—then it gives me an opportunity to help some of my friends realize their dreams. (He jiggles his leg in excitement and his pitch heightens.) Eyedea wants to be fucking famous and he can do it completely on his own—I believe in that—but at the same time if I can get a big Rhymesayer’s foot in the door it’s just going to help him and Brother Ali and Musab achieve [widespread success] that much sooner.

Kandis: What do you think of other local Hip-Hop acts?

Slug: I like everyone. I really don’t think anyone sucks. Two years ago I thought a lot of people sucked. I don’t think I’m anywhere near the best emcee in the city right now. I see other people that perform better and write better—but I can’t say names. To me Brother Ali is the best emcee right now and the rest of us are like three feet behind him. I think all that’s left for him to achieve what I have right now is just more grind. He just needs to get on the road as much as he can and he needs to go rap for peanuts. The only thing that separates me from anyone else on the scene right now is just the time and the drive [I’ve already put in]. People don’t realize I quit working a job five years ago and lived off Ramen noodles and women so that I could put all of my effort into [music] 24 hours a day. That and a little bit of luck is the only difference between me and anybody else.

Kandis: What would you tell my little brother Brandon who wants to be an emcee?

Slug: The sacrifices are the part people don’t see. To this day I’m unable to maintain a normal relationship because I’m on the road six months out of the year. I’ve had a girlfriend for the last six years and we break up every time I tour. She can’t handle the fact that I’m on the road all the time. We get back together when I come back home but now I only come home for two weeks. (Searches for next comment, his tone deepens and his demeanor relaxes). And I’m a very. . . woman motivated person. I’m a very relationship motivated person. But am I sacrificing it to go be this little rap guy? The sacrifices are deep—you can’t be a weekend rapper. If you’re going to do it you have to do it all the way. I’d tell a fifteen-year-old to go to college. If my son even looks like he wants to get into Hip-Hop I’m going to do everything I can to persuade him to play golf instead.

Kandis: What happened to the Interscope deal?

[Ed. Note: Atmosphere was rumored to be signing a distribution deal with Interscope (one of the few remaining major labels in the industry and a company with tremendous financial clout) but eventually signed on with prestigious California-punk imprint and indie stalwart Epitaph Records for the release of Seven’s Travels.]

Slug: We changed our minds and realized we didn’t need to do it. We were trying to do it to secure distribution for my friends but we realized we didn’t need to. We were dangling Atmosphere as bait to get [the major labels] interested in giving [all of Rhymesayers] full distribution and everyone bit the bait, everyone was down. Interscope was the strongest with the best offer. At the end of the day though, Siddiq pulled me aside and said, “Are you sure?” and I said “No I’m not” and so we were like fuck it we’re not going to do it.

Kandis: How would you describe your relationship with Siddiq [the overseer of the business end of Rhymesayers entertainment]?

Slug: Siddiq kind of goes back and forth between the roles of big brother and den mother. He gives me the tough love when it’s big brother time and he nurtures me when it’s den mother time. I think he’s one of the few people that understands I’m not crazy or scattered—it’s just that I honestly have no fucking idea what I’m doing or what’s going on. He’s really good at steering me through life. He doesn’t touch the artistry of anything I do, he doesn’t touch my music, but he believes in me.

Kandis: What’s the biggest misconception about you out there?

Slug: For some reason I have this image of being a womanizer. Guys think I’ll make out with their girlfriends. People think I’m very promiscuous and I don’t know how that came about. It could be because I don’t defend myself when people ask those types of questions, or maybe it comes from the music. I always thought it was obvious sarcasm when I talked about stuff like that in my music. I don’t mind people thinking that way as long as it allows me to continue feeding them vegetables underneath all of that stuff.

Kandis: What events in your life were influencing the songs on Seven’s Travels?

Slug: I write a lot of songs and there are some older songs on Seven’s Travels that are about traveling and touring, every story on there is about what I experienced on the road. God Loves Ugly was about me freaking out because I was getting a lot of attention and I thought God must appreciate me for some reason because she was allowing a lot of people to like me. So now Seven’s Travels is about me trying to accept and embrace what I do for a living.

Kandis: What message do you hope your fans get out of Seven’s Travels?

Slug: Be careful what you wish for.

Kandis: How would you persuade someone to buy this CD?

Slug: I don’t know, I would probably tell them not to buy it because I don’t like to toot my own horn. Hypothetically I would tell them to buy the record because it’s [like] vitamins. And I would tell them not to listen to it. Don’t even open it—tuck it away and wait until you have a kid and then when your kid turns sixteen years old, pull it out, unwrap it and tell them to go and listen to it.

Kandis: What do you do to prepare for a tour?

Slug: Drink.

Kandis: Does that help?

Slug: Drinking helps everything. I drink, I fight, I fuck, I do all of the things that I’m not supposed to do to prepare myself for how ungrounded I’m going to be living on the road. I’m sure I’m doing it all wrong. A lot of people do a lot of different things and I would never knock what they do. I lose such a big piece of myself when I’m on the road. I become very unstable, very chaotic. I scare people in the band.

Kandis: What’s life really like on the road?

Slug: It’s very unnatural. Every city becomes the same city, every batch of kids becomes the same batch of kids and every club is just like the last club. [Life on the road] becomes this strange recurring dream because you go through basically an acid trip of emotions every night. You have your highs and lows smashed into a four-hour period [at night] and then when you’re done you’re emotionally exhausted. You go to the hotel room and you stare at the fucking stucco on the ceiling and think about how it looks exactly like the room you slept in last night and you don’t even know what city you were in two days ago. Before you know it it’s three months later and you’re back at home and [the whole time spent on tour] is just this blur and you’re wondering what you missed back home. It’s a strange zone and I wouldn’t suggest anybody [tour the country] for a living. It seems like I’m complaining, but I’m not. I love what I’m doing or else I wouldn’t do it. I’m explaining this [kind of lifestyle] so someone else can read this and get an idea of what it’s like. That way when they go into it they’ll be more prepared. Anyone who travels as much as I do goes through this. It’s a very unnatural thing and dealing with it isn’t taught in school.

Kandis: So you made a video for “Trying to Find a Balance”?

Slug: Yes and I’m scared.

Kandis: Why?

Slug: Because it turned out really good. I mean what’s a video? It’s a commercial. So I made a video for my album and if it works it might get pretty neurotic around here.

Kandis: Do you plan on continuing to live in Minnesota?

Slug: Yes, it’s my foundation, my son is here and my family is here. If I ever get rich I would have one of my friends set aside some room in their home for me and I’d go and stay there for the weekend or something.

Kandis: What famous people have you enjoyed hanging out with?

Slug: KRS ONE, Jack Black, Guru [from the legendary Hip-Hop group Gangstarr]. Guru actually took time to talk to me about [the record industry] and that was really cool. They’re all cool but they’re not as cool as my friends. Wait until after I’ve made love to Christina Ricci and maybe I’ll have a different answer for that question.

Kandis: Would you say local hip-hop is resurging?

Slug: I wouldn’t say resurging because we never really had that initial surge. I think right now we are looking at the real surge. The previous surge was just people doing it, but now when I go to other cities people are talking about Minneapolis and the Minneapolis scene. That’s been going on for a little while but now people are talking about it very seriously. I think since the Brother Ali album people are really starting to look at this place. I can’t wait for these other kids to get famous because we at Rhymesayers appreciate carrying the weight and we’re glad that you guys allow us to—but come on! Someone come and help us carry the fucking weight! I mean this shit is mad heavy; our shoulders are tired.

Kandis: What’s your advice for local crews who dream of attaining your level of success?

Slug: Get in a van and go play free shows. Be ready to sleep on floors and couches. Start with the Midwest. Get your ass down to Kansas City, Lawrence, Chicago, Champaign, go to cities you never heard of, go to all of the festivals and hand out your music for free. Basically understand that for the next year you’re going to lose, lose, lose, and lose. You are going to lose money, food, girlfriends, sleep – you’re going to lose everything. But if you really want it you’ll do it and the best way to decide if it’s what you really want is to go and give everything up for it and see what you can obtain.

Atmosphere
Published in The Source Magazine
By Kandis Knight

TRANSCRIPT

Kandis:

Hey Sean?

Slug:

Yes this is me.

Kandis:

Hey it's Kandi.

Slug:

What tha fuck! How did you get this job?

Kandis:

(laughing)

Slug:

Hold on a second.

Kandis:

Okay.

Slug:

(Talking to someone in the room) "You leaving?"

Slug:

Okay, I'm back.

Kandis:

Humm...got some company bad boy? (Giggling)

Slug:

Yeah....

Kandis:

Of the Australian kind? (snickering).

Slug:

Laughs, no, thats my girlfriend.

Kandis:

Oh, cool, moral support is good. Ready?

Slug:

Yup.

Kandis:

Can you give The Source readers a sense of the indie market and how it differs from the mainstream market?

Slug:

There is more money in the indie market because there are less middle men to pay. There is not too many differences besides that. I think fans generally want to separate the independent and the mainstream markets more often than not because that is how they form their identity as fans. Kids that consider themselves underground kids are usually anti-mainstream because that is how they stay like minded and stay with their friends who also feel the same way. As far as the artists go all of us are just fucking clowns for hire. It doesn't matter who hires us to come and do our thing we are just happy that someone wants to come and hear us. Mainstream or indie, whatever the hell you want to call it, what it all comes down to is everybody is just trying to make some music that they want people to feel. I really do not consider there to be a different set of rules that I get to play by that mainstream artists don't. I think that I generally don't ever feel like I am exploited or manipulated or like there are other people getting rich off of me. Which is something I would have a lot more issues with if I were on a major label.

Kandis:

You do not aspire to be mainstream?

Slug:

I do aspire to have as many people hear me as possible. But I aspire to do it naturally, I aspire to collect those fans on merit not through marketing.

Kandis:

Oh, thats good.

Slug:

That just has to do with my personal beliefs, it has nothing to do with what is better than the other. I want everybody who likes what I do to like to honestly feel like they would like me as a person too. I am not trying to trick people into believing in me or to like my shit by acting a certain way or because I have my shit pumped into their ear hole once an hour 24 hours a day. I believe the people who do listen to me feel like they have a pretty good grasp on who I am as a human being and generally feel like they like me and the people who dont like my shit are probably on point for not liking it because if you do not like my music you would not like me as a person and I don't really want you as a fan.

Kandis:

What was your day like today?

Slug:

Um, you got to understand it is only 1:30 p.m. here. We are sixteen hours ahead of you. I woke up this morning around eight. Went downstairs and got an egg sandwich. Had a couple cigarettes, got on a charter bus which brought us to the airport. Got on a flight from Melborne and came to Adelaide. Just got off the plane, just got on another charter bus and just got to this hotel thirty minutes before you called.

Kandis:

Getting ready for the show?

Slug:

Yes, the sound check is in life four hours. I got to sit through a few more interviews.

Kandis:

(laughs)

Slug:

Oh! I am sorry, I mean let me refrain that, I got to impress a few more journalists.

Kandis:

(laughs)

Slug:

But no, I got to go and set up merch, because I am the merch man on this tour, so is my girlfriend and BK-1 (Brother Ali's Dj).

Kandis:

Oh, tell him I said hello.

Slug:

Ok, I will.

Sounds

Kandis:

What do you have the party room?

Slug:

(Laughs) No, my room is not the party room, my room is the chill room. Ant's room is the party room. I got low lights going, Ant's room is the disco room.

Kandis:

How is the weather there?

Slug:

Oh its beautiful, its only in the sixties, but that is like perfect for me.

Kandis:

So this is like your second time in Australia?

Slug:

Yes, this is the second time.

Kandis:

Alot of people are being introduced to Minneapolis, through your music, how do you feel about that?

Slug:

There is nobody in Minneapolis who is qualified to properly introduce the world to Minneapolis hip-hop because there are 150 different sounds going on as far as hip-hop is concerned. There are so many different types of heads in Minneapolis but they all have to network with each other and be amicable and have respect for one another because we all have to work together in one form or another.

Kandis:

Do you notice this in other cities as well?

Slug:

Yes, there is alot of polarization between the different kinds of hip-hop scenes all over the country. When I go to New York and I walk into the club, they see you, they know you, but they don't really acknowledge you or talk to you and I don't really talk to them. We all acknowledge eachother but it is just not the same, in Minneapolis, everyone has a healthy respect for eachother. There is competitiveness but it is not the kind of competitiveness that becomes detrimental to everyone. Instead it just pushes us all to out do eachother.

Kandis:

So, according to you, there is no real Minneapolis sound?

Slug:

There is no real sound, there is no real Minneapolis sound because there are many different sounds and I think that is fresh but at the same time when you have a publication as large as The Source looking at us there is no one group that can best represent what our sound is because there are many. There is no one in that city that can be picked to best represent our sound. Everybody's got a different thing. Just look at our label, I don't sound like Los Nativos, Los Nativos don't sound like I Self, I Self don't sound like Eyedea, Eyedea don't sound like Ali, you know. But I think that is kinda one of our strengths. I think alot of labels get caught in this cookie cutter sound. We have a sound that represents Minneapolis.

Kandis:

Where do you see your music going in five years as you continue to evolve as an artist and settle deeper into your niche?

Slug:

My whole thing with music and the development of our music is that me and Anthony (Ant, Slug's producer) are just trying to make our version of a Brand Nubian record, we are just trying to make our version of a BDP record, it is not about us trying to bring you that new next shit that ain't nobody ever figured out yet. Instead we try to stay traditional with boom bap and with the way I rhyme I am not out there trying to come up with crazy rhymes about what its like to be a tree on fire. You know what I'm saying? I write about my life.

Kandis:

(Laughs)

Slug:

I write about what is in front of me, and what I observe. I keep it as real as I possibly can. That's all I know. Your not going to get rhymes from me about the streets and having to duck bullets, you might catch a little of me talking about smoking weed. But that is really as close to street shit as I am going to touch. I play with politics a little, as you know. We are just trying to pay our respects to what we grew up on and every album we make is like an ode to the type of hip-hop we grew up on which is conscious rap.

Kandis:

Oh really? Like X-Clan?

Slug:

Quite honestly I do consider myself a part of the conscious hip-hop evolution. The difference might be that with me, and quite a few of my contemporaries, that the revolution is not so much a social thing anymore but it has become an internal thing. Its a personal revolution, because let's face it you can't really save your neighbor if you ain't figured out how to save yourself. Yes we are like the long lost children of X-Clan, or the long lost children of BDP, Big Daddy Kane and alot of these emcees that were a part of this Black Nationalists movement but aside from them teaching me about that, they also taught me alot about self-respect and self pride and how to take care of yourself. Which is kinda of in some weird, bizarre way the direction that my records go.

Kandis:

Your work ethic is remarkable, are you working on your next project already?

Slug:

Me and Anthony started the formal beginnings of working on a new album. We are trying to cultivate a sound that we have both been really interested in. We are trying to see how close we can get to that sound.

Kandis:

Are you and Murs going to do another Felt?

Slug:

Yes, we are, but I am really not at liberty to announce who it is going to be a tribute to, nor am I allowed to say who is going to produce it. I can tell you that it won't be produced by either of the people who produced Felt 1 or Felt 2. In the process of deciding who we were going to dedicate the next Felt to, your name did come up.

Kandis:

Oh God no. Sean, you better not, I would kick both your asses!

Slug:

(Laughs)

Kandis:

How do you feel about being in The Source from an indie rapper's perspective?

Slug:

Well, I just have to say, them being open minded to this, a half of a million records later and selling out tours for years around the country. You can definitely tell there is a new guard taking over and I appreciate that. Not so much because it is good for me, even though it is, but it is good for the readers. They have kinda been going so strongly in one direction with blinders on for so long that anything to shake it up right now is a good thing just because that is going to shake up the readers. Even the readers who are into the direction it has been going in, this is going to be productive for them because they are going to have to think about and deal with some new shit. Regardless of the fact that they are interested in me, regardless of the fact that they are mega late, I would say that I am proud of the fact that they are still trying to evolve and still trying to hold down the title that they have had for so long. Its like them people over there could have become complacent and even if Benzino hadn't had gotten ousted, they could of still remained complacent and kept going in that same direction. The fact that they are trying to push themselves and grow and evolve, to me that is important especially because they are vets. Vets can get complacent they can continue playing that same hit over and over again. To see The Source trying to flip right now, is inspiring to me.

Kandis:

You have been labeled your own genre within hip-hop, called EMO (short for emotional) rap. How do you describe your market?

Slug:

It's not just me, but there is a whole movement of us. We have alot of conscious things to say, we are in tune with society, we are in tune with our surroundings, with politics. The reason why the masses do not know who we are is because we don't allow ourselves to be marketed that way. We are interested in getting people to take us more personal than that. I think the hip-hop nation is distracted by their video games and their playstations and I would really love to see hip-hop go back into that mode where it is searching for its own identity again. I feel like my music is like vitamins for my listeners, this is why they constantly come back.

Interview: I Self Devine

I Self Devine (Minneapolis)
Published in The Pulse of The Twin Cities
By Kandis Knight

Kandis: What does an artist like yourself currently bump in your CD player? I Self Devine: I am listening to the instrumental beats for my next album. Beyond that I would say anything from De La (De La Soul), Curtis Mayfield, Coltrane. I collect a lot of records, I listen to a lot of older music, mid ’80s rhythm and blues, early Hip-Hop.

Kandis: How long did it take to complete The Emperor and The Assassin?

I Self Devine: The Emperor and The Assassin went through different phases. First and foremost Akiem and I weren’t living in the same city so we had to go back and forth with all of that, actual recording time two weeks and a month or so of actual mixing down and mastering. The album has been finished for a year and a half though.

Kandis: Why did it take so long to release it?

I Self Devine: Just trying to observe the interworkings of RSE [local Hip-Hop record label Rhymesayers Entertainment]. We were trying to get more qualified staff. RSE has a small group of people.

Kandis: What would you say sets The Emperor and The Assassin apart from your other releases?

I Self Devine: I would say Obelisk Movements was more commercial in that it reached more people outside of Minneapolis and Atlanta. Obelisk Movements was made purposely for the heads who check for Hip-Hop though. Obelisk Movements was an album that was made in 2000 but could have been made in 1988. Those were the aesthetics of that album, it was definitely more dense, more complex. Obelisk Movements was more like Marshall Law. With Emperor and The Assassin we were more interested in individual people who made up the movement The Emperor and The Assassin will be more personal to people. The original title of the album was The Emperor and The Terrorist but prior to 9/11 we changed it because we didn’t want people to think we were trying to tie the album into that event.

Kandis: For those who are not necessarily “old school,” The Micranots have been around for a long time. As you watch Twin Cities Hip-Hop evolve what are your hopes for the local scene?

I Self Devine: There is a lot more division now versus how things were here back in the day. Now you have your white Hip-Hop and you have your black Hip-Hop, it is not as cohesive as it once was. In the early ’90s people were performing everywhere because there was more support. I have saw a lot of emcees go crazy and loose, emcees who were really good and should have made it. They just burned so bright and so fast and their fan base couldn’t catch up to them, they were literally ahead of their time and the city was not ready for them. That was one of the reasons why we left for Atlanta. It was good that we left because there was a glass ceiling here and artists could only get so far.

Kandis: What is it like being a part of RSE?

I Self Devine: It is a family. We left for Atlanta in 1994 and when I came back in 1996 the vibe at RSE was different, it was like a second coming. Things changed you could tell it was changing. The age range, the class and the color of Hip-Hop changed in this city, the entire climate changed. When I came back in 1996 I made a conscious effort to become a part of RSE. I said to myself “These people right here are going to play a big part in shaping Minnesota Hip-Hop.” And we wanted to be a part of that, a lot of things had changed and we wanted to add to that “cultivation” of local Hip-Hop.

Kandis: Who were some of your favorite old school local crews?

I Self Devine: Eloquent Pheasants, there was a collective called Rap Steady, there was The Metro Unit, Mixed Breed. Mixed Breed and Metro Unit were the groups that Eloquent Pheasants and the Micranots came out of. At the time Truth Maze, Society, Much Words, Hidden Rhythm and Ground Zero were all in the Mixed Breed and in the Metro Unit it was Akiem X, Squeek, Baby Professor (Ace), Fulfeel and myself. Truth Maze came to The Metro Unit and joined Akiem and myself and we formed the Micranots. These groups were as good as national acts back in the day they just didn’t have the market or a scene to support their work.

Kandis: How old are you?

I Self Devine: I will be 32 this year.

Kandis: What messages do you hope people derive from The Emperor and The Assassin?

I Self Devine: I wanted to show the conditions we grew up in. I came to Minneapolis in 1989 from Los Angeles. People ask me why am I Afro-centric or why am I so political. It has a lot to do with the things we saw growing up that shaped our ideals and goals. I grew up in L.A. the epicenter of the crack trade and gang warfare during the Regan era so naturally I have a lot to say. I witnessed shit firsthand and I saw how it destroyed lives and killed people. Hip-Hop was an alternative to gangs for us. Through our music we always want to show our background.

Kandis: What is your favorite song on the album?

I Self Devine: “Amerikology,” I like the mood of that song. I like the message behind the song. I am an optimist but I am also very skeptical. The song is about the perceptions of our government and how people are not informed as to what goes on in the world. Basically everyone outside of America seems to know more about America than Americans. People need to read between the lines. For example, a Senator dies in a plane crash, I don’t see it as an accident but an assassination. This song deals with how I feel about America.

Kandis: So what is the future for the Micranots?

I Self Devine: Well, the way things are looking this will be the last Micranots album.

Kandis: Why do you say that?

I Self Devine: Many reasons. Space, different ways of working and the love is not there basically. If the love is not in something you are doing then it becomes really twisted. I feel trapped by the Micranots right now to tell you the truth.

Kandis: Will you go solo?

I Self Devine: Yeah. I feel like the Micranots are an entity that are larger than Akiem and I. It is hard to do conscious Hip-Hop nowadays because you either have to prove how conscious you are or how street you are. Right now there are plenty of emcees to talk about this and that and the other. First and foremost I am an artist. Back when we hooked up with RSE, and I was putting out the Semi-Official album, I felt that album captured what Hip-Hop was to me. Now Akiem will go and do production so all you emcees out there looking for production, contact him, and I am going to work on my solo project.

Kandis: Good luck with your future endeavors and we will look forward to seeing you and Akiem reach your next phase.

2007 Client Roster: Oktane

Oktane (Atlanta)
By Kandis Knight

At nine years-old Georgia artist Oktane put down his G.I. Joe action figures and picked up an MPC, mastering the recording studio before puberty. Music is in his blood and you don’t want to underestimate his marketing power or his connections.

Oktane is not a newcomer, he is a second generation musician. Oktane’s father, Ronnie Meyers was signed to RCA Records, of course he recognized musical genius in his son. “My dad had a little studio built in the backyard and I just started writing and going in the studio,” smiles the twenty-five year-old flame spitter. “He would play around with me and help me record. I started rapping about Nintendo and Atari.”

Oktane has come a long way from those days, he now records in a million dollar, state of the art studio facility and is quickly making a name for himself in the industry. This due to his high adrenaline, high pitched, “crunk” verses and his determination to grind. “The name Oktane was given to me by a friend who was describing how I deal with haters and set backs. It all fuels my fire.”

Regardless of roadblocks, Oktane is on the verge of major things. He is gearing up for a twenty-two city tour, and you can catch four of his tracks on the Grand Hustle Muscle Mix Cd. “Being a part of the Grand Hustle Muscle Mix Cd was a blessing, because it also featured Young Dro, T.I. and Alfamega. There were a lot of Dons on it, so it was definitely a blessing to be a featured artist on that Cd.”

Oktane is currently working on his debut album, which features So So Def’s Young Capone and EDI Don from the Outlaws and there will be many more. “I’m trying to get good features on the album, but at the same time, I’m trying to get the album it’s legitimate chance, because it’s such a great record,” explains Oktane.

“I am a beast, like a tiger and I’m hungry right now. The door is cracked, so I am gonna to kick it off the hinges. They’re not going to hold me back anymore.”

Oktane’s new album features stand out tracks such as Warrior which may be considered controversial by many. Oktane was inspired to write Warrior after seeing the movie The Passion of the Christ. “People ask, “How you going to talk about the Lord on this song, and the next song you’re going to curse?” I say, “I’m a real man and there are two sides to every man, there’s a good side, and a bad side. I’m just real, I show both sides.”

“Before it’s over, I just want to be remembered as someone who did something well, in addition to making music, for example a fan contacted me and told me that one of my songs helped get his sister off crack, and that really meant a lot to me. I want to have an impact in music and on people in general.”

http://www.myspace.com/professorakaoktane

2007 Client Roster: C-Side



C-Side (Atlanta)
Published in Grip Magazine
By Kandis Knight

Life before Myspace.com can best be compared to the “Dark Ages” for hungry, independent artists worldwide. Myspace has single handedly helped to level the playing field by giving artists marketing tools, including a free database to promote themselves.

For groups like Atlanta’s hip-hop trio, C-Side, comprised of group members Kenny Kole, 21, Gator, 23, and Bo Q 21, Myspace has been a career maker. Afterall, many of us would have no clue who C-Side was if it wasn’t for their “novelty” hit Myspace Freak featuring Jazze Pha.

“Gator came up with the song concept. It blew up on Myspace and a lot of internet publications took notice,” explains group member Kenny Kole. To date, C-Side’s Myspace page has received over 346,721 plays and they have over nine thousand Myspace friends, freaks and all. The group has already been featured on many websites and in many magazines.

When the idea for a remix came up, the group thought it would make sense to get Jazze on it since they sampled his voice in the original song. “When we got in the studio with Jazze he was like, “Oh, y’all thought you was gonna have that “Oh Boy” on a hit song without me? That’s my trademark,” laughs Bo Q.

“C-Side is a group of guys who have a crazy knach for catchy phrases and choruses; on top of that they can really rap. They are a breath of fresh air from the South,” praises Jazze.

C-Side received co-production credit for Myspace Freak and if you think they are one hit wonders, think again. Wangin is another C-Side/Jazze Pha track that is promising to be another big hit for the young group.
So what exactly is a Myspace freak? “A Myspace freak, is someone who is obsessed or crazy about Myspace. These are people who are on it all hours of a day, ya know? Can’t get enough of it,” laughs Bo Q.

True some people are Myspace freaks, apparently Bobby and Whitney’s daughter can be counted in that group, however millions of people do conduct business every hour of the day on Myspace. “If you are on there networking and trying to handle business, Myspace is very good,” explains Gator.

In addition to working with Jazze, C-Side group members have worked with the likes of Dem Franchize Boyz, Pimp C (UGK); 12 Gauge and Keisha Cole, Young Capone. They insist they are not one hit wonders, but just in case, they are also branching off into other ventures. The group members own their own sneaker company called Two Straps and they also own a production company.

“We got a big fan base because we have been doing this for along time. Every song we do, people are like “that should be your single”, says Bo Q. Kenny Kold interrupts, “We are also song writers and labels are bidding on our songs and trying to buy them for their artists.”

Look for C-Side in upcoming issues of Right-on, Blackbeat Magazine, The Urban American Fanzine and check them out on BET Radio, Launch Radio and MTV Radio and News.

Visit www.myspace.com/csideonline for more information.

# # #

2007 Client Roster: Charlie Mackenroe

Charlie Mackenroe (Atlanta)
Grip Magazine © 2006
By Kandis Knight

Walking into the recording studio of super southern producer Shondrae “Bangladesh” Crawford is like stepping into a totally different world oozing with musical stimulation. Polyrhythmic percussions vibrate walls. Piercing snares accent crisp highs. And the entrancing, futuristic flavors involuntarily make heads bob, fingers snap and hips sway.

Making a name for himself constructing sonic soundtracks for Ludacris’ breakout hit “What’s Your Fantasy” and Kelis’ saucy single “Bossy,” Bangladesh is now using his production expertise in promotion of four-man collective Charlie Mackenroe, the first group from his Bangladesh Productions imprint.

“I am working toward producing only my artists and not working with other artists,” reflects the twenty-five year old CEO. “Soon when people want to hear that Bangladesh sound, they have to go to Bangladesh Productions to get it.”

Made up of rappers D.O. Deville, Polo Joe, Eldorado Redd, and Tom Foolery and reminiscent of mismatched duo Outkast, each member of Charlie Mackenroe has a distinct character that emerges from track to track to captivate your imagination and drag your mind into their world.
“Our music is what you would have if Dolamite got some action from Halle Berry,” explains Redd, “and then met up with George Clinton or Curtis Mayfield to do a record; it would be a Charlie Mackenroe record,” says Redd, whose words flow in conversation, just like they do on hot wax.

D.O. Deville, the quiet one, interjects, “Our music is different because Bangladesh is different. It is foreign to the ear.”

Together as a crew since the tenth grade, most of Charlie Mackenroe’s members met while attending Tri Cities High School in Atlanta. Back then, Eldorado Redd was the only group member seriously pursing a music career. In 1999, Redd put out a mix cd called “Who You Calling Country?” produced by Bread & Water and signed a distribution deal with Freeworld before the company went bankrupt.

Like a funky Frankenstein creation, they combine elements of 80s gun-toting big screen vigilante and one of the illest tennis players to crush rackets on his opponents. “Charlie Mackenroe is a combination of Charles Bronson, the gangster,” explains an ever animated Tom Foolery, “and John Mackenroe, the tennis player, who has a mean back hand slap.”

That hybrid beast will be unleashed with the release of their debut album (untitled at the time of publication) which is slated for a November 2007 release. “Our music will satisfy,” Polo Joe sums up their unique sound, “We got Swag 101 going on over here we also got a lot of lessons people got to learn,” explains a the debonair emcee. “On our album you will learn about what 285 all through Georgia is all about. It’s a one way ticket so you should buy one. It is like a buffet. You can finally get a full meal. We are going to give you what has been missing in music: the creative genius.”

http://www.myspace.com/charliemackenroe
# # #

2007 Client Roster: Black Boy



Artist Biography: Black Boy (Atlanta)
By Kandis Knight

In 2005, Black Boy made a name for himself as Atlanta’s Freestyle King when he won Hot 107.9’s freestyle championship. Black Boy defeated SoSo Def’s artist, SunNY, as Jermaine Dupri watched. Since that day Black Boy has held the title as the undefeated champion of freestyle in Atlanta.

Black Boy (formerly Reggie P) is known by friends and family as Reginald Parrott, Southwest Atlanta, Georgia is Black Boy’s home. Black Boy began embellishing in music when he was 8 years-old. “I grew up listening to Outkast, Scarface, Geto Boys, Notorious B.I.G, Tupac, The Fugees, A Tribe Called Quest, Digital Underground and many more.”

Black Boy’s style has been described as raw, hard and poetic. His commanding stage presence, punch lines & his witty use of metaphors are what motivated former G-Unit member and hip-hop artist, The Game, to sign Black Boy as Black Wall Street’s fledgling artist in 2006.

Often compared to The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac, Black Boy is currently working hard on his debut album, featuring high profile collaborations with Killer Mike, Young Dro and Lil’ Wayne. In the future, Black Boy desires to work with producers such as Pharrell Williams and Just Blaze.

“I am motivated by rocking shows and moving the crowds, at the same time being able to reach everybody on a personal level,” describes Black Boy. “I go against the grain. I want people to like Black Boy. I want to become an icon.”

To date, Black Boy has been featured in Juice Magazine, Rolling Out Magazine and The Source Magazine. He also has won many accolades including repeatedly winning ATL’s Most Wanted Showcase and the MC War Battle Competition.

In the first quarter of 2007, look for Black Boy’s new street single “Chill Bump Muzik” produced by Monopoly Product. Also look for Black Boy’s album single “Lay It Down” feat. Young Dro & Killer Mike produced by Nu Jerzey Devil. Black Boy’s mix cd will also be released in the first quarter of 2007 titled “You Know What It Is” mixed & hosted by DJ Skee.

2007 Client Roster: Wone Vang Fashion

Wone Vang (Minneapolis)
Published at Twin Cities Night Clubs.com
By Kandis Knight

Wone Vang conquers barriers for a living. In 1981, Vang immigrated from her beloved homeland, Laos to the United States. Like many immigrants, the pursuit of the American dream was vital to her survival. However, life in America brought many new challenges. Vang had to deal with the constricting traditions that most young Hmong-American women face while seeking out a new life in America and the pursuit of their life’s calling. Vang rose to the occasion.

Vang, a first generation Hmong, had to quickly learn American cultural nuances, while preserving her proud cultural identity. She studied American trends closely while tightly clinging onto her cultural roots. She eventually developed her own individuality and a passion for American fashion. Breaking into the highly competitive world of fashion can be a tad bit intimidating for even the most talented designers. Small start up fashion houses often have trouble gaining the acceptance of their “sometimes” snobby more established peers and finding channels to expose their designs to the public.

Vang, who has faced obstacles her entire life, was up for the challenge. She genuinely sympathized with struggling artists, but she took it a step deeper. She developed a plan and took action. To conquer the barriers in her path, Vang formed Ethreemn.org in 2004 and never looked back. Ethreemn.org’s mission is to educate, enlighten, and expose local artists and talents. Thanks to Vang’s trials and tribulations early in life, she was prepared to take on any battle and committed to helping others along her way, like aspiring designer Tiffany Paulson. Paulson’s designs were showcased at Vang’s Narcissism Fashion Show held November 2nd 2005 at The Downtown Radisson Hotel, it was Paulson’s first fashion show. “Wone is innovative in her approach and dedicated to providing local designers and clothing labels platforms to display their creations. I am very excited about the upcoming show,” said Paulson.

Paulson is one of many local aspiring designer’s Vang has helped along her way. Vang has worked with a host of local designers including, Underground Music and Fashion (www.umandf.com), Blame It on Hip-Hop (www.biohh.com) and Vandalism Designs who were all able to make a big impression on the local fashion scene by participating in two of Vang’s highly successful events, Live Wire at Bar Fly and the First Annual Narcissism Fashion show at the Fineline Café. “Wone is a very professional person who treats designers, no matter how large or small, with the respect they deserve. She respects designer’s wishes and helps them turn their visions into fashion shows,” said Underground Music and Fashion’s (UmandF.com) CEO, Matt Meyers.

Vang is recognized locally as a genius when it comes to bridging local culture together. Her fashion shows are an outlet for aspiring fashion designers but she also has a format at all of her shows to showcase aspiring artists and musicians. Vang’s shows are a big hit with a diverse and sophisticated cross section of Twin Cities movers and shakers.

Please support Ethreemn.org in its mission to uplift our local artists August 9th, 2007 at Trocaderos Night Club. This year’s show is packed full of entertainment and fashion. Ethreemn.org also commits a percentage of all their proceeds to charity. “If we can create an organization without artistic limitations, we will be able to reach those artists who might never think of asking for help.” Wone Vang