As a veteran of the music industry Prozack Turner knows the highs and lows that come with being an artist. The highs for him have included negotiating to sign deals with the likes of Grand Royal and Dreamworks Records. The lows have included both of those labels going under before he could do anything with them. Fed up with the way things were going the Cali native started his own label, Hunger Strike, and in 2006 he released a solo album, Bangathon!, to critical acclaim. Since it’s been nearly two years since that release I caught up with Prozack this week to find out how leading a double life as an artist and a label owner is treating him, what kind of impact he feels independent labels can make in today’s music industry, and the startling conclusion to his tale involving adult film star Adriana Sage.
Jay-Z penned a song where he boasted about being “a hustla, baby.” Cassidy spit venom about the topic on “I’m a Hustla” (coincidentally, using a Jay-Z sample). How many artists are really hustling to make things happen, though? This past Friday I saw a shining example of what real hustle is, the kind of hustle only a handful of artists have, in the form of my good friends Hushh and their unreal trip across two states just to network.
Hip hop princess Foxy Brown was arrested near Miami, Florida last Thursday night, February the 15th. The twenty-seven year old femcee, whose upcoming album "Black Roses" is set to be her first release since 2001's "Broken Silence," scuffled with police officers and spat on an employee at a local beauty supply store.
After being told to leave the shop at closing time, Brown reportedly began throwing products at an employee, eventually spitting on him, and forcing him to dial 9-1-1. When leaving, Police asked Brown to return to the store for questioning, to which she violently refused and had to be forced. According to one officer's account, she could only be detained by using a takedown maneuver, though no one was injured.
After spending a night in jail, Brown was released on $1,500 bond, being charged with battery and resisting an officer with violence. The arrest may or may not have an affect on her sentence of three years' probation for a similar incident in New York in 2004.
Artist: Trap Starz Title: Get it Big Label: Universal Republic
The beat on "Get it Big" is EXACTLY as close as one can get to imitating Lil' Jon without BEING Lil' Jon. At first you suspect this might even be intended as parody because ten seconds into the song you can hear a toilet flushing. Once the Trap Starz start rapping though you realize they're serious, which is a shame since as a send-up of the slow-flowing vapid rapping stylings of D4L and Dem Franchize Boyz this song would have been perfect. "She got a face like Mya, body like Trina/Her a nasty, you'll know her if you see her." Will I indeed! I honestly like the beat (it even gets a little crunker on the dirty version) but the Trap Starz seemed trapped by the cliches of their brethern and don't strike me as having star porential at this time.
Artist: Heavy Vee Title: I Don't Need a Hook Label: Razor & Tie Direct
Heavy Vee smiles at me from the cover, dirty hat turned to the side, pulling her stunna shades down her nose just a centimeter or two. "I'm the truth when I spit up in the booth/I never need a hook, yes I'm a good look." Vee that may be true but you're not letting us see you from the neck down - this is literally a hip-hop headshot single. Jokes aside Vee can't seem to make up her mind what her style is - she bounces from thugging like Remy Ma to speed-rapping like Twista to trying to be lyrically sexy a la Lil' Kim and never masters any of those styles. Vee sounds like she has some potential but her song is ultimately a contradiction - after hearing her say "I don't need a hook" over and over again where the hook should be to the point it gets on your nerves, you're forced to conclude she really DOES need a hook.
Artist: 2 Pistols Title: She Got It Label: Universal Republic
On the surface this single is as formulaic as they get. The beat is a slow-flowing J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League production, heavy on synthesized organs and bass. Crooner T-Pain provides a voice modulated hook designed to objectify women: "I know she got it cause she lookin at me like she want it/She droppin low, make me wanna throw some D's on it/Whatever it is, you cain't stop it/cause she get low, when she on that flo'/And that lets me know - she got it." 2 Pistols raps like a lost member of Cash Money Records; perhaps we can call him Birdman Jr. Jr. There's even an unknown by the name of Tay Dizm trying to ride 2 Pistols' coattails on the way to fame. Wait a minute - surface appearances be damned, this IS as formulaic as they get! It's a meaninglessly vapid song designed to chart, and solely on the strength of the beat and T-Pain's hook it will do just that, but as a rapper 2 Pistols leaves me totally flat.
How does a legendary MC step up his game and do something next level over a full decade after first wowing crowds? For Stronghold’s Breez Evahflowin the equation was simple, link up with one of his neighboring state’s hottest up and coming producers, Dirt E. Dutch. In January the duo released an album under the name Troublemakers (Breez Evahflowin and Dirt E. Dutch Are Troublemakers) and I caught up with both of them at their album release party at Cousin Larry’s in Danbury, CT. How did NYC’s Breez Evahflowin meet CT’s Dirt E. Dutch? I was wondering the same thing myself which is why I sat down with them to find out how they linked up, why their teaming works so well, and exactly what kind of trouble they’re causing.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE BABYGRANDE RECORDS ANNOUNCES FIRST RELEASES OF 2008
Renowned indie returns to its roots as a home for developing talent with an inaugural line-up as diverse as its roster
Indie powerhouse Babygrande Records, home to such acclaimed acts as Hi-Tek, GZA, Jedi Mind Tricks & more, announces its inaugural 2008 releases with April 29th's Ransom "Street Cinema," Randam Luck "Conspiracy of Silence" and Blue Sky Black Death "Late Night Cinema."
Ransom "Street Cinema"
Hailing from Jersey City, Ransom was an integral member of the "A-Team" crew that also included Joe Budden and recently slain member Stack Bundles. Recently, Ransom has experienced heightened attention owing to his highly publicized falling out with Budden. Having recorded and/or collaborated with such A-list acts as Lil' Wayne, Rick Ross, Juelz Santana, Styles P., Sheek Louch, Fabolous, Flo-Rida and more, Ransom's street and blog-based buzz has reached a fevered pitch.
Citing influences from such icons as Nas, Kool G. Rap, Big Punisher, Big Daddy Kane, The Lox & more, Ransom can confidently assert himself as the voice of the streets. As he states: "I vow by the time it's all said and done that I will be looked at as one of the most influential artists of all time."
The follow-up to 2007's street mixtape smash "Pain & Glory," "Street Cinema" is the widely anticipated precursor to Ransom's forthcoming major label debut.
The debut album from these San Diego stalwarts features a who's who of independent hip-hop: Vinnie Paz (of Jedi Mind Tricks), ILL Bill (of Non-Phixion & La Coka Nostra), Sabac Red (of Non-Phixion), Kool G Rap, Outerspace & more.
Over eight years of local support have made Randam Luck a force in the San Diego indie hip-hop scene. A raucous live act, Randam Luck have appeared with the likes of Evidence (Dilated Peoples), Jayo Felony, Don Carlos, De La Soul, KRS-1 and many more.
"Conspiracy of Silence" is as much a tribute to hardcore independent hip-hop as it is a fresh take on the sub-culture that spawned franchise powerhouses Jedi Mind Tricks, Non-Phixion and many more.
LOOK OUT FOR THE PREMIERE OF THE FIRST SINGLE, "RAW" FEATURING VINNIE PAZ OF JEDI MIND TRICKS, AT THE END OF FEBRUARY!!!! STAY TUNED FOR MORE.
Blue Sky Black Death, the renowned production duo of Kingston & Young God, present their 4th full length release (and first instrumental offering), "Late Night Cinema." After two critically and commercially lauded releases featuring collaborations with Wu-Tang Clan affiliated MC's Holocaust & Hell Razah, Blue Sky Black Death strip their formula down to the essence with this stand-alone instrumental concept album.
To date, Blue Sky Black Death have also collaborated with and/or produced for the likes of Guru (Gang Starr), Sabac Red (Non-Phixion), Jus Allah, Wise Intelligent (Poor Righteous Teachers), Rob Sonic, Virtuoso, Chief Kamachi, Holocaust, A-Plus and Pep Love (Hieroglyphics), Mikah-9 (Freestyle Fellowship), and Awol, amongst many others.
Now, owing to popular demand and to showcase their unparalleled versatility, Blue Sky Black Death seamlessly cull together their vast and eclectic influences (which range from lounge to electro to classic boom-bap hip-hop) with "Late Night Cinema." An offering as bold as it is diverse, "Late Night Cinema" substantiates Blue Sky Black Death's overwhelming acclaim as one of today's most promising production teams, and in so doing transcends both expectations and traditionally ascribed genre boundaries.
LUPE FIASCO SCORES GRAMMY GOLD; “SUPERSTAR” MC’S “DAYDREAMIN’” HONORED AS 2007’S “BEST URBAN ALTERNATIVE PERFORMANCE”; “THE COOL” CONTINUES TO REIGN AS AMERICA’S #1 RAP ALBUM, WHILE “SUPERSTAR” ROCKETS UP THE AIRPLAY CHARTS
1st & 15th/Atlantic recording artist Lupe Fiasco earned his first-ever Grammy Award on Sunday, bringing home the “Best Urban Alternative Performance” trophy for last year’s hit single, “Daydreamin’ (Feat. Jill Scott).” The Grammy triumph further establishes Lupe’s elevation to the upper echelon of hip-hop stardom. The Chicago-based MC’s second album, “LUPE FIASCO’S THE COOL,” debuted on Billboard’s “Top Rap Albums” chart at #1 upon its December 2007 release, and has remained in the peak position for what is now seven consecutive weeks.
“Superstar (Feat. Matthew Santos),” the album’s first single/video, is currently exploding across the board, climbing 11 spots to #25 on this week’s Billboard “Hot 100.” The track is now a top 5 sensation on the “Hot Rap Tracks” ranking, while still ascending a variety of other charts, including “Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs” and “Hot Digital Songs.”
“Superstar” is also lighting it up at radio, where it has just hit the top 10 at Rhythmic outlets nationwide, while also scoring the week’s “Most Increased Plays” at Urban, placing it at #20 with-a-bullet on the latest airplay tally. In addition, the single is proving a true crossover smash, bursting onto the current CHR/Top 40 chart as the week’s #4 “Most Added” track, with serious play at such influential pop outlets as New York’s Z100 and Los Angeles’ KIIS-FM.
This week sees Lupe starring as the featured artist on MTV’s 52 Bands, a special segment that highlights one new act per week, throughout the year. Furthermore, the “Superstar” companion video – directed by the great Hype Williams – is a top 10 clip at both MTV and Fuse, while also drawing major play at MTV2, mtvU, MTV Hits, MTV Jams, MTV TR3S, VH1 Soul, the N, and Music Choice. In addition, “Superstar” is in “Heavy” rotation on BET’s Rap City, as well as in “Medium” rotation on the network’s overall playlist.
What’s more, Lupe has been all over TV in recent weeks, performing live on CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman, CBS’ Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, PBS’ Tavis Smiley, MTV’s TRL, and the syndicated Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Unquestionably among hip-hop’s most electrifying and active live performers, Lupe has just been unveiled as one of the performers set to rock Manchester, Tennessee at the upcoming Bonnaroo Music festival, slated for Friday, June 13th. The MC – who recently closed out a series of sold out concert dates in such major markets as Seattle, San Francisco, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Washington DC, and New York City – is currently planning a number of eagerly awaited concerts at some of America’s finest institutions of higher learning, including Yale University, Brown University, Ohio State University, and others (see attached itinerary).
Full details of all upcoming appearances can be found at Lupe’s official MySpace page, www.myspace.com/lupefiasco. One of MySpace’s top 10 current artists, Lupe maintains a vibrant online presence, including his own LupeFiasco.com (recently updated with a wide range of interactive features such as “THE COOLest” video game). Also, Lupe’s very own YouTube channel – located at www.youtube.com/lupefiasco – has logged over one million plays, with videos including “Superstar” and the banging street anthem, “Dumb It Down.”