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|Mon, August 30, 2004 at 9:05 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Earlgray's 'The Unassociated Press' is an album of ups and downs. Based outside of Detroit, this independent artist is hoping to stake his claim in the city's burgeoning music scene.
Regarding his production, this is definitely an upside for the album. Tracks such as 'Not Just You' and 'Napoleon Theory' stand out in terms of attention to beat detail and overall engineering.
Earlgray also manages to cook up a couple of catchy-hook tracks ('Criminal Investment', 'What It's About') as well as what I'd consider a certified strip club banger with 'Stop Me.'
The down to this album, however, arrives in the lyrical machismo and bravado with too little detail to the artist's depth and personality. With the exception of 'Texas,' Earlgray fails to let his audience know who he really is. Too much talk of women, rims, clubs, money, etc. I was looking to connect with him as an artist and felt like was left hanging a bit.
As an indie artist, Earlgray has provided himself with a decent starting point with which to grow as an artist. If the growth does, indeed, occur, look for him to reach bigger and better plateaus.
Rating: 1.5 BVs out of 4
For more info, go to SmoothFamily.com
|Mon, August 23, 2004 at 10:34 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Are you a Hip Hop fan? No, let me correct that. Are you a REAL Hip Hop fan? If so, it's time to add another classic CD to your collection. DJ Graffiti, based out of Michigan, drops his newest mixtape full of hot beats and sick MCs you may have never heard of. Warning: For the simple-minded, you may have to listen 5-10 times because your ears aren't used to quality lyricism.
Graffiti has compiled a bevy of artists from the more recognizable (EPMD, Slum Village, Dead Prez, Jeru The Damaja) to the up-and-coming, extra hungry (Athletic Mic League, Lawless Element, The Strange Fruit Project).
Not a mixtape in terms of scratching and mixing in between tracks but more in terms of bringing you a number of exclusive, unreleased and overseas releases, Bling Free, Vol.3 nevertheless does more than whet the appetite and provides a 7-course lyrical meal that might not leave room for dessert. If you're STILL hungry, though, just pick up any of DJ Graffiti's previous releases.
BLING FREE vol. 3: "It's Official!"
DJ Graffiti - "The Mitten Mixtape Mangler"
1. DJ Graffiti - Intro [Produced by DJ Graffiti]
2. Elzhi - It's Your World (Unreleased)
3. The Procussions - Just Over Broke
4. Dilated Peoples - Bullet Train (Unreleased)
5. Little Brother & Fakts One - Grown Folks
6. J Live, Wordsworth & Soulive - Bosoms Rmx (Unreleased)
7. Lawless Element - Against the Rules (Exclusive)
8. Izreal & MF Doom - Pop Quiz
9. The Feenom Circle - Subtle
10. Finale - Change (Unreleased)
11. Brother Ali & DJ Graffiti - Me & Ali (Exclusive)
12. Brother Ali - Champion Rmx (Unreleased)
13. Voice Watson f/Luckyiam.PSC - Talk To Us
14. Now On - Stop (Unreleased)
15. Jeru The Damaja - War
16. Big Tone - La Vida Loca (Exclusive)
17. Dead Prez - Window to my Soul
18. AML - Feel It
19. Fakts One f/Mr. Lif & Akrobatik - The Show Starter
20. Boom Bap Project - (Exclusive) [Produced by Jake-One]
21. Interlude - Don't Get it Twisted
22. Slum Village - Get Yo Paper (Exclusive)
23. The Grouch & Eligh (Living Legends) - The Clap
24. The Strange Fruit Project - All The Way
25. Diverse - Ain't Right [Produced by Madlib]
26. Vitamin D - No Good
27. Tajai (Souls of Mischief) - The Dum Dum
28. EPMD - Look at you Now
29. DJ Vadim f/Adad & DJ Woody - Headline News
30. Soul Position (RJD2 & Blueprint) - Share This
(Bonus Mix - "The Vibe")
31. DJ Graffiti - The Vibe Intro
32. D-Minor f/Louis Logic - Could You Be (Unreleased)
33. Cornbread - One Fly Gemini
34. Nicknack - Mustard Seed
35. Science Fiction (aka Wale Oyejide) - Sunshine
36. Dabrye - Magic Says
37. Phat Kat - Destiny [Produced by JayDee]
38. DJ Graffiti - Outro
Buy this album and check out DJ Graffiti, here
Rating: 4 BVs out of 5
|Sat, August 07, 2004 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
The music business is saturated with artists, executives, and producers trying to gain entry. Though the gateways are slim, once they spill open there are a plethora of avenues that can be very lucrative especially when you consider cross marketing opportunities. One man stands in the shadows of great entrepreneurs before his time. Known to many as simply Beyonce's dad, Mathew Knowles is much more. He began as his daughter's manager for the super group Destiny's Child but has since parlayed his success into not only a management company, but also his own Music World Record label as well as Sanctuary Records Urban. Much like Berry Gordy, he began his professional career outside of music but used his corporate experience as leverage to make headway into the business.
Knowles began his professional career at Xerox but eventually was faced with the dilemma of corporate comfort or pursuing music, his passion, full-time and nurturing the calling of his daughter. Knowles had 5 major career changes before finding stability in music. He admitted to facing adversity while trying to balance a marriage, an indeterminate future in music, along with the criticism of naysayers within the industry.
During the panel Mathew Knowles spoke about his experience, the necessity of studying the industry, and delving head first into all aspects of the industry. He immersed himself in books and took classes that gave him the foundation by which he currently operates his various businesses. The recurring theme throughout the discussion was persistence.
Rather than set false expectations for aspiring artists, producers, etc. Knowles let it be known that he attends many conferences and that he most likely would not have the opportunity to listen to any demos. However, his label reps were on hand to take information and speak with conference attendees.
Mathew Knowles' various endeavors give new meaning to the popular phrase "I will not lose", so cleverly coined by his daughter's beau. His diverse holdings in various companies and his understanding of all ends of the industry make Knowles a definite power player. His validation as an entrepreneur has been proven by his ability to manipulate the doctrines of major labels and independent labels fusing them to fit his specific situation. Knowles simply says, "We don't work on luck."
Syek Semaj is a Senior Writer for BlackVibes.com
|Fri, August 06, 2004 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Moderator John Bonds, Morning Show Host WSRB-FM Chicago
Crawford Broadcasting & host of USA Music Magazine
Chuck Atkins, Program Director KMJM-FM St. Louis, Clear Channel
Jerry Boulding, President, Jerry Boulding & Co. Broadcast Consultant
Skip Cheatham, Program Director KKDA-FM Dallas, TX, Service Broadcasting
Cedric Hollywood, Program Director, WEDR-FM Miami, Cox Radio Inc.
Nicole Sellers, J/RCA Records, BMG Distribution
The "Let's Get it On" panel, presented by Billboard, AURN, and I.M. Records, focused on programming strategies used to create a strong radio/listener connection. The panelists also discussed how new music gets on the air.
The opening question was age old, but definitely still relevant. How can up-and-coming artists get their music played on the radio? Chuck Atkins opened the floor by stating that he first looks for hits by any artist, then he searches for singles from core artists. The first premise is that a hit song, even by a new artist, transcends all biases and thus deserves airplay. The second idea is that core artists are accepted to the point that it is safe to play their new records unconditionally due to their established cult following.
Dr. Jerry Boulding stressed the importance of research and making sure artists are using BDS, a system which tracks the number of radio spins a given artists is receiving. On the other hand Skip Chetham emphasized the use of multiple avenues. It is important to tap into multiple mediums such as satellite radio, television commercials, and ringtone downloads for exposure. Chetham believes that artists should really work their records in the street to the point that they generate a large buzz. At that point, the radio program directors must seek you.
While many would think the next idea would be common sense, many of the panelists seemed to empathize with each other, as if they have each had similar experiences. Cedric Hollywood highlighted the importance of properly presenting an artists' music to radio. All the panelists affirmed the notion that the meeting should definitely follow business etiquette with a well thought out pitch.
Oftentimes, many artists are too attached to their material to accept feedback objectively. Hollywood stated, "It's hard for the artist that has put his own time and money in his song to believe that it is not a hit record." He went on to recommend that someone removed from the creative process should present your material to radio.
On the record label side Nicole Sellers, identified with the struggle of many of the independent artists stating that even major label artists released under J Records often encounter the same roadblocks. Sellers shared the viewpoint that even on the large corporate level you still must generate a buzz in the streets. She paralleled her industry experience by disclosing that even some of her major label artists have difficulty breaking their music into main stream radio rotation. Sellers has even tried to generate a buzz for one of her artists by taking them to the Boys and Girls Club to perform.
The momentum shifted when a hush topic was introduced by Raul Quispe, a producer from Paterson, New Jersey. Quispe's question alluded to payola also serving as a barrier for new artists seeking to enter the rotation. It seemed as if everyone from radio loosened the top button of their collar and paused for a moment before attempting to respond. Though a valid hush topic, the notion was dismissed by panelists citing that in the long run the music has to speak for itsel
|Thurs, August 05, 2004 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Panelist: John Ferguson, Sr. VP of A&R, Bungalo/Universal
Leo Gatewood III Sr. Dir Finance & Operations, BMG Strategic Partnerships
Anthony Hamilton, Recording Artist, So So Def/Zombia
Karen Lee, PR Consultant
Helen Little, Co-Chairman, Dangerous Entertainment Group
Namane Mohlabane President of Skyblaze Recordings
On a scorching Wednesday on world famous South Beach, Miami everyone from industry executives, publicists, to R&B and Hip-Hop hopefuls line the halls of the Eden Roc Resort. You can sense the desperation in the air as aspiring artists and professionals ponder how to make the contact that will jump start their career.
Unfortunately, many found out that the love you must have for the music industry is a tough love. The Survivor panel discussed the harsh realities of the slumping sales, corporate mergers, and downsizing. In effect the barriers to entry into the music industry are increasing rapidly both for artists and executives. With the recent Sony/BMG merger 2000 jobs are expected to be cut between both companies. The truth is that the gateway for a "small time" artist to sign with a major and blow up is rapidly closing. These themes were reiterated throughout the discussion.
John Ferguson explained that this major label downsizing actually helps independent labels. He also emphasized the importance of establishing yourself in your immediate surroundings. For example if you are an R&B artist in Omaha, Nebraska it is key that you establish your brand in your home area, so that when labels call the local radio stations, promoters, etc. everyone in your immediate surroundings knows who you are.
Independent labels account for approximately 15% of the music industry's total revenue,
making the 2002 indie revenue a total of 1.6 billion dollar business. Thus when major labels merge and downsize that opens the market up for independent labels to take a bigger piece of the pie.
Helen Little, of Dangerous Entertainment, started as a radio personality
in North Carolina. Starting in smaller markets gave her the experience that helped her propel her career to the next level. She advised artists to immerse themselves in as much of the business side as possible and to understand the importance of BDS and Soundscan in order to track your achievements.
The most notable of the panelists was Namane Mohlabane, President of Skyblaze Recordings, home to the soul sensation Goapele. Beginning with 3 person staff, Mohlabane is the "little guy's hero." Goapele's indie release Closer scanned in an impressive 30,000 units in the Bay area eventually lead to a deal with Columbia Records. Namane Mohlabane's career was catapulted by his work for a community based organization as well as Deejaying and promoting on the side.
His personal accounts seemed to give a glimmer of hope to those aspiring to establish themselves in the industry. It was a message of dedication, perseverance, and sacrifice and proved to give relief to the overwhelming feeling of being stagnated by obstacles.
Aaron Hall performed after the panel ended.
Syek Semaj is a Senior Writer for BlackVibes.com
|Sat, July 24, 2004 at 11:45 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Delicia Hassan - A&R Consultant for Greenberg Traurig, LLC
Sandra Brown - Attorney for Greenberg Traurig, LLC
Catherine Brewton - VP for BMI
Kelly Price - R&B Vocalist
Monica Tannian - Milk Money
Michelle Oaks - Talent buyer for TVT Records
Perry - attorney for Producers of artist
Lucy Raoof - VP of operations at Artist Control Management
What challenges have you faced because you are a woman in this industry?
Brewton: I haven't necessarily faced many challenges, because I'm a woman. You can be a woman in this industry, but at the end of the day you have to be able to do your job. Women are an asset to this industry because we pay such close attention to detail.
Perry: I got in this industry by socializing. I had to go and network. By going to where the parties are, or the conferences. I had to change those, "You have a pretty face" into "Let's talk business."
Brown: The legal profession is male dominated. An old professor of mine told me to read a book called "Hit Men". She said after reading this book come back and tell me if you still want to be in the business, and if you do, Go for it! After reading this book, I realized that most of the big people in this industry were white. They were males, and believe it or not, they were Jewish. I didn't it into any of those categories, but I still wanted it. So I began to read trade magazines, and there were not as many out then on the industry as there are now, let me tell ya.But once I got past the fact that I am a woman, which I would not want to change, and I am black which I would want to change, and began believing that this is my career and I'm passionate about it, I decided to work! And I said I'm not going to change me for the business!
Who were your female Role Models coming up and since you've been in the industry?
Hassan: Oprah!! Just to see a minority woman defeat all the odds. Also Sandra Brown. It is inspiring just to see someone who is young, and beautiful and so positive.
Brown: I grew up on Oprah. I thought, Wow, what a fabulous woman, I want to be a fabulous woman. Also my mother. If I had said, `Mom, I want to be the president of the United States, she would have supported me. I speak to young people as much as my schedule will permit, and I hear, "I want your job." And I say you know what, in 10 years, after 4 years of college, and 3 years of law school, you can have my job. Because I will have moved on to bigger and better things.
Raoof: Louise West and Sylvia Rhone were my role models. Not to tell my age, but that was long before you all. I started before hip-hop was really popular. I was at the 1st Hip-Hop Fresh Festival, where Jermaine opened up at 10 years old.
Brewton: It all started with my mother. She is such a civil minded person. It's all about what you make of the situation. You should go beyond what your willing to do. My mother was always my inspiration. For woman, it's always good to stay connected with other woman, but it starts with you and your own household.
Price: I don't want to sound repetitive, but my grandmother and Oprah. It starts at home. My grandmother is one of the most graceful persons I have ever known. Oprah - she is apart of entertainment. I look at her, as she is willing to take on knowledge. What I would like to see happen, and if someone else doesn't do I will, but what I would like to see are some music-Oprah's. Someone down the line have a major label. And what that takes is looking at the long run. I want to see women owning basketball teams like Jay-Z. My advice is what ever you do, do i
|Fri, July 23, 2004 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
In its seventh year as a platform for discovering new talent, the 2004 Atlantis Music Conference is well underway. Held annually in Atlanta, Georgia this three day conference is filled with panels and exhibits along with a job fair and health fair.
One of the main goals of the Atlantis Music Conference is to enhance the technologies available to us today. The conference is the premier music event that brings together industry executives, musicians and music enthusiasts to be inspired, energized, discovered, and educated in the business of music.
Each panel is 75 long minutes of education, debate and entertainment, followed by questions from the audience.
The exhibit's where artists and the general public can mingle with Atlantis attendees, not to be confused with a trade show, is an area where twenty-two participants and sponsors can show off.
AMG, Music Business Registry, Good Times Magazine, Devine Communications, Rap Snacks, T-Mobile, Fireball, NARAS, Nunis Custom Guitars, Melanie Denard, Cotton Graphics, Red Bull, Nimbit,Sonicbids Ticket Alternative, Fontis Water, SunTrust Music Banking, Hall, Booth, Smith & Slover
The Atlantis Job Fair is the way to get leads or contacts with the right people. Attendants can meet with human resource reps from numerous companies in all aspects of the music business such as: ASCAP, House of Blues, Abstract Rhythms, Hot 107.9, 99X, William Reynolds Agency, Nimbit and more
For the first year at Atlantis, attendants have the opportunity to get health checks by some of the following:.
* Northside Hospital- Blood Pressure Check and Body Fat Analysis
* Resurgons Orthopedic - Bone Density Screening
* Auditory Verbal Center - Hearing Screening
* St. Joseph's Hospital - Cholesterol and Glucose (Diabetes)
* Reflexology - Foot and Hand Massage (Reduce body stress)
* Carlin Vision- Eye Screening
* Nikken - Wellness products for overall better health
* Life University- Chiropractor services
* Willingway Hospital - Treatment/ Recovery Center
* Aid Atlanta
During Atlantis, over 42,000 music enthusiasts spread over the city to enjoy the music of 259 artists from 32 states and four countries at 18 different venues. From jazz to urban, from acoustic to rock, multiple musical genres are showcased nightly.
For a view of the Printable Full Conference Schedule please visit: Atlantis Music.
Kakeeya J. Wright is a staff writer for BlackVibes.com
|Fri, July 23, 2004 at 11:50 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
At the 2004 Atlantis Music Conference, the very first panelist was Matt Serletic, songwriter, producer, arranger, and Chairman / CEO of Virgin Records. At the panel discussion, 99X's Director of Programming, Leslie Fram got 'Up Close & Personal' with Matt Serletic.
He is best known for producing Matchbox Twenty's two previous smash hit albums, 1996's Yourself or Someone Like You and 2000's Mad Season. He has also works closely with artist such as Aerosmith, Willie Nelson, Dallas Austin and CÚline Dion, who he quoted as being "able to sing the phone book beautifully."
During the panel discussion Matt reminisced on growing up in the Atlanta Public School system. He also spoke on writing his very first song about soccer practice at the age of 5, and then learning how to use studio equipment at the age of 12. "This is why it's so important to keep the music programs in the school system."
Matt Serletic expressed his "phenomenal joy" when he won his first Grammy for 2000's Record of the Year, producing Carlos Santana's Smooth featuring Rob Thomas, and what "a kick" it was to hear his material on the radio for the first time.
When asked about Virgin's history of long-term artist Matt responded, "My responsibility is to sign artists who have the potential for a long-term career". Fram, just like everyone else in the conference, wanted to know what Matt and other Virgin Record A&R reps [such as his brother Dean - A&R rep for Virgin] were looking for when they come to a showcase. Matt indicates that star power, song material, and voice are the three most important things to him.
"Star power can't be taught, but can be developed. Star power is what makes you stand out from the crowd, and how you engage your viewer or your listener." He explains that after showing off your star power, your singing must be different and unique. Then what it is that you are using to get his attention [your voice] will win you over with Virgin Records.
Matt explains how his day-to-day changes everyday and that even with all the changes, he has to stay focused on the long-term picture. "There is a lot to distract you, a lot of time juggling...a lot of emailing. There is no short answer for that."
"People who work in this industry have their magic moments - Even if it's not a hit..." So when asked what has been the highlight of his career, Matt responded "What ever happened last week -that was my magic moment."
Kakeeya J. Wright is a staff writer for BlackVibes.com