By Valerie Victor
In just days, Raekwon, a prominent member of the Wu-Tang Clan rap group, will be releasing his seventh solo studio album, "The WIld." Raekwon, a true lyricist and creative, has taken his artistry to a new level with this upcoming release. Whats most pertinent about "The WIld," is the fact that he hasn't turned away from that classic Hip-Hop sound, particularly in an era where rhyming isn't what it once was, and Trap music dominates the airwaves. True Hip-Hop isn't dead, and Raekwon has not tried to change his artistry to fit today's sound. It's different, and the culture needs that diversity.
It's refreshing to see Raekwon simply be Raekwon in an era where his sound is nearly obsolete.The rap legend's upcoming album, "The Wild," is nothing short of a classic. In a private listening event, Raekwon invited the industry's elite to get a first take of his upcoming project. The listening session took place at Empire Recording Studios in New York City. His album features 16 tracks of nothing but straight lyrics, bars, and classic rhymes. During a live interview session, the press asked Raekwon a number of questions where he engaged and revealed details on his vision for the project, and his music. "I write from a place of pain, but I also write from a place of Glory," said Raekwon. While the Wu-Tang Rapper talked, he explained that he did his best to tell a story on the project.
To further add to the overall flow of the album, Raekwon inserted specific celebrity features that will make the story a bit more vivid. On the album, you'll find a variation of artists such as Lil Wayne, G. Easy, Ceelo Green, and more. While the placements on the album range in diversity, the artistry is through the roof. "I wanted to make this album a royal piece, like a statue," said Raekwon. "I wanted to have fun with the features on some fly stuff."
While the room was filled with press, Raekwon assured to invite a few of his all-star celebrity friends to celebrate the albums completion. Among the crowd was celebrity DJ Superstar Jay of Sirius XM Radio, Jazze Belle, a celebrity Correspondent and Radio Host featured on both Centric TV and Sirius XM Radio. In addition, upcoming female MC, Ms. Hustle, who was featured on BET and has worked with the likes of Kid Kapri, Wyclef Jean, and Camron was also there to celebrate the great Raekwon. Now that the album is complete, it will be released on March 24th, 2017.
Published in The Hype Magazine
Published in Rolling Out Magazine
By Valerie Victor
In an exclusive interview with DJ Self (@djself), the Love and Hip Hop star talked to us about the start of Gwinin Entertainment, his new label. Although Self has been breaking artists over the years, he finally decided to continue his work even further by developing new talents under the Gwinin umbrella.
To date, Self has already acquired 2 talents, a singer, Major Galore, and rapper, Lou Got Cash. The two have been in the studio putting out some of there best works which are already in rotation at Power 105.1, one of New York City's premier radio stations. While the artist development and management is on its way, Mr.Self also took the time to address matters in regards to Mariah Lynn and Cardi B.
Listen to the full audio as DJ Self talks Gwinin, new talent, Love and Hip-Hop, and everything entertainment.
This piece was published in The Hype Magazine.
By Valerie Victor
While Lihtz is no new comer to the camera, he is just as familiar with the microphone. After creating a platform and building his audience as a cast member of “Empire,” one of the highest viewed television series, Lihtz has now re-focused his energy on building his rap career. This MC got his big break in television, exposing his music to the world, and he hopes to continue to grow his fan base worldwide.
Lihtz took a major step forward in his musical career with the release of his official music video for, “Simplicity,” his latest single. The song was released as follow up to his recent release of, “Fishscale,” produced by AListFame. The clip, which is directed by Guru Media Group, matches the audio’s emotionally charged theme of appreciating the simple things in life. With all eyes currently onLihtz, there are rumblings of major recording contracts in the works. This is sure to be augmented with collaborations from Fat Joe, and even Meek Mill.
When you said, you didn’t really see yourself as a rapper. What is it that you saw yourself as? Did you not see yourself as a musician?
Lihtz: More than anything, I just didn’t want to be ordinary. I feel like everyone in my neighborhood wanted to be a rapper. At the time I knew, I really had the potential to make it. Anything that I do, I want to be the greatest at it. It’s one thing when your friends tell you that you’re hot [musically], but you need that type of reassurance from the world.
How long have you been making music?
Lihtz : I didn’t start recording music until I was 15, at my mans [friend’s] in-house studio. I was paying for studio time out of my own pocket, at a small studio in South Philly. Over time I started to realize the sound I was looking for.
I lived in Atlanta for eight months around 2011-12. When I lived there, it changed my whole vision of music [on the marketing aspect]. It groomed me to become a businessman. When I came back to Philly, I got shirts and flyers for every event.
Tell me about your record “Simplicity”?
Lihtz: In the record I’m referring back to a time in my life where things were just more simpler. Like my love life, my relationship with one of my homies, and myself.
Do you have a musical project that your currently working on right now?
Lihtz: It’s titled, “The Switch Up.” Throughout the project go back and forth about things. Like on the first record, you’ll hear how many times I switch up the memory. The Intro track is called, ‘Contradiction’. I’m contradicting myself, talking positive, and negative things. There’s a particular line in the record, (Starts Rhyming,)
“What if I told you, your beautiful; What if I said your unusual, What if told you’re looking for someone else, but the whole time your loosing you. “What if she act like she bullet proof, but deep inside is funeral.”
For The full interview visit The Hype Magazine.
By Valerie Victor
The Game starred in A&E Networks’ three-part docuseries about the history of Compton, followed by the release of a new 11-track companion project of the same name, ‘Streets of Compton.’ The documentary recently premiered parts one and two. The third and final hour will premiere on today, June 16, 2016 at 10PM ET/PT on A&E Networks. The brand new docuseries also features exclusive new music from The Game’s companion project, “Streets Of Compton,” which is expected to release tomorrow, June 17, 2016.
The city of Compton has a story to tell, and The Game is the narrator. Taking the audience through the streets of Compton, he paints a vivid picture for all to see. While introducing the world to Compton, The Game also lets the world into his personal life and upbringing. Exclusive appearances from his mother, Lynette Baker, father, G.A. Taylor, manager, Cash Jones, and childhood friends Venus and Serena Williams’ father, Richard Williams, and former Black Panther, Robert Johnson help weave his story together.
Few people know the story of how the city went from a predominantly white, conservative suburb of Los Angeles in the 1950s to ground zero for notorious gangs like the Pirus, the Crips, and Sureños in the 1980s. This documentary, tells the city’s history, and illustrates how the iconic music, culture and style that came out of the area in the ‘80s and early ‘90s were influenced by the drugs, gangs and political turmoil of the time.
The series is filled with exclusive interviews and appearances from individuals such as the former Compton resident and actress, Niecy Nash, comedian, Paul Rodriguez, and musicians Lil Eazy-E, DJ Yella, Arabian Prince, DJ Speed, Tha Chill, MC Eiht, AD, Payso and Problem.
Other Compton notables featured in the documentary include Mayor, Aja Brown, former mayors Omar Bradley and Eric Perrodin; former Compton Councilwoman Patricia Moore, members of the Compton police department gang unit; gang experts and many more.
Ultimately, the documentary is one that will touch many, and open the eyes of even more. It is not only informational, but it is a story that takes you on a ride through the Games’s life, and the lives of thousands that live in Compton today.
In addition to the documentary, The Game is releasing an 11-track Streets of Compton companion project. The album is a testament to Game’s respect for his hometown of Compton. The album is authentic, hard-hitting, and brutally honest, which matches the tone of his documentary. The Game recruited the League of Stars, Bongo, among other hip-hop producers. The album boasts guest features from fellow Compton artists like Problem, Boogie, J3, Payso, Micah, AD, Av and more.
The projects was produced by Creature Films and eOne for A&E Network. The executive producers for Creature Films are Mark Ford, who also serves as director, and Kevin Lopez. The executive producers for eOne are Tara Long and John Morayniss. The Game, Cash “Wack 100” Jones, and Alan Grunblatt, also serve as executive producers on this project as well. The executive producers for A&E Network are, Elaine Frontain Bryant, Shelly Tatro and Brad Abramson.
This article was published in Hype Magazine.
By Valerie Victor
After one year, the late Chinx Drugs, an american rapper from Queens, NY, is still remembered for his character, his music, and the influence he had on the hip-hop culture. A documentary titled, “Chinx: One Year Later,” will be released later this summer to tell his story from the people who were closest to him and loved him dearly. Although the documentary will be released sometime this summer, a private screening was held on the one year anniversary to his death. Chinx’s family, closest friends, and loved ones were present to preview the documentary.
To orchestrate the film, Shaquasia “Quay” Brooks, of StarStruckDaily.com, and Jayyiah “Miss Jayyiah” Coles, came together to bring life to the documentary. Both parties created, produced, and directed the piece. Working hard to capture Chinx’s true essence, the ladies made sure to capture conversations with many people close to the slain rapper. The documentary featured Janelli, Chinx’s wife, Viking, one of his closest friends, Nut, his best friend, and even people Chinx came in contact with through his work in the music industry such as Bianca from Love and Hip-Hop and Ceaser of the Black Ink Crew to name a few.
The documentary was put together in such a way that the emotion and the pain of what transpired really touched every viewer. The documentary, is a series of retrospection, with every individual telling a Chinx story or merely expressing how they feel about what happened to him. People speak about fun times with Chinx, their disbelief that he is really gone, the difficulties of coping and moving forward, and lastly, the pain.
This was published on The Hype Magazine
Meeting with Jay Z was a great experience. He is my favorite rapper, so it was like a dream come true to me. When we met he acknowledged me and told me to keep working hard and doing my thing. It was one of the most memorable things in my life, period.
It seems like you have a passion real passion for artistry. How long have you been making music, and why did you decide to start?
I’ve been making music since I was 12 years old and now I’m 25. It’s been over 10 years I’ve been working on my skills. I decided to start making music because it’s something that has always touched me. I have always loved making music.
Often times people of Haitian decent have parents that want them to enter a profession like medicine or law. When you made the decision to pursue a music career, what was it like telling your parents?
My mom has always been supportive. She was the first person to put me in the studio actually. She is one of my biggest fans.
Congratulations on signing with Epic Records. How did you go about meeting L.A. Reid and attaining a record deal?
Well, my brother Future was the one who put together the meeting for me to make that happen, he made my dreams come true. Meeting LA Reid was great.
For the full interview visit The Hype Magazine where my article was originally published.
By Valerie Victor
The Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour is one of the biggest concerts that ever hit Brooklyn, NY. The tour was put together to celebrate 20 years of Bad Boy Entertainment making quality music, and the influence the label has had on the industry to date.
Sean “Diddy” Combs, the CEO of Bad Boy, brought together his label’s most renowned talents such as Lil Kim, Mase, 112, Faith Evans, and French Montana to name a few. Combs also added acts such as DMX, Desiigner, Usher, Busta Rhymes, and even Jay Z to the list of acts creating an evening of musical mayhem.
As the Barclay’s Center slowly filled for a sold out show, one of New York City’s most notable DJ’s, Funk Master Flex, engaged the crowd and truly rocked the stadium before the show’s start. Spinning a number of Brooklyn felt records and Bad Boy hits, Flex definitely set the mood for one of the greatest Hip-Hop evenings in New York.
To start the show, a short montage of highlights from the best Bad Boy moments, and footage of none other than Bad Boy’s angel, Biggie Smalls, played for a stadium of thousands. At the real’s end, Diddy opened the show rhyming over a instrumental with Biggie’s voice playing and speaking in unison with Combs. Shortly after this opening act, Combs assured the crowd that he was, “just getting warmed up, and we have a lot in store for you. We have to do it right for Big.”
The first day of the concert was the night before what would’ve been the Notorious B.I.G.’s 44th birthday. Like Combs, throughout the evening, the entire Bad Boy line-up paid homage to Biggie and his legacy.
The entire evening was full of surprises. The crowd never knew who was coming on the stage next, which seemed to heighten the crowds reactions to each talent. The entire crowd recited song after song for every talent on stage.
To end the show, the entire team dressed in white Bad Boy labeled clothing. For their he final number, “Missing You,” the family was accompanied by a live choir using the end of the show to again, pay all final respects to the late Notorious BIG. To top it off, balloons and confetti filled the stadium while they performed the last song.
This concert, is undeniably one of the greatest concerts and celebrations around. What really makes the concert, is that it’s designed to be an experience. Due to the high demand of this show, and speedy ticket sales, the tour has been extended to a 24 city tour. The multi-city tour is scheduled to begin August 25, 2016, and end October 8, 2016, touching destinations such as Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, and Los Angeles to name a few.
To be a part of the Bad Boy Family experience, ticket details and tour dates can be found by visiting Live Nation.
This article was published in The Hype Magazine.
Arsonal: Well back at my college, Kean University in Jersey, a intern at BET used to throw this competition every Wednesday. The prize would be a chance to battle on 106 and Park. This was back in 2004 when AJ and Free were hosting. I won the college show that Wednesday, and ended up battling on 106 and Park for five weeks straight because no one could beat me.
HHW: How did the success of 106 and Park help take you to the next level?
Arsonal: Well I wasn’t truly into it until 2008, that’s when I got serious. I met Loaded Lux, and MOP, and we started getting a cypher going . Lux said how he believed in me, and that I had something special. Lux introduced me to battle rap, and said he wanted to put me into it. The very first battle I did changed my whole life. I embarrassed my opponent so bad, that he called himself a bitch. When I battled Tech 9 and won, the fight club wanted me after that. I never got paid to rap until then. All I knew was that I was just doing something I loved. I never expected to make money for my talent. That’s what really made me take things to another level, but I always pay homage to Lux for giving me the opportunity.
HHW: You have a very close relationship with Snoop Dogg. How did that come about?
Arsonal: Working with snoop, that was crazy! It was like favor for favor to be honest. In 2014 I was a part of the Live Cypher at the BET awards when snoop was hosting. Snoop had a battle that he wanted me involved in and I did it, I kept my word. So I told him I was trying to get in the live cypher for so long, and he told me to come rehearsals and that he would put me in the cypher. That year, I did the live cypher, the pre-show, post show, and parties as well. Since then, our relationship has been very cool. He also promised me a verse as a result of all of that. He kept his word and so I also have a song with Snoop where Sammy did the hook. He also took me on season seven of Nick Cannon’s, “Wildin’ Out.” The crazy thing is, Snoop was always one of my idols growing up.
For the full article visit Hip-Hop Weekly Magazine.
Post By Valerie Victor
Although Ryan Leslie’ has been working under the radar, his music is still reaching thousands of listener. His decision to maintain an independent music career has not slowed down his success as a musician and renowned producer.
Leslie recently performed for a packed house at the, “Highline Ballroom,” in New York City. His performance engaged the entire crowd and afterward Leslie held a private meet and greet for a few of his fans that purchased VIP passes. Read the exclusive one on one with Leslie below.
HHW: Tell me a little about the new technology you’re using to connect with your fans.
Ryan Leslie: “SuperPhone” is really a simple concept. Imagine having a phone number on every single one of your social followers. So for me, I have over 220,000 Instagram followers, and I have a phone number on over roughly 50,000 of them, a direct phone number. So in order to do that, you need a technology platform that’s intelligent, and that’s what Super Phone is. It’s an intelligence layer on my messages. That’s my real cell phone number, the same one my mom, my girl and everyone reaches me on. It’s a platform that allows me to organize all of these inbound requests.
HHW: What was it like transitioning from being on a music label to having an independent music career?
Ryan Leslie: It was exciting. And it continues to be exciting every day. I am learning every day. Technology is changing every day, and the world is changing every day.
HHW: I’ve noticed that as soon as someone follows you on social media, the telephone number is automatically provided to your new follower. The technology is so advanced. What would you say the about the relationship between having that intimate connection with your fans is and being a successful artist?
Ryan Leslie: It’s intrinsically linked. That’s how I would describe it. There is no the story of Ryan Leslie. It’s currently under ridden by the conversations that I’m having. Right now I’m having 48,000 conversations. 48, 276 conversations to be exact, and I’m enjoying it
HHW: I haven’t heard a Ryan Leslie single on the radio in a very long time. So, seeing your fans recite your music word for word was surprising. Going independent and taking control of your career doesn’t seem to have affected your fan base.
Ryan Leslie: The independent pathway, and being an independent artist is changing every day. I feel really fortunate to be able to draw an blueprint, so that other artists can follow. And if anybody has any questions, and really wants to learn more about it, my personal telephone number is published. You can just text me.
HHW: Tell me about the new project you’re working on.
Ryan Leslie: Me and Weezy are executive producing Rich Homie Quan’s album. I already took Quan out to Jamaica which was featured in the documentary I played at A3C. I already heard a couple of records that he’s done with Weezy that sounds amazing.
And then on my side, right now it’s about mentorship. When I look around, even in this room tonight, it’s like the next generation of that next wave. Young people who understand technology, understand social media, and truly understand the way it’s changing the world. They understand the way that their message can be further distributed, and make an impact. I’m interested in surrounding myself with that next wave. People that know the game is changing, and people who want to be positioned to win and be ahead of the game. That’s really all the projects that I am working on now. You can look in the room, Look at Pat, you can look at Luther, you can look at Destiny; these are folks that even at such a young age, are already game changers. I’m honored to be able to just be in that circle.
For the full article visit Hip-Hop Weekly Magazine where my article was originally published.
HHW: Talk to me a little bit about your goal with your new album?
Musiq: I make music for people. So I think the music I make should be about stuff that people care about. I want people to relate to what I’m saying.
HHW: Your album cover is a denim globe shaped like a heart. Explain the concept behind the visual for your new album?
Musiq: Then denim is to let people know it’s all denim all day. Because its something people can identify with, and that’s what I want people to be able to do with my music. Being relate-able best represents the music I create. The reason why the denim is shaped into a heart, has to do with what the album’s full title which is, “Life on Earth in Love, or in Dealing with Love.” So that’s why in the heart, you can see the globe. Now, the rip in the middle is not just a rip, but it’s stitched together, and that lets people know that sometimes they’ll get their heart broken, but they will be able to move forward, repair, and love again.
HHW: Who are some of your musical influences?
Musiq: Musically, I get a lot of inspiration from people like Donny Hathoway, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye to name a few. There are many others, but those are the ones that stick out to me because I didn’t go to school for music. They were my way of learning. I learned how to be a better songwriter, a better producer, and a better overall individual that appreciates music in a real way.
HHW: It seems like you have a deeper connection to your music. What is your personal relationship to the music you make?
Musiq: I’m not here to just be cute and make money from this. I’m concerned about how the music effects peoples’ lives, and what role I play in not only the music culture, but the human culture. I want ten role I play to have a positive influence and effect on humanity through what I’ve been blessed with, which is music. I have a true love for the arts. I don’t do what I do now just to get attention from it.
HHW: There seems to be a lack of good R&B music these days. Would you consider this album an R&B album?
Musiq: It’s about the different variations of the message of love. It’s not just about romantic love and it isn’t fair to just say this is just R&B music, because R&B music focuses on the romantic love and that’s not all that I do. Yes, I do acknowledge that I make R&B music, however that’s not all I make. People tend to want to force me into one category, and it’s not really accurate. And the more open people are to that, the more they will get out of what I’m giving them rather than be disappointed.
HHW: Which song on your new album do you feel has the most powerful message?
Musiq: Each song has an equally powerful message for the listeners. I’ve been working in this album for the last three years. But there is one song on it called, “Alive and Well,” and I feel like that message is really strong. If you are who you are, just be happy about it. As long as you have your health, be happy with that. And if you want to be better, than do better, but don’t let the pursuit of being better than where you are, and who you are, lead you to not appreciate where you are at. That’s the message. It’s about learning to love yourself and being secure with yourself. Be alive and well, and I think a lot of people need to hear that especially with social media.
Read the full interview on Hip-Hop Weekly Magazine.