Author Archives: merebwithmwl

Wise Words From A Wise Man [Interview]

Ladies and gentlemen presenting Jersey’s own, Davon ‘Wise Vega’ Brown. Just beginning his rap career a year ago, Wise Vega has been writing at a very young age. Creating a split personality in his name, his name Wise displays his conscious rap side, attacking all of the world’s struggles through his lyrics and Vega, which is his mother’s last name displays his cocky raw side. Getting ready to release a double mixtape, College Kid and Mindstate88 in May, Wise has recorded almost eighty songs since he began a year ago and will begin shooting videos for the world to see him and vibe out to his songs. In addition, Wise has been performing and competing against other rappers in New York City at the Webster Hall in downtown Manhattan. His most popular lines, “You can call me what you want, a rapper or writer, professional shit talker…” That line simply describes the his music and the direction he’s going in with each song, “That’s basically what it is. I don’t care who you are, Talib Kweli or Fabulous that’s basically what you’re doing.”

His favorite song on the album is Piranha, which was written when Wise was on his low point and decided to go in full effect after he heard the hook his producer wrote which fit his situation like a glove, “Everything that was going on at that time was in that song. It was really perfect.” As far as looking for a deal Wise is looking for the best situation possible, perfecting his craft, performing his work, and in the midst of releasing his double mixtapes in May, this young artist has the world a his feet waiting to be formally introduced.

By: Mereb Gebremariam | Beat-Play Ambassador Philadelphia | @MerebwithMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

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King Of All Kings, Selassie [Interview]

People gathered at a small West Philadelphia bar in anticipation for Selassie’s farewell performance. The Philadelphia rapper by way Ethiopia was now heading to LA to expand his career and follow his dreams of a successful music career. Many friends began smiling and were excited to see which songs off his album he was going to perform, as strangers kept a neutral Philly facial expression and refused to show any interest until Selassie could prove himself. Dressed in a burnt orange shirt with an imprint of his face in all black in the middle, that purposely resembled his mixtape cover for marketing purposes and a plain black fitted on his head. Fresh and ready to start his show, he grabs the microphone and spits his rhymes for the last time in Philadelphia.

At the age of 11, Selassie picked up his older brother’s rhyme book and rapped his lyrics to his older cousin and her friends; the reception he received was immense. “ It made me feel so good, that I decided to pursue a career as an emcee. Becoming a rapper helped me find the one thing – that I was great at writing. After years of perfecting his craft Selassie decided to make the ultimate move three years ago, the Philadelphia native left Philadelphia for Los Angeles with only $300 to his name, taking the chance of a lifetime in pursuit to expand his rap career and further educate himself about the music game, ”A doctor goes to Medical school, a lawyer goes to Law school. So I thought I should do the same, and that’s when I enrolled at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles.”

His stage name, Selassie which comes from his deceased father Haile Selassie Fekadu, who was also named after the great Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, who was believed to be the second coming of Christ by Rastafarians. Selassie wasted no time and began networking and building a studio in his home producing and recording non-stop. His latest mixtape is called Mind on Pluto, which explains his state of mind, “The state of mind I’ve always been in, which is so far left that I feel foreign to today’s common man. His favorite song on the freshman mixtape is “Aurora Borealis,” which he plans on making it his intro to his mixtape, “It really gives you a view of my world and really sets the tone of the mixtape.”

By: Mereb Gebremariam | Beat-Play Ambassador Philadelphia | @MerebwithMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

Lyrically Born To Be Great [Interview]



At the age of fourteen Kenny discovered his jones for rapping, but music had been in his blood long before the thought of his existence. His youthful father, who was an amazing base player was named “Toomuchbase” because he would rip a lot of James Brown cover songs, which had got him noticed by Kenny’s maternal grandmother who was a singer in the group, Norma and the Heartaches.  Though passionate about his music, Toomuchbase had his eyes set out for Norma’s daughter and later married her. Like most artists, college was an option that he pursued for a year, but then took the wise words of his professor who encouraged him that a degree will help, but if there are other certain opportunities, take it. Not motivated by fame or money, Kenny just wanted to be able to be the rock for his family who inspires him to fulfill his family’s musical destiny, “My family never really made it. Outside of just having a good job, no one has hit that big money to where you can do stuff for your family. Everyone has a ‘cash counter’ in their family, an uncle or aunt with money, but not us. I want to provide for my family and community.”

 

The rapper describes his music as Urban Heavy Metal, which is also his Mixtape title, which is a mixture of Hip Hop, R&B, and Rock and Roll. This genre of music isn’t new to him, but apart of a generation who accepts everyone for who they are from the Gagas to the Beibers,“ I call it ‘Urban Metal.’ It’s all urban music in one. It comes with a lifestyle and the younger generation accepts anything… no more racism, gay bashing, and everyone is equal.” His perfect example of his genre would be Kanye West’s, All of the Lights single, where different artist from different genres came together and blended their styles in one song, which was epic. His album will contain songs you can dance to and creative lyrics that the streets can respect.

After performing to a receptive crowd at the Walnut Room in Philadelphia, Kenny is preparing to release his mixtape entitled, Urban Metal by July 4th, declaring his own independence. During his show he performed a song called Translucent, which explains his stance in the competitive rap game as a lyricist, “Translucent means you can see through it sort of. Some people can see me, but you can’t see me rappin’.”

By: Mereb Gebremariam | Beat-Play Ambassador Philadelphia | @MerebwithMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

AVIATORZ Are Ready To Take Off [Interview]


The Aviatorz are a duo from West Philadelphia that has been rapping for almost eight years. Mike V and Shizzy, were both solo acts, that merged after an independent label they were signed to liked their sound as a duo. The group combines many genres to create their sound, “We don’t do gansta rap, we don’t do gangsta rap. We do commercial rap.” Just a chance to be heard encourages the group to chase their dreams of one day going mainstream and have a voice. The group usually does three shows per month and even had the chance to tour across the nation and open up for comedian, Cedric the Entertainer, fortunately enough, the group had an investor who also invested the Cedric’s tour which helped expand their name.

The group wants to be the first successful rap duo from Philly, patiently waiting for their turn grinding every chance they get. There are promoting their album called, The Departure, which has many fun tracks that gives a distinct sound, looking for success on a major standing apart from State Property and Young Gunz. Their new single, I’m Wavy, is a lay back and cool sound that they produced a year and half ago, “it’s a fun track and describes the type of music we do. We got a lot of swag on it.”


Now the duo is searching for the best possible deal but first plan on creating a much bigger buzz than they have now, “We want a deal to come to us, we’re not looking for it we’re trying to make one.” A year from now they want to make major connections and are hoping to have a deal, and possibly getting the best deal ever. You can check out the Aviatorz rhymes with the rest of the world on their YouTube Channel, and by their persistence they are not too far from their goal.

By: Mereb Gebremariam | Beat-Play Ambassador Philadelphia | @merebwithMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

And The Winner Is: Dot Dot Dot [Interview]

It’s 4am in Central Harlem, the city is fairly quiet, with the exception of the blaring loud music that Brandon “Dot” Cromwell is playing for a couple of friends in the studio.  Dressed in all black with his signature black rosary around his neck, he nods his head to the selection of beats his producer, Nana Kwabena created.  “Yo, let this loop real quick,” Dot, says to Nana. Quietly, he starts mouthing invisible lyrics, and grabs his iphone to record the words along with the beat. His friends just sit back and nod with his melodic lyrics.  “Ok, I’m sorry, I’m ready to talk now, I tend to get lost in this (music), that I forget my priorities.” He laughs, “I guess I have ADD or something.”

Earlier this year, Nana came to Dot with a plan that consisted of them moving from Philadelphia to New York to pursue music, “The decision was so easy for me that I sold my car and left.”  After moving to Southwest Philadelphia at a young age Dot, found his passion in rap after surrounding himself with a group that held rap battles with each other, “My friends were much better than I was, until I got better, now I’m the best.”   Philly has been known for it’s legendary singers such as Patti LaBelle, Teddy Pendergrass, and Marian Anderson, just to name a few. Theses legends have achieved a great amount during their eras, respectively carving their names in stone within the music world, but also giving Philadelphia some attention other than popular tourist attractions such as: the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. In the turn of the century Philadelphia was on top after Jay-Z signed State Property, which consisted of Beanie Sigel, Freeway, Peedi Peedi, Oschino, Omillio Sparks, and the Young Gunz. After many hits and two movies State Property and State Property 2, In 2008, Jay-Z dismantled Roc-a-fella, and since then there has been a missing voice to represent the City of Brotherly love on national airwaves in rap. However, Neo-Soul artist such as Musiq Soulchild, Jill Scott, The Roots have remained in the mainstream targeting their audiences in their genres. Gathering his thoughts, Nana sits back and reminisces of State Property’s fall out with Rockfella,  “Having our own brand, our own team, our own message, and having our own movement, I think is what gives people longevity.”

Now, in 2010, many may disagree that Hip Hop is Dead because it went from just a genre of music to an era that continues to redefine itself. Today, rappers now sing, create dance trends, and fashion trends that are seen from Los Angeles to Tokyo. While visiting his native home of Ghana, Nana, witnessed Hip Hop away from home with his own eyes, “People in Ghana are still wearing bandanas TuPac use to wear, spitting lyrics he use to say. I feel Nas, when he says ‘Hip Hop is Dead’, but I also realized that the form of rap has changed from before his time and after him and to him, his form maybe dead, but to the people of Hip Hop they’re adapting doing what they use to in a new form.”

In the works for the Philadelphia native Dot, is his mixtape called Aviators & Bombers, which is set to debut by the end of this year and draws a concept with how people equate success with materialistic items, “All we have to do is work really hard and buy all these nice things for attention, and I have people in jail right now because all they were trying to do was look nice.” Dot, briefly looks down at his diamond incrusted watch,  “Not saying that these material things that we strive for are wrong, just saying this is happening, this is what we’re all into and I’m no stranger to it, I’m apart of it too.”

By: Mereb Gebremariam| Beat-Play Ambassador Philadelphia | @MerebwithMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

Philly’s New Fresh Prince [Video]

Could rapper Fese be the next Mixtape King? The North Philadelphia native has been creating an astonishing buzz for himself making 100.3 The Beat’s, DJ Damage’s top 20 club songs for 2010. You can find his videos on Youtube,  his songs spinning all over Philadelphia radio stations and clubs. If you don’t know him you may know his songs that you subconsciously bop your head to on your way home or while your ordering your drink at the bar. The rappers latest single 4 Wings has people in a frenzy ready to pop a hole in the extra sweet ice tea from the Chinese store. The video for his single was shot on Temple University’s campus, though not a college student, Fese is well known throughout the University and is frequently ask to perform at campus shows.

Outside of performing the rapper has been staying busy on Youtube, collecting incomparable numbers than any other unsigned artist from Philadelphia outside of the recently signed Meek Mills.  Fese’s, Do You Want That video has almost 15, 000 views and as for his new single 4 Wings, which is still  increasing in numbers is receiving  roughly 29,000 views, but none of them top his Four Loko smash hit which has 139,398 hits, nearly close to the numbers Meek Mills had when his records began spinning on local airwaves in the City of Brotherly Love. Without a doubt Fese is destined to success as his fan base begins to rise, he soon will be a household name adding another notch to Philly’s belt.

By: Mereb Gebremariam | Beat-Play Ambassador Philadelphia| @MerebwithMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

Choir Boy, Johnnie Gets His R&B Fix [Audio]

The congregation slowly begins to fill the seats while a soft Gospel melody is being played on the piano. Neatly dressed in a blue suit, Johnnie Williams starts singing, “This is the best place… Being in the house of God.” Hitting every rift and run, people wave their hands in the air feeling good and praising God. His voice soothed the listening ears with his words, that even with your eyes closed you envisioned serenity from his tone.  The Preacher’s grandson voice is truly a gift that has enhanced since  he began playing when he was sixteen, every Friday and Sunday in church, but no one had a clue that his passion outside church was R&B.

Some may argue that R&B music could be losing it’s touch to Pop music since current artist such as Rihanna, Beyonce, and Usher have had transitional success. Then there is autotune, which has been silenced and shunned by Jay- Z, but it hasn’t stopped artists who look for a more unique sound without belting out every song like Whitney Houstson, Jazmine Sulilivan, and Jeniffer Hudson. In some cases  singers don’t feel the need to sing in key or at all, however, Johnnie Williams is the complete opposite.

Johnnie has been singing since the tender age of 8 in a church choir, “I like singing but I didn’t start until I was in he 10th grade. I went to my friend Kelly’s house and heard a group called HCL (High Class Lovers.) I went home and did my own demo and came back the next week and let them hear it, and they let me join. I listened to the demo recently, and that thing is the worst, I definitely gotten better.” Shortly after, HCL had changed their name to Prospect and won a talent show at Abington Senior high school. After their triumph the group parted ways, but Johnnie strived became great and he continued pursuing his music and began writing and producing with his band mate, Kelly. Johnnie’s hard work hadn’t gone unseen. Fortunately, he had the opportunity to meet Damon from the famous R&B group No Question, who discussed the possibilities of a comeback after the group’s hiatus, but this time with Johnnie as a member.  After auditioning for it he became a member and they started working and completed 4 songs, but soon after differences erupted among the members about unmade promises that weren’t kept, “Deals with money were on the table and when it came down to it everything kept falling through, so I separated ties.”

Once the group fell through, that situation had not discouraged him, yet motivated him to focus on his own music.  Johnnie went back on his grind at his in home studio where he produces 10-20 beats per week and writes all his material from his inspirations, “My inspiration comes from people around me, people I know, and people that touch me emotionally and personally.” Almost immediately, Johnnie had heard that MTV was having auditions for Diddy’s Making the Band, Season 4 in search for the next boy group, “I auditioned on Myspace and they gave me the VIP ristband so I din’t have to wait in line.” He went to a New York club where the auditions were held and sung Usher’s, “Let it Burn” for Michael Bivins, Slam, and Ankhra and was passed to the 2nd round. The next day Johnnie had to prepare for the combination of dancing and singing portion,  “I got past the dance round but didn’t pass the singing round because I lost my voice after standing outside in the winter cold waiting for my auditions.”

Since his MTV auditions, he became good friends with Dyshon, who was a finalist on Making the Band and helped him with background vocals for Dayshon’s solo project as well as his own project. Currently, he’s constantly posting music on Youtube, and plans on taking Neyo’s place in the music industry as a writer, proudcer, and singer and doesn’t mind just writing for other artist,  “I do music just to do it, I want a deal, but I do music for people and do songs to sell them.” His new single is called Confession (I Love You), which is a slow ballad written and produced by him that is receiving a lot of positive feedback, “It’s my favorite song I’ve ever recorded, because out of all the songs I’ve done, I let my all out on this one.”

By: Mereb Gebremariam | Beat-Play Ambassador Philadelphia | @MerebwithMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

Internationally Known, MIKE PHILSON [VIDEO]

When you think of Harvard, you think of great Political figures, Litigators, Doctors, and Business folks. However, when you first take a glimpse of Mike Philson, it’s hard to tell that this artist had gone from public housing to a Harvard educated lifestyle within his young lifetime, graduating in Political Science and actually was invited to meet President Obama himself. Philson grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey, where he encountered hard struggles growing up, “I went from some of the worst circumstances that made me say, I want my life to be the opposite of what it’s suppose to be, and to strive and push forward in a journey to do great things.”  After attaining a Wall Street job working at an investment bank at a Switzerland-based bank, he decided to leave to pursue his music. In 2010, he began his journey to chase his dreams full- time and educate underprivileged children for college.

Internationally, Philson has performed on three different continents and now is traveling coast to coast in the United States performing, recording, and promoting his music, “Ignorance is dangerous, so many people are afraid to step outside of their bounds and leave their neighborhood. I’m not that person.” His music embodies his relatable struggles he has encountered and shares it with the world. While on his MMP Global & DVE Asian Promo Tour, Philson shot his video for his song, On My Way Home in Shanghai, China where his fan base following is strong. Non-believers can view his Chinese love on Youtube, where fans flock to him in public and some fans even begin crying when meeting him. The young Harvard grad turned rapper is now in LA working in overtime drive, “One thing I don’t want to be is just another nigga rappin’ just for the sake of rapping and not getting anywhere.”

Mike Philson is now working on his next album, The Purple Album, which describes the type of zone he was in during his production, “I see a lot of music in colors and purple is that color.” He plans on expanding his work and head out to Africa for a performance sometime soon. As for now, he has a few performances lined up in LA and will shoot out to New York soon for more projects.  Some may call Philson crazy for leaving a secure job for his passion, but his inspirations is what keeps him going, “When you’ve seen the type of things that I’ve seen, and you’re on the bottom level and you gradually ascend and knowing God chose me to succeed and to succeed on a level that’s unfathomable, inspires me everyday.”

Mike Philson on iTunes

Mike Philson on Twitter

www.mikephilson.com

By: Mereb Gebremariam

The Relief of Chic Raw

In 2003, Chic Raw’s first mixtape, Shots For The Streets debuted, and gained great success on the streets of Philadelphia for his firm rap sound regarding to his struggles and pain. Raised in “The City of Brotherly Love,” Chic submitted to the materialistic fast life of money and respect, and so began selling hardcore drugs from weed to crack at the age of 15. Eventually, the fast life caught up to him and in 2005, he got into a drug related altercation and was shot, and by 2007, Chic was sentenced to prison for three years on federal chargers for distributing narcotics. Suddenly, the popular underground rapper found himself in a deep hole, almost ruining his chances to enter the music industry, however his determination, passion, and team behind him, he stayed motivated and focused.

Before incarceration, Chic Raw caught the attention of one of Rap’s powerhouse, 50 Cent, who still remained interested in the Philly rapper during and after his prison stint. During imprisonment, Chic had what he calls a “machine” behind him supporting him and updating him on what was going on in the music industry. In March 2010, Chic was released from prison and placed in a half way house where he would serve the remainder of his term, however, 50 Cent, was able to write a letter of employment for his lawyer to present to the Judge to get Chic out and back on his grind. Even though, unable to leave the State, money was put behind him, “They helped me put everything out and get back on the internet and the scene, as far as the underground scene for my city.”  The Philly rap game had changed, but Chic’s lyrical content still remains harder than the next song, and doesn’t think he should alter his style of rap to acclimatize to the current trend, “(Meek Mill) really tries to cater to people on what’s going on right now. I write from my heart, the majority of my music.” One of the Machines supporting and managing Chic is Dwayne McKenzie, A &R of G-Unit, has supported Chic while he was in prison and now helps him select what he releases guiding him to a successful direction.

Recently, Chic had collaborated with one of Philly’s finest, Jazmine Sullivan for a song called Fame (Got To Have It), “They sent me some beats through my email and one of the beats they sent me is the joint with her already on the hook. I said damn, I’m gonna go and do it.”  Shortly after releasing the song, Eminem released the same song with Jazmine Sullivan, called Cocaine, which has the same hook as Fame (Got To Have It), “I was like damn, I didn’t even realize he was watching, but see when people like that take your shit, there’s nothing you can do about it, cuz they in a better position than you.”

Chic Raw is now pushing his album, The Relief that’s being hosted by Mr. Peter Parker from Eminem’s Sirius Satellite radio show, SHADE 45.  The album contains 11 songs with two bonus songs and is receiving rave reviews on the underground scene in Philadelphia. Chic promotes his music videos on YouTube to give visual detail that brings his songs to life. In the next year, Chic Raw expects to change his sound, “I got a fan base just from being aggressive and loud on tracks, that when I came home from jail, I matured, like I calmed myself down.”  Now, Chic is working on a new project while perfecting his craft, determined to be on top one day, “Hopefully, you know, one day I get on. I ain’t gonna stop working hard until I get on.”

Mereb Gebremariam

People Go ‘ILL’ For CHILL

A college graduate in Speech Communication, Chill Moody is now gaining a degree in the underground rap world of Philadelphia. Moody’s distinctive lyrical content is often compared to conscious rappers such as Talib Kweli, Black Thought, and Common, so much so that he was fortunate enough to meet and rap for Common at a performance at Millersville University, “ He (Common) really took a liking for my lyrics.  (He) Liked what I was saying, liked what I was doing. He even shouted me out in one of his freestyles.”  Even though, he’s probably cursed about four times in his last album, mainly so that his mother wouldn’t feel embarrassed playing his music in front of other people, he thinks that’s where people tend to draw the comparisons from Chill Moody to conscious music. Moody called out the labeling in one of his songs “I carry a back pack, but I’m not a backpacker. It’s just me being me, just Chill… I’m not in the streets, I’m college educated, so I can only talk about the things I know.”

In 2009, the novice rapper debuted his Ill Chill album on his website, which had 100 downloads in 10 minutes and overall cleared an impressive 3,000 downloads. “I didn’t know 100 people were looking for my music or like anticipated for it to drop. It just started buzzin’ and it was like a snowball effect and it was a blessing.” As the front man for a hip- hop stable called, “Tha ESTablisymynt,” that includes a team of producers, rappers, and singers. In addition, Chill has a show on YouTube called, E.S.Tv. and has also created a clothing line called, Moody Sunshine. Chill plans on getting his feet into many production projects as possible and plans on directing as well as pursuing his music career.

Currently, Chill has released a more recent album entitled, wESTchilly with producer, Wes Manchild who has worked with him on his last album, “We tend to stick to the same formula. I like to work closely with one producer and get a cohesive sound for the album.”  His sound is distinguishable amongst other Philly rappers and carries a prolific sound that expresses the pits of reality that he has witnessed. He is without a doubt comparable to Nas, Common, and Talib Kweli for a reason and rightfully so, deserves respect for his art.

Mereb Gebremariam