This weeks playlist is a bit on the crazy side, ranging between multiple different styles to fulfill everyones electronic music fix. So this is where we tell you to take a load off, kick back and enjoy this great compilation. Please as always, if you enjoy something here please click the specified track title or photo to view their website for more artist information. Jam Time!
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
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
Lauryn Hill was amazing, even though the sound guys couldn’t get their shit together with her mic or the guitar. She had a full band complete with lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass/synth, keyboardist/dj, 2 full set drummers and 3 back up singers. She was incredible!! I was really diggin the new style. She was like a conductor up there performing the new versions of her old classics. This moment in hip hop history will never be forgotten!
Also seen in this vid is Mary J. Blige, Beyonce, Jay-z, Alicia Keys, Swizz Beatz, Chris Rock, and others. Make sure you check out Chris’s facial expressions..they’re classic too. The crazy part is that pretty much everybody looked like that. We love you Lauryn!
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