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CM ISS 1 2015

CAUTION MAGAZINE HIGHLIGHTS BLACK HIST0RY MONTH IN TEXAS

PORTIARI EVOLUTION OF WOMEN RODNEY

REED STORY

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

KATLYNN

SIMONE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW


FOLLOW ME :

TWITTER // INSTAGRAM @IAMRONNIEWALKER


TUES 6PM(est) DRTYBSMNT SHOW THURS 9PM(est) RUNNING OFF AT THE MOUTH FRI 7PM(est) READY ON RAWW SHOW SAT 4PM(est) THE CALI CALL IN SUN 7PM(est) THE MIXTAPE SHOW


RONNIE WALKER

EDITOR IN CHEF / SENIOR ART DIRECTOR

DJ SINCERE EXECUTIVE EDITOR DANYEAL JONES Event Director CONSULTANT TEAM

BELINDA TROTTER JAMES EDITOR: CELEBRITIES INTERVIEWS MIKE HANNA ART EDITOR RAUL “BALLAY” MENCHACA ASST ART EDITOR CONTACT US: iamcautionmagazine@gmail.com


TABLE OF CONTENT

10

JUNETEENTH:

12

DID YOU KNOW

13

REJI THOMAS

16

RODNEY REED

18

PORTIARI

24

LIL FLIP

28

KATLYNN SIMONE

What is Juneteenth in Texas

5 History facts

has left the building

Innocent or Guilty

Evolution of women

Exclusive interview

Exclusive interview


J

UNETEENTH, also known as “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day”, is the

oldest known African American celebration commemorating the end of slavery. Slaves were declared free on January 1, 1863, under the Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln, which declared that all slaves living in states still in rebellion were “then, thenceforward, and forever free”. However, African Americans in Texas were not aware of the proclamation, until June 19, 1865, when General Gordon Granger, the commander of U.S. Troops in Texas, arrived in Galveston and read General Order 3:

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the Untied States slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor”. “Juneteenth” celebrations grew from the efforts of former slaves to mark the moment of their emancipation. In the years following the Civil War, African Americans often met with resistance from the rest of the community to the celebrate “Juneteenth”. To insure that celebrations would continue, many African American communities purchase “emancipation grounds” and moved the celebration to private property. Emancipation Park in East Austin, was such a location. In 1930 the first Juneteenth Celebration was held at Rosewood Park. On January 1, 1980, the bill was passed making “Juneteenth” an official state holiday.


GET INVOLVED 1709 E. 12th Street Austin, Texas 78702 Phone: 512-476-6230 Fax: 512-476-7425 www.naacpaustin.com


DID YOU

KNOW? 1. Cathay Williams was the one and only female Buffalo Soldier, posing as a man named William Cathay to enlist in the 38th infantry in 1866. She served for two years before a doctor discovered that she was a woman, leading to her discharge. 2. Lincoln University in Pennsylvania is the first institution of higher education founded for African-Americans. It paved the way for the 104 other historically black colleges, which have produced distinguished alums like Thurgood Marshall, Spike Lee, and the almighty Oprah. 3. At age 42, Satchel Paige became the oldest rookie to play Major League Baseball and continued to play until he was 47. 4. In 1739, the Stono Rebellion in South Carolina became the largest slave revolt in colonial America — some of the men who participated had been soldiers in Africa before being sold into slavery. 5. In 1967, Robert H. Lawrence, Jr. became the first African-American to be trained as an astronaut. He unfortunately died in a plane crash during flight training before he could be sent on his first space mission. Sixteen years later, Guion “Guy” Bluford carried on Lawrence’s legacy by becoming the first black man in space. 6d. After retiring from baseball, Jackie Robinson helped establish the African-American owned and controlled Freedom Bank.


Reji Thomas Reji Thomas Has Left the Building Historic Designation Still Pending for Pine Street Station BY KATE X MESSER A dozen impassioned pleas at the Oct. 27 meeting of the city’s Historic Landmark Commission, on behalf of Pine Street Station, was not the Hail Mary pass completion that Reji Thomas and her supporters had hoped would make a convincing case to save the threatened East Fifth Street building. More than 50 people attended the Oct. 27 session – most of them supporting historic zoning. Thomas contends that what remains of the old structure has historic value as one of Austin’s last standing railroad buildings. Twenty people spoke, 18 supporting Thomas, among them Cynthia Perez, former owner of beloved Congress Avenue cafe Las Manitas, lost to “progress” in August 2008. Capital Metro Community Involvement Manager John-Michael Cor­tez also spoke. “There are no plans to demolish that building at present,” he reassured the crowd, explaining that due to a recent court decision, Cap Metro – no longer Thomas – now owns it. The dominant testimony was not legalistic. Heartfelt arguments about the importance of Thomas’ work – from her glasswork in the Nineties renovation of the Capitol, to creating a vibrant cultural hub on the Eastside – dominated, although only architectural or structural evidence would meet the commission’s criteria. The commission initially voted 3-1 to approve historic zoning, but with only a quorum present, needed unanimity – so deferred a final decision until the next meeting (Nov. 17).

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Thomas established Graphic Glass Studios at 1101 E. Fifth in 1979. Friends were dubious about the dilapidated warehouse, but the space was perfect for Thomas: unconventional, rough around the edges, but bursting with potential. She has worked in photography, painting, drawing, metal, and stonework, but is best known for her glasswork. In the mid-Nineties, she won the bid to replace all of the intricate, etched glass in the Capitol, creating more than 500 panes; her art has been collected by Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, B.B. King, and Steven Spielberg.


In 1987, the land under the building had been purchased by Cap Metro from South­ern Pacific; Thomas had already purchased the building from her original landlord. She describes her years dealing with Cap Metro as “cordial – a good working relationship,” paying rent to the transit agency to occupy the land. In 2009, Thomas re-established the space as Pine Street Station. Subsequent events have included AIDS Services of Austin’s ArtErotica, the annual QueerBomb celebration, HOPE Farmers Market (the East­ side’s first), the Fader Fort during SXSW, and the annual East Austin Studio Tour. In 2007, Thomas’ rent was $400 per month; in 2009, it was raised to $432. After annual increases, in early 2012 she received a lease extension that included rates for the next few years. For the 2012 rental period, rent would be $1,088 per month; for 2013, $1,741; for 2014, $2,698; and for 2015, $4,128 – more than 10 times higher than in 2007. These increases happened, said Cap Metro spokesman John Julitz, because the Texas Sunset Commission had concluded that the agency was not maximizing the value of its real estate assets; after a market analysis, Cap Metro adjusted rents for all tenants. “Capital Metro incorporated gradual rent increases up to market rates over a five-year period,” Julitz said, “in order to accommodate Ms. Thomas and other renters.” And were the rates re-evaluated today, Julitz noted, “The market rates would be considerably higher than in the current lease agreement.” Currently, the Travis Cen­tral Appraisal District appraises the land at $1,980,225, and the building at $169,177. About two years ago, Thomas says, Cap Metro’s real estate manager, Vincent San­doval, informed her of the agency’s intention to develop the property as part of its larger Plaza Saltillo mixed-use project; he asked what she’d accept to sell the building. Negotiations began in earnest in late 2013, she recalls, and she says Sandoval regularly mentioned that the parties would meet to negotiate financial terms and a time frame for her release of the building. “Mr. Sandoval told me that their intention was to demolish by the end of 2014,” says Thomas. Cap Metro commissioned archaeological and historical assessments, which concluded there were “no archaeological sites within or adjacent ... and the potential for prehistoric sites is low.” The building itself, the reports concluded, is “not eligible for listing in the NRHP [National Register of Historic Places].” (The city’s Historic Landmark Commission, now reviewing the case, designates local historic landmarks.) In June, the Cap Metro board announced that it had chosen the Endeavor Real Estate Group (best known locally for the Domain in North Austin) to redevelop Plaza Saltillo. “Capital Metro and I have had verbal agreements for years on Fader, the farmers’ market, et cetera, that have been honored,” says Thomas. “I’ve had a good-faith relationship with Capital Metro into the majority of this year. This whole time we are – I thought we were – negotiating, Vincent Sandoval never mentioned back rent except to offer to roll it into a buyout. “All sorts of things were discussed and offered – never in writing. Things like trading for a [nearby] property, rolling in back rent, moving the building, but never that they’d take the building.”


Cap Metro spokesman Julitz characterizes the exchanges differently. “We had been communicating with Reji since last spring about persistent delinquent rent,” he says. “We sent her notice in July that she was in default on her lease.” Unable to reach agreement with Thomas, says Julitz, “In Septem­ber, we initiated the legal process. ... The offers and negotiations did not reach a stage for a written offer until just prior to the eviction hearing.” In Cap Metro’s “Complaint for Forcible Detainer,” the transit authority asserts that Thomas “failed to pay Landlord material rental payments of approximately $13,500” (roughly five months’ rent). Thomas insists that over this period verbal negotiations were ongoing – including provisions to resolve back rent not paid during this negotiation period. In the Oct. 1 hearing before Judge Raúl González, Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4, Thomas did not dispute that she’d been behind in rent. She says she explained to the judge the nature of the informal, ongoing negotiations with Sandoval. According to Thomas, Cap Metro’s attorneys told the judge that Sandoval did not have the authority to make such offers. Julitz now says, “All items were open for discussion during a [settlement] negotiation, and the settlement offer included forgiveness of any obligation for back rents due,” and that Sandoval did indeed have that authority. González ruled for the agency, awarding Cap Metro possession of the building – and gave Thomas five days to move 35 years’ worth of belongings out of what was now Cap Metro’s building. She was made aware that she could appeal, and she says she did. Unfortunately, says Thomas, the appeal was filed to (and accepted by) the wrong court. Currently, Thomas is left to explore her dwindling options. “We own the land and technically, she owned the building,” explains Julitz. “We essentially had to evict the building from that land. And certainly, as building owner, she would have the right to move the building, if she had the means.” After the court order to vacate, Cap Metro extended deadlines and allowed Thomas more time to move. On the phone, Julitz told the Chronicle, “It’s a balancing act: what’s best for Capital Metro, but at the same time not to appear, you know: Get out! We own the building!” On Saturday, Oct. 25, at Pine Street, every corner of the building was covered with gear, art supplies, artwork, and furniture, ready to be loaded into a tractor-trailer. Tall, noble planks of etched glass awaited their delicate turn.

15

Thomas has friends and options; she’ll be fine. Her art won’t stop. She’s been “blown away,” she says, at the outpouring of love for what she’s done to create community in Austin. “I thought I was just going to do these great art pieces,” reflects Thomas, “but ended up with a way to provide artistic support in ways I never guessed. Artists would come here – after getting a degree, $150,000 in debt, and stuck selling pizza – and by sustaining this old building, and encouraging creativity by whatever means, we filled a void that even higher education couldn’t. Now, we don’t have a say-so. We don’t have a right to be here.” But every time she’s down, Thomas rises. There’s art to move, and work to be done.


R

odney Reed (born December 22, 1967) is a Texas Death Row inmate who claims he was wrongfully convicted. Rodney Reed, a black man from Bastrop County, Texas, is currently on death row for the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites, 19, a white woman who was engaged to Officer Jimmy Fennell at the time of her murder. His execution date was set for January 14, 2015 at the request of the state that has been delayed until March 5, 2015. The state’s case against Reed, who has maintained his innocence since his arrest for the crime, relied on a single piece of physical evidence: semen matched to Reed, found in Stites’ body.


Ms. K “If I find out it’s true, she is dating you i will kill her”. Told to Roday by Stacey fiance. During his trial, Reed explained that he had sex with Stites, intermittently, for 4 to 5 months before her death. Reed testified he had sex with Stites during the early hours of April 22, a full day before her murder. However, Travis County Medical Examiner Dr. Roberto Bayardo testified that the recovered semen had been deposited recently, thus contradicting Reed’s testimony. In August 2012, Bayardo admitted his trial testimony was inaccurate, that he, in fact, didn’t know the age of the semen or when it was deposited in Stacey. Reed’s defenders pose an alternative theory. They claim Fennell found out about Stacey and Rodney, and then he murdered Stites. Only the fingerprints of Stacey Stites and Jimmy Fennell were on Stacey and the truck (where Stacey’s corpse had been stuffed on the floorboard for many hours). Investigators returned the truck to Fennell six days after the murder, before a full forensic analysis was completed. Soon afterwards Fennell sold the truck to a dealership. There were also no witnesses who could place Reed anywhere near the time and place of the crime scene. Jimmy and Stacey’s shared apartment, the last place Stacey was ever seen alive, was never searched.

Mary Blackwell, a police officer in the Dallas area, was a member of the same police academy class as Fennell. She told the court that Fennell remarked to several class members he would kill his girlfriend by strangling her if she cheated on him. When asked how he would make sure his fingerprints could not be lifted from her neck, Blackwell testified that Fennell said he would use a belt. Stites was found strangled with a belt. In 2008, Officer Jimmy Fennell pleaded guilty to kidnapping and sexual misconduct in an unrelated incident that took place in 2007. The victim in that case has spoken out against Officer Jimmy Fennell and questioned Reed’s guilt. Reed is the subject of the documentary film State vs. Reed, produced by Frank Bustoz and Ryan Polomski. This film is a good starting point to understand this troubling, complex case. The film caused some controversy; however, it has not had an effect on his appeals. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected thosearguments and ruled on January 10, 2014 that Reed’s claim of innocence lacked credibility. Reed was scheduled for a sentencing hearing on July 14, 2014 appearing in Bastrop, Texas before visiting Judge Douglas Shaver. Reed’s conviction and death sentence remain highly controversial.


THEY SOLD ME

NAME: Portia Riggins HEIGHT: 5’7 WEIGHT: 125 TWITTER: @PortiaRi INSTAGRAM: @PortiaRi SNAPCHAT: @PortiaRi FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/PortiaRiggins BUSINESS: #WhatModelsWant MAGAZINES: Modelmayhem.com RAWartists.org oast2coastmixtapes.com iplugdownload.blogspot.com www.purecashmagazine.com


NAME: Portia Riggins HEIGHT: 5’7 WEIGHT: 125 TWITTER: @PortiaRi INSTAGRAM: @PortiaRi SNAPCHAT: @PortiaRi

THEY HANGed ME

FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/PortiaRiggins BUSINESS: #WhatModelsWant MAGAZINES: Modelmayhem.com RAWartists.org oast2coastmixtapes.com iplugdownload.blogspot.com www.purecashmagazine.com

23


I WAS BORN re

NAME: Portia Riggins HEIGHT: 5’7 WEIGHT: 125 TWITTER: @PortiaRi INSTAGRAM: @PortiaRi SNAPCHAT: @PortiaRi FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/PortiaRiggins BUSINESS: #WhatModelsWant MAGAZINES: Modelmayhem.com RAWartists.org oast2coastmixtapes.com iplugdownload.blogspot.com www.purecashmagazine.com


IAM WOMEN NAME: Portia Riggins HEIGHT: 5’7 WEIGHT: 125 TWITTER: @PortiaRi INSTAGRAM: @PortiaRi SNAPCHAT: @PortiaRi FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/PortiaRiggins BUSINESS: #WhatModelsWant MAGAZINES: Modelmayhem.com RAWartists.org oast2coastmixtapes.com iplugdownload.blogspot.com www.purecashmagazine.com

25


LIL FLIP EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW GAME OVER PART T WO

Interview

Written by: DJ SINCERE for DRTYBSMNT MULTIMEDIA


Recently we had a chance to get together with long time platinum selling Texas artist Lil Flip. In this exclusive in-depth interview Lil Flip breaks it down from his beginnings in the game to doing heavy numbers in the streets, his dealings with major labels, present endeavors and a peek behind the curtain of whats to come. This is a must read for anyone trying to understand the “industry”. Enjoy. CM: Welcome to the Drtybsmnt I appreciate you coming through. LF: I appreciate you all having me. CM: Alright man, so let’s get straight into it. I’ve got Lil Flip a real heavy artist, I know all of you should be definitely familiar with our guest. He’s been putting out hot joints for a number of years but let’s get back into the whole history and I guess at the same time there’s going to be a lot of the history of the Texas artists too. I know that after you really, really blew up, there was a lot of situations and a lot of the things that go on with you and the label and I definitely want to go into that and the whole major label verses the independent. LF: Yea well I started out freestyle battling. When we battle, you know we freestyle. You know we battle from just how people battle but I did a whole bunch of battles man and lost like no battles like never, and so from doing that you know I was always on the scene. and I bumped into DJ Screw multiple times because I’m affiliated with the Botney Boys as they stay in the same neighborhood where I come from. You know rolling with them and being affiliated with them DJ Screw call me the freestyle king and we put out so many mixtapes man it’s crazy. We still− I mean the same list of people that buy mixtape from us from the 90’s, I still got their info and I still do business with them to this day. So you know we sold a whole bunch of records independent and we still serve those stores and after that I put out a hit ‘I can do that’ which was on my first independent album called the ‘Leprechaun’. And man we sold like 300,000, when you’ve got double albums they count as two (2) or whatever man so the labels and they were trying to get in touch with us and we held them off. We waited until the album sold another 150,000 copy, so you know what I’m saying?” “And then we started to negotiate with them. We sold 2 million records like before we even found our deal. CM: “So how long were you actually an independent artist doing it on that level before a label came to you?” LF: “I’ve been putting out independent albums since the project that I put out was an EP was like in middle school bro. I went to the same middle school as Too Low, and for a lot of people who don’t know Too Low, he used to rap with Scarface. He’s the rapper from a song called ‘The funky brother’ or ‘The funky little n****’ you know? So we started very young man doing concerts and being in the club at the age of 11 or 12... “Rapping and seeing the world.” CM: What was the game like back then compared to what it is like right now, do you think an artist could come out and do that and have that kind of impact now independently?” LF: “Yea its different artists that have that impact. You know sometimes things work for certain people and it might not work for you but you got a lot of artist that came up like that, like for instance Asap Rocky. Shout out Asap Rocky you know he always showed love for the DJ Screw era so you can tell that his music is influenced by Screw and 3Six Mafia etc. There is a lot of people that started their own movements and you know you’ve got to be self sufficient, you can’t sit and wait for a label to do everything for you and that’s why my contract was so different from anybody else’s. My contract in the game was way better because I had sold all those records before I got my deal”. “Like if you sign a deal with a label and you haven’t sold any records, you can’t go in there with too much leverage and make any demands but in my contract I have cartoon deals, video game deals and it was crazy. I’m the first artist to make a record label pay them for the promo run.” “You know most labels when you sign your deal and you say you are on your promo run, they’ll give you like a little per diem and give you a little bus but they don’t pay you, they want you to do that for free and you know I made them pay me. They wanted me to go on the road for 30 days, well I need $35,000.00.”

27

CM: You said earlier that you had a video game deal in for contract and it kind of clarified something for me, when you did “Game Over” I always wondered how you got away with those video game sounds and nobody came down on you. So that was all a part of your situation?.”


LF: “Yea well, they wanted me to rap to the Pac Man beat. You know I’m a true hip hop head, I’m from the south but I listen to all kinds of music so, Beanie Sigil did him a record. he was rapping on the Pac Man beat. It was on his first album and so I didn’t want to rap over the Pac Man beat because I don’t like copying what other people do.” “But they were begging me to rap on the beat. Like they had the beat for me like two (2) months and they kept begging me man and so I told them if ya’ll want me to rap on it, ya’ll got to pay me. I made them pay me for rapping over the beat. You know? It was $20,000.00 or $30,000.00, one of them.” CM: What do you plan on making another notch in the belt? LF: “Well right now I am promoting my book. I put out a book called ‘Don’t let the music industry fool you’ and I put that book out on 4/20 and its available on kindle and itunes, an audio book and I put a sound track out, I’ve got a cartoon coming along and it’s the same title. At this point man I’ve got a lot of different things going on and I have a management company. I have an MMA fighter named Tony Gwen and I have a boxer as well so I’m just diversifying my portfolio. I’ve been doing music since I was a kid, my relative is Terry Ellis she sang with En Vogue and then one of my uncles, he sang with Archie Bell and the Drells. That was one of the first groups to get a gold record. So I’ve been having music over my household since I was little. I played the drums, I played the piano,I mix my own music, I direct my own videos, edit my own videos, I own a tattoo shop, I sell my own liquor, I’m about to come out with my own champagne etc. So you know I’m just doing a lot of things and I just think that a lot of new artist they don’t really understand the difference in music and just a quick beat you know? And in my music I put live instrumentation, live guitar, live piano, you know bridges and different things. So yea I still do music because I love it. You know it pays me but this year alone I release probably like 15 mixtapes and I do it because it’s like an exercise to me. You know like me getting another studio rapping over all the new stuff that’s out, that makes you a better artist when it comes to rapping on your real stuff because I’m able to rap on any tempo. It don’t matter if it’s a dub step, reggae or if its opera, it don’t matter man so you know I’m just blessed and I don’t take it for granted.” “You know, one of my O.G’s told me that if you can count your money you aint made enough. So I don’t stop working, I don’t look at the score and I don’t care that I sold 23 million albums and 10 million ringtones, that don’t matter to me. I get up every day and I do like four (4) or five (5) songs a day, I still do like 20 beats a week etc., you know I’m blessed man and I don’t take it for granted.”


CM: I’m really glad that you put it out there for the people to hear that because you didn’t put all your eggs in one basket. I didn’t know that you had a liquor and I didn’t know that you were doing certain things so I definitely am glad that you are one of the brothers that can paint a picture and show some of the dudes that is in the industry that’s working towards that same thing to have a goal. So I definitely salute you, keep up the great work. LF: “I appreciate it, it’s like an extra side of you and mainly in hip hop everybody is more focused on how they are looking and what they got. They really don’t focus on the relationship that its people that help you to get from Point A to Point B. And you know you can’t be greedy, you’ve got to spread the wealth. A lot of the people that help me to get to where I am at we’re still alive as they do different things for me and vice versa. So at the end of the day for all the new artist listening, you just got to watch how you treat people man. You can’t go around talking crazy to people because the same people that you talk crazy to might be the program director to you two years later.” CM: What do you think the internet has done as far as the marketing and approach to the game?” LF: “The internet has actually helped some people and it hurt some people but I can tell you it have done more help that hurt because now you have access to shoot a video or try something on your soundcloud or twitter and it goes around the whole world without you having to actually pay somebody to promote your music in France. So it’s kind of like we have got a free network to use to our advantage and it depends on how we use it. Some artist are tape artist and they drop mixtapes and they do a whole bunch of downloads, and then some artist they still do it old school and print some CD’s. Like every mixtape that I do, I put them online as well but I print up to at least 20 to 30 thousand of each mixtape that I do and I make sure that they are in the streets. I give mine away to the fans free and over the years you can see the different things different people that listen to your music like but you know some people like it when you freestyle, some people like it when you do real music, you know some people like you for different reasons. But throughout the years, no matter what label I was on, I never stop collaborating with the underdogs. I told them from the start that these are people that if I feel like an artist want to do a verse with me and the music is dope, and this artist is actually putting forth a real effort taking− you know how you would give somebody a mixtape and the album cover looks super cheap? But when you see the person and they got on nice gear and they got look but they won’t put the money in to get them professionally graphed and professional video? So that’s where I am with my life trying to teach the youths and the people who are older that don’t look at the mirror and blame everybody else for not being where you want to be. You’ve got to put your money in the right place and you’ve got to be a person that comes with something that’s new, don’t be a copycat just go straight, and that’s what I did with my career. I don’t want to be a follower. When everybody is going left or right, I’m going straight.” CM: You said that you came up freestyling, do you follow the different battle leagues? LF: “Definitely, actually next year were starting a battle league. Its gonna be two divisions and one is gonna be strictly freestyle. Yeah so I pay attention to everything and I’m glad to see that battle rappers are starting to get money and exposure. “ CM: Do you have any artists that your working with to bring out, what do you look for in an artist? LF: “Talent is cool but i look for the type of person. I rather have a person that has the right frame of mind, a stand up type of guy cause you can have someone with a lot of talent but have a messed up attitude and at the end of the day that artist can cause you alot of problems and mess up your relationships. A person who doesn’t mind sharing is understanding and has patience. They have to understand music and know history.” “I’ve got this one artist... I can’t say his name until I get the paperwork done but this guy is dope as f***. He a singer, plays all his own instruments. He’s about to give Justin Timberlake a run for his money.” CM: Lil Flip, thank you for your time LF: Thanks for having me.

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Exclusive Interview with: Actress KATLYNN SIMONE (BET “THE GAME”)


KATLYNN SIMONE Committed To The Music And Dancing With Her Dreams By Belinda Trotter James

Can you remember when you got your first big break in life? Was it a dream job or getting a date with your crush. What were you doing in the year 2011? Well, for Katlynn Simone Smith that was the year she landed the role as Brittnay Pitts on the hit BET sitcom, The Game. Most of Katlynn’s fans know her from television however, she is also a singer. In my exclusive interview, Katlynn reveals what is was like growing up in Texas, getting two big breaks in LA and living her dream… Sometimes living your dream means you have to work on your birthday. Katlynn’s birthday happens to be the day before Halloween, but instead of being out partying with the world in costumes, Katlynn will be doing something else. “I actually will be working on my birthday,” says Katlynn. “Yes, I will be in the ATL working”. Don’t feel sorry for the birthday girl because she is probably living out her birthday wish to do exactly what she was born to do and that’s sing. “A lot of people say that sucks, but I think it’s pretty cool”, explains Katlynn. “I will have a cake and it will be nice”. If you’re wondering which came first… the singing or the acting, Katlynn reveals, “The singing came first and the acting came by chance. The acting was kind of like a bridge to get me out of my shyness. My mom didn’t know what to do and she said, ‘Hey let’s try this out,” and I fell in love with it as well.” Katlynn fell so deep in love with acting that she was able to land the role as Megan on the sitcom, The First Family. “The day I moved out to LA I went to an auditioned and I got it!” explains Katlynn. “That doesn’t happen a lot. Things don’t usually move that fast, but it was definitely a good sign.” Katlynn is right things don’t usually move that quickly. Her first big break in acting was for The Game. Her father read about the audition for The Game in LA. They flew to LA for the day to audition and came right back to Houston. It took months before she heard that she did get the part. “While I was working on The Game, I was still living in Houston. I moved to LA a few weeks before my 18th birthday,” explained Katlynn. As Katlynn explained earlier, the day she moved out to LA was when she auditioned for The First Family and nailed it! “That was the first time I had actually moved to LA on my own and it was scary. My family helped me move and my mother stayed for about two months to make sure I was okay. Then she said, ‘I got to go back to work. Please be careful and please be safe’. She comes to visit me every month to make sure I’m okay. Sometimes she even comes unannounced to make sure I’m being good”. We both laughed. I don’t know about Katlynn, but I didn’t want my mother to see what I was up to at 18. Having an unexpected visit from my mom would not be cool. However, Katlynn did not mind at all. “I love it, I love it and she just left today,” says Katlynn. “I was getting kind of lonely so I was glad that she surprised me with a visit”. In both The Game and The First Family she plays a daughter character. So I asked her which character is closest to her own personality? “They both are weirdoes’ in a way,” begins Katlynn. “With Brittany I understand where she’s coming from, but she is very spoiled and she does react not necessarily how I would react in situations. If you watch the show, especially this season that’s coming out, you will begin to see a change in her attitude and I feel like maybe I can see her in myself a little bit more as far as the way she’s handling things now. She’s not necessarily being that rude person anymore that just wants everything to be terrible for everybody. She’s just being a normal human being and letting things go like the divorce and whatever other issues she’s had with from the other characters on the show”.

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“On The First Family I definitely guess I am kind of a nerd,” admits Katlynn. I get told that I’m kind of chilled because I do have a shy side about me. I guess I am a nerd because I love watching sci-fi movies and reading books. I guess that’s the only thing I can relate to that character. They are both very different from me”. Katlynn grew up in Houston, Texas and she said that she loved it. “I think I took it for granted though because in the last four years of high school I kept saying I can’t wait to go to LA, I can’t wait to go to LA and I kept saying it because of the things that I was into not because I just had to get away,” explains Katlynn. “Little did I know I could have stayed because I was still living at home while taping The Game. It was just that flying back-andforth was a lot,” says Katlynn. “I just really wanted to be in the middle of it all. Now that I am out here I love the weather, I love that I can do what I do out here, but I definitely miss the little things of being home like certain types of food. I need some barbecue and crawfish every once in a while. That would be nice. You can’t get that out in LA and I definitely miss being around my family”. Katlynn went to the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts which I’m sure was an amazing experience. I shared with Katlynn that I went to Fashion Industries High School in New York City and it was the best four years of my life. These types of schools are wonderful because it give you a jump-start to think about what you want to do for the rest of your life as a career.


I’m sure Katlynn had the same experience performing and doing what she loves in school. “Yeah before my freshman year started I was homeschooled. I was really into the acting and singing so I really couldn’t go to public school. I was homeschooled my whole life by my mother, but I knew I wanted to go to the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts because my idol Beyoncé went there and I just knew that this thing was going to happen. I knew which high school I wanted to go to and I knew which college I wanted to attend. I just knew which steps I wanted to take at an early age.” Sheesh! Most kids don’t figure that out until a year before it’s time to go to high school, but Katlynn had been preparing for this for years. “For some reason I think it was because I was homeschooled,” says Katlynn. “I had doubts about going to that high school every time I had an audition. I thought maybe they wouldn’t have a football team, maybe they wouldn’t have the dances and all that other stuff I’m going to be missing out on and would not be able to experience, but now I laugh at the fact that I was even second-guessing because those were definitely the best days and the best school ever. I told everybody if they have anything to do with the arts, this school has a fashion department, music, dance and you will love it there.” Katlynn also describes lunchtime as being straight out of the movie “Fame”. For those of you who have never seen the movie “Fame” Katlynn describes what happens everyday around lunchtime... “So people don’t believe me when I say this, but there were many times that... I’m not promoting this, but I would not eat lunch because they would blast the music in the lunchroom and we would dance in the middle of the lunchroom. People would be dancing on the lunch tables, the stairs… everywhere! We would have a dance party every single day. It was hard to eat your lunch because we didn’t have hours for lunch. We had a certain time and we had to go right back to class.” By the way if you’re wondering about the food, the school lunch was good, but dancing was better. I’m thinking that Katlynn just started her career at high school however, she has been acting for a long time and where she lives there is a big theater community. Katlynn would be in rehearsals for plays that would take place during the week and on the weekends. This was one of the reasons why she was homeschooled. It was definitely a big commitment to participate in the theater. “It was hard to do school and be fully committed to being in a play. My mom was very capable of teaching me. She’s an anesthesiologist and I definitely trusted her, but she was definitely harder on me than other teachers. It was a good and bad thing because she was going to make sure that I knew things and I do know a lot of things that I don’t think I would have necessarily known had I gone to public school; she made sure of that.” Her singing career has definitely taking off with her single, “Beautiful Lie” which was played on an episode of The Game. Katlynn wrote the song with Grammy nominated producer/songwriter Cedric “Dabenchwarma” Smith. “That was actually my first single and it was awesome. I really got into that track and I think when people listen to the track they really get into it because it’s just so true and they actually can relate to it because I was writing from things I was actually feeling or heard my friends going through some things at that time. So it was definitely a nice track to do. “Dancing With My Girls” is my newest single and it was a one-day shoot and at the end of the day we decided to do all the dance scenes. Everyone was starting to get tired and the ground was a little wet however, we pulled it together and got it all done. I’m so thankful for everybody that was a part of that production because everybody put in 100%. The director said, ‘I don’t want anything but the best’.” The best is exactly what she got with this single when she wrote it with Grammy nominated songwriters Michaela Shiloh, Christopher “Chrishan” Dotson, Kyle Christopher Coleman, Erika J Culter, Josh Adam and music production from Grammy nominated producer Yonnie.

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“Let Me Go” is the first single she attempted to do when she started working with her manager Danny Jones of the 3 Sixty Music Group. “We got together with a producer out in Houston and when we heard the track, it sounded really dope so I decided to put my voice on it and people loved it,” says Katlynn. “I went on a little tour in LA and people really gravitated to the song. It was like opening up the doors so people could see that I am a singer.” Since Katlynn has been in LA, the concentration is now on getting out an album. She has been working with different writers and producers.

“I have recorded a lot, but now we have to decide putting the best of the best on the EP and making sure that it’s exactly what people want to hear. I really want to make something relatable and that is timeless,” explains Katlynn. I want people to be able to dance or just sit down and listen so that their day can be better. Even if it’s a sad song, anytime someone is talking about something you’re going through it feels good because you feel like you’re not the only one. So now it’s just a process of eliminating and adding right now, but we’re definitely working on the EP.”


Katlynn has worked with some major producers and being a youngster to the industry it could be a little intimidating… “It was a little intimidating, but when I was working with Cedric, I felt really relaxed and comfortable because I look at him like a big brother because he is easy to approach and when I started working with him it was a one-on-one thing,” explains Katlynn. “I did not have a room full of people who were all meeting you at once and waiting to see what you can do. When I came to LA it was different because I was working with people who’s name I heard before and I’m thinking to myself that I have to step up my game.” She goes on to say that producers would invite people to the sessions and there would be all these other writers who have worked with all these producers so of course, it would be a little intimidating. “I felt a little scared about the writing part because I felt my writing wouldn’t be on par and then with my singing I felt, ‘Oh my, these people have worked with Brandy and Beyoncé and oh my goodness...’ I talked to my dad about it and he always said, “If you mess up, mess up loud and mess up believing in it. So that’s what I’m going to do from now on. I’m going in there believing in it and knowing what I’m doing is what I can do.” When writing a song the average person may think that you can listen to the track at your leisure and think of the words to go with it. However, that is not how the world of the songwriter works. “When I first came out here I thought that’s how it worked as well,” says Katlynn. “I would ask if they could send me the track and I could write at home and come back, but that’s not how it works. However, I really do like the process because it’s more genuine when you are right there and you just do it. Usually you will hear a couple of different tracks and we’ll just put our hands in the air and say, ‘This is the track we want to write to.’ I think the process is better that way instead of just getting one track and you have to stick with it. Listening to a bunch of tracks and getting the one that feels good to you; that’s the one you pick and usually the melody just comes naturally and based on how the music sounds you know what to write about.... When you hear the melody you will know if it sounds like a dance song or sounds like a love song or a ‘No boy, I don’t want you anymore’ song. Is not that hard.” Not hard! That sounds like major pressure to just come up with words to a melody on the spot with the producer and his posse watching every move you make. What happens if you get writer’s block? “Yes that definitely happens and it is scary the first couple of times, but you get used to it because it’s not necessarily like a freestyle rap,” says Katlynn. “Now I don’t know if I could ever do that. So many great rappers are out here in LA who have to come up with these clever things instantly.” With all the pressure of being a singer, songwriter and actress, she actually finds time to go to college. “I’ve been taking classes pretty slow because of everything I’m working on however, I should be finishing my sophomore year after the holidays. My major is in theater and political science. I’ve always been interested in journalism, but then I ended up changing it to political science,” explains Katlynn. “I figured it’s better to know what you’re talking about. I want to know exactly what the world is going through and be able to talk about it.” “The Game” will be coming back for its last two seasons soon so make sure to watch Katlynn doing her thing on the show. “There will be a lot of exciting things happening,” reveals Katlynn. “There are a lot of things that will change the direction of the show. I am also working on the album so I will be having a lot of new music coming out.” Keep up with Katlynn on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/KatlynnSimone and get Dancing With My Girls on iTunes now!! https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/dancing-with-my-girls-single/id923097412

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