So FN Dope Magazine Issue 15

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® FOUNDERS / Editors in Chief


hat’s good! Thank you for your interest in So FN Dope® Magazine. We are a fairly new magazine based on the West Coast looking to make an impact in the entertainment industry by highlighting music, performance, and the entrepreneurial spirit of independent artists, all across the country. Our staff constantly spends countless hours scouring for dope content to feature including, but not limited to, new music, music videos, artwork, interviews, comedy, models, live performances, photographers and bloggers. In other words, we are always looking for new content for our digital magazine as well as our website. It is going to take dope independent artists like you to help build our brand, but it will also take magazines like us to give indie artists a platform to be heard. We would love to feature your music, videos, mix-tapes, photography, artwork, as well as set up interview arrangements for future issues of So FN Dope® Magazine. Let’s work together and leave our mark on the industry to show the world why we are So FN Dope®!

DISCLAIMER: Here at So FN Dope® Magazine, we have done our best to provide content that is up to date and correct. However, changes may have occurred since the content was submitted that may affect the accuracy of this issue for which So FN Dope® Magazine holds no responsibility. The views and opinions of our contributors are not necessarily shared with So FN Dope® Magazine or its staff nor are we liable for their views and opinions or how they may be interpreted.



Walter Michael Welch Jr. Corey Norwood Sr.


Axum SENECAWILSON.COM Turn On Your Light The Art Of War for Creatives JB & Benny Blue Review The Makeover Paris Mixed Behavior Caravan Film Crews Shadow Promotions S.T.A.B.L.E.



Berkley The Artist LaShonda Schofield Darien Dorsey OMI

GUEST WRITERS Chayo Briggs Queen Ke Teddy Labissiere


CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Scott Schatek Bart Pajak Katherine Denise Johnson Dragon Photography Cameron Perry Louis Bryant III

Prostock-studio/ Adobe Stock Photo by: Robert / Adobe Stock Photo by: Kosim / Adobe Stock




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BLACK, BROWN, and BITCOIN In this article we take a closer look at today’s crypto currency market to get a better understanding of its functionality, uses, and to see why it may actually be beneficial for people of color to invest their money in Bitcoin. BERKLEY THE ARTIST Check out our exclusive interview with Berkeley the Artist as we talk about his life’s journey through music as a singer in New Orleans, Louisiana. LASHONDA SCHOFIELD Check out our interview singer/songwriter and owner of 3Oh!9 Music Group as we find out why there are “No Grown Boys Allowed” when she is around. RELATIONSHIP BOUNDARIES In this article, Chayo Briggs stresses the importance of setting boundaries in relationships and why it is necessary to sometime draw a line in the sand in order to maintain a healthy functioning relationship with others.

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DOPE QUOTES Dive into some inspirational quotes both the past and present from some very influential people in entertainment.

DARIEN DORSEY Check out our interview with this talented singer/ songwriter as we talk about his musical contributions to some of the industry’s most recognized artists as well as his new EP 19SeventyFree.

OMI International Pop singer OMI is back on the scene with new music. Check out our exclusive interview with him as we talk about his creative process as an artist and how he is getting back to his Jamaican roots with his latest project. NIA AMBER South Florida native Nia Amber is bringing some HEAT back to Miami with hot record “Swing My Way”.








LaShonda Schofield page




Letter From the Founders

Trying Times


ithout a doubt this has definitely been the single most challenging year to date for So FN Dope Magazine. With everything happening in the world, coupled with social distancing, shutdowns, reopening, and then more shutdowns, I am sure we have all experienced how difficult it has become to have that connection with others that we all crave. You may have noticed that we, like many other businesses decided to take some time off to fall back and regroup during the pandemic. We wanted to ensure that we had the best opportunity to give quality content to our audience for our upcoming issues. We sincerely thank you all for your patience and support during our regrouping phase and as we worked to develop better ways to facilitate content to you all. Please be on the lookout for many exciting new additions to our platform coming in 2022.

® In the meantime, for issue fifteen we really wanted to put together an incredibly special Singer/Songwriter issue for our audience. This issue is filled with extremely talented artists. We are glad to have had the honor to interview several singer/songwriters, each with his or her own unique contributions to the music game. From the futuristically retro sounds of Darien Dorsey to soulful vocals performers like Berkley the Artist and LaShonda Schofield, to the rhythmic island vibes of Jamaican Pop star OMI, this issue is sure to keep you on your toes with great interviews and even better music. We certainly hope you will enjoy this issue as much as we have enjoyed putting it together for you. Please continue to be safe out there, and as always, Be Fly… Be Original… Be So FN Dope!

ISSUE # 15



WWW.SOFNDOPEMAGAZINE.COM Corey Norwood Sr. Co-Founder So FN Dope Magazine

Walter M. Welch Jr. Co-Founder So FN Dope Magazine






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Article by Chayo Briggs

What people of color need to know about cryptocurrency investing.

Hi, my name is Teddy Kareem. I am like your magic 8 ball for crypto questions. I have been investing in Cryptocurrencies since January of 2017. I have millions of coins. I have lost money, and made money in the crypto market like many other early investors in the space. My losses can be entirely your gain if you take a few minutes to read this article. Before we get started, I would like to make two true statements: This is not financial advice (unless you are going to split your earnings with me). I MUST leave so many key details out because this is an article, not a book, and it would produce more questions than answers. Please forgive me if it is not as “techy” as you would like. I know what you are thinking: “Teddy, what the hell is this magic internet money for nerds and terrorists doing at $50,000? How come the government didn’t ban it yet? And how can I buy some?” I get it. There has been a lot of misinformation about crypto over the last 11 years. Many people speak on this subject, and have done very little research, regurgitate hearsay to sound smart, or flat out lie for whatever reason

they have. When I first got into the space, I listened to people who sounded reasonable, because I did not understand how they were wrong. It cost me money. In an effort to save you the pain of losing your hard-earned dollars, let’s address some actual facts about Bitcoin: Bitcoin is not the first cryptocurrency, but was created in 2009, by a person/ group/organization called “Satoshi Nakamoto.” There have been other attempts at making money for the internet. They typically involved a central authority over it. The people who attempted to do this were raided by law enforcement every single time, and around the world. When Satoshi Nakamoto created it, he/ she/they/it decided not to reveal their identity, and also created it in a way that it did not need a governing authority. The network that facilitates the operations of the currency is decentralized (no one controls it) and autonomous. It will continue to do what it does without anyone’s involvement, and in perpetuity. Bitcoin cannot be hacked....well it can, but the technology that needs to exist


Article by Teddy Labissiere

isn’t here yet to hack it, and it would still cost many billions of dollars to do. Even if Bitcoin was hacked, the community can vote to split the blockchain and reset the hack, and then create a defense mechanism to prevent it from recurring. It would be a devastating blow to the market, but by no means would destroy it...only a solar flare destroying all electronics in the world, or shutting down the internet globally and permanently could do that. Your banks and credit bureaus are hacked almost every day, just FYI. No one controls bitcoin. No government, no military, no entity, no corporation, no bank, no individual, no group controls bitcoin. Not even the illuminati, the FBI, the CIA, not China, not North Korea, not Elon Musk, not Diddy or Jay Z, not even Satoshi Nakamoto. Whatever bitcoin you have in your wallet is yours. No one can take it away from you. You have to type in your code and send it to someone. No one even knows that it is yours. You do not need a social security number, or even a name to get a bitcoin wallet. You can just download exodus, or bitpay, or a


Photo by: Prostock-studio / Adobe Stock

number of bitcoin wallets to set one up. They are just apps. Your wallet is just a series of letters and numbers that only you have access to. Much like what President Barack Obama said, “Bitcoin... is like having a Swiss Bank account in your pocket.” You right, brother. “Ok, so get to the part about black and brown people.” Ok, let’s take it there. Here is a disclaimer: If you like, the status quo of people of color in the world and especially in the US or Europe, then you’re not going to like this part. Historically, the people who have printed the money have had the power to oppress. That’s almost always been the government, and the governments have used their power to coin money and pen laws to almost always empower white people. Yes, you’re right, not ALL white peo

ple. Can you let me finish now? I want you to try, to imagine in a wild fantasy, disconnected from reality, using all your creative life force to muster up the mental capacity needed to fathom a time when these governments have printed too much money. I mean so much money that the money they have been printing is now worthless...because if you woke up today, that’s the time you are living in. Rich people (who are mostly white) have taken notice of this. They have been watching this for a while now. They are unsure what to do. Their wealth is in US dollars. They are wondering about their savings, their pensions, their retirement funds, their 401ks and Roth IRAs, living trusts, and all kinds of things that hold money. Now that money is plummeting in value like a meteor crashing down to earth, disintegrating the closer it gets to

the bottom. They want to put it in real estate, but that market has to crash soon. They know that stocks are inflated because of all the money printing and stock buybacks. They know that--”OK what that got to with black and brown people bro?” Bruh, lemme finish. Damn. You are used to a federal, state, and local government making all kinds of wild and egregious violations against you without any punishment. Every now and then, someone is fired for something they should have got jail time for, and every now and then, someone gets put in jail... for a little while. Bitcoin can stop that from happening. But like not right away, but at some point. You see, we claim this old saying to police officers who are in the middle of doing us wrong, or politicians who aren’t backing up



FINANCE Photo by: Kosim / Adobe Stock

their campaign promises: “We pay your salary.” ...yeah...kind of. Actually, we don’t really pay it. Most municipalities are not collecting enough tax revenue to run government. They rely on federal money to be issued to them to do that. Federally, alot of people do not pay income tax. Much of the income tax that comes in is spent on social security, Medicare, income security, Medicaid, veteran benefits and services and a measly 3.2% of the mandatory spending is spent on...whatever. Where do they get this money from to give to Local Municipalities? Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr... that’s how you spell the sound of money printing. Hence, we are in this deficit that never stops growing. Think about it: How can a money printer lend someone money, and then expect them to get money back to them? Where do they get the money from? The money printer! ...yeah read that again. They do not need to do right by you. They do not need you to pay taxes. They get Fed money. They’ve been getting “stimmies” for a cool minute now y’all. They do not need to serve you because they do not need your tax dollars. Imagine if a McDonalds was run the way police departments are run...that could never happen,

because the McDonalds would not make any money. Now imagine if McDonalds could just get printed money handed to them. Why would they care about the job they do? Do yourself a favor and look at the yelp rating for your local police department. If it is higher than three stars, Congratulations you have got men and women in blue that probably do their job or you live in a community that is not black and brown. “I’m about to stop reading if you don’t get to the Bitcoin and colored people part.” Ok, chill. Bitcoin makes the money printer worthless. You can’t print bitcoin. Yes, there’s “Mining”... which is not printing, and no one can control how much they mine or how many bitcoins they can mine from the network. It is already predesignated by the network. There is 21 million Bitcoin that will ever exist. There will be no more made after that. The last Bitcoin will be mined in 2140 according to the network law. Yup, in 100 years. There’s 21 million total, 3 million left in the network, 6 million that is lost forever because nerds and terrorists was playing too much when it was worth nothing($.0008) back in the day. The top 10 wallets have 4 million bitcoin in it, and that leaves 41,999,990 Bitcoin wallets (Accounts on the blockchain) that have to split the remaining 8 million Bitcoin. We are not counting PayPal that buys 900 a day, or square that buys 2000 a week.... Yeah, I’m talking about Bitcoins not Dollars. So there is actually way less than 8 million Bitcoin available. If the world


“There is 21 million Bitcoin that will ever exist. There will be no more made after that.”


Photo by: Robert / Adobe Stock

“Eighty percent of the world currencies are backed by the US dollar.” started using Bitcoin for transactions, the dollar would weaken exponentially faster than printing it, but the value of the bitcoin we would be using would grow exponentially faster than its current market growth. Eighty percent of the world currencies are backed by the US dollar. If black and brown folks bought just a little bit of Bitcoin, like...$10, $50, or $100 a month, we could own large portions of this finite and scarce asset... as a people. If you think that President Joey B can just keep printing money all

the time and it would be all-good then ignore everything you read here in this article. I got nothing for you. But if you see the writing on the wall, and can do basic math, or have a rudimentary understanding of economics...then you may want to start investing in the new currency. As the value of it rises, so does the value of our portfolios. If we can hold on long enough (5-10 years), I expect we will see an extremely high price for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, we will have the power to reinvest that into our communities or better yet build new ones. Since no one can take

your bitcoin from you whether by repossessing it or garnishing it, tax will be highly voluntary. I advise us all to pay our appropriate taxes. However, when there is a voluntary tax system in place, those who get our tax-bitcoin are going to have to listen to us. We will pay their salaries. They can no longer print it. I advise you to do your own research before making any financial decisions. You can hit me up for questions on twitter: @teddykareem I also have a Crypto YouTube Channel called “Caravan Crypto.”

Photography: Evan Doheny SUMMER 2021- SOFNDOPEMAGAZINE.COM -


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New Orleans has always been known for its rich musical history and its host of talented musicians, but this next artist from The City truly has something special. He is a man that wears many hats, from Vocal Coaching to university professor, to Television Show Contestant and performer. He seems to have done it all. We are honored to have had the pleasure to interview him about his life and his journey in music. Check out our interview with Berkley the Artist.

Photography: Griff Griffin


FEATURED Photography by: Dragon Photography




FEATURED FND MAG: Mr. Berkley, we want to first thank you for interviewing with So FN Dope Magazine. We are definitely glad to have you. How have you been?

BERKLEY: I’m happy to share this time with you all. What a year! It’s like a warpzone or something! But, it seems like we’ve made it over into a new world and I’m glad I made it! Crazy times though. SFND MAG: We’ve seen and heard of you on the West Coast, but one of our founders, Corey Norwood, said he went to high school with you. So you’re from New Orleans? Guess I’m supposed to ask you what ward you from?…[LAUGHS] BERKLEY: Yes, Corey and I went to McDonogh #35 Sr. High School in New Orleans. We are from a very proud heritage. Our high school was the first public African American High School in New Orleans. Our school motto was “ A choice; not an echo.” As you can see, I’m still devoted to the excellence we were taught! It was there that I began to really grow as an artist and young person with high hopes and big dreams. I’ve never wanted anything regular. I’m from a part of town called Gentilly. It’s the 8TH ward. SFND MAG: How was it growing up in such a musically complex city? What I mean by complex is, New Orleans is well known for Jazz as well as Bounce Music, two totally different ends of the spectrum. How has the music of your city shaped you into the artist you have become or has it? BERKLEY: New Orleans’ music is only complex when experiencing it from the outside. For us, it’s all the same music. Jazz, Bounce, Brass, Second Line, Gospel, R&B and even Classical. The thing that is complex is who is making it; enjoying it a certain type of New Orleans people sing and play jazz versus the ones that do second line music. I grew up in a very musical family. My dad’s side of the family were working musicians, choir directors, organists and singers. My grandmother played piano for our church and had the best soprano voice you’ve ever heard. Like Sarah Vaughn and Sarah

Jordan Powell. My father’s voice and way of performing shaped a lot of my musical taste. He is what we call in the classical world a Basso Profundo. I sat behind him in our choir stand every Sunday watching the people respond to his preaching and singing. Learning. Growing. On my mother’s side there was a different type of refinement. Disciplined and finely dressed performances were praised and encouraged. My mother saw to it that I was reared in piano lessons, children’s choirs and play rehearsals. We’d watch Star Search together on Saturday nights and enjoy the red carpets before award shows. For me, there was no complexity at all. Just goals. SFND MAG: Berkley your sound is so eclectic and refreshing with heavy gospel undertones. Aside from your father, who are your musical influences? BERKLEY: Whenever I sing there is one person who constantly appears in my heart. Whitney Houston. It was the “God” feeling in her voice and the approach of her notes, phrases and mannerisms that invigorated me. Growing up in a strict home, I used to sneak and listen to her music. Tevin Campbell and Alanis Morrissette. Then I’d also be harmonizing with my brother and sister to Phantom of the Opera and Fiddler on the Roof. Our home was extremely musical! When my mother enrolled me in the New Orleans Children’s Choir, I was the only black boy in the choir at that time. I felt the pressure to be amazing; which personally think is good for some children. At one point, my mom said to me “If you’re going to be a musician you have to be great at every part of it.” That stuck in my head and I wanted to make her proud and impress my father. So, I took it very seriously. I studied at Dillard University for undergrad and learned all that I could about my instrument. If there was some sound or style that I couldn’t replicate, I’d become obsessed in learning it. Secretly, I always had a sense of needing to know more! I’m sort of a nerd in that way. I’ll watch documentaries about an artist so I can pinpoint where their style was birthed. Then I’ll feel as if I really knew the artist and what they were really going through. It gave me a sense of connection to someone great. Someone that over-


came something terrible. I needed that feeling. One day, I believe people will study me too. I honestly do. SFND MAG: Speaking of gospel you were in the top 10 of BET’S Sunday Best some years back, how was that experience and what did you learn during that process? BERKLEY: This experience of being thrusted into the spotlight because of a television show was the best thing that could happen. Here’s the deal. I had no desire to be on Sunday Best. I’d watch the show and loved the singing but I just didn’t want to be seen as Gospel artist, only. I love Gospel music the most, but I was never really accepted in that circle. Either I was too “worldly, white, or weird.” I can laugh about it now, but back then those opinions really shook me because I loved the people of the church world. Everything I understood about people was shaped by this community. So when I made it on to the show and did well I was devastated when certain church wouldn’t allow me to sing at them. It was tough. I began pulling away from the church music world all together. Not because I didn’t love them. They just didn’t love me. It’s ten years later and I just started being a singer in the church again. Life is a dance and you just have to keep dancing before the rhythm strikes you just right. I’m confident and strong in myself these days, so I can handle heat when it shows up. SFND MAG: Berkley, how do you balance everything? After researching, I feel like you are a million different people… [LAUGHS] Berkley the Vocal Coach, Berkley the Musical Director, Berkley the Professor, Berkley of Water Seed, Berkley the Artist. Is it difficult for you to find a balance? BERKLEY: When I think of my family, I think of busy people. Growing up in New Orleans I witnessed people do a lot of things. You’d have several odd jobs, organizations you were a part of, types of people you’d share time with and so on. So, it comes as no new notion that I too, would be a busy man. Currently I am a professor of Pop/Commercial Music at Loyola University. Every day I walk onto

FEATURED Photography: D’artagnion Winford

“For me, there was no complexity at all. Just goals.” --Berkley the Artist



FEATURED Photography by: Katherine Denise Johnson

“We equally take part in this society where we are sold synthetic as natural; thereby, the art imitates our behavior.” --BERKLEY THE ARTIST

this campus and into my office, I am in awe of what God can do. As a Black boy in New Orleans, I learned, very young, that St. Charles Ave. is where the rich, White people live and socialize. Many of my relatives would clean houses in this part of town only two generations ago. Can you imagine how I walk onto this majestic, red-brick campus? DIGINIFIED! Yes, I am often contracted as a musical and creative director for artists that Photography: are ready toGriff elevate their creative Griffin production. This is actually one of my


favorite parts of producing artists, including myself. For instance, the project I am working on now is coming along nicely. My sister, Margaret Anne has been writing with me and our chemistry is a blessing because we really know one another. I have a great guy named Nick Mercadel, producer, who is bringing my ideas to life in the studio and onstage as my musical director. It’s all about the energy. Believe me, that vibe will make everything natural. After achieving two Billboard charting albums together,

Water Seed fired me. I was hurt because I really loved them. That’s show business. Up and downs. SFND MAG: I feel we live in a lazy society where it’s easier to copy than to create; a society where people except imitation faster than innovation. For those young artists that feel the only way they can get on is by conforming to what the musical norms are what advice would you give them?

FEATURED BERKLEY: This is a great question and a strong claim. I’ll do my best to address it honestly and wisely. I see today’s society as a drug. It can be used for so many different functions. The openness, data and lack of labels can be used as a corrective tool from decades of bigotry, discrimination and manipulation. However, it also lends to a lack of discipline, instant gratification and entitlement. We equally take part in this society where we are sold synthetic as natural; thereby, the art imitates our behavior. Do I enjoy this? Sometimes. We all know fast food isn’t good for us but we all like it. Sometimes. There are things about modern music and art that I really love as far as the production, the sound, the process and the culture! It reminds me that there are still new things being birthed. Artists will always look to others to find themselves until they find themself. This is what makes an artist see, hear, create and find what is not there and bring it to fruition. You are blessed if you are an artist but you are fortunate if you receive from an artist. So my advice is to just go ahead and explore. To every young artist that I come across I wish them well in their journey. There will be mistakes and failures brought upon them because of ego or even compassion but even still; go. Play. Play until it feels better. SFND MAG: You lived in L.A. for a while correct? Los Angeles can be a gift and a curse if you don’t have the proper guidance, how did you navigate LA LA LAND? BERKLEY: I did live in L.A. for seven years. Just saying it makes me feel the electricity of Hollywood. Tinseltown. My story is beautiful. My L.A. story was beautiful. Truthfully, I was led to CA by a strong spiritual life. I was meditating and praying. Reading and writing affirmations each day too. It was then that I knew it was time to go. So, I packed up my life in three suitcases, put $300 in the bank, filled up my heart with the promises of God and flew to Los Angeles. I transformed into the man I was destined to be. There are no regrets to any of my experiences there because everything was intentional, for me. Lots of knowledge

was dropped on me about the entertainment industry. I had to shed a lot things that were holding me back, such as, being afraid of success. Additionally, I was protected from crazy ass situations because I was raised with good morals. Anything can happen there. I’ve seen people become stars over night as well as those who had been in the game for decades. It can be fun and crazy at the same time but I was in a good fortune bubble so the hard times were definitely worth it. SFND MAG: We couldn’t help but notice that your name is tied to the credits of some pretty notable people Tisha Campbell being one, when we google searched y’all name together all type of Xen Lounge videos pop up! How did that friendship blossom? BERKLEY: I met Tisha Campbell in 2013. I swear this is the craziest story but it really happened this way. At the top of the year, I decided that I was going to fast throughout February. No drinks, no sex, no nothing. It was the hardest month ever. My prayer was that God would do something spectacular in my life; something I couldn’t do on my own. It was so specific. Some friends and I were going out to a club in Studio City that night and I really wanted to look good. Plus, my fast had ended that day and I was ready to party. When I opened the car door, a leopard handkerchief (that I had been looking for) fell out the car onto the ground. I stuffed it into my suit jacket’s pocket and let it plume. We finally arrived to this vibey and somewhat swanky lounge and grabbed one of the booths. Enters the legendary Tisha Campbell and she walks up to our table and says, “Hi, I’m Tisha. Welcome to Xen Lounge.” She looked at me and said, “Oh, I already know you’re a singer from that handkerchief.” The rest is history. We became good friends from that day. That was a God moment for both of us. I’ve learned a lot from her willingness to share and I’ve been able to be a loyal friend to someone that is deeply human outside of being famous. SFND MAG: We’ve spoken to other artist from New Orleans and they’ve used the

terms “crab in a barrel mentality” when it comes to support in New Orleans. Have you experienced the lack of support in your city and if so how do you handle it? BERKLEY: I feel as if New Orleans is the most special place on Earth! The people are rich like good soil. To really love and know New Orleans is a challenge. We are a group of folks that have big dreams, big hearts and big sorrow too. So, one can say that the hurt gets in the way of the blessing sometimes. Like any city, there are those who celebrate your success and inventions but equally there are folks who can’t stand it. We are no different than any place or time in the world. Maybe it’s different because New Orleans people, we don’t really hold our tongue. We speak on what we feel, and we don’t care who hears it or cares about it. I literally laughed to myself as I said that because I do it too. SFND MAG: Not to put you in a box, but I know every artist has a lane. What would you classify yourself as when speaking about genres? BERKLEY: I am an artist so any type of music that feels good and sounds good is my favorite. But for the American public, we enjoy labels on art. So, I’d constitute my sound as American Soul-Pop with a Black Gospel root. SFND MAG: We see you have a new project “The Frank Album” tell us about it? Is Never Never Land apart of this project? I love the song and video for Never Never Land by the way! BERKLEY: The Frank Album is what I’m making right now. It’s the album that I’ve decided to go back to my roots. Interestingly, as I’ve been researching my musical and artistic beginnings, I’ve found that they are incredibly vast. Gospel, R&B, Jazz and Classical music seem to be a natural part of my early years but equally, I LOVE pop music throughout the decades. At first, I wanted to narrow down a sound, but it made me feel like I was lying! So, when this album is finished you will get so much truth from me musically, lyrically and emotionally that I hope it



FEATURED frees the world. Frees me too. That’s all I can say about it right now. I’m not rushing it all. I’ve been finding my groove and the best group of partners to carry out this mission. There are so many types of collaborators with many perspectives of the world from race to sexuality and religion. Now, we add love to that mix, and we’ll see what the music says. I’ve been recording in new places too. That’s always a treat. This one space called Neutral Sound Studios has the coolest vibe. I did record Never Never Land there with a bunch of phenomenal musicians and artists. There are some pics and videos floating out there from that session. It was magic. Then we did the video and I reached out to my friend Tamika Jett, she’s the choreographer for Big Freedia, and said “I wanna dance!” We started practicing in front of the Mercedes Benz Superdome every morning to capture the energy of big rewards and big stakes. SFND MAG: You have been in the game for a while now but yet you are still so new. What should old supports anticipate and new supporters expect from Berkley “the solo artist”? BERKLEY: I’ve been preparing and practicing for my whole life as it relates to music and the arts. That’s the way I was raised. When the “Big Moment” arrives, I’ll be ready. I’m so grateful for supporters and fans who have been with me throughout the evolution of my life and the art I share. I try to be real with you all. I try to be real with myself too. This time around, you will receive a very confident and free version of Me! I know who I am, I’ve overcome some rough shit! I made it through the fire, and I know how I want to be loved now. So, the music is very fun, very sexy, very memorable. I think this is the sexiest music I’ve ever made, and it turns me on in every way. I’m not going to lie; I’m feeling myself. Unapologetically. SFND MAG: On another note, we saw that you beat COVID19 , It feels weird to say it like that but COVID has been and still is taking people out. Tell us about ® your experience. What were your symptoms? How did you handle the physical and emotional isolation and did it take a toll on you mentally? How has it has

changed your perspective on things?

show on HBO! Watch and see.

BERKLEY: My joke is to say “I was in the pilot edition of COVID.” When it hit me in early March of 2020, we didn’t know much about it or how it worked. It was life changing because I almost died. For forty-two days, I spent my life inside of the house in various forms of pain and then finally freedom. It was a reformation for my life. If you’ve ever been through a life threating moment you will more than likely leave changed because you have to make a choice on how you will live if you stay alive! Lying on my bathroom floor with vomit all over me and hallucinations side by side with reality gave me a beautiful understanding that God is my only judge. From that moment of him giving me the strength to stand, get to the door for the ambulance, and be taken to the hospital; I thank Him. It was then that I knew my life doesn’t belong to anyone else’s opinions. Just mine. This is where this new sense of true self has derived from. I saw the other side and I want to finish all of my dreaming before I leave this place called Life. I want to sing. I want to love and be loved. I want to thrive!

SFND MAG: Well Mr. Berkley things certainly seems like they have come full circle for you! What is next for you as a solo artist?

SFND MAG: Tell us a little about this book “How I Got Over… The Red Sofa”! Was it inspired from your encounter with COVID? Where can our readers find it ? BERKLEY: A friend of mine begged me to write an article for a newspaper about what my experience with Covid had been like. I was reluctant. My mom, sister and an aunt told me to do the same thing. “Journal your experiences!” I heard them say it every day. One day I just started writing my story and then I’d put it up on Facebook. Little did I know that hundreds of people were reading them and then asking for daily updates. That gave me the courage and excitement to keep writing! Eventually, I had collected enough excerpts to combine them into my book “How I Got Over; The Red Sofa.” I took the advice of Twinkie Byrd, legendary casting director, and published it on Amazon. It became a best new seller for about two weeks. I had no idea that this is how my first book would come about! Currently I’m working it into a screenplay and then I’m going to get my


BERKLEY: The circle of life is a real thing! What goes around really does come around. I believe this album and my new music is going to do very well. The music coming out of me these days is transformative and fun! I see a television show in my future and I also believe that I will land a major world tour soon. These are my goals and affirmations each day. Oh yes, I’d like Oprah and I to become friends. I have so much to share with her. I want to speak on one of her Super Soul Sundays to talk about how my life has been a miracle and hopefully inspires others to go after every dream in confidence. SFND MAG: Last question before we let you go. Can you tell us another artist you feel is So FN Dope and why? BERKLEY: One particular artist that I think you’d love to investigate is Chanel Haynes Schwartz. Let me tell you something… she inspires me! Look her up. I promise it will not disappoint you. SFND MAG: Once again, thank you so much Berkley for interviewing with us. It has been a pleasure .We definitely wish you much continued success!

“I want to sing. I want to love and be loved. I want to thrive!” --BERKLEY THE ARTIST

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When it comes to R&B, this next artist lives and breathes it. Heavily influenced by the sultry sounds of the eighties and nineties she has managed to develop her own style that is not only soulful and energetic, but also imaginative and heartfelt. In addition to her passion for music she is also the owner of her own record label entitled 3 OH! 9 Music Group. Check out our exclusive interview with singer, songwriter and executive, LaShonda Schofield.



Photography by: Cameron Perry





FND MAG: LaShonda! How are you? We want to thank you for interviewing with us. We are definitely glad to have you and we are so pleased we were able to make this possible: Tell us where you are from and how you started in the music industry?

Photography by: Cameron Perry

LASHONDA: I was born in Valdosta, Georgia. While I spent several years in Ettrick and Richmond VA, my formative to adult years were spent in Prince Georges County Maryland. At age 19, I was discovered and managed by the famous flautist Bobbi Humphrey. While she marketed me to various record labels, I also began crafting songs for her artist at the time, Ryan Toby. Ryan would later go on to become one of most influential songwriters in R&B music. During that season of my music career, I did not get signed and eventually Bobbi and I parted ways. I did not get discouraged though. I continued to write and demo songs. I used my hiatus to hone my craft—to further develop myself. SFND MAG: That’s what’s up! What is the music scene like in Houston, right now? LASHONDA: Like many cities across the country, the Houston music scene was in hibernation, but it is slowly but surely showing signs of waking up. While some venues are opening their doors, the capacity size will look considerably different, I’m sure. On Sunday’s, you can find me jamming with my brothers and sisters at the Gumbo Jam—an improv funk jam session. I love it because I can freestyle with a full live band. SFND MAG: For the last year or so, the music industry has had to make some major adjustments due to the Pandemic and Covid -19 restrictions. Many would say that being an independent artist has its advantages and disadvantages. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of the pandemic that you have experienced so far as an independent artist? LASHONDA: I like to think of 2020 as the BIG reset button. During the early stages of the pandemic, I sat down to

map out what I wanted to accomplish in music for the year. Since everyone in the world was ordering music equipment at the same time, I had to wait a little bit for my stuff to arrive. But when it finally did, I empowered myself and began writing songs. The first song from that timeframe was “No Grown Boys Allowed”. With the assistance of my engineer, I worked through the disadvantage of not have an engineer by my side and learned how to use Logic Pro to record my vocals for the song. SFND MAG: Let’s shift gears a bit and talk about some of your music. We just checked out your latest single to “No Grown Boys Allowed” ... Such a dope record…Give us the details on how that record came about?


LASHONDA: One Saturday morning, I was driving to Dallas, Texas for a photoshoot while listening to relationship expert, Tony Gaskins “Grown Boy Tactics” video on YouTube and instantly got inspired by the message to protect women from men that are not serious about promoting healthy romantic relationships. SFND MAG: We basically been playing your joints all week! You got a really dope style and a beautiful voice. Growing up, who would you say are some of your major influences in R&B? LASHONDA: I’m a woman inspired by the 80s and 90s grooves of R&B, Pop, Rock. I tell people my mom was MTV,

FEATURED Photography by: Cameron Perry




Photography by: Cameron Perry


FEATURED my dad was BET, and my cousins were Video Soul, Vh1 and Midnight Love”. I am a hybrid with diverse styles and genres that are a part of my musical DNA. I grew up listening to Phyllis Hyman, Anita Baker, Angela Winbush, Atlantic Starr, Sade, Lisa Keith, Midnight Starr. These artists have influenced me greatly. SFND MAG: Obviously, you have been putting in so much work. What is the single most important thing that you have learned over the years that has helped you in the industry? LASHONDA: I’ve learned that you have to be your own cheerleader and believe in yourself. Validation is not my sole motivation for being a singer/songwriter. I am a singer/songwriter because it is my life purpose. I enjoy creating music for people to enjoy. It brings me so much joy! SFND MAG: Can we expect a new album any time soon? If so, what is the name of the project and when can we expect to hear it? LASHONDA: I’m currently putting the finishing touches on my first EP titled

Salt and Sugar. My first project will be a hybrid of various sounds that encompass R&B, Pop, Deep Soul House, and Afrobeat vibes. It’s my labor of love to my fanbase. SFND MAG: What producers / artists are you working with currently and who would you like to work with in the future?

am. Authenticity is key in everything you do. SFND MAG: When you’re not creating your own music, what other artists do you listen to now? LASHONDA: Right now, I am listening to H.E.R. and Daniel Caesar. They are great talents.

LASHONDA: I’m working with Atlanta producers, Christopher and Conrad Rosser; Kameron Brewer and Maurice Willis; Von Vargas and Darren Saunders from Baltimore, Maryland. SFND MAG: There is a lot of mixed feelings now over the direction that R&B music is going in. Many argue that the true R&B sound is fading out as it fuses with Hip-Hop & Pop and that industry is ultimately being manipulated by money and internet popularity. What are your thoughts on this subject? LASHONDA: I think the industry is chasing the formula that they believe works in light of the pandemic. I think everything sounds the same. I love that new artists are slowly introducing unique sounds that feel true to them. I know I

SFND MAG: How can your fans reach you on social media? LASHONDA: IG: @lashondaschofield Twitter: @datgurlcanwrite Facebook: @lashondaschofield SFND MAG: Before you go could you name another artist that you think is “So FN Dope” and tell us why? LASHONDA: Gotdamnjackjones! He’s Jimi Hendrix meets Lenny Kravitz—classic soul with a rock edge vibe. @gotdamnjackjones SFND MAG: Once again, thank you so much LaShonda for interviewing with us. It has been a pleasure. Keep doing your thing and continue to shine!

“Validation is not my sole motivation for being a singer/songwriter. I am a singer/songwriter because it is my life purpose.” --LaShonda Schofield





BOUNDARIES Article by Chayo Briggs


hat are relationship boundaries? Relationship boundaries are surrounded with misconceptions; while many feel it’s unnecessary experts say that boundaries are essential to building a healthy relationship. A relationship can’t be stable until both partners communicate their boundaries clearly, and the other person respects them. Healthy boundaries in a relationship don’t come naturally, nor do they come easily. As an example:

HEALTHY Feeling Responsible for Your Own Happiness Friendships Exist Outside of The Relationship Open and Honest Communica tion Respecting Differences in Your Partner Asking Honestly What Is Wanted Accepting Endings

UNHEALTHY Feeling Incomplete Without Your Partner Relying on Your Partner for Happiness Game-Playing or Manipulation Jealousy Feeling Unable to Express What Is Wanted Unable to Let Go The best way to establish boundaries in a relationship allows both parties to develop positive self-esteem while being connected to another person. In many instances, we find ourselves focusing on adjusting to others rather than concentrating on our own needs. We must learn to be clear with our partner on who we are, what are our needs, our beliefs, and especially our limits. The ability to set boundaries, in the end, will only enhance a relationship. Boundaries are not limited to size or importance. They must be respected by both parties to bring forth positive self-esteem. “Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupery


OPPOSING BOUNDARIES Consider divergent margins in a relationship as keeping bad elements out of your life. These instances can include; cruelty, abuse, harassment, and manipulation. Healthy boundaries are based on respect to improving communication by effectively increasing a bond. People are less likely to fight or want to leave the re lationship when each party understands how the other person feels. “Good fences make good neighbors” and it’s true for all types of relationships! For many people who have consistently weak, poor, or unhealthy boundaries, it feels normal, almost natural. Yet, instead of feeling content or happy with themselves and others, they feel pain and bewilderment most of the time. We are products of our environment, what you see and live with every day becomes normal. As a child, they likely had to tolerate poor behavior from their caregivers. They acted, as though you were important, but in reality, their true intentions were not doing right by their young children. In return, that person learned love was conditional with an arbitrary changing criterion. Many times, these people were not allowed to share their authentic feelings, because they were consistently rejected. As a result, they never learned


Photo by: Fizkes / Adobe Stock

about good boundaries, or what that means. Any boundaries they may have tried to put in place were torn down. As they grew into adulthood, those with weak boundaries often feel like they have a target on their back. They consistently find themselves in friendships, work associations, and intimate relationships where they are taken advantage of and abused, either emotionally, physically, and even sexually. In these situations, the person has trouble saying no, and when they do a severe sense of guilt overtakes them. Therefore, it usually results in backing off their original intent to set boundaries; they find themselves surrounded by manipulative people and don’t understand how or why. If you have never worked on setting stronger, healthier boundaries it will feel strange even bad at first. Nonetheless, the only way to find inner peace is by

developing solid principles to maintain boundaries that serve to be healthy for all parties involved. Your existing social structure will be challenged --- it will affect every area of your life, including the people who are currently part of your regular lifestyle. The decision will be a challenge, especially knowing when are you supposed to say no? These choices will bring up guilt, you may feel like the bad guy. But keep moving forward, stand up for yourself, and be yourself. It will take some time, perhaps even years, and there will be many setbacks, but you will learn that healthy boundaries feel good. If you are afraid of making the decisions trust your heart, following what it’s saying. Ask yourself several questions:

How does the decision make you feel? Does the outcome feel good? Did you choose your own terms? You will learn to notice red flags quickly and take action instead of ignoring them. As a matter of fact, you will learn to be assertive without being cruel, aggressive, or inconsiderate. Once this happens, you will find the people in your life only want what is best for you in the long run. Just remember many resources professionals can help navigate the unknown, but the first step is to recognize it and make the decision to try. According to, PsychCentral, “To quickly summarize the definition, boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for themselves what are reasonable, safe, and permissible ways for other people to behave around them and how they will respond when someone steps outside those limits.” SUMMER 2021- SOFNDOPEMAGAZINE.COM -



Convergent Boundaries Stereotypes don’t apply when it comes to controlling partners. Toxic relationships can sneak up on almost anyone. And controlling behavior on the part of a partner knows no boundaries—people of any age, gender, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status can be in controlling relationships, playing either role. Many of us visualize a controlling partner as one who openly berates everyone in their path, is physically aggressive, or constantly makes overt threats or ultimatums. We picture the grumpy bully who belittles every second he or she encounters or commands their partner how to dress from head to toe. While those signs are indeed troubling, many additional signs might show up quite differently. In fact, some controlling partners are acting out of a sense of emotional fragility and heightened vulnerability, and may perhaps show traits of Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria. Controlling people use a whole arsenal of tools in order to dominate their partners—whether their partners realize what’s happening or not. In many cases, the emotional manipulation is complex enough that the person who is being controlled believes they are the villain or are extremely lucky their controlling partner “puts up” with them. Whether controlling behavior leads to more severe emotional or physical abuse or not, it is not a healthy situation. The relationship might start innocent but gradually the scales tip in the controlling partner’s favor. As an example, isolating you from friends and family. It may start subtly, but this is often the first step for a controlling person. Maybe they complain about how often you talk to your brother on the phone or say they don’t like your best friend and don’t think you should hang out with her anymore. Maybe, they try to turn you against anyone that you’re used to relying on for support besides them. Their goal is to strip you of your support network, and thus your strength— in the end, you will not be able to stand without that person. No matter what, they want to win. The behavior might extent to chronic criticism, even just small things. But ultimately, no matter how individually small a criticism seems, if it’s part of a constant dynamic within your relationship, it would be very tough to feel accepted, loved, or validated. If every little thing you do could use improvement in your partner’s eyes, then how are you being valued as a true equal, let alone loved unconditionally? One very concerning form of behavior is pressuring someone to unhealthy habits, like substance abuse. There is a very narrow gray line here between, urging someone to become a better version of themselves, and undermining their success. If any time you feel pressured to do something stop and ask yourself, is this in my best interest? Or, my partner’s best interest.


It is never okay to undermine your fitness goals, constantly tempting you with cigarettes when you’ve quit, not respecting your decision to only have one drink rather than three— these are all ways that controlling people can try to thwart your attempts to be a healthier (and stronger) person. Since controlling people thrive on weakening their partners, it’s a natural tool for them to use. Thwarting your professional or educational goals to make you doubt yourself is not acceptable. As an example, maybe you considered law school, but now your partner condemns your grades, saying you are not smart enough. Often a controlling partner has a way of using you as a weapon against yourself, by planting seeds of doubt about whether you’re talented or smart or hard-working enough to make good things happen in your life. This is another way they can take away your autonomy, making you more beholden to them— which serves their purposes quite nicely. According to Psychology Today, “Making you feel you don’t “measure up” or are unworthy of them. Whether by subtly making you feel less attractive than they are, constantly reinforcing their professional accomplishments as compared to yours, or even comparing you unfavorably to their exes, controlling people often want you to feel grateful that you are in a relationship with them. This creates a dynamic where you will be more willing to work harder and harder to keep them and make them happy—a dream for someone who wants to dominate a relationship.”

Transform Boundaries If you truly want to improve your life and the relationships that surround you every day, start by using the following tips. Tip One: Define how you want to be addressed. Think about how you introduce yourself; there is power in the value of your name. By effectively communicating with people, you set precedence right from the beginning. It can greatly enhance your relationships both personally and professionally -- build mutual respect and improve communication. Tip Two: Take a personal responsibility to improve your life It is highly important to believe in yourself. You are the only one who can change the events, relationships, career, or education opportunities in life. It all starts with standing up for what you believe in; take a stance to achieve the goals you want. Tip Three: Actively participate in the outcomes of everyday life This task takes an ample amount of courage for many people, but when there is a disagreement about a decision that directly affects your life, it is imperative to speak up. Sometimes people are reluctant to say something for fear of disapproval so they may choose to take the path of least resistance and be silent. For example, though it may be more diffi-


-cult, it is always best to speak up and communicate the changing picture and escalate any concerns. It is equally important to share an omission or delay because a different course of action can be considered. Each exchange presents an opportunity to form a meaningful

connection within any relationship. True collaboration enhances relationships When there is a true collaboration among partners, differing viewpoints are encouraged and accepted by all

vested parties. Teaching, learning, and listening are commonplace. There is a commitment to the success of every member of the party. The result is rich and gratifying. According to, Cleveland Clinic, the relationship can be optimized, so both party’s benefit.

Photo by: Fizkes / Adobe Stock

“When there is a true collaboration among partners, differing viewpoints are encouraged and accepted by all vested parties.”









“If I woke up “Living well eliminates tomorrow and the need for revenge.” didn’t have a dolla, as long as – Kanye West I have my heart, I can get it all “Living life is a choice. Making a difference in someone else’s over.” isn’t.” – Kid Cudi – Wale

“We always ignore the ones who adore us, and adore the ones who ignore us.” – Drake

-T. D. Jakes

“Never apologize for what you feel. It’s like apologizing for being real.” – Lil Wayne

“I’m going to always rise above the doubt that may exist about me.” – T.I



“Have a vision. Be demanding.” — Colin Powell


“Everyone has an addiction. Mine happens to be you.” – Andre 3000

“Remind yourself, nobody’s built like you. You design yourself.” – Jay Z ”Where there is no vision, there is no hope.” — George Washington Carver “You don’t need too many people to be happy. Just a few real ones who appreciate you for who you are.” – Wiz Khalifa

“There are times in life when, instead of complaining, you do something about your complaints.” — Rita Dove SUMMER 2021- SOFNDOPEMAGAZINE.COM -


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This artist has already shown and proven his skills as a seasoned vet in the industry, having composed music for some of the world’s most recognized brands and working with industry giants such as, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson and Raphael Saadiq. Now he is carving a new path for himself as an artist with his unique and refreshingly familiar debut EP entitled 19SEVENTYFREE. Check out Baltimore, Maryland native Darien Dorsey.


FEATURED Photography by: Louis Bryant III



FEATURED Photography by: Louis Bryant III

answer to what we need or how we need to exist. I think it was the explanation of the piece that caused it to be flagged. This was the statement that I posted underneath the painting: As we stand for justice and racial equality, we must find peace in these sensitive times.Those who feel threatened by Black people must find a way to peacefully exist with us. As we stand, let’s find peace with what we’ve been through. There is power in peace! SFND MAG: So you typically like to use blank canvases or do you prefer to find an interesting medium to paint on? SABRINA HOWARD: I love to create using interesting mediums. I consider myself to be a recycle artist meaning I repurpose materials and found objects to create my pieces. The majority of my pieces today are created using repurposed canvases that I assemble into abstract platforms and then create on top. I’ve used fabric remnants, staples, nails, adhesives, and random found objects. However, I do typically use blank canvases for my portrait commissions. SFND MAG: Explain your reason behind using other objects for your masterpieces. SABRINA HOWARD: Someone once described my pieces as a finding beauty in chaos. I feel that’s the perfect description of my creative process. If I had to describe the uncertainty of this year, 2020, I would use the current state of the world as the progress of the paint and colors colliding together eventually maturing into a carved out beauty. In the final, we will see its purpose. The world is my canvas. SFND MAG: If you had to choose, which would be your most favorite piece you’ve ever painted and why? SABRINA HOWARD: “Higher” is one of my favorite pieces right now. I was able to capture the essence of NIPSEY Hustle sculpturally with mixed media. The piece is 6’3” tall and is saturated with metaphors surrounding his life. I assembled the canvases as an abstract cross while


illustrating Nipsey with arms stretched. An actual bullet pierces the hand where blood is shed; a soulless Puma completes the piece at the bottom. I love this piece because I was able to explore the physical and metaphorical meaning of the Cross by constructing it with the canvases while marrying it with the Jesus like remembrance of Nipsey Hustle and the legacy and impact he made on his community using brands and colors while speaking of the looming gun violence that’s silencing Kings.

that could illustrate the mood of the project a. It took time and patience but here we are.

SFND MAG: Are there any pieces that you’ve have either sold, auctioned, or given away that you regret letting leave your possession? SABRINA HOWARD: I have given away more original pieces then I’ve sold. Some of the pieces were given away by choice because I wanted that person to enjoy the piece. There is this one piece that I created live during Synergy Night, a local open mic event in Jackson, Mississippi. One night after painting live, a lady approached me inquiring about the piece that I had created three events prior. She recounted the night that I painted the piece and explained that I gave away a similar piece the week before. After giving her the price, she quickly retrieved the necessary funds, paid me, snapped a quick photo, and basically disappeared. I didn’t catch her name and I never saw a post of her or the piece on social media. Later, I posted an image of the painting on Instagram and was bombarded with inquiries and offers for the piece. I wish I had gotten a nice clear shot of it before it left me. Documentation is very important!!! SFND MAG: Let’s talk a little about some of your artwork. Could we talk about one of your pieces called “Obama Forever”? This is an interesting. Tell us about this and the back-story behind this piece of art? SABRINA HOWARD: The creation of “Obama Forever’’ was sparked from an animated conversation with a fellow creative. I was probably one of the last black people to watch Over the years I’ve worked on exclusive projects and we always talked of doing a big project together, so we began to look for sounds

SFND MAG: What can we expect from this album?

SFND MAG: How did you come up with the name “Perspective” for the project and what is the premise behind the name? THOMAS ROGERS: It literally popped in my head. I wanted something or a word that everyone could relate to. Everyone has a Perspective.

THOMAS ROGERS: Passion! Different expressions of feeling. Each song is like a story. SFND MAG: What do you hope to bring to the table with your music to the industry? THOMAS ROGERS: I hope to bring relevance back to instrumental albums and for it not to be commercialized, but also respected like lyrical artists. I think Kenny G. is not the only artist that can represent that instrumental brand. SFND MAG: What is the anticipated release date? THOMAS ROGERS: The album is out now on all major platforms. It came out last January. SFND MAG: How can your fans reach you on social media? THOMAS ROGERS: You can find me on also on Facebook and Instagram/ThomasRogers. My email is SFND MAG: Before you go, could you name another artist that you think is “So FN Dope” and tell us why? THOMAS ROGERS: James Mike Day. We worked together in San Jose. He’s a great friend and he’s the organ player for NHL Hockey team San Jose Sharks. SFND MAG: Once again, thank you so much Tiger for interviewing with us. It has been a pleasure .We definitely wishes


FND MAG: Who is Darien Dorsey? DARIEN: I am a Baltimore, Maryland native that makes music in LA.

SFND MAG: When did it all start for you? When you were a young kid in Baltimore did you know you would be in this industry? When did you fall in love with music? DARIEN: Pretty much! Both of my parents were singing at church for most of my childhood and my dad had a nice soul/ classic rock/ gospel record collection. Between that and getting exposed to classical composers in elementary school I was hooked! There was a piano in my house as well, so there was a mechanism that I could use to develop my ideas. SFND MAG: When we started our research on you, we asked around about Mr. Darien Dorsey and we heard “Who Dorsey the Artist, The Multi-Instrumentalist, The Record Producer, The TV/ Film Composer “... Sheesh The Man, The Myth, The Legend! What don’t you do? [LAUGHS] What haven’t you accomplished that you still have on your list? DARIEN: [LAUGHS] Honestly, there are still a quite a few things that I still want to accomplish! The most recent project that I put out, “19Seventy Free” is what I am most proud of though. SFND MAG: The music industry can be draining both mentally and emotionally what keeps you inspired, motivated, hungry; What is your why? DARIEN: Music industry is draining in most aspects for sure. I believe that with the God-given gift of making music, I have the opportunity to both motivate myself and inspire others. SFND MAG: How has social media impacted you as an artist do you feel like you have to share more of your life or work then you normally would? DARIEN: With social media there’s pressure to share every aspect of your life. Some people over-share, in my opin-

FEATURED ion... Personally, I don’t find the need for people to know my every move and every meal, you know? I’d just like to share music and show some other snap shots of my interests and experiences every once in a while.

I can step away from the work.

SFND MAG: Tell us about JEDSUN MUSIC? Are you looking to sign other producers?

DARIEN: Yessir! My first EP.

SFND MAG: You have a new EP that was recently released entitled “19SEVENTY FREE”. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is your first EP right?

SFND MAG: It is “Intentionally Dynamic”, it feels both retro and futuristic! What were you trying to accomplish with this EP? What was your inspiration behind this project?

DARIEN: JedSun Music is a name that my mom came up with when I was looking for a company name that wasn’t as attached to my birthname. I’ll possibly look into signing other talent soon, but I’m always down to collaborate. SFND MAG: One of the dopest things that we discovered doing research on you was that you are a Ninja. [LAUGHS] Nobody sees you, but you are killing the game! Macy’s, Verizon, and Pepsi commercials, ABC’s For Life, BET’s The Game , Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger, Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq, Jennifer Hudson NEED I SAY MORE! You are literally behind the scenes composing musical masterpieces that the average person won’t even realize comes from you. Honestly does it make you feel anytime of way that some of the dopest sounds in radio, television and film are by your hands, but your name is only in the credits? DARIEN: I am a fan of music first! Never felt the need to be the center of attention. Plus, I am proud to have been able to work with some of my favorite artists and to hear my music across multiple media platforms. SFND MAG: Lets switch gears for a second. What type of impact has COVID 19 had on you as a person and a musician? Has the isolation made you stronger or has it revealed weaknesses? DARIEN: When COVID 19 hit, I had no idea that the shutdown would be for as long or as serious as it was. I noticed changes immediately. Between the completion of my album, making its accompanying short film and working on tv/ film music I tried to stay as busy as possible. Not having the usual outlets was a big adjustment though. I get inspiration and the opportunity to re-calibrate when

DARIEN: Thanks man! For the first, I’d say, 10 years of my life, I heard mostly soul, gospel, rock records from the eras before the 90’s. Though I knew a few of the popular radio joints that were out at the time, my dad’s record collection was my most consistent and available source for music. I made this album as a tribute to those classic periods through my own lens. SFND MAG: With so much despair going on in the world was this EP your silver lining? What does the “FREE” in your EP title represent to you? DARIEN: My EP is both my silver lining and my journal. Most of the songs were actually written before the pandemic happened. Faith and hope are key elements for survival! In my opinion, the themes in the EP are thematically universal for any time in history. In reference to what the “FREE” means to me, it speaks to the freedom to be artistically expressive in my own terms. That freedom is combined with the lack of freedom/ struggle that has been a constant in the black experience, as well. SFND MAG: As a producer, singer, and songwriter... How do you determine which songs you have written or music you have composed to keep for yourself and which music to send to other artists or entities? DARIEN: There are a couple tracks that I know I’d like to keep for myself for sure, but I don’t mind sending it out if there’s another artist that I think would make a cool contribution to it.




DARIEN: Glad you enjoyed the film! The short has not been released to the general public yet. Some things that are in the works for it will be announced soon! Definitely looking forward to everyone being able to experience it. SFND MAG: Being that you are well connected in the industry and have a network of friends and associates in the entertainment business that are highly successful do you find that is easier or harder to make a name for yourself as an artist? DARIEN: Making my name for myself as an artist has been more beneficial than not... Especially since my work covers a large spectrum. With my own album,

there is an existing body of work that gives direct insight into how my mind operates and what makes my sound unique.

SFND MAG: Darien, thank you again for giving us a bit of your time. We sincerely appreciate this. Before you go tell everyone where they can pick get your latest EP and reach you on social media!

SFND MAG: What can people expect from you in the future, you have set the bar pretty high? DARIEN: Well, I will be putting out more music. I am experimenting with some other sounds so that the style doesn’t get too monotonous. More collaborations too!

DARIEN: Absolutely! Thanks for having me. My latest EP, “19Seventy Free” is available on all streaming platforms (Apple, Spotify, Tidal, Amazon etc). In addition to the music, my YouTube channel has some additional visual content as well. As far as social media, I’m most active on my Instagram and Facebook pages (dariendorsey).

SFND MAG: Are you planning on developing any other visuals for some of the songs on your EP? I saw the short film and it left me wanting more. I am sure anyone who has heard “19SEVENTY FREE” is eager to see these musical ideas come to life on the screen also.

SFND MAG: Do you have any advice to other aspiring singer/songwriter/composer out there that may have hopes of getting their foot in the door to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?

DARIEN: Advice... Believing in yourself is essential. Also, everyone talks about how many times you’ll get the “no’s” and it’s true. Constant hard work is important and treating people right goes along way: this industry is based off of relationships.

SFND MAG: Last thing we would like to do before we let you go is to ask you to name one person you feel is So FN Dope and why? It can be in music or just in general. DARIEN: My older brother is dope! He has an extensive amount of knowledge and experience. Great taste in art and music too.

“Making my name for myself as an artist has been more beneficial than not...” -DARIEN DORSEY Photography by: Louis Bryant III



“I am a fan of music first! Never felt the need to be the center of attention. .” --DARIEN DORSEY



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OMI As an artist, achieving the success of a number one record must be an unbelievable feeling. Well, our cover artist has achieved a level of international stardom that most artists only dream of. Even with that level of success from his 2014 megahit “Cheerleader”, he has maintained an incredibly humble and respectful frame of mind with all whom he encounters. After a brief hiatus, he is now back on the scene with new music that not only is sure to please the ears of his audience worldwide but also reveal his Jamaican roots. We hope you enjoy this exclusive interview with International Pop artist OMI.





COVER STORY FND MAG: We want to thank you for interviewing with us. This is an honor. We are glad to have you. OMI: The pleasure is all mine.

SFND MAG: So, we are just going to hop right into it man. 2020 was a tough year for us all. It is hard to believe that we are already halfway through 2021 already. OMI: Yeah, halfway through already. SFND MAG: How has this year been treating you so far? OMI: Man, so far, I’m just here putting in the work. I know that I’ve been laying low, but I have been doing a lot of groundwork in terms of the direction we are going to move into after this. As you can see, I think things are returning to normal somewhat, so I’m just using this time very constructively and just not stopping. SFND MAG: Yes. I think we have seen that with a lot of other artists as well. Many of them seem like they are anxious to get back out there. What do you think you are looking forward to the most coming out of this pandemic? OMI: Well, one of them is quite obvious, which is performing on stage again in front of my audience and just having that one-on-one interaction with my fans. I have noticed that a lot of artists have returned to the stage, and they are performing in all this, and I respect that, but I think that now is the time that we are going to put out some more singles and build that momentum again before I actually do. Even though a lot of people, even on my social media are asking, “When are we going to see you again?”. The fans don’t know how the business side of it works and how the label and the artists strategize and plan these things. All they want is to see their favorite artist perform, but there is a lot of planning that goes behind all appearances. SFND MAG: Absolutely, especially when you are coming behind a record that was as big as “Cheerleader.” The song was literally played all over the world. I mean

that song was a world-wide phenomenon. But with achieving that level of success, I imagine that there is an awful lot of planning that has to come behind that. OMI: Yeah, and it is not something that you can rush, because when it comes to the music, and it comes to the business of music it can go either way. You want to make sure that whichever way it decides to go, it’s in your favor. SFND MAG: Right. You have to make your next move your best move. OMI: Your next move is your best move, and the reality of the situation is people’s attention span is very short. It’s the time we live in. Entertainment has a wider platform now. It’s not just music. So, people’s attention span is short. So, whatever you are doing, and whatever you are putting out there or whatever you’re marketing you have to make sure that it is on par with what is going on now in terms of having that quality to keep the interest of people and keep their attention. SFND MAG: That is very important. So, you are back now with some new music. You have some new records man. We checked them out and they are dope. We love them. I want to talk a little about each. So earlier this year you released “Hello Hater” and “Make It Now” Let us start with those first two. How did those records come about? OMI: So, those records were sent to me by the label. This is what I love about those two records. I think, those two records take me back to my roots of how I started out back in 2012 before we released the remix to “Cheerleader” by Felix Jaehn. And then we kind of went in the direction of Pop. So, all of the music following “Cheerleader” was leaning towards the Pop genre as opposed to dabbling more into my Jamaican culture, my accent, my style, my flow. I guess we sort of went into that direction, so I really appreciate those two songs took us back there. I felt more at home. I felt more comfortable in the delivery of the song, and I know I’m going to feel comfortable performing the song.


SFND MAG: Yeah man, when we heard “Hello Hater” it definitely gave us that vibe and it’s dope. OMI: Yeah, and it’s on a lighter note. Even though it is about something as dark as hatred, it’s still as though it’s taunting, It’s kind of poking at hatred. Like “Yo, you can’t faze me.” In fact, hate me more because it makes me stronger, and makes me want to do better. A lot of people are very “thin skinned”, and a lot of people get depressed, a lot of people are bullied, and they may not have the mental capacity to really deal with situations where people hate on them. I mentioned in an interview that I did not know how thick your skin had to be especially in a business like this where you are open to the criticism of the public. You are somewhat open to public criticism when it comes to your work. It even affects your private life depending on how much you put out there, but you have to be very thick skinned to be able to bounce things off you. SFND MAG: With you being an international artist, I imagine that varies from country to country. OMI: The wider the platform the more susceptible you are to getting love, hate and mixed emotions. You have got to know how to filter that. SFND MAG: Wow man! That’s heavy right there, but you handle it well. You manage it very well. OMI: Tunnel vision. I’m like a racehorse with blinders on right now. I am focusing. People are entitled to their opinions. To each his own. Everybody is entitled to having a preference and I respect that. I really do mean that. I am not throwing shade. I really respect the opinions of others because opinions are good sometimes, if it is constructive. Now that is the thing. You have to know when it is constructive criticism or just criticism that is intended to tear you down. If the intent is to tear you down, then there is nothing constructive about it. When you tear something down, you deconstruct. We are not supposed to confuse someone trying to deconstruct you as opposed to giving constructive criticism, something

COVER STORY Photography by: Bart Pajak




Photography by: Bart Pajak

that will uplift you and help you better your craft. SFND MAG: So, let’s talk about your most recent record that you dropped in June. “Crazy with Somebody.” It is such an amazing record. We loved it. What was the inspiration behind this one? OMI: Well, basically you know that is targeting the summer. As a music lover, what does it make you feel when you hear that song? It’s kind of a summer, light and airy kind of vibe. Even the other two songs before, you can kind of consider them summer songs, because nowadays, music is all about a vibe. That is what I realize. I am listening to songs on the radio that I cannot even understand the words, but I know how it makes me feel. And it’s not like I’m shitting on anybody’s culture, but a lot of the lingo I may not understand, but it has such a nice vibe it makes you want to listen. It makes you feel a particular way you know. That is what music should do. SFND MAG: Reggae music makes me feel that way, because I cannot always

pick up all the words or understand everything that is being said, but the vibe is so infectious. So that makes perfect sense. When the vibe is there, you feel the music and that makes all the difference. OMI: That makes all the difference. That is my job basically, to keep bringing different vibes and different energies to people. Once I decided to be an artist, to be a musician, to be a creator of music, that is what I signed up for. SFND MAG: So, like you mentioned, it is all about the vibe. Now your music is very catchy, and energetic, it has the reggae vibe, but it has a very universal feel. I can see how people all over the world gravitate to it. Are you a primary driver when it comes to writing and producing these songs? How are these “vibes” created? OMI: Well, I am very involved in my music and in the creation of my music. “I’ll turn shits down”. I will turn it down. I’m just giving it to you straight. Plain talk. I’ll turn it down. If I don’t think it suits me or if I don’t like it, I’m


not doing it. That’s just me and it is not about being cocky or being hyped up, but at the end of the day I have a brand to protect. It’s going to be my brand to live with, so I have to protect that, and I take pride in that. But so far, I think I’ve earned respect. The biggest song that put me on the map was written by me and I’m very aware of that. I am humbled by it but I am also aware of it. One of the best things for an artist is to be aware of your worth. Just because I’m quiet and reserved does not mean that I do not know my worth. I do know. I ‘m just very easygoing. SFND MAG: You are right! You must know your worth and understand that you are the source. So, with that being said, do you have a set of producers you prefer to work with? OMI: Well, when we are doing writing camps, you meet so many people, it is hard to remember everybody’s names because those people are brought on by the label and I welcome that because it’s like an exchange of culture in the room. But I do have producers that I work with

COVER STORY on a consistent basis. I have my in-house producer. I also work with Salaam Remi. I am still with Clifton Dillon aka “Specialist” and also his son Ryan Dillon so I do have people that I work with closely when I’m inspired to do something. SFND MAG: Cool, so you do have that closely knit core group of people that you like to work with, but you welcome the outside sources as well. So, who are some of your other influences? What created OMI? What type of music do you listen to? OMI: Man, I listen to so many different genres. I was driving in my car listening to Enya. Do you know Enya? SFND MAG: Who??? OMI: See! [LAUGHS] You have probably heard her songs being sampled or heard it on the radio. [Hums familiar melody] SFND MAG: Oh yeah! OMI: That’s Enya. So, her music is so relaxing. When I want to clear my mind and just relax and be mellow, I listen to Enya. It puts my spirit on another level. A whole other world is open to me at that time, and I am so inspired and totally unrelated to my genre and what I do, but it helps me in such a big way. SFND MAG: That makes it hard to put you in a box to man. That is a good thing. OMI: Very much so. I tell people all the time, I’m more of a producer, creator, writer, than I am a performer. So, I’m an artist in that capacity because I get so many inspirations that I know I can’t be the one to deliver all of them, so it makes you even more valuable because I’m very OK with working behind the curtains. I am very reserved. I’m a very private person, but if I have to go on a stage to perform, I will., but I mostly enjoy the creative process. SFND MAG: So, I heard that you are also a big Eminem fan. When I first heard that I was kind of shocked, but when I started to think about it, it actually made

sense because as a writer, you have to respect the pure lyricism this man has a gift for. OMI: It is out of this world. I’ve listened to his albums, especially his latest work and my mind is blown hearing it. I have to play shit back. I have to back up. SFND MAG: That’s the beauty of hiphop. When you have to press the rewind button on a punchline or when you are still catching something new six months later. OMI: He gets so deep in the lyricism, so I admire that. That is one of the things I admired even going back to my high school days listening to Eminem. For me, Pac was the energy, BIG was the energy. Eminem was the lyricist, Nat King Cole, James Brown and Sam Cooke were the soul. So, I had so many different influences. Let’s not forget Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and all the people that are from my area. SFND MAG: Legends. You just went down a list of legends. OMI: I am like a sponge. I learn I soak all of this up. I am influenced by it, and I’m inspired by it, and I use that as a compass in my creation. SFND MAG: Is there anyone in the industry currently that you are inspired by or that you would like to work with? OMI: Most definitely. You know who I would love to work with on a project? I would love to work with Justin Bieber.

SFND MAG: You are right though. There was a fusion with Pop. There were not a lot of artists doing it until after the “Cheerleader” record. You fused it together man and it worked. OMI: I respect the artists and I respect the creative process, because I know what goes into it and a lot of time, we work so hard on it for the opinion of someone else. So, all of those hours, days, months and years even put into a project only to have someone say “I like it, or I don’t like it” is crazy. SFND MAG: I can see you working with DJ Khaled man. I think that would be a dope collaboration. OMI: Khaled, of course. Well, if I said Justin Bieber then of course Khaled. He is one of the people right now who is kind of like me in a sense. I see where we have similarities in the sense of embracing the culture of other people and lately, he has been doing a lot of work with different people exposing different cultures to the world and I appreciate that. I really respect that. SFND MAG: Absolutely. We love what he is doing as well. So, Let us shift gears a bit here. As a person what types of other things are you into? When you are not doing music and you are not writing, what other things are you into? OMI: When I’m not writing, I do building and interior decorating. SFND MAG: Really?

SFND MAG: I could see that . OMI: I have realized that he is also a creative person.

OMI: I have a passion for it. I might even have my own show on HGTV. I don’t know man. [LAUGHS] I’m that passionate about it.

SFND MAG: You all have similar styles. Even the way the music sounds. At times I think he kind of pulls from that island feel sometimes.

SFND MAG: That’s cool man! That comes from your creative side too. You have to be able to see it and visualize it before it comes together.

OMI: When “Cheerleader” came out, it influenced a lot of mega-artists to start making that kind of music. I’m not saying that I pioneered it, but it is obvious.

OMI: The thing is, I’m also a visual artist. I also draw and I paint. So that was an easy transition for me. I like building houses and creating floor plans and even SUMMER 2021- SOFNDOPEMAGAZINE.COM -


COVER STORY Photography by: Scott Schatek


COVER STORY designing furniture and layouts. I love creating spaces because I believe that affects your mood. I kind of had an appreciation for this after I became deeper in the music. I realized that since I don’t go out, I need to make my space very comfortable and very inspiring. So that is where I developed the appreciation for creating spaces. SFND MAG: That’s dope man. That was something that was the furthest thing from my mind when I asked that question, but I think that is impressive. So, we always like to ask people we interview this question. What type of advice would you give either to your younger self or someone like you that is aspiring to take a similar path that you took? Someone who may be talented but may not know how to navigate through the industry. OMI: My number one piece of advice would be: Getting to fame is one thing. My manager and I have this saying “Gum on the way up… Grease on the way down”. It is easy to become famous. Fame is something that can happen overnight, especially in the digital age where we are today you know. But you have to understand what you are about and understand what you want from this. You have to make sure you are knowledgeable

about what you are getting into. Do not let shit catch you off guard and you’ve got to surround yourself with people who have a common goal and are vibrating on the same frequency. It’s very important, because energies do clash. One energy can prevent the other from becoming successful or reaching its true potential. It’s best to keep your circle very small and in doing so also make sure that the people around you have your best interest at heart, meaning they are going to be honest with you. If my work is crap, just be honest with me and let me know that it is crap. Do not be a “yes man” and make me look like a fool. Tell me the truth. Be humble, speak less, observe more, learn more. That in itself will teach you how to navigate through this business. SFND MAG: I know we are winding down on this interview, but I have to ask you can we expect a new project here soon? Perhaps a full album? OMI: Of course! Most definitely. I’ve been putting together some materials. I’ve been putting together a lot of songs. I have a lot of people who are interested right now are just waiting for us to sign off on doing something together. So far everybody is huge. I will not say too much about it, but so far everyone is

huge and on top of their game and has such a wonderful legacy, and I am humbled at the fact that they would even want to work with me. SFND MAG: Well please let us know when you lock in a release date man. Keep us posted. OMI: Of Course! SFND MAG: Before you go, we have one last question. We always like to ask everyone that if they had to name another person who they thought was So FN Dope who would it be and why. OMI: Ahhh man! Listen, this is going to sound cliche,’ but my mama is Dope! My mama is dope! SFND MAG: Well, listen Omi. We cannot thank you enough for interviewing with us man and taking the time out of your busy schedule. You are So FN Dope, your music is awesome and it has been an honor to sit down and interview you. OMI: Thank you so much my brother.

“It’s best to keep your circle very small and in doing so also make sure that the people around you have your best interest at heart, meaning they are going to be honest with you.” -OMI SUMMER 2021- SOFNDOPEMAGAZINE.COM -





Article by Queen Ke


lorida is known for a lot of things, like beautiful weather, churning out football greats, or rap legends. The R&B scene here is promising but we have a long way to go. There are people from the Sunshine State who have gone to shine bright like a diamond. Then some who want to spotlight their talent to prove your talent trumps location like Nia Amber. She’s Trina’s newest RnB signee which proves if you have the juice location is insignificant. For those who are unfamiliar with Nia, she’s a Miami, Florida native. This girl is a classically trained dancer who’s a vocal powerhouse. Which is so refreshing because some of these none singing chicks who can’t dance or sing but call themselves entertainers is blasphemous. To see someone who’s passionate about their craft in every aspect is commendable. You know a singer can really sing if they can perform “His Eye is On A Sparrow”, it’s a hard song to sing. There are certain parts of the song where the singers’ voice can crack if they’re not careful. The way she bodies this song will make any elder in this church throw her prayer cloth in praise! If you weren’t raised in the church, then that last statement will

go over your head. Put it this way, she doesn’t need any assistance with autotune, unlike your faves. Check out her Instagram @iamniaamber where she performs a slew of hits in addition to her singles. That’s how I found her when I heard her singing “POV”. I knew she was something special. If you don’t believe me, check out her single “Swing My Way”. This is a song that has all the nostalgic vibes of nineties R&B with a twist, the SWV influence is there but it has a new school twist. When you’re listening to this song, imagine seeing a fine darkskinned brother with some pearly whites while riding with your homegirls. My mouth is just salivating thinking of my imaginary bae! I can’t wait until outside opens where I can sing, “swing my way”. “Bag” ft Briana Perry is the motivational song you need to get you through your day-to-day. Working a 9-5 is stressful and school is just as difficult but remember

what you’re doing it for. This turn-up motivational song should definitely be on your playlist to help you keep your eye on the prize! “No More” is the track where you need to get wine drunk while ripping up your ex’s pictures. It’s a perfect mix of in your feelings but forget them. Now, that description might sound odd but we live in toxic times where people encourage toxic behavior. It’s rare when people chose themselves and this is the track where it gives you the strength to leave. Stay tuned for her next show “A Night with Nia” which includes performance of all her singles and her new single “DA”. The only hint she dropped about this single is that it’s really risqué. Tried to pull more info out of her but she wants to build up the anticipation for this single which is fine with us right?



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