ight now I am working on my mixtape album, PreFace Trois’. I released my first mixtape November 2010… DIAMOND IN A ROUGH. Now that is posted on youtube. Other than that Nikki Monet is raw, creative, [and] I come with authenticity. I don’t see that a lot in the hip-hop scene. That’s what I’m bringing; that’s who I am. M. Yvette: You say authenticity… what’s different? What do you convey in your music that brings that realness? Nikki Monet: My lyrics convey real life experiences. I don’t come with any gimmicks. I come as me. I don’t come with the Barbie-type thing that’s going on now. I come with my own style. I’m an individual person and I bring the individuality. M. Yvette: How long have you been in the rap
game? Nikki Monet: I have been recording since 2008. My music experience actually started in dance. I was formally trained. I dance ballet, jazz, hip-hop, African modern, break dance, [and] all kinds of dance. I was captain and choreographer at Virginian Wesleyan College. After that I branched out into my own business. I had the blessings to work with some great people. Demario Bridges; he’s a Grammy award winning producer of Savant Sounds LLC., in Richmond. [I’ve worked with] International Reggae artist Nahti Empress. [Also] Rep Ya Set DVD [Media Group]. I was blessed with a chance to work with them through the art of dance. Lyrical poetry and spoken word… I’ve always done that. So I just felt like I wanted to take it to another level. I believe in myself. M. Yvette: It’s obvious that you are a lover of the arts. If you could think back within your childhood has it always been music and the arts in you? Nikki Monet: Since I was a little girl it’s always been with me [and] in me. I wake up every morning singing, rapping, or dancing around the house. Everyday… all day! I love art! It’s in me. M. Yvette: Who are some of the female rappers that you look at and can say that you admire them… that you respect their music? Nikki Monet: I love Lauryn Hill! I appreciate her work so much. Definitely MC Lyte! Eve was a big influence in my music. I like Shawna as well. I’m really an R&B head. I know it’s crazy, but I’ve sing on a lot of my hooks in my music too. I’m still trying to learn with a vocal coach on how to belt out a real song. But yeah… I’m an R&B head. I love it! M. Yvette: Do you work with a management team… producers? Nikki Monet: Right now I’m working with the group Diamond Crooxs… The managers are Ms. P [R.E.A.L. Divas]. Kapital Millz… that’s a second manager. Al Banks is our third manager. Nicole Peterson [myself] is also management. Playmates R Us works as part of the promotion team., see the group actually evolve into what we have now. It’s beautiful
lem. We may have a song saying that we’re going through the same problem and how we handle our problem or situation.” The name of the group as well as the music has the expression of inspiration that is needed for all people especially in this day and time. The grind of Flamed Up defies some negative stereotypes of rappers. True, the members have to battle with their lives’ challenges such as the current but temporary incarceration of the group’s rapper and producer, Richie Rich. Nonetheless the group continues to reach their goals as they work extremely hard for themselves and their families. B Menace tells about the labor of Flamed Up outside of the musical scene. They have been writVA’s music scene has been undoubtedly immersed with talent that has ventured nationally. The recent VA movement’s focus to claiming the streets that explained in our songs, the people that live within our lives, and the industry that has paid its dues is loudly making the musical mark. There is a small town in VA that the talent has sometimes not been widely heard, with the exception of maybe producer Lex Lugar. Suffolk, Virginia is breeding some enormous talent. One of those talents is the hip-hop group Flamed Up. Flamed up consists of three rappers, B Menace, Hollywood, and Richie Rich. The group formed three years ago, with a named derived from the idea of friend, Jason McCoy. FLAMED UP stands for Family Love And Money Equals Destiny… On a Rise. B Menace informed to ILL Magazine, “Everybody was friends. Everybody would meet around the neighborhood [of Suffolk, VA] gathering ciphers. Everybody was versatile. That’s a big part of our group. We don’t just stay on one subject. We can go from talking about hood events, to tracks for the females, to grown folks music.” He further explained Flamed Up’s sound and message, “Everyday events… things that people can relate to. For instance you may be going through a prob-
ing everyday and staying in the studio quite a bit as they still grind with their 9 to 5 jobs. “I work 50 hours a week. 5am to 3:30 pm. Hollywood works also. He works 40-45 hrs a week. Family motivates us a whole lot.” B Menace and Hollywood are holding things down for Flamed Up while Richie Rich spends his diminutive time away. Richie Rich plays an important instrument [literally] for the group. Richie Rich is a lyricist and he also produces the beats. B Menace talks with full respect for friend and group member, Richie Rich, “He produces the majority of our songs. Most of our songs are original. We’ve done some songs on industry beats but listening to us it’s just basically all us.” He adds a little side note about Flame Up’s drive and creativity, “No hooks from anybody else. We write our own stuff. It’s just the passion of it. I mean, I love music! Everybody collectively come together. Then when we’re in the studio doing the music then it’s like everybody is hyped about it. There’s no dull moment. We don’t second guess ourselves. When we write, we put our all into it. Every verse has to be perfect. I always try to outdo Richie Rich and Hollywood; and vice versa.” I wanted to find out just what Flamed Up had been flaming up in VA. Come to find out they have been setting things ablaze in VA as well as in other states. B Menace told ILL, “We dropped a mix-tape before and then recently we dropped the mix-tape called, The Foundation; which is out in the streets right now. We named it the foundation because we’re building the foundation of where we’re going to go now.” B Menace sees Flamed Up going to big places. “We’re not just trying to stop once we get to one place. We don’t settle. We try to get better and better each day. Like right now we’re working on 2 other mix-tapes.” Flamed Up has consistency with their performances and is busy traveling and promoting inside as well as outside of the Virginia lines. August 31st they are scheduled to perform at Tracy Cross’ The Top Mic event in Richmond, Virginia. September 2nd they are to perform at The Norva located in Norfolk, Virginia. September 10th Flamed Up will be performing in Madison Square Garden at the Pennsylvania Inn Hotel for the after party of a New York fashion show. They have had much support with people such as Nore (who set up the NY event) and Tracy Cross (The Top Mic). They also give a shout out to Travis from Ivy League. Travis is a young talented video director that has shot videos for Flamed Up. B Menace speaks on Travis’ work, “He shoots the videos and everything else… he’s just a beast with it!”
The rappers are not one dimensional, and within the group it multiplies the versatile experience. “You’ll never hear a song from us that you don’t like,” B Menace says. “Everybody has their own opinion of what type of music they like. Some songs we got are like hardcore. That’s just for the people around the neighborhood. We also branch out to others. It’s not just one genre or area.” Their creativity is within their versatile rap style as well as their business savvy. One specific street promotional they use has worked very well for them. Flame Up goes out and talks to potential listeners while They’re in their vehicles. The rappers ask the people, “What’s your favorite number from 1 to 13?” The person picks a number and plays that track. B Menace says, “If you don’t like that track then you don’t have to buy the CD.” What’s the result of Flamed Up’s street promo? He answers that inquiry, “Let’s just say we’ve sold every CD so far.” They hustle hard. “We do everything on our own. All the money comes out our pocket. We have no manager. As far as getting connects, that’s on our own. I be at work on facebook… Hollywood be on Twitter… Richie Rich does the same thing.” Flame Up’s music will be down-loadable shortly [within 1-2 weeks of this interview]. Right now the street is the market place for Flamed Up; and it has been successful. “Pass it out… sell a few,” B Menace tells ILL Magazine.
The rap trio gets past the challenges that any group may encounter, and they remain in harmony. “First off we’re friends before anything. That friendship and that bond just keep us. Plus we have the same goal in mind [to get up out]. Keep your head straight and keep your mind clear. If you have a disagreement you talk about it right then. Don’t wait until you get in front of somebody else.” Flamed Up’s secrete? Drive… talent… and fun. “You can’t look at it as just work,” B Menace explains. “It’s fun to us! We got a 9-5 as work. I’m at work writing rhymes. So is everybody else! We plan to hit every city every state… overseas money! When it comes to FLAMED UP we’re not stopping until we’re on top!” Keeping it real, I don’t see them even stopping then!
feel like I speak mainly for women. They call me the man basher, but I’m not really. I just feel like I just want us to be strong. Talk about real issues that we go through. Not all the glitz and glamour. [I can talk] about the hard times… the real stuff. M.Yvette: Your music is about life issues? Kima Kima: Yes, life issues and sometimes relationship issues. Sometimes it’s just stuff that most of us would be scared to admit to anybody. Stuff that will inspire other people… inspire young people. Just like the women that are in certain situations; to get them to strive to want to do better. That’s really what I want to do. And at the same time when it’s time for you to dance, then I want you to dance. When it’s time for you to feel swagged out as a woman, then I want you to be able to do
that too. M.Yvette: How long have you been rapping? Kima Kima: Probably since I was about 12. I was doing it for some years and I left the whole life of it when I turned 20 and got married. I only really been back doing it for the last 2 years. I had stopped for like 9 years. M.Yvette: What brought you back? Kima Kima: I got out a relationship and it was kind of like therapeutic [when] I started writing. And at that point I was just going to be a songwriter. Then eventually it just turned back into my full passion to actually wanting to be an artist. M.Yvette: What have been some of your projects? Kima Kima: Right now I have been working on a mixtape. It’s called My Sh*t Don’t Stink. I’m putting a couple of songs together for my actual album too. If everything goes right then my mixtape will be done late October… very early November. M.Yvette: Do you have a team behind you? Kima Kima: I’m dealing with Conspiracy Republic. I’m recording at the Oyal Lab. I have this guy… his name is Donye. He’s from New York, and he’s trying to help me make some moves. I don’t really have a team right now. I’m dolo for real. I’m working on trying to start my own label too. Where I’ll be the artist instead of promoting everybody else and helping other people’s labels; then you’re not even there anymore. Mine is called E1even Entertainment. M.Yvette: Your decision to head up your own business portion of your music; was that through seeing other people going through things in the industry? Or was it due to some of the things that you personally experienced in the industry? Kima Kima: Both. I just found that I was doing so many things just on my own. I was a part of a team but I didn’t really feel like the team was going as hard for me. It was basically that I was doing everything by myself, so if I’m doing everything myself I might as well be on my own.
M.Yvette: By being a female MC do you feel that you have to work harder than your male counterparts. Kima Kima: You have to work hard because these men are like vultures. It’s just disgusting. You kind of have to be a jerk to just get your respect. They just be so worried about trying to get inside your draws. They use their little tricks to say they want to do music. The next thing you know they are trying to talk to you. That does kind of make you discouraged almost… make you think can you get where nobody is thinking like that. M.Yvette: You’re the right one to be doing this. You’re all about that girl power… like with your Girls Are Pearls foundation [helping to uplift the young ladies in the community]. The young ladies out here they’re listening. It’s good to have a woman… a proud woman out there rapping. Kima Kima: Exactly! Plus I sing too. It’s not just rapping. M.Yvette: What do you see Kima Kima bringing us within the next year? Kima Kima: I would like to have a deal or at least financial backing for me even if I stayed as an independent. We can all say that we’re doing this for love but we’re not trying to do it for free forever. Traveling to different places and making it as a household brand. I want to have clothing lines eventually. I want to have my Girls Are Pearls foundation national. And I would also like to write a book. www.IAmKimaKima.com
Nikki Monet.....continued and we’re going to the top! M. Yvette: As for Diamond Crooxs… Is it a collaboration of various artists? Nikki Monet: Yes. The actual creator of Diamond Crooxs… Kool Cash, that’s my music brother. He started it. He has a great buzz going on. M. Yvette: You stated that you were working on your mixtape. Nikki Monet: It’s coming in January . The name of it is PreFace Trios’. M. Yvette: What does that title mean? Nikki Monet: Preface you know is the introduction of a literary work. It’s an introduction to my three personalities or personas… or characteristics. However you want to label it. It’s Brianna, Sasha, and Roxy. M. Yvette: What are some of the things that you have done as promoting? Nikki Monet: Right now I’ve been concentrating with working on my album. I have a great background in open mic events in Richmond, Newport News, Virginia Beach… it actually helped out my buzz. We also utilize Facebook and Youtube. Also we just partnered with MixtapeMedia.net, so we’re getting good plays off those. M. Yvette: Where would like to see Nikki Monet within the next year? By that time listeners will have PreFace Trois’. Nikki Monet: Nikki Monet will be on tour! Oh my goodness!
friend of mine whose name is Gemini was at my house. He was friends with my older sister. We were all pretty much into the rap thing. I was then going by my government. He [Gemini] sat me down on my couch and he went through all of my notebooks. He made me rap every single rhyme that I had. By the time I closed my notebook, he had came up with Miscelanyus. It was crazy! As soon as I closed my notebook he said, “Miscelanyus.” M.Yvette: You being a female rapper… do you feel that you get the respect that you deserve? Miscelanyus: As far as respect wise, from the people that see me perform or they already know what it is that I do, I feel that I do get the respect. I’m not going to say that it’s to the upmost because everyone doesn’t know me. I’m known in the VA area. I feel like those that are amongst me, those that have seen me perform, or have listened to my music… I feel that I get respected. M.Yvette: How’s the respect from the female MC’s? Miscelanyus: I don’t come in contact with too many female MC’s. But the ones that I have come in contact with, they have been very supportive. And I’m supportive for female MC’s out there because it’s not that many. I’m all for empowerment for female MC’s. M.Yvette: What do you speak on with your music? Miscelanyus: It’s a wide range. M.Yvette: That’s why you’re Miscelanyus, huh? Miscelanyus: Honestly the name is perfect because you never know what’s on my mind. So I like to keep a wide range. If I want to be commercial, if I want to be straight emotional… it really depends. I also write R&B music. So I have different sides. And I don’t want to just limit myself. M.Yvette: You write R&B. Do you also sing R&B? Do you write for other people? Miscelanyus: I don’t write for other people right now, but on my mixtape I have a few R&B
songs. I’m actually doing a little singing on the mixtape. I dibble and dabble with it. I would write for someone else. M.Yvette: So what’s your inspiration… whether it’s R&B or whether it’s rap? Miscelanyus: I’ve noticed with the R&B it’sreally just an avenue to relieve stress, or if I’m going through something . I’ve noticed the songs that I’ve written are a channel of love; either positive or negative. I could be going through something with my man. I might know somebody going through something with their man. It just depends. I may be feeling a certain type of way… you can go into a fantasy world with R&B. There’s really no wrong way to do it. That’s what I love about R&B. You can explore all types of areas. You can be sensual. You can be sexy. You can be raunchy if you want. You can incorporate it with the hip-hop which makes it even better. M.Yvette: What inspires the raps? Miscelanyus: Good hip-hop… I mean like old school hip-hop! Yeah I might sit and watch MTV Jams and they’re showing all the old school hiphop like old Jay Z and Nas. I might see Queen Latifah. The stuff that I grew up on; I might listen to that and feel a spark. I may be at an open mic and feel a spark in a sense of just wow! People [are] out there doing their thing… that inspires me too. M.Yvette: You spoke of open mics. Are there certain spots that you find your essence? Miscelanyus: I haven’t been to all of them. I know different MC’s that have different open mics. They may have Rock the Mic. I’ve been to Manila Ave., The Castle, Club Twist, and when it [open mic] was at Blakley’s. The open mic at Club Static. It’s different ones that we pretty much tryout; there’s open mics everyday and everywhere. You try to hit a few different ones to get the exposure but there’s no certain one that I particularly go to. M.Yvette: You’re down with G-Man Entertainment. How did you get with them? Miscelanyus: I actually met them through a gentleman that was my manager when I was younger. He was with a company called Foundation. Foundation was back from ’97. I’m talking way back in the days. He was my manager then. We lost touch. I went to college and things of that nature. I actually
ran back into him through a mutual friend. His daughter is into the music and she actually introduced me to G-Man. I started doing shows for them and eventually we did a contract where my manager and G-Man were actually together as a partnership and management. Then after the partnership was over I signed onto G-Man because my manager had moved out of town; and they wanted to take me under their wing. M.Yvette: What does G-Man assist you with? Miscelanyus: G-Man is management. As far as when I was with them it was a reinvention of me. I had been rhyming for so long; they took me in a whole different direction as far as with my style; artist development. They put me on shows. I did a lot being with them. We opened up for BET. We actually did Red Man, Method Man, WuTang… different artists I’ve been able to open up for because of them. They provided that for me. They have been my guidance. The things that we have going on now; they’ve been the train that I’ve been on. M.Yvette: What’s up with Miscelanyus? Miscelanyus: I have the mixtape which is out; Most Anticipated. My Facebook has it that you download it for free. This is actually my first official project that I’ve released with G-Man. It’s been long awaited. Hopefully the video for my single, “Everything Is A Go,” will be on the way.
here can readers get to listen, purchase, or download your CD Bizzness Az Uzual? How has the feedback been? Contamination: Of course they can log on to www.gmanent.com it is a free download all it cost is a little time and support. It has been a blessing and a grind in the same measure. [We’re] just trying to stay relevant in the underground music game. M.Yvette: Tell me a little more about the Australian Mix-tape project. Contamination: It was a project set-up in about 2006-2007 through Street Credibility and G-Man Ent. where we were able to put out two projects mixing in with their UK and other overseas con-
nections. The project also gave us a chance as a company and artists to broaden the scale of affiliation and experience to other music entities. M.Yvette: You two [Synse and Young Killa] have been friends since 9yrs old; how does this affect your collaboration as rappers? Contamination: Sometimes it makes concepts easier because to a certain degree we were going through it or around it together. Other times it’s difficult because being friends so long u know how to push each other’s buttons and challenge one another. The main thing is that we both know at the end of the day we want to succeed and we aren’t trying to do anything to hurt each other or our careers and opportunities. M.Yvette: What inspires you two as lyricists? Contamination: Mainly life and its experiences. We say that because music itself is a form of
expression and the fact that u try to deliver it to the people we try to have listeners connect with us on so many different levels. Also if you use certain thing like life and experiences of yourself and others its hard to run out of material. M.Yvette: You have said to me before that your music is reality music. Could you elaborate on what Contamination expresses through the reality music? Contamination: The majority of our music is for the ages of 25 and up. The other part of that is to show growth as u continue to do music because they say your suppose to get wiser as you get older as a result of learning more. Also your views on what things you think are important changes as you get older which means when you get contamination music we’re going to try to progress and be current. M.Yvette: What is your take on today’s rap music? Contamination: It’s more based on the time and era and it’s a little trendy...very little of doing something to put your stamp on music, more of lets follow behind someone. A lot of the stuff out now will not be around [in about] ten years and a very small amount of music this day and age will be considered classic. M.Yvette: You had stated to me that you wished to hit the road more. What would be some of your target locations of interest? Contamination: To sum it up really wanting to check out more of the major cities that makes up our country. Head west… there is more to experience; their different way of life and music. Musically you can be boxed in if you don’t get outside what you’re used to. M.Yvette: How long have you been involved with G-Man Entertainment? How has the experience been? Contamination: We’ve been with G-Man since 2005. The experience has been just that… an experience! There have been a lot of firsts for us here at G-Man. For example traveling and just having a support system that’s going to push you to be great. M.Yvette: What has been most gratifying for you as you have been marking Contamination’s territory within the music and hip-hop industry? Contamination: To be honest, having someone want to even listen to what you, I have to say is a blessing and the most gratifying. There are many other things people could be listening to and they chose us. That feels good. That also tells you people think you have something to add to music and their lives whether it is knowledge or just giving them a certain feeling. M.Yvette: Who have been some of your supporters? Contamination: Definitely our families, staff, and friends inside and outside of G-Man Entertainment; most importantly the fans and others who support our music and movement. Also people who want to see you fail supplies a great portion of that support. That is just a tell sign we’re doing something right. So Thanks To Everyone!
he Park Boys consist of 4 members… Buku, Benjamin, Easy D.I, and Numb3rz. The Park Boyz have been taking their rapping seriously since 2001. “We went from 2001 to 2003, but we weren’t really serious about it. Then my homeboy Benjamin… he came home in 2008. So we’ve been staying consistent since 2008.” The unsigned artists from VA Beach, VA rep proudly Bayside Arms and Northridge! They can relate to the struggle. “We know the streets. The streets ain’t for nobody. It’s a struggle from the hood. You know we come from the hood. We ain’t really ever had much; always been around that struggle.” Buku spoke to me about what has been requested from real hip-hop lovers all over, and what the Park Boyz are delivering. “I’m not going to say gangster rap… we just tell about our life stories; the things we’ve been through. We talk about the crime rate. We talk about life.” Buku told ILL Magazine, “We try to do a show every night. Like twice a week. But for the last two weeks we’ve been doing a show every night. We did a few things at Paradigm. Now we’ve been tearing down Club Envy with Local Lingo!” Local Lingo is now showcasing within their new location at Bayside Inn, located on Pleasure House Rd. in Virginia Beach; and The Park Boyz plan to continue their featured performances at the new location for the Local Lingo and their VA fans. B Qweezy, of Local Lingo, talked to me about the Park Boyz’ performances, “The Park Boyz came to the Local Lingo and blessed the crowd with great music! They had the club rockin’! They killed it so hard that I invited them back the next week. It’s so much energy when they grab the mic reppin’ Bayside!” The Park Boyz member, Buku spoke for the entire team (Benjamin, Easy D.I, and Numb3rz). “Right now our goal is to keep making music. We’re just trying to be successful in the game. Trying to get a couple Grammys! We’re really serious about
this baby!” He added, “The support system has been good. I think it’s the social media… like Twitter and Facebook. ‘Cause it seems like at one time VA won’t even on the map with music… period! People were always doing their thing, but right now it seem like everybody is just consistent with doing their shows. Everybody is like they’re making an effort to move forward with this music.” The Park Boyz are amongst the major groups in the 757 that are doing just that! The Park Boyz’ Buku informed ILL of their recent projects. “We just dropped Software Vol. 1, which is our mixtape. Software Vol.2, that’s finished! We’re waiting to drop Volume 2. Also we’re going to drop the album right behind it. The album is called Determination.” The VA based rap group also has a major deal type of project in the works. “We have this mixtape deal. It’s called Global Attack Mixtapes. That’s being distributed through Island Def Jam.” The Park Boyz have also recently started producing some of their own beats. Previously they were buying beats from local producers. The Park Boyz have been successfully handling their business as artists as well as being their own management team. Buku explained their strategy, “It’s four of us in the group. All four of us play their own part. I’m the computer man. I hold down all the emails and all the networking on the computer. Everybody else got the street teams, and setting up the shows. So everybody play their own part.” He added, “Now the internet game is crazy! You can be just sitting at home and you can get so much done for real; by sitting down behind that computer. As long as you got your craft out there; something that you can promote.” The Park Boyz are based in VA but are steadily spreading their music to reach passing those lines. All while faithfully reppin’ VA as the repeatedly and proudly scream out their community… “BAYSIDE… BAYSIDE!” Watch out for
ithin today’s music industry where it seems that every urban artist is coming out with the next 16 bars to rap over a hardcore beat, it makes it even that much sweeter to the soul to experience the touch of an expressive tone that blends with a rhythmic melody, and wraps us with words which finds a way to relate and also communicate with us on more than a hardcore level. Please don’t get it twisted… personally I have to have hip-hop in my life, but just as strongly I need the soulfulness of hip-hop’s originator, R&B. I’m speaking of the timeless music that is to be the romantic backdrop
listening to him on Youtube makes anyone want to know just where he will be performing next. Brandon Keith possess the true soulfulness that is not readily found in this generation of music. Brandon Keith, who is signed to Sonny Boy Entertainment and is in conjunction with C.U.N.A Minute’s management, expressed how he feels about working with his manager, Los C, and his ongoing road within today’s music industry. “I’ve been working with Los C since 2007 with the group Lot 14. It’s all been a growing process. You have to realize that in the music process it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of growing and it takes years of perseverance. It
for lovers, the soothing flow of a person’s emotional heartbreak, and the singing of one’s life through words [that Roberta Flack spoke of and won a Grammy for in 1974]. Sonny Boy Entertainment’s newly signed artist, Brandon Keith, and manager Los C of C.U.N.A. Minute Entertainment, has a major dedication. That allegiance is to keep corner music in the lives of the ever growing generations. he artists that Los C [founder of C.U.N.A. Minute Ent. and manager of Brandon Keith] works with have an eclectic array of genres. “We have R&B, we have rap, [and] we have a reggae dude about to come out.” Los C’s musical interests run broadly where he has been also dealing with a country female artist. That is rare for a label that slides out mainly hip-hop and R&B artists. Los C, being someone that always grew up with music explained his position, “She was nice with what she does… I mean I just like music.” He adds, “We also have the artist Jynx.” Then there’s Los C’s R&B artists, Lot 14 and Brandon Keith, who exhibit exactly what he means when he says that he just likes music… meaning good music! Lot 14 is a group of young men that have a contemporary yet an old soul harmonic sound. They maintain the essence of the true rhythm and blues’ roots with songs like their single, “Let It Go”. Then there is the solo artist Brandon Keith, that by just
takes years of even understanding what’s going on around you and what’s going on within you. The image that you want to put out or a product that you want to put out; just make sure that it first identifies you as an artist.” Brandon Keith continues, “Not as a fad or something that’s [just] going on with the times. To this point I must say that the journey has its perks and it also has its downside, but it’s all of how you see it through.” The project in which Brandon Keith is currently in the studio perfecting has its reasons for being in conjunction with both C.U.N.A. Minute and Sonny Boy. Working with Sunny Boy entertainment offers introducing Brandon Keith’s music with different producers and writers and bringing freshness to the creativity of the project.
Los C wanted to let ILL Magazine readers into what was currently happening with himself and his artist. “I just got my artist [Brandon Keith] signed to Sonny Boy Entertainment; under Universal.” Los C had been communicating back and forth with Universal for about a year and eventually both parties made it happen. Brandon Keith is now at the place where he’s working on his debut single. “I [also] manage Lot 14, The Corner Boys, and Dirtyville… as well as myself.” They are all under the label C.U.N.A. Minute Entertainment and
Brandon Keith is under Sonny Boy Entertainment.” Los C shared his dedicated journey. “I’ve been doing my thing with my company since ’03. Then I got with Lot 14 in ’07. Now we’re here!” Los C started off rapping only at first. When I asked him what was his motivation he stated, “My mother needed a house.” He hasn’t yet purchased that house for his mother but her protests that it is in the making. Los C realizes that everything isn’t going to get done by just planting their seeds in the company’s based state of Virginia. Los C stated, “We travel a lot. We make it happen. We leave out. So when we
call back they’ve already made it happen here [VA]. We’re good everywhere we go.” C.U.N.A. Minute artists are all amazingly gifted and bring something out of the ordinary to the music of today and the industry’s future. One would think that all that talent was completely scouted out or somehow networking would have been a tool to get them all together collectively. However, with the exception of the Corner Boys, the rest all grew up together. Actually of Lot 14 went to college together as music majors. They started doing talent shows and decided to make what they had discovered grow. Los C revealed the collaborating secrete, “Once we clicked… we clicked.” C.U.N.A. Minute Entertainment is based in Norfolk, Virginia and Los C reps the music industry’s quietly sung area loudly. “We’re Virginia! We’re going to bring the true meaning of Virginia! They got a feel of it… but they don’t have all of it.” He spoke of Virginia’s indescribable gritty sound. “If you listen to it then you’ll understand where we’re coming from.” Los C and Brandon Keith describe their music purely as corner music. “You’re going to hear it on your corner. Old men are going to be singing it… drinking .” He laughs at the realistic picture, “It’s that corner music! That’s what we give them.” Los C had playfully but genuinely summed up the sound of what he’s coined as corner music. R&B artist, Brandon Keith also explained, “It’s a sense of timelessness. Whether it’s somebody by themselves on the corner rapping it or singing it; or if it’s a Doo-Wap group singing it, it’s something that is timeless. That’s the thing I want to do; I want to see it through and be timeless with it.” Expect projects from C.U.N.A. Minute Ent. and from R&B artist Brandon Keith that are for all ages; songs that parents will not be scared to let their children hear, music that is universal, and that will hit all emotions. It will bring out every emotion because that corner music will authentically hit home. *For a peek into tomorrow go to Youtube.com/ LosCVA today! **www.BrandonKeith.com is currently under construction
NTHONY “A.M.” BURTON is the youngest of 4 kids born in Columbia, Missouri. In the mid 90’s he moved back to Virginia and started his music career at age 14 writing songs and performing in local shows. After a few years in the streets he realized that his joy came from writing and performing. Currently he is working on several projects that he hopes will help him fulfill his dream. A.M. believes that music is a way out of the problems of the inner city for many of today’s youth and he will do all he can to deliver music with a message. ANTHONY “A.M.” BURTON is now ready for the next phase in his musical career . Now on BATTLE MUSIC & ENTERTAINMENT.
have always been around the music scene but I never really paid no attention to the business side. I had a lot of friends that was in the music business.” Rico, CEO of All N Records, was introducing his musical affiliation. He had not previously thought of music as a means of financial profitability. However, with a little time he changed his view point. Rico stated, “As I was locked up and I realized that I led a lot of people to do wrong; like I used to do a lot of wrong. I had a whole team! Everybody doing wrong. I figured I could have a whole lot of people to do right… something a little more positive.” Rico told ILL magazine how All N Records came to be from just a thought from a hustler’s mind-set. “It started in prison on the rec yard. Me and my homeboy Bone; he was an artist. He used to come to me everyday rapping. It got to the point I would ask him to make a song… make this song, make that song. He would come back to me… he’d have the song. So I told him when I go home I was going to start a record label. So when I got home he was still incarcerated. He still had like 13-14 months. When I came home I just did all the footwork. I went and got my license. I started hanging around people that was in the music business; like Peso, Precise, J. Holmes, Business P; J. Ringo and Bear. The last four are childhood friends… I just started hanging with people in the music business just to find out what it was about. Then my other homeboy, Chidi… he came home like a year after I came home. He basically runs the Hoodlum Saints.” Along the venturesome ride to the come up of All-N-Records was from the brain of Rico, Nonetheless, the entire venture has been a team effort. The VP for All N Records and CEO for Fancy Doll Entertainment has been an important piece of the conglomerate puzzle. Sinethea, also known as Fancy Doll, has been not only a beneficial and constructive executive for All-N- Records, but she
has also been the 24/7 emotional supporter for the CEO. Fancy acknowledges that she has supported the venture since its beginning. “We both been around a lot of industry people and with that, and the love of music in general… when he came to me and was like babe this is what I want to do, of ‘cause at first I was like… are you crazy; the money? We’re trying to live and maintain! But he said if you want to make it big you got to take a risk at something. And if you can risk doing the wrong things… investing in the wrong things, Why not invest in positive things?” She trusted her man’s logical statement, and that was all she needed to hear. Fancy Doll was on board! Rico and Fancy Doll have been friends for over 14 years but are now much more than that. Collectively they have created a committed romantic relationship as well as an unwavering business relationship. Fancy smiles as she speaks of her fiancée, and business partner, “We definitely have a strong bond. We didn’t actually become a stable item until later in our adult lives. But we’ve been friends for a longtime… we were high school boos!” Rico also stepped into the remembrance of when they first began, “I used to buy her ice cream, cookies…” Sinethea [Fancy Doll] jumped in remembering one of her obvious favorites, “… And strawberry shortcake!” She laughed, “And my French fries.” It was special looking at the two and going back into their past that has grown quite maturely into more than a teenybop romance. Now it’s a partnership in life and in business. All N Records is the record label, but it also consists of other entertainment divisions. There is Fancy Doll Entertainment that is run by Fancy Doll herself. This is the division that acts as an agency for the models. Fancy is also the VP for All N Records. She explains her positional duties, “I handle a lot of the marketing on the All N Records side. Like for the actual artists… public relations, getting their PR kits together, getting them scheduled on certain interviews and things like that.” Then there is Hoodlum
Saints which was founded by longtime friend, Chidi. Hoodlum Saints is the promotional division of All In Records. Chidi gets the events that are to be community type of events. Where All N Records’ artists come out to perform, but at the same time they can still bring in revenue through the company from sponsoring certain events. Hoodlum Saints and All-N-Records host parties at several of the different clubs in the area like Hanger 9, Jewish Mother, El Patron and Shaka’s in Virginia Beach. This strategic blueprint allows one avenue to feed the other avenue. Chidi shared the breakdown of the ingenuous matchup. “The promotional thing is like basically a calabo. The CEO of All N Records [and I] got a history. He was pretty much established as far as artists and composing the music. I was pretty much doing some other stuff with Hoodlum Saints. Throwing parties, promotions, advertising… so that was like a merger. We just came together and everybody just fit in together because we didn’t have to change anything around. Plus we got a history beyond
love VA… don’t get it twisted. I love VA and I love NY at the same time. I spent my man years out here [VA]. So you already know how that goes. VA made me, broke me, and made me again.” Big Bone gave his views and projections concerning the VA music scene. “We do have an underground and a local fan base that comes out if they hear that you’re performing… and support you, and listen to you, and buy your CD’s. It’s out here it just hasn’t been discovered. It will be our time soon.” Rico had told his story of how he and Big Bone had connected while doing their bid. Nevertheless, All N Records has been
music. I am the CEO of Hoodlum Saints and he [Rico] is the CEO of All N Records; but I came under that logo and that flagship.” One of the other main contributors to All N Records is the president, Big Bone; who also doubles as an artist under the label. The ten year rapper and battle scene crusher is originally from Bronx, NY. Rico spoke on his label’s president, “Bone represents the streets.” Rico put Bone’s style in comparison with some of the other street poets on the label. “His story is different because he’s originally from New York, but he came down here at like 19.” I asked Big Bone to describe his music. He stated, “Bang Out Music!” Big Bone agreed with many VA artists that it seems the VA music industry isn’t widely supported towards mainstream avenues like radio. However, the Bronx native made a valid point about the means of getting ones’ name and music known when he said, “I find it easier in Virginia because everybody knows everybody. We want Virginia to come up; it’s about time for us to come up. It’s time for us to have our movement. Atlanta had their movement. Miami definitely had their movement. New York and California had their movement; even Saint Louis. It’s time for our movement. It’s time to put the seven cities on the map. I’m from New York, but I
blessed with so many talented rappers that their music crosses the entire board. I asked Mr. All N Records just how the cards were dealt to have his label holding such a killer hand. The Virginia based label exec revealed his secrete hand to ILL, “Before I even got an artist I listened to their music and I basically watched them first. I wanted everybody to be different. I didn’t want all hard rappers. I just wanted everybody to be themselves. And everybody got their own brand. Like J-Holmes… he is the hood. That’s why I say Mr. Campostella. Then I got Peso… he’s versatile. He can do whatever there is to be done; it’s done! Then I got my man Precise. He represents the hood too, but from the beach part. Then I got Johnny Ka$h; he don’t sound like anybody else. Then I got [Big] Bone. So everybody’s story is different. And everybody got versatile music.” Everybody on Rico’s roister stays busy within the Studio. All N Record’s artist Johnny Ka$h at the time of the interview was active in the studio. Big Bone is coming out with the CD titled, Bang Out Music. Precise is coming
out with an album called Why Not. Another one of the label’s rappers, Johnny Ka$h , is coming out with an mixtape called You Should Know Me. All N Records also has J-Holmes with his opening All N Record’s CD, Mr. Campostella. Then there is Peso, who is releasing his mixtape called, Real Shit. Getting to really know the makeup of the label would mean more than solely getting familiar with the executives. It was time to speak to the rest of the body that holds up All N Records. Precise explained how he came into All N Records. “My man Rico just came to me one day and was like, I heard a couple of your tracks, I like your music, [and] I want to know if you want to team up and join All N. I was all with it! I like his movement and I see the things he’s got going on. Like I rep Grind City… but I’m out here just chillin’!” Precise, who’s from Virginia Beach, has been rapping since he was around 14 years old. That’s been 18 years of seasoning his craft. “I’ve been doing it for a minute! I’m real serious about it. I’ve been with Grind City since I’ve known Peso… like 10 years just grindin’. Doing shows here and there, doing mixtapes, going to Philly, shooting videos. We’ve been doing it forever.” Precise expressed the voice he carries for the label and in his music. “I don’t really think I have anybody’s sound but my own. I’m really trying to bring that grown folks music back. Not all that ra-ra-shoot you up… I want to bring a whole new style to the game.” J-Holmes, who is a rapper that brings street creditability with his music, “The streets live off me.” J says, “I am the streets. That’s what my music is about. But I do take it to different levels. Very versatile; I can do music with anybody. It’s not a person on the planet that I can’t do it with. That’s what I live off… that’s why I do a lot of music with other people.” J-Holmes continued to paint a vivid picture of his music, “I can give you the stories about my life. I got so much to tell. I got so far that I can take it. There’s so much I have seen living where I’m from… Campostella. That’s why it’s called Mr. Campostella. I’m giving you me.” Enthusiastic about his journey with All N Records, J-Holmes told ILL magazine, “I’m working on my first project called Mr. Campostella. Like I said, it’s my first one under Rico. It’s a lot of good productions going behind it; a lot of feature artists under it, like Peso. So it’s going to be real good. I’m just excited about it! Never forget I’m SOV ‘til I die. What’s up to 45, Mr. Lyrics, and Business P.” When I had first walked up to the table on the outside patio of Norfolk’s Panera Bread restau-
rant, where I would sit on a beautiful summer evening to chat with the executives and artists of All N Records, it was a pleasant surprise to see Peso. I had known Peso Dolla to be a significant part of Grind City. Knowing a little of his history within the VA hip-hop circuit I was anxious to ask him more about where he was some six plus years ago (when I had first heard of Peso Dolla through other Grind City members) to where he stands now with All N Records. He took the time to tell the chronicles of Peso Dolla. “I’ve been rapping forever, but as far as taking it serious… like shooting videos, and radio, all that good stuff, out of town shows, [it’s been] probably about six years now. I’ve been getting it in ever since and it’s been better every year.” He talked about when his hip-hop grind truly began to crush the city of Virginia Beach… and soon VA and beyond. “It was like just a crew playing video games, smoking, chillin’, writing rhymes. It was this specific game we used to play. Grind City was a skateboard game… keeping it one-hundred! That’s where that shit came from. Not to mention we were grinding at that same time. It just fit!” Peso has been in the game for a while and accumulating a substantial fan base inside and outside of the Virginia border. His growing success has not changed his humble persona; where many heads would have swelled tremendously as being a local celebrity. When I asked him how he has kept himself so grounded and focused to continue to grow as an artist, Peso stated to me, “I stay humble because that’s just me. That’s a characteristic I have is to always be humble. I’ve been good at this rap [game] for a while so it’s not really anything new. And I’ll never think that I’m better than everybody, so I’m always going to be humble to the fact. I always feel like I can get better.” Peso describes his music much like J-Holmes does, even though one is from Chesapeake and the other from Virginia Beach. They both share the bond that their life speaks through their music. Peso explains, “Every event that happens gets put on paper; put on tracks.” Peso’s creativity is broad. He says, “I can’t make just one kind of music because I have been through so much. It’s all feelings. It’s just all over the place with me… very versatile.” Peso is now one of the main rapping forces within All N Records. “We all merge together. All N Records… Grind City… Mega Music; we’re all one big family. We support each other so that just makes every movement one big movement. And don’t forget I am humble in spirit but I’m the truth in this rap game.”
All N Record’s CEO, Mr. Rico [The Brain] yet has another movement under his hat. It’s probably his biggest yet. The VA All-Stars! The VA All-Stars is not to be confused with artists to be under the All N Records’ label. For instance one that is affiliated and is a grand supporter of the VA All-Stars’ movement is one-half the Clipse; one-third of The Re-Up Gang; and published author of Wretched, Pitiful, Poor, Blind, and Naked…Gene Elliot Thornton AKA Malice. VA’s Malice, regardless of his full agenda, still has dedicated his support for the VA All-Stars’ movement. When ILL Magazine had a second meeting with All N Records and Hoodlum Saints [this time in the home city of the CEO… Chesapeake], we also were accompanied by Malice of the Clipse. Malice told ILL Magazine, “I’ve been on the book tour for three months now. I’m also working on my audio book, which is almost done. It will be out in September. After I launch that then I’m going into my mixtape... entitled Hear Ye Him. Then Pusha [Pusha T… brother and other half of the Clipse] and I have plans to do things in the future, and satisfy the fans; because the fans are asking for it. But I’m really on this mission; and it’s not just music for me. Basically I just want to make a difference. I’m glad to be a voice and use the same platform that I had with the music to reach. Also I want to say on September 11th were having Rip The Sidewalk, where all the kids that we’ve loss to gun violence, automobile accidents, and drugs, and all kinds of craziness. We’re going to have a fashion show out
there in Portsmouth.” With all of this going on Malice still finds the importance to support the VA All-Stars’ movement. The VA All-Stars is to brand and unite artists within the Virginia area; allowing the artists to stand together in positivity and to shine the brightness of the VA stars within and outside of the VA lines. Rico explains more about the highly anticipated step into VA making its deserved mark within the music industry. “If you’re hot and you’re local I’m trying to grab you! I’m trying to get you affiliated with something you can rep… something everybody can rep. It could be a part of everybody… VA All-Stars!” Rico added a little sample of the movement’s flavor that showed the movement branches further than music alone. It is about the community. “We’re going to get us a VA All-Star basketball team for these kids.” During the time of the interview Rico was putting together a Labor Day cookout to be held in Chesapeake, Virginia. Rico told ILL, “I’m on that real hip-hop real music. Just real for the kids and everybody. I’m just trying to bring it where there’s no violence. That’s why I say VA All-Stars gets everybody involved. Just mainly to show people we can have a good time without any violence.” Rico stated, “That’s why I said unity! There will be All-Star unity. People just together [and] having a hip-hop show and no violence. And we’re just having good music… real hiphop”. No one to fight at the end of it. That’s what
this VA All-Star movement is all about! That’s why I brought Malice out here; because I know what he is now.” Malice acknowledged that Rico had said the same thing to him on the phone. Malice full heartedly stated, “This is encouraging; this is what I like. Just the fact of coming together and doing something that’s positive.” Malice gave his support for the VA All-Star movement and its purpose, “That’s what I’m about; on everything he was saying was something that I agreed with and it made me want to come out here. When he told me that, it just felt good to hear… somebody on the same level. I’m not judging anybody else. I was there! So I understand; like I totally get it! But I’m not there now. I know he was there!” Rico laughs as Malice continues, “When he started talking… like yo! You sure this Lil Boo I’m talking to on the
phone?” Malice remembered the back in the day times with old friend Lil Boo, also known as Rico. Malice stated, “When I got out the service I moved to Arbor Glen. Then I got a job at Texaco. They used to come in the store and I used to hook them up. Me and Lil Boo [Rico] even had some unsavory dealings back in the day… but that’s in the past.” The critically acclaimed lyricist of the Clipse, Malice, told ILL Magazine, “I want to shout out Rico for just being involved in the community, and just reaching out to me and putting me in a place where we can make a difference. We’re going to talk about that basketball team and I’m sure we’re going to talk about more stuff for the future. And my man Chidi!”
ELVIN VASS became involved in music in the early 90’s as a rap artist. His group performed throughout Hampton Roads and made a name for themselves as far north as New York where they received an opportunity to audition for the Appollo. In the late 90’s Melvin took his talents in another direction as an artist and record label developer. Melvin brings to Battle Music a wealth of knowledge having produced and developed over 30 artist and created hundreds of songs.
ICHAEL “MASTER BLASTER” PUGH was born in Norfolk, Va. but raised in Portsmouth Va. Growing up Master Blaster was inspired to become active in the music industry at a young age. He received a taste of the music industry through his uncles who where DJ’s . Master Blaster later went on and joined the Manor High School Band and the marching band at Norfolk State University. Master Blaster has established his name at numerous major venues. He has done voice overs, various commercials as well as managed several entertainment organizations. Master is currently working in the Promotions/Marketing Dept. for Battle Music & Entertainment. In the years to come Master Blaster inspires to be successful in the music industry by introducing his drive and tenacity to the world. His passion for music comes from his zeal to entertain people. Hard work and Dedication, this is the equation for success.
’m in the studios… in here grinding. Trying to get this situation right with this Young Jeezy competition… and DJ Farenheit; theyre trying to find a new artist. So I’m in the last round of that. They have one process they’re doing before the last round. I got to get my song on every radio station right now! Every clear channel station I can. ILL: Okay! BINGSTA: I got seven days to get that right so that I can try to get that production deal! So I can go ahead and get whatever materials that I need. Go ahead and get an album done with this group I’m in. I’m in a group. It’s me and my man Mad Max, my man S. Scarface Kid. ILL: What’s the single? BINGSTA: The single is called Where You Want To Go. I’m trying to give every DJ this song! If I can get this song played by the DJ’s and get these points up then I can go down to Atlanta and perform and move to the last round. This is in Miami for the $100,000 production deal. If I get it I know what I would do. I’m willing to work with any and everybody because I know what I can do in music. I can do everything with music. I’m not just a rapper. I put songs together. Not just regular songs. I try to come out with hits. At the same time nobody knows how I’ve put a lot of stuff out. The songs that I put out, they’re not for distribution yet. People probably want to know what I mean by the term hits. Once they see it hit the radio station they will know what I’m talking about. You got to get the masses; you can’t just get the people on Facebook and the people on Twitter. You have to get to the radio station listeners. It got to be playing when you are at work, while you on lunch, [and] while you driving to work… It got to be playing all times of the day. Not just on the internet. My music is just powerful music so I know what my state [Virginia] needs but I’m trying to get my state to run with me to make these moves! ILL: Do you find it to be challenging trying to get your music out being in Virginia? BINGSTA: Yeah, it’s very challenging, because everybody wants to be the best. Which everybody should want to be but sometimes people got to run with what might be the best for right now for everybody to get what they want in the longer run. It is a million rappers out here. If everybody [is]nice then what you got that’s going to stand out from him then? I don’t need to listen to a hundred straight people that all got the something going on. I need to hear something totally different. If I don’t hear anything totally different then I don’t want to hear it. That’s how they look at it. At the same time there still has to be a movement behind it. If there is no movement behind it then they’re not going to mess with you out here. If everybody
was on one team… be like this is the order of how everybody is coming out. Everybody just wants to be the best and just do it on their own. Which there isn’t anything wrong with it, it’s just going to take a little longer. ILL: It’s funny that you say that because I’ve been working on something like that… VA Fire-Starters Movement. BINGSTA: It can be done! Everybody got to run under the same unification. I’m not a selfish person. If somebody sends me something I’m going to write to it. Right now I’m just putting music out. I’m not getting sells because it’s a lot of stuff that comes with it that I can’t afford. So I’m just trying to get the music in preparation so when it’s that time. When I win these competitions and my name is everywhere, then these labels want to have a meeting with me and put money on the table then it’s a different ball game.
TYRE “GULLEY DA BOY” WINFIELD is a native of Portsmouth, Virginia however his music career started in Duval County in Jacksonville Fla. Gulley has worked with producers Rough Draft and Eiestain of Come Correct Entertainment. They taught him to master the craft of recording and entertaining, helping him to win several talent shows. Later he started performing at local clubs and opening for major concerts in the area. “Gulley” traveled from Jacksonville to Atlanta for several years trying to get a major deal before moving back to Virginia. Tyre “Gulley” Winfield is truly an entertainer and a brilliant song writer, his natural whit makes him fun to be around. His struggles and disappointments in the early years of his career gave him an understanding of the hard work and dedication it takes to make it in the music industry. Gulley has recorded several cd’s and mixed tapes and his projects on Battle Music crosses all gender lines. TYRE “GULLEY” WINFIELD a true entertainer. Now on BATTLE MUSIC & ENTERTAINMENT.
y music is all original. Basically everything comes from my heart. It comes from the place that I’m at with myself. The problem today with music is that everybody is trying to sound like everybody else. It’s too much duplication; it’s not enough innovation. So, when I sit down and make my music I don’t think about anybody else’s music. I don’t have any other artists in mind. Basically my influences are everything that’s around me. If I’m influenced by everything that is around me [then] you’re just going to get what is coming from me. So you’re not getting anyone else’s prospective but mine. There’s a lot of wanna-be’s out here; I’m just sticking to myself. I make music and I make music as an expression of myself. I don’t even know if the people are going to like it, but it’s coming from me, and that’s all I can give. M.Yvette: Well I like it! You’re doing your own sound. Nonetheless, as far as you listening to music… who are some of the artist that you respect? Young Driz: Definitely Biggie. That’s my number one artist fulltime! I listened to Biggie growing up heavily! As far as right now in the game… I’m definitely a fan of Andre 3000. I don’t see him as a rapper. I just see him as an all around musician. That’s what I respect.
It’s not just hip-hop. Hip-hop isn’t even my favorite genre. Really I listen to a lot of oldies; just to be honest with you. So when I do listen to music… maybe I’m in the car and I caught something on the radio. Most of the time I’m just listening to old school music. So my biggest influences are like Al Green, Michael Jackson, [and] Marvin Gaye… things of that nature. That’s what I listen to. M.Yvette: So how does it come about that you are a rap artist? Young Driz: That all started when I was in high school. My boy Deuce; we were in junior high school together. We used to write poems all the time. I remember we used to take Latin class. I remember the teacher told us the word… caput. This means head. We just took that and ran with it. We just kept writing poems about getting head; even though we weren’t even getting head at that time. The girls back then wasn’t giving it up; like girls these days. We were just writing funny lines about getting head. Then Deuce went to a different high school and I went to a different high school. He started to pick up rapping. Then he brought it over to me. I was always into lyrics. I would always sing along to my favorite songs; but I never had sat down and really constructed rhymes over a beat.
Deuce helped me with my rhyme structure. I started free styling more. Then I just started writing to beats more. I used to write to beats, but kind of be shy to read them back to people. After a while I got over that hump and I just started going in! So I’ve been doing this for years now. M.Yvette: When it all came about, mixtapes were more of a promotional to be heard on the streets. Do you feel that now it’s becoming one of the main avenues that artist will need to use to also bring in revenue? Young Driz: Most definitely! Right now people need to survive off the mixtapes. If you’re not doing your research on an artist, if you’re not going to look your artist up… someone who’s not getting exposure on the radio, then you won’t hear from them. You’ll be thinking that they’re not doing anything. Oh, they’re still making music! It’s just they’re not getting played on the radio like they should be. M.Yvette: Where have you been expanding your music? Young Driz: I’ve been mostly in New York. I have a nice fan base in Ohio, Virginia, and I have some followers in New York. Right now I’m just working on expanding. I’m about to drop this Premeditated Music off to Livewire. It’s getting mixed down right now. We’re going to flood the streets with that. It’s not really a mixtape. I’m putting five songs out there. It’s more of an introductory to me. Hand it out to people and just let them get an ear. Hopefully they like what they hear and they do their research and take it from there. M.Yvette: What would you say to the artists that are newly in the game. Young Driz: Don’t ever give up, and f*ck what anybody else thinks. Also don’t ever sell your integrity for anything. Once you sell your integrity it’s like, who are you? If you’re doing music I feel because there’s music in your soul, then you keep doing music. But if you’re doing music just for money, fortune, and fame, then kudos to you. You do what it is that you do. But I feel like if this is really your passion and you believe in it more than everybody else then that’s all that matters. A million people can tell you, “Yo, I don’t know why you’re doing this.” When you wake up in the morning, or you go to sleep at night, or all throughout the day… you can be sitting in class and instead of focusing and paying attention, you have a song in your head that you’re putting together. Then
that’s what you were meant to do. So don’t give up on your dreams. M.Yvette: How did you get with Livewire Empire? Young Driz: You know Joe Swagg [Livewire’s CoCEO]? I call him Cam. We went to high school together. Cam was there when I was orchestrating my rhymes and writing them down on paper. We would chill out. We’d be somewhere and I’d bring out my notebook. He’d be like, “Let me hear something new.” The rhymes I was writing it had a little bit of comedy to it. So we used to sit around, bring out my rhyme book, and say some funny stuff. They would love to hear it. Cam went on his way to the Navy. I went and did my thing. We always stayed in contact. Basically that’s my brother right there. So Cam linked up with Excell [Livewire’s CEO] in the Navy. They had their whole Livewire movement going on while I was still here in New York doing my thing and getting myself together with the music. The two worlds just collided at one point. Cam introduced me to Excell. This was when I was already rapping, but I had just started making beats. So Excell heard some of my beats and everything. I had just started making beats so it wasn’t anything amazing. He was like, “Keep doing what you’re doing. You’re on the right track.” Then a few years later we all reconnected. Excell and I reconnected because Cam and I never fell off. We’ve just always been brothers. So then one day Cam kept telling me that he kept telling Excell, “You got to hear my boy Driz.” Excell was doing his Livewire movement and had his artists. They were doing their thing and I was doing my thing. So one day I linked up with them and we were in the car going to check out my boy Deuce. Cam was playing my music. He played my song, Grand Tour. The song played out and we were about to put another song on and Excell was like, “Play that track back for me.” He kept that track on repeat for like four times. I was like, “Yo, man I don’t want to hear this anymore.” Right then and there Excell was like, “Let’s do a video for this.” It was off to the races after that.
Check out Young Driz at: ReverbNation.com/YOUNGDRIZ Twitter.com/IZYOUNGDRIZ Facebook.com/YOUNGDRIZ
INA LI was born in Portsmouth, Va. Nina Li’s passion from music started in her early childhood singing in the school choir and at local night clubs in the Tidewater area. Nina Li’s musical influence came from her trials and tribulations while growing up, and facing many adversities. Her vocal talent is in the R&B, Rap and Hip Hop industry. At Battle Music she is working on her first solo album. Nina Li brings to Battle Music diversity and an abstract approach in her lyrics. Willisha “Nina Li” Arrington ready for the next phase in his musical career. Now on BATTLE MUSIC & ENTERTAINMENT
ON “BEACHIE BALL” GATLING is one of the most creative artist at Battle Music. He has a natural ability to create lyrics that touch the heart and soul of today’s music buyers. His songs range from Gospel and R&B to Hardcore Hip Hop with messages that will enlighten today’s young. And help them get on the right track, so they will not make the same mistakes he made growing up. Don is also a great entertainer who states “It was groups like the Temptations and O Jay’s that showed me the importance of being able to perform your songs which make you a complete artist”. Don feels that God helped him change his life from wanting to be a street hustler to wanting to make music that will help keep kids focused on life. In the words of his song “I Fear God” he truly believes if it had not been for his mother’s prayers he would not be here today. Don “Beachie Ball” Gatling is a Philosopher of HIP HOP & Soul Now on Battle Music & Entertainment.
GARY “Y.S” WAHINGTON, TY’LISA “LDOT MARIE” BROWN, KENNETH “LIL KEN/138th YOAKUM, TA’SHAWN “TAY MONEY” DARDEN are the group Guap Squad, a group of very talented young rappers and writers who understand Hip-Hop, Rap and R&B music. The group formed because all of the members have a true love and passion for music. Tylisa (LDOT MARIE) is not only a great rapper but she has been singing since the age of 7. Gary (Y.S.) started writing and rapping at the age of 12 and enjoys making music that people can party to. Kenneth (Lil Ken/138th) brings a smooth and unique rap sound to the group and Ta’shawn (Tay Money) was born to hype a crowd. The Guap Squad now on Battle Music & Entertainment.
PRAGUE “DOOGIE” WILLIAMS was born in Columbus, GA. Sprague has never been afraid to show his creative force. From his school beat battles with famed producer Dallas Austin to becoming Teddy Riley’s Point Man. He began while performing with then local band Basic Black, they got an opportunity to move to New York and work with Teddy Riley as a backup band for his R&B group “TODAY”. Even though his brush with fate was short lived, he learned valuable skills that would prove useful in his quest. He then moved back to GA. And began working on his production skills. His drive and thirst for the music grew. He would soon after get his opportunity. In 1992 Sprague was re-introduced to Mr. Riley who noticed his skills and signed him as a producer where he joined the ranks of Ty Fyffe, Walter Scott & the Neptunes. Now under Teddy’s tutelage, he sharpened his skills becoming one of Riley’s ace producers and also where he’s given the nickname “Doogie” (A Young Doctor of Music) by Wreckx n Effect front man Aquil Davison. Now one the elite, he landed chances to work with music industry heavy hitters such as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Blackstreet, Mary J. Blige, Usher, SWV, R-Kelly, The Rolling Stones, Prince, and the list goes on. Fast-Forward to the present. Sprague or “Doogie” has now joined forces with Phenom whom he met working with Teddy, Davel “BO” Mckenzie under the Unique Production Inc. Banner and Battle Music & Entertainment where he continues putting his stamp on the industry.