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Issue 4

Brandon Miltsch

XS10 MAGAZINE 1


A WORD FROM THE EDITOR

STAFF LIST Founder/CEO Mike Neely Chief Editor Bill Oxford Editor Mike Neely Art Editor Norma Martin Advertising Manager Kandi D Rasheed Neely Publicist Lyn K. Design Trebor Media Group Published By Aidem Media Group 3962 North 76 st., Suite 292 Milwaukee, WI 53206 Email: X10magazine@gmail.com Twitter: @X10magazine

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Letter From the CEO & Chief Editor CEO - I want to first give thanks to GOD / ALLAH for giving me life and understanding. I also want to give thanks to a few good people - Bill O, Alma G, Gerald G, Kevin Black, Jahnei Neamo, Cynthia Muhammad, Bro. Charles, Nathan Neely, Joshua Harden, Frank Lucas, Tobi Rubinstein Schneier, Nora Schweihs, my family and good friends, Robert Jackson, G.O., Gymini and family, Rick R, Robert C, Ronnie W, Steve T, Tara T, TiShawn S. Chief Editor - I want to give praise to GOD for helping guide me through life. Family and close friends. Shout to the city of Chicago (Stop the Violence!), Along with Waukegan, North Chicago and Zion Benton IL., Donovan Johnson, Big Mike Neely, Jacque Schauls, Tiki Rafsanjani, Tommy Berry and Lamont Patterson. To everyone who believes in the movement: If we missed giving thanks to you, we are deeply sorry and please remember Positive Minds Move Forward


INSIDE THIS ISSUE Gymini

Formerly Double Deuce and Now a Multi-Faceted Business Mogul

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Brandon Miltsch

Marketing Business Mind You Can Trust

Freeway Ricky Ross It’s Never Too Late to Make an Honest Change in One’s Life

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Junior Bridgeman

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One Who Solidified the Bridge Between Pro Athletics & the Business World

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J. Silva:

”Making Moves & Giving Love Back to Her Fans & Family”

Chicago singer/songwriter extraordinaire J. Silva takes the city of Chicago captive and the world by storm as her out-going and goofy personality shines through on her songs that are circulating through the radio air-waves and creating a huge buzz. Once taken under the wing of Chicago producer, Naki the Beatman, J. Silva has learned more of what it takes to attain the fame and recognition all musicians and artists strive for. Nominated for two Chicago Music Awards in 2012 for “Pop Entertainer of the Year” and “Best New Artist”, J. Silva went home with the “Best New Artist” Award and the reassurance that she has followed her calling in life which is something that some people lose track of. With her talent level, we know that she’s made the right choice professionally. J. Silva and the Life Music Group Team is definitely on the right path and I take pride in interviewing and supporting one of Chicago’s rising stars. She’s not a star in the making. She was born a star, from singing around the house as a young woman all the way to international radio play and to a stage near you. J. Silva sat down with XS10 Magazine for a candid and unique look into her life, mind and motivation on the grind.

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Since you sing all the time, who as a vocalist did you hear when you were a young girl that made you want to get into singing? For starts, my mom played a huge part. She was always singing around me, so it’s like I inherited singing from my mom. When it comes to famous vocalists Mariah Carey tops the list. What was it like growing up in a household mix of Mexican and Puerto Rican cultures? I hear a lot about Mexicans and Puerto Ricans not getting along, but I didn’t see much of that growing up when it comes to conflicts between both sides of my family. It’s like the Mexican half of my family on my father’s side is REALLY Mexican and the same goes for my mother’s Puerto Rican half that’s REALLY Puerto Rican! I benefit from the mix partly because of the knowledge of self I’ve gained and how I’ve learned to cook both Mexican and Puerto Rican food. Did you get into performing arts as part of your educational background, or was it just a hobby on the side that developed through time? I took choral classes in high school, but ironically I failed because I was too shy. I knew in my heart that I could sing, but in front of a bunch of other people was a whole other thing. I never considered singing a hobby, because I knew it was my calling. Who are you as a person aside from the music? I’d say I’m funny and I’m the goofy one in the group. My friend’s will tell you that. Also, I’m the one that if you call on me, then I’ll pick up and be there for you. What motivates you every day you awake? I want to make sure that my family is taken care of where they don’t have to work another day in their lives. I’d like it if my mother had a thousand dogs, because she loves dogs. How did you get your start in the industry? When I was 16 I started recording in a home studio. I met Naki the Beatman in 2008 and that’s when I really started looking to take my career to the next level. He’s got a great personality and knows a lot about music. I already knew how to sing, but he taught me things like different recording techniques. I have to give credit to my manager G who has taught me a lot about the business aspect behind the music. What have they learned from you in return? Patience and that it’s different working and recording with a female than it is with a male. Describe your creative musical style and how you separate yourself from your peers? I write my own music and too many of my peers don’t. Naki and I listen to every type of music, so when you hear my music it’s like you won’t hear a bunch of tracks that sound the same. Why do I have to make just R&B, or just Pop? Why not record a variety of tracks that’ll catch the largest market? A variety makes more sense to me seeing that I had a wide range of musical influences. What type of life experiences have you expressed in your material for your songs? I write mostly everything I sing with some additional writing from the pen of Naki the Beatman. I’ll write and sing about anything from going out with my girls to the club, also love and break-ups.


For example, I wrote a song called, “Lonely In Here”. That song has been interpreted a few different ways. I meant to talk about how the music industry is tough and that you’ll see me with a bunch of people, but I’ll be lonely inside when I don’t know who has my back. What’s been your biggest obstacle musically and what’s your strategy for getting around it? It was my stage fright and fear of messing up, but I kept on performing and eventually overcame the nervousness. If you were in charge of all the radio stations, what would change about that aspect of the industry? For one, in the Midwest there’s a lot of talent and the Chicago internet radio stations show support, but not as much on the stations with the largest following that only play your music if everybody else plays it. It’s tough in the Midwest and in Chicago, because everybody’s competing against each other instead of working with each other. I don’t see that problem in New York where they go the extra mile to support their homegrown talent. At one point all the artists coming out of Chicago were excited about being able to reach back and help out other camps/crews, but they turn away due to not getting the support in the city. Now most of the new artists and indie labels that are coming up are facing the same thing. It’s a cycle that needs to stop. Have you taken the opportunity to travel abroad and market your music in person and where so? I haven’t been overseas yet, but I’ve traveled to New York, New Jersey, L.A., Miami and New Orleans to mention a few. Outside of Chicago I get a lot of love from my supporters in Boston and Denver. Which artists would you jump at the chance to record with live in the studio? Ones you haven’t worked with aside from Mariah Carey? Mary J. Blige is the first one I can think of. I think she’s amazing in all that she does. I’m also a big R. Kelly fan. He’s very talented and I think it would be fun recording with him too. Regardless of who it is, we’re bound to make a hit! If you could give younger female vocalists advice as they follow in your footsteps, what would you tell them in general and what would you warn them about? I would say don’t give up and stay focused. There will always be someone who tells you that you can’t make it big, but if you keep working at your craft things will turn in your favor.

How would you want to give back to the community you grew up in when you make millions? I’d focus on providing more extra-curricular activities for the kids after school to keep them away from trouble and also work on keeping the arts and music in the schools. This is so the kids still know there’s something positive, productive and creative out there to get involved with. If you were the first female president of the U.S., what would be a couple of your first priorities? I’d push towards better educational opportunities and reducing gun violence. I’d push for tougher regulations on guns and gun purchases. Most of the people committing gun related crimes probably don’t get the guns legally. I’d want to get the illegally purchased guns off the streets. Let’s go from the more serious socio-political realm and ease up while approaching the end of this interview. Take a moment to describe your ideal partner in life? Somebody that’s adventurous, funny and out-going, but not so serious unless that’s necessary. I’ll know when we meet. Define your approach towards life? I try to stay positive and appreciate life. You only live life once. I think people say that often, but don’t really get it until it’s too late. Every minute you live is a minute you’ll never get back. Ask yourself if what you’re doing right now is going to be worth it when you look back. Tell the readers about any new projects in the making that the people should be on the lookout for? Currently I’m in the studio working on new music, but my most recent project released is a mix tape titled, “Who Is J. Silva?” which is available for download at www.jsilvamusic.com, www. datpiff.com and also www.icecreammixtapes.com. Naki and I recorded a great track called “Not That Type”, plus a hot R&B remix which are both available on I-Tunes and Google Play. Both versions of “Not That Type” are getting great feedback from the people on a national level! You can also check out J. Silva videos on www.youtube.com/whoisjsilva. Follow me on Twitter @ Jsilvadolla. To book J. Silva, contact lifemusicgroup@gmail.com. Check it all out! Article written by: Bill Oxford, Courtesy of: Life Music Group

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Gymini

Formerly Double Deuce and Now a Multi-Faceted Business Mogul From harsh and humble beginnings, Gymini has transformed himself from a Hip Hop artist into an actor and now a keenly focused walking and talking mobile business entity. You might be familiar with his accomplishment of being the first African-American Hip Hop artist to ink a business deal with a big name in the liquor industry, Jagermeister. As the years passed, Gymini would grow to learn from others that preceded him and would develop his own brand, style and way of life. A family man to the core, Gymini breathes to see his loved ones live comfortably, so the hustle and grind embedded in his blood keeps this soldier’s heart pumping. Everybody say hello to Gymini; one of West Savannah’s veterans in the game. How was it for you growing up in West Savannah, Georgia considering you were raised in a big family with 23 siblings? I heard people say that if you’re spoon fed you’ll have easy problems and not know how to solve them, but if you grow up under harsh conditions then those easy problems stand as no challenge. You’ve built the character and became a better person with the resolve to surpass those problems. Being in the roughest part of the projects makes it easier to adapt to the corporate world where decisions are made based off money and common sense, but in the streets it’s about knowledge and common sense. Knowledge, meaning you must be well aware of your surroundings and then have the common sense to know how to deal with it. Street knowledge or smarts is something you can apply anywhere. What’s one of your most memorable moments with the 69 Boyz? It would be the time spent on the road with DJ Trans and

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Thrill da Playa and the advice they gave me. Thrill da Playa gave me some of the best advice he could’ve given to me. When I first got into the Jagermeister situation, I kind of got big-headed, being that I was the first African-American male artist to sign that type of deal. Thrill called me one day and told me I needed to get my head straight because it was all getting to my head. He told me that you can be on top one day and fall off the next. That advice kept me humble. He told me how it is, all straight, no chaser. Some important advice I have to tell people is to believe in God. It’s that simple. What prompted you to work with Jagermeister and how does it feel to know you’re the first African-American male / Hip Hop artist to ink a deal with that brand? It was a chance for me to jump out of my comfort zone. You see, Jagermeister is more known for catering to the Country, Hard Rock and Pop Music, but they never had a Hip Hop artist represent their brand. I wanted to be that branch and that standard no one else could reach. When it comes down to it, you can set your own trend, or follow someone else’s trend. I knew it would be hard getting a lot of people to drink Jagermeister when they haven’t tried it before. They were so used to drinking what everybody else was drinking, so I being the one to break that drink in the urban communities was a huge accomplishment for me. What for you is the biggest obstacle while holding the position of President of IMG/Universal Southern Division? There really are no challenges per say, but I look at it like this. It’s been a great opportunity to step up into a leadership role and be a leader instead of a follower. I used to follow other CEO’s and found that I myself had more business savvy than most of them, so I started pushing my own label, Face-Off Entertainment. To everyone that I did business with, I appreciate the help and knowledge shared. What’s a personal strength of yours and what would be a


weakness? A strength of mine is that I can read people well and within the first 30 seconds I can tell if they’ll be good business partners or not among other things I pick up on. A weakness of mine could be that I believe everybody deserves a second chance even though we make choices. Instead of walking away from a person, I’d give them a second chance. If things fall apart it’s my fault and falls on my shoulders. Describe yourself as a person outside the realm of music and entertainment. I’m a father and a husband. That’s mostly it and when it comes to family and friends, I appreciate every moment. To my friends, if anything were to come up out of it I appreciate that too! If it doesn’t, I’m still around if you need me. So then how would others describe you? I’m very resourceful, helpful, motivated and hard headed, plus I’m the one others can talk to because I comprehend their struggles and needs. As far as helping, if I can I will, but if I can’t then I won’t try. Describe your experience working alongside actors like Denzel Washington (“Glory”) and Will Smith (“The Legend of Bagger Vance”). When you’re on the set with Denzel he acts like he’s everybody’s father especially if you’re not older than him. When he talks you know he’s speaking from the heart. Definitely one of the greats and Will Smith is more of a musician to me also a talented actor. He’s been one of those artists who have been able to make popular music for the kids without profanity. He’d say things like if you can make music without cursing then you can learn how to express yourself without being ignorant and using profanity. Would you enter the arena of film directing and writing? No, not really because my passion is in the music. I put my heart into the music and I’m always creative putting it the way I want it to sound. Sometimes you play a character and it might not feel right to you, but in my shoes it’s not going to happen if I can’t be true to myself. I’ve brought truth in my music. What’s the best professional move you’ve made aside from aligning with IMG/Universal and Jagermeister? It would be making my wife my manager and making sure the money stays at home. (Gymini pauses to laugh at the thought) That was the smartest decision I’ve made. What’s the one choice you’re happy you didn’t make which ended up with a positive outcome? I don’t think there’s really an answer for that, because I believe everything we do and that happens to us and around us is for a reason. Who were your biggest inspirations growing up from a musical standpoint? First, when it comes to performance I’d have to say Bobby Brown. I also have to pay homage to DJ Trans who knows how to make good music that people could dance to. He taught me how to write songs and make hit records. I’d have to thank Treach from Naughty by Nature who showed me how to stay strong. He gave me some of the best advice when

he told me, “A man will be a man and make music regardless as to someone liking it or not.” What do you see yourself doing in 15 years? I’d still want to be in West Savannah, GA. where I came from, so I can retire there. My family is there and I’m a family man, so being around them is really important to me. Are there any people and endeavors that you’d like to promote via this interview? I help sponsor TriSenx Inc. and I’m a spokesperson and endorser for a new energy drink . I definitely need to give shout outs to Brandon Miltsch who’s my business manager/advisor. He’s a man who works with a lot of heavy hitters in the music industry like 50, Drake, Lil’ Wayne, Busta Rhymes, Nas. The list goes on. He’s the man! He’s taught me more ways to put money in my pockets to feed my family and how to explain to others how I did it. Brandon has the gift of gab to reach out and make great things happen. Shout outs to my guy Big

Mike Neely. If you need the right media outlets and exposure, he’s the guy to go to! I have a lot of respect for the 69 Boyz for showing me the game, but I’m an independent artist now with my own brand separate from that era. Article written by: Bill Oxford Courtesy of: Face-Off Ent.

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Chella H

“Through the Perfect Storm, Chella H Defines Real Bitch Authentic” Amongst Chicago’s rich tradition of Hip Hop stars and hidden gems, the city’s South side has given birth to and raised one sharp-witted female emcee that stands apart from the rest. To her, there is no competition and she’s connected across the city’s map, so the street certified respect has been well-earned. Yes, Chicago welcomes Chella H aka Jenny Low End from the frontlines of her beloved city streets to the forefront of Chicago’s universally renowned music scene. Chella, the self-proclaimed “High Clazz Hoodrat”, at one point being an acquaintance to Windy City rhyme spitter Shawnna, has stamped her own brand of gritty and provocative lyrical content upon the minds of listeners abroad. Provocative is an understatement, but it sells, so a true hustler like Chella H will continue to please her loyal supporters with real heartfelt rhymes that would make anyone in the world take an honest listen. It’s a sexy honesty she speaks therefor the block loves Chella H. Here are some thoughts from Chicago’s Queen of Hip Hop. Read and grow to listen to the realest bitch in it if you haven’t already! What’s your overall perspective on the Chicago underground Hip Hop scene? In my opinion, times have changed where the underground has become more major and I don’t like us being called underground, because we’re making moves. Chi-Town, this is our time! Trying to find a balance in your music, so that it’s appreciated by both the young and old crowds can be a tough task. How do you make it happen? I don’t rock for any particular crowd. I just ride out for whoever rocks with me. Usually, they come and find me, because they can relate to my music. It is what it is, as long as my fans are old enough to understand where I’m coming from. You made a video for the track titled “Kiss My Ass”. You do keep that body on point and I’m wondering what prompted you to get butt naked in the alley for the video? Pretty much, it’s just entertainment and I

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like to entertain people. I do things that I feel express myself similar to my music. I write all my concepts and direct all my videos. It’s pretty much saying to anyone who doesn’t like me, that they can kiss my ass! Fuck what you think because I am who I am and I do what the fuck I want to do! If anyone has a problem with that, they can kiss my bare ass! As far as men are concerned, what’s your personal definition of the perfect man for you? I would just want my man to be an “at home” man with a big dick and a big bank roll, also a man that stays off those social sites and stays in the cut. If a major label came to you and offered you a huge record deal, but they ask you to change part of yourself and your image in order to market yourself better, would you change anything about yourself, or would you remain the same ole’ Jenny Low End? The reason the labels come to me is because of my image. If I wasn’t who I was and didn’t talk about the stuff I talked about, they wouldn’t be interested. It really depends on how much money they’re talking about. You know I’m a hustler, so I’d probably ease my way in, because it’s all about the money then take the money I get and do what the fuck I want to do. What’s your typical encounter like with a male fan, or groupie? Well, I don’t like to call people groupies. That’s degrading to them. They are fans and supporters to me, not groupies. I mean, the guys love Chella! Shit, why wouldn’t they? I’m the most important female emcee here with the most history and credibility. The men love me and my music, so I don’t really call them groupies, because it’s all out of love. All the boys that don’t like me are usually the boy rappers. Do you produce any of your songs, or do you stick to just the lyrical aspect and directing your videos? I write my lyrics, but I don’t make the beats. I mean, I do produce my own concepts and that’s part of the creative process. My music is authentic and it’s made for real life people living in real life situations, whether it’s about love, sex, pain, or just having fun partying. It’s something people can relate to. I have more input in my videos than the directors do, Lol.

If you were a city politician in the midst of all the violence that fills mainstream news broadcasting, what would you do first to decrease the homicide rate in Chicago and in other cities abroad? First off, it’s important I tell you that I am a life coach. I give advice to a lot of these muthafuckas around here. What I would do is be more hands on with the people that have control. Me being who I am, I have the ability to ride down on muthafuckas in person on it. A lot of people can’t say that, because they’re sectioned off and I’m connected everywhere. I would start at the top and holler at all the main figures and then just go down to the bottom where I can give them something to do, so they can make money. If they don’t have any money and don’t have shit to do, then that’s too much time on their hands. Growing up fatherless; how difficult was it for you to not be bitter? I’ve never been the bitter type of person, so that’s a question you’d have to ask one of those weak hoes. I don’t know about all of that. I’ve got swag, self-esteem and I’m the shit! I just pray for all of them, because sometimes they’re raised in a household where the mothers are bitter about their situation and it carries over into the daughter’s life, but that doesn’t apply to me. I’ve been through a lot and have survived, so I’m all good. What was your concept behind Get It Girlz Inc.? Well, Get It Girlz Inc. is no longer the name of my movement. It’s R.B.A. / MERMAID MAFIA now. A real bitch can come in late without needing an explanation. It’s also about being true to who you are and creating your own lane. Real Bitch Authentic has its own definition. I don’t have to do any bragging or no shit like that. You feel me? What’s the greatest advice that you’ve been given that you would share with the readers? Never show your hand too much, because a lot of times we communicate with those we think are in our corner. We give them an opportunity and they run and share it with the next muthafucka. You have to watch out for those people. That person could be around you a lot, basically re-writing your bio and selling it at the end of the day after putting different names in it. You never know. Keep your

circle small. All networking ain’t good networking. What are your expectations for your mix tape “The Morning After Pill”? That project is doing better every day. Right now, I have a hot new mix tape called “The Realest Bitch in It”. I just dropped my hot new STREET single called “Hustle”! You have to check that out! ALSO, I’M PUSHING “UGG BOOTS”. That goes hard. Check it out! Be on the lookout for all my new material and even my earlier classics! I like the message in the song “Baby Daddy”, but I’m wondering what the inspiration was for it? It’s a song aimed at the men out there, not necessarily a baby daddy, but whoever you’re with at the time. I’m letting him know I fuck with him and that I love him regardless to what situation he’s in. We have to also tell the females to have their backs and to be faithful and down. Where in the world would you want to visit most? It has to be somewhere you haven’t been to. I want to go wherever there’s people that rock with me all around the world. I’ll be there soon. Tell the people out there the top priority on your list of things to do in life. I just want to be able to take care of all the people that I care about. That’s my life goal and I’ll be happy after that. Just to know that they’re comfortable and their bills are paid and up to date. Let my people flex on muthafuckas and see everybody buy what they want. Do you have any last comments for the Chella H fans out there? Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @ ChellaChicago. I’ve got my new banger, the highly anticipated new mix tape called “The Realest Bitch in It” that was released March 5th 2013. Come fuck with me! www.ChellaH.com www.ChellaChicago.com www.Twitter.com/ChellaChicago BookChellaH@Gmail.com #TeamChellaH Article written by: Bill Oxford Photo credit: Tocky Bonner

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Flo Kaja

“Her Reality is Too Real for Reality TV to Handle” XS10 Magazine took some time to learn what it was like for Florina “Flo” Kaja to rise from humble beginnings with a never say die attitude, only to become a truly Bad Girl. Flo, who was born in Staten Island, NY., grew up as one of two daughters to an Albanian immigrant couple and gravitated to success with her risk taking, generous approach towards society and crazy ways that have made her a household name in Hollywood and Reality TV’s Bad Girl Club. The energy and passion Flo possesses in life can do one of many things, but mostly empower others to be themselves despite what society might say about them. When you have the strength to be yourself and show it, you in turn give those people close the opportunity to deep inside to find out who they truly are. The quicker you come to self-actualization; the easier it is for you to help others find their calling and reason for breathing. Flo Kaja has this gift and uses it for the benefit of all. With the assistance of XS10, take a step inside the world of LGBT rights activist Flo Kaja, because she and I both know you wouldn’t be able to walk or even survive a block in her shoes. This is a mere glimpse inside a bad girl’s world. So let’s jump right into this interview! Tell everybody if it was singing or acting that was your first love in terms of creative and performing arts? That would definitely be singing, because I was singing ever since I was 7 years old. I used to watch a lot of the Disney movies when I was younger and would sing just like the Little Mermaid. As for acting, that was something I started at the age of 15. Who taught you and inspired you to sing? My grandmother used to sing when I was younger and she had a beautiful voice. She wanted to sing for everybody, even at parties. Sooner or later I would pick up on my grandmother’s talent and realized I had her gift to sing. What advice did you get about the world from your father before he passed away? My father was always the type of man to teach me to be strong and not be afraid of anyone. No matter how big and strong the next person is you have to stand up for yourself. Don’t ever, ever, ever give up on anything you are doing. He was a very tough man who taught us how to box and be tough when we were younger.

Describe your background prior to joining the Bad Girls Club cast? Before I went on the Bad Girls Club I was a bounty hunter, even a paralegal who could do hair, nails and makeup; just a jack of all trades. Anything you need me to do I can do. I was a teacher of young kids and writer at one point. It’s like there’s nothing I can’t do, kind of like Superwoman. What’s your favorite thing about being in your shoes? I can go out in public and get nothing but love from everybody. I’m very confident in my ways and my mentality, and I’m a very strong person. I believe if the average person went through what I’ve been through they’d probably kill themselves, or go crazy. I love to be me. I’m very comfortable in my own skin and I won’t change for anybody. What’s your best advice to women that struggle with their sexual identity? Come out and be who you are quickly, because what happens is the more you hold something in, the worse things can get. Whoever you are, just be who that is because we live in an age where you have to express it and accept it. Be who you are and don’t try to please everybody. When was your first bi-sexual experience and what was it about that moment that made you go both ways? My first bi-sexual moment was when I was at this girl’s house and we were watching Dawson’s Creek. On one of the episodes these two girls made out with each other. She asked me if I ever made out with a girl and I said no. She asked me if I wanted to try and I said yes, so we did and I liked it a lot. It didn’t feel like I was making out with a girl at all and it was a beautiful thing. It progressed into more without going into detail. After that, I never let go of that side of me and since then I like women as well as men. What are your first thoughts when you see a female with a nice round butt? I wrote a rap about that subject, because I have an infatuation with girls that have big butts. I never had a big butt of my own, but I always had a nice bust size. When I see a woman with a fat ass walk by, my first thought is “Cot Damn! That shit is fuckin’ beautiful!” What male traits push you more towards females? Men don’t listen as well as women do and there’s more of an emotional connection. XS10 MAGAZINE 13


What female traits push you towards men? Sometimes women get too emotional and they get too dramatic with too many problems. With men it’s very simple where they want you to feed them, fuck them and shut the fuck up. Women are more complicated and it’s like dealing with yourself all over again. Some women don’t like all the cameras on them and value more privacy, so what is it that draws you to the spotlight? I love the cameras on me. You know, some people smoke weed and some drink and some can get on the stage and dance without being nervous. I think it’s about being comfortable and I am. Being in front of the camera or on stage gives me a high like a drug and it’s like my body comes alive! What made you want to become part of the Bad Girls Club cast? After doing everything a woman can do in life, I decided I really wanted to be on TV. I didn’t even know what the Bad Girls Club was until I saw a clip of one girl punching another girl in the face and I thought to myself “Yeah, this could definitely be the show for me! I can handle that!” What was the overall experience like for you as a cast My experience was amazing and I’m planning on joining member, and would you do it all over again? a future Bad Girls Club cast. Those girls better beware, because there’s going to be a more mature, classier and even crazier version of Flo on the next season. What are your thoughts about women who are passive and obedient towards men? When I’m with a man I’ll be obedient to a certain extent just as I’d expect them to be the same. As long as you do that, then you’re good to go. I believe a man should control a lot of situations, but presently not enough men know how to take control and more women end up taking control. Being that you’re a strong believer in Allah, what’s your perspective on U.S. military involvement in the Middle East? I am totally against it and I don’t think anybody should get involved with war, period. It’s not because I’m Muslim. To me, it doesn’t matter what religion you associate yourself with. I’m an Albanian-American and I love and appreciate the sacrifices made by the U.S. military, but I just don’t agree with war as a vehicle to resolution. It’s said that you have aspirations of opening up a community youth center, but when you run it, you’re not really hands on with the youth. How would you balance the business side with your desire to be hands on making a tangible, personable difference with your own words and guidance? I want it to be a place where young girls can come in and talk with counselors about the same things I grew up 14 XS10 MAGAZINE


dealing with as a young woman. I’d find a way to reach out to them, because I feel that no one can relate to them like I can due to all the things I’ve been through. It’s easier to relate when you’ve actually been through some of the same things. I’ve gone to high schools to speak to kids and I believe the best way to make a difference is by actually showing up and talking to them. This is much deeper than just some publicity stunt the next celeb would pull. I guess you can say that I’d be like a ghetto Mother Teresa trying to help all the people I can. Would you ever open up a performing arts academy for children to take vocal lessons, ect? Not really, because there are plenty of those to go around, but if I did open one it would have to be for children who have problems, whether it’s mental, emotional and/or psychological issues. When it comes to your music career, what blend of concepts are you using for your first album? My concepts come from my own life experiences. I can rap and sing; also I write all my own lyrics. People might not know or care much about my life, but they’ll definitely relate to my music and wake up to see life from a different perspective. It’s so real that people step back and say, “Whoa! Did she just say that???” I’ll respond like, “Yes, I did just say that!” Artists have to start talking about real shit in the world and not just about clubbin’ and poppin’ bottles. They should make music about the side of life that people don’t want to hear, so you can still dance to it. What’s a personal strength and a weakness you feel you

can improve upon? A strength is that I have this great ability mentally to block out things that bother me. With relationships, I’ve always been able to cut ties and move on easily. A weakness of mine is that sometimes I can feel so sorry for other people and forget about myself. Sometimes I need to be a bit selfish and take care of myself, because I’m always worrying about the next person close to me. One thing you’d love to do that you haven’t done yet? I’d like to travel to different places and volunteer to raise money for a town or something, just something hands on where I really feel like I’ve made the biggest difference and improvement possible. Do you have a story to share with the readers, along with any last comments? I want the world to know that you can stereotype Flo all you want, but I’ve always been the type of girl that no matter what people say about me they can’t judge me! There was a time when I was in Harlem, New York and my friends and I wanted to get somewhere, but we didn’t have money to pay for a bus or cab. We ran to the train station with some weed on us and jumped into some random person’s car, only to get to the bridge and be pulled over by cops. My friends and I dipped out on the driver. All the stuff I’ve been through in life is what makes me a bad girl. I’m out of my mind and slightly crazy! I’ve done things that make me think back and be like, “Holy shit, I just did that!?!? What’s wrong with me?” I have so many stories that when I write a book, one day people will read it and understand me better. I didn’t come from wealth or anywhere high up in society and even if I become super rich everybody that knows me knows that I won’t change at all. I know that I was put on this Earth for a good reason. I will make sure that everyone is proud of me and that they all understand me and my life. When people see me on TV in May 2013 and beyond, they’ll see the inner side of me and a funnier version of Flo, and I’ll share a lot more with my fans for them to get to know me better. I want people to know they should keep the faith, be happy and be themselves. Don’t let anyone bring you down under any circumstances, ever! If you believe you can do something, then be prepared and get it done, because determination is more valuable than talent alone. Article written by: Bill Oxford

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Brandon Miltsch “Marketing Business Mind You Can Trust”

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randon Miltsch is known by many as a compassionate, responsibly generous and committed family man with a business savvy hard to touch like a hot stove. As the saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Who would’ve known that Brandon Miltsch would’ve made it this far, right? If you ask Brandon the same question he’ll let you know that his motivation for success runs deep in his blood and family roots, so there was no doubting at any point whether or not he would rise to the upper echelon of the business world. He certainly has! His global network can only reflect the tip of the iceberg and when I say this, I mean that Mr. Miltsch’s tangible impact on the people he’s reached out to is incomparable. The world is a better place with Brandon walking and talking and making power moves with his intuitive marketing genius. Family comes first, but Brandon Miltsch gains a great deal of satisfaction seeing other people and business entities flourish around him. He knows the imprint he’s left on the world has been immortalized as if he’s edged in stone on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I guarantee if you combine resources with this mind-boggling revolutionary of the marketing digital age, your business will reach heights farther than the imagination could fathom. Take a walk with me through the mind and life and times of one such business marketing mastermind! When you take a deep introspective look at yourself, what do you see as being the greatest joy you get from being in your shoes today? That’s me being the father of a 1 year old son named Riley and also being a faithful and loving husband to my beautiful wife and best friend Christina. How have you managed to balance a hectic business life with your desire to be a family man? I always make time for family. Family to me is more important than the most important business meeting. If it’s a music industry meet-

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ing with Lil’ Wayne, or my family, then I pick family first every time. That’s the number one priority that allows for there to be balance in all other aspects of life. When you put family first, you don’t have to compromise anything. Describe what it was about your childhood that made you out-going and gifted at creating personal connections later in life? I had a loving mother, father and siblings. I had a strong sense of family growing up and I had parents who believed in me. I watched my dad, who was born in Belgium, come to America with no money and build an empire which was amazing to me! Having him around was a help when I decided to build an empire of my own. To have family that believes in you and mentors you is a huge blessing within itself! I find myself mentoring children and I’m basically giving them the love and support that my parents gave me. Some people think I’m crazy, because when my wife and I had our son, I didn’t go to work for three months. I lost some profits, but I gained the peace of knowing that I was there for those moments with my family. I believe that every child should have a mentor. I’m a 31 year old white business man and a lot of people in my demographic are hesitant to work in areas I’ve spent time in. You can see me volunteering in Compton, CA., Bankhead, GA., ect. giving people food and necessities. I do much more than just that. I speak in classrooms and even in prisons. I believe the people who are causing the most trouble are the ones who need the most attention. I try to talk to them, relate with them and show them that there is hope. A lot of people in my demographic won’t step outside their comfort zone in fear of getting shot, but I’m not the type to be intimidated by anything, so I’ll go help out and get my hands dirty and get out there in the streets. Appreciate what you have! When I look at my home and then drive through

Bankhead, it puts everything in perspective. I’m not looking to pose like I’m above everyone else with the money and all that, but if I see someone on the side of the road; I’m the type to stop, talk and help if I can. If more people had the sense and willingness to do that, this world would be a much better place. How difficult is it for you to stay humble and focused when you’re in a position of power and influence in the music and entertainment industry, along with being an international marketing guru? I think that has been easy due to me watching my father stay humble and

focused through my whole life. I’ve watched a number of great people in society take that same approach. They’ve always found ways to give back to the communities no matter how much money they make, or how great life is for them. For me, it’s not difficult being humble and real, because that’s the only way I know how to be. A lot of my success in the business world comes from my father who’s been in the advertising world for longer than I’ve been alive. He taught me focus, work ethic and a willingness to help people. You can’t help everyone, but when you do find clients who are serious, then it’s very important

that you deliver a high quality product. At an early age I realized that if I work hard for the results, then they will come. If you’re looking to make the money sometimes you take a loss in the beginning only to make greater gains down the road. If you over-deliver for a client you end up with a client for life verse a couple pay checks. My thing is that I over-deliver every day to all of my clients and I don’t have to worry, because they won’t be going anywhere. What are your favorite types of music that you grew up exposed to? The first ones that come to mind are Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, Miles Davis and Rassy amongst others. Do you have the conventional business marketing management educational background? Yes. I started my first business when I was 15 years old which ended up being a car detailing business, and then I made the transition into a valet parking business. For the last 15 plus years I’ve always been a business entity. When it comes to education it’s important to learn, but I think I’ve gained more knowledge from mentors along the way and from books that I read than college could’ve ever taught me. I did go to college from 2000-2004 and studied Marketing as my emphasis at Northwood University in Palm Beach, FL. I moved into the heart of Buckhead, Georgia for the last 5 years to settle down with my lovely wife and great son. I guess you could say that I’m well-traveled, because I’ve lived in Georgia, Florida, New York and California. I’ve been through a lot and have seen a lot of things that really make me appreciate the life I have even more. Since college years are known for being a focal point of establishing professional direction and also a playground for fun times, describe your fondest moment in college aside from graduation. Even though there was a price to pay, namely tuition, I definitely established

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rapports with professors that taught me lessons that are priceless. I had my fair share of partying and fun times when I was in college, because at that point in your life that’s what you’re supposed to do. When you make the transition from living in up-state New York to Palm Beach, not too far from Miami, of course you’re going to party and have fun! I had a blast in college and don’t regret a thing I did. You mentioned learning from your mentors, so I ask what advice have you gained? I can’t stress the importance of philanthropy enough and the huge role that giving back plays in my life. Networking should be a top priority and not just getting a phone number, but building genuine relationships with people you feel you can count on. Don’t just rely on a local network! Network around the world, so you have people everywhere that you can rely on and they rely upon you too. What is your working rapport with Syracuse grad Etan Thomas and to what capacity do the 2 of you make a tangible difference with the youth? Etan Thomas is a very close friend. Through our efforts, he’s worked a lot to give back to the community, whether it’s providing meals, supplies, ect. I’ve focused on helping him and his marketing strategy. I got Etan on NBC News to talk about his Fatherhood Initiative, but more than all else, he’s been a friend for years now. When I met him, he didn’t have a Twitter or Facebook account. No social media exposure at all. I helped build his social medium and showed him how to use it. That was that. Our main focus though is giving back to the children and to let them know there are great things for them to do down the road. Out of all the professional athletes that I work with, he’s an 11 year NBA veteran who truly knows what it means to give back, so that’s why it’s so refreshing to work with Etan Thomas. When you say that you have a genuine desire to make a meaningful contribution to society, by your standards what is “meaningful”? Meaningful to me is helping others and putting two different people together that might normally never be seen together. I like taking someone with a business mind and helping to make their vision a reality. When people say that there’s nothing new under the sun, what would you consider to be revolutionary about FireWolf.com? It’s a form of digital marketing that encompasses video, social media, networking and marketing, plus everything that’s needed for taking someone’s business to the highest level possible. The same people behind FireWolf were behind Bill Cosby 30 years ago and they’re still doing marketing and branding today. FireWolf always produces results! A recent report said that 89% of business owners feel like they are let down by their marketing provider. That’s horrible! To think that only 11% of companies in my field are providing adequate marketing services. I’m excited that we’re part of that 11%, but there’s a lot of improvement needed overall. If you’re looking for a digital marketing strategy and practice, then FireWolf is the one with the most integrity and most reliable track record to count on. What are some of your current projects you’re working on? I have a blog that’s getting a lot of web traffic. I’m also actively writing a new book about networking and I have a reputable

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publishing deal. I’m feeling very confident about my prospects for success with these endeavors. I’m actively doing speaking engagements where I touch on topics such as networking, marketing, branding and philanthropy. To what extent in other cities have you expanded the Networking in Atlanta events, or have you focused strictly on the Atlanta area? The Networking in Atlanta events stretch all around the world! We are expanding rapidly on a global level and I feel very lucky. We’ve just opened up in Columbia, South Carolina, so our influence in the business world is spreading and it’s only getting better! We are coming up on our 4 year Anniversary of business and people continue to see our great progress in the communities. They see what I’ve been able to do with it and want to bring it into their communities. Networking in Atlanta events are vehicles to generate funds for charity, increase business clientele, but more importantly to help others. Where are some of your favorite places to travel and why? Grand Cayman for one, because it’s a place where I can just “turn off ” the motor and relax. I like to travel back to the island Christina and I got married on, because that’s a very special place. I’ve had great times at Nygard Bay. There’s a private island that a friend/client owns and it’s a pretty famous destination that cost $300 million to buy. He’s a mentor of mine, also a billionaire who allows me to film music videos on his private island, mingle with my clients and also build my network. What did you learn most while an employee at NTT Verio? I learned that the small to medium size business owners have no grasp on digital marketing. There’s a huge opportunity to help business owners with their internet marketing and no one at that point tapped into that market. I also learned what it takes to build a business and be successful. When I was there I made at least 200 phone calls each day and work 15 hour days. I learned that’s what it takes in life to get where you want to be. People see me doing fun things and driving nice cars, but they don’t see the time and work put into what I do. You have to buckle down and isolate yourself if you want to be a successful business owner and entrepreneur. NTT Verio taught me how to do that. If I didn’t make 200 calls I wouldn’t have a job, because I’d miss the numbers I had to reach, so I worked from 6am-9pm to get it done. My experience taught me that I never want to be trapped in a cubicle with a desk, so I work very hard every day to make sure that doesn’t happen. There were a lot of positives, but at the end of the day it was a real wake up call. Since you have political leaders at your Networking in Atlanta events, do you ever find yourself becoming politically active with fundraising? Would you ever run for office, or just stick to being a business marketing genius? I don’t think politics is in my future even though I have great political relationships and ties to where I could go to the White House. I see myself as more of a philanthropist than a politician. I know that politics can get very dirty and that’s not something I would actively participate in. It could have potentially a negative effect on my family if I got into politics and that’s not worth it to me. Describe yourself and how others perceive you to be. I’m a hard worker who’s in love with my wife and son, and has


built many genuine relationships. There are people that can contact their huge network, but how many of them actually know their clients on a more personal level? There aren’t too many. What’s your rapport with individuals like Lil’ Wayne and Frank Ski. We are friends who have helped each other with marketing amongst many other things. Before anything else, there needs to be a friendship existent between the parties involved. If I can’t enjoy working with someone, then I just won’t work with them. What is it you’d like to expand on from a business perspective that you haven’t tapped into yet? I’m opening up a few businesses, but as of right now the details are strictly confidential. In due time, you’ll find out more about my future business ventures. As a marketing expert, what’s your best advice to indie artists trying to break into the music industry? Find an investor. It’s not going to happen unless you have the financial backing and if people don’t recognize the talent you have and invest in you, then you’ll never make it to a major label. Everything out here is a 360 deal, so the only way you’ll make it in the music and entertainment business is if you have the connections, do the footwork and market your music, and have

I-tunes.com. I can do many other things to market and promote you as an artist, but it all boils down to the bottom line. Here’s a lesson. If you can’t convince someone to invest $300,000 in you and your music, how is the label going to convince someone to put a few million into you? That’s what it takes to be successful in today’s music business. If you could back track to do anything differently in order to be further along professionally right now, what decision would you have changed? I wouldn’t change anything. I look at my mistakes as lessons learned. Even if I had a business partner that stole from me, everything negative that happens in life is just a lesson for the future. What is your mission statement and/or promotional pitch for Brandon Miltsch? Keep your eyes open for products and movements that have the name Brandon Miltsch associated with them. I’m a Trusted Marketing and Business Advisor. We’ve discussed numerous topics and positive aspects of your life and career, but to end this interview leave us with an inspirational true story. I married my best friend, Christina, who I dated back in middle

a budget. The old way of doing things is done where you could go into the label with a connect and vouch for an artist’s music to get them on. I think it’s unfortunate, but at the same time you have things happening that are amazing like Jay-Z outselling Elvis Presley. For the independent artists; find an investor and a job. If it’s meant to work out then it will, but don’t put all your eggs into just the music. That’s what a lot of artists are doing. If you’re an independent artist and don’t want to work a job, that’s crazy! Some of the greatest artists I know were working a regular job when they made it big. I can take an artist that’s not that great and I can blow them up overnight and have them on 106 and Park with videos and collaborations, and have all the celebrities talking about them, but how do we get to that point? That’s where the money comes into the frame. It’s not a fair world. I can put you up on WorldStarHipHop, but it’s a pay to play environment. I could have your newest single on the home page for

school. We went our separate ways for over a decade only to reconnect down the road as adults. (With a humorous tone in his voice Brandon continued) We had dinner and next thing I know I woke up and I’m married to a beautiful woman and I have a son. (On a deeper sincere note to conclude this piece) I found true love and happiness with my best friend, and now my wife and the mother of my son. Written by: Bill Oxford

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Glori

“The Name Says It All”

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here’s good in all of us, but only a few bring glory to their name the way Jonelle Glori Jones does. I sat down with the Waukegan, IL native Glori and found out there’s more glory bestowed upon those who look far beyond any glass ceiling. Here’s an outlook on the promising career of one, Jonelle Glori Jones. The Midwest, specifically Chicago, has been the origin of some of the greatest talents known in the entertainment industry. In Waukegan, IL (30min north of Chicago), resides Jonelle Glori Jones; a sensuous songwriter and model who also can sing with the best of them. Some women have the curves that give men goose bumps, but how many of those visually appealing women have the mind and personality combined to surpass the body’s appearance? Not many can compare to Glori who will leave your eyes magnetized to your computer monitor when you look her up on you-tube, performing “You Don’t Know” and “She Don’t Have To Know”. If the song titles tell you anything, she’s created a buzz and persona that might have other women putting their men on leashes soon. This unbelievable exterior has me and all you readers wondering what more is there to the seductive queen, appropriately named Glori. When you do your research online you’ll notice other than modeling, that Glori is an independent, soul and R&B songstress looking to be discovered by the major labels. Listen to her smooth accent and the notes she hits. With this great potential, being signed to a major record deal is in her near future. Glori is presently a free agent flying solo for now. During this professional endeavor, she has realized that you can possess great talents, but if you never get out there to network nothing good will happen. She said, “I’m always letting other people know what I’m doing professionally and that modeling is an interest, so hopefully more opportunities will arise”. Glori exudes a confidence and down to earth, lighthearted vibe when speaking, so I know when she said she always felt confident about herself; it’s not difficult to believe. Have you ever been goofing around with friends and ended up discovering a talent you were previously unaware of? When Glori was in her teens, she was at a friend’s house and they pulled out the camera. Pictures were taken and little did the rest of the world know, but from early on Glori had the photogenic personality to be the ideal, glamorous centerfold model in due time. A photog-

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rapher saw the pictures and encouraged Glori to pursue modeling as a follow up to her singing. At the age of 18 was when Glori first did an official photo shoot and she definitely didn’t disappoint. This would lead to opportunities such as being featured in online ads, along with an appearance in Chicago native IMG’s “I’ma Go Hard” music video. I doubt any man could get their eyes off the monitor when they watch that you-tube video. We all wait for the camera to focus back on such an esthetically pleasing, vision of beauty. Not to mention the song is a banger to be reckoned with too. Glori said, “I always want to present myself as a singer and songwriter first. Modeling is on the side, yet something I’m very capable of doing”. Many people think they have to diet and exercise routinely to maintain the build necessary for success as a model. When asked what Glori does to preserve her mass appeal, surprisingly enough Glori admits to not dieting and working out regularly. She laughed and explained, “I don’t diet. I try to stay active. Lol! I’m not working out as much as I should, but I do palates, yoga, leg lifts and core workouts.” This was a shock to me. Don’t get me wrong, because Glori still has the motivation to be a worldwide star. She’s become a sponge when soaking up information from more experienced people in the entertainment industry while expanding her network for broader opportunities. Ones such as a photo shoot in an exotic location; something Glori is looking forward to. In some instances, a model / performer can become uncomfortable with the expectations the industry places on them. Glori, generally speaking, says the clients she’s worked with have behaved and treated her with decency and respect. She doesn’t want anyone to get the wrong impression about the work she does. “Sometimes there’s the assumption that I’m there for the artist’s pleasure, but they need to understand that I conduct myself professionally and it’s just the work I do”, said Glori. Nothing’s misconstrued when I say Glori has huge aspirations in her near future. Other than modeling and finishing her first E.P., she’s focused on raising her children, doing social work and also wants to open up a lounge, or café where artists can perform and shine. When I asked Glori for advice she’d lend to aspiring models, she firmly stated, “There’s more to a woman, but in modeling your body is the product, more so than your mind. Don’t pay anything up front. Make sure you get all the information from the start. If a modeling agency wants you then they’ll do whatever’s needed to bring you aboard.” It’s good to know someone like Glori is willing to expound on her knowledge, as to lead other singers / models down the right path with her; the Glori-ous path. For more info on Glori, one of the world’s most stunning and elegant songstress/models on the rise, please go to https://www. reverbnation.com/glori For booking, contact Glori at bookglorimusic@gmail.com. Article written by: Bill Oxford


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Freeway Ricky Ross “It’s Never Too Late to Make an Honest Change in One’s Life” Freeway Ricky Ross has stood determined to restructure his life in a manner that’s more conducive to society, but through the eyes of some, you just can’t change. Or can you? Pose that question to the real Ricky Ross and he may just remind you on the spot about his legitimate endeavors in the business world such as FreewaySocialMedia.com, or the community outreach he’s done. It’s all in the eye of the beholder; whether you look at a model a certain way and judge her like you might with a convicted Kingpin who’s seen as unredeemable. The man, Ricky Donnell Ross rose from his native streets of South Central L.A. like Tupac’s rose from the concrete to stand out as an entrepreneur from both sides of the coin. Good and bad. It’s the balance in life that allows the best and even the worst people, and all those in between a genuine chance to grow. Sometimes it takes a wake-up call like doing time for a person to change their mind set. Ricky Ross had wealth and freedom staring him down only to have poverty put personal success on hold. As a fatherless man, there’s not a drop of bitterness from Mr. Ross as he attests, “I know who I am today and if I had a father it could’ve made me weaker than what I am right now. I’m happy about who I am today. I don’t think my life would’ve turned out any better than what it has, with or without a father.” Ricky Ross is 100% certain about who he is today, but for those who still might be skeptical due to his controversial past, the following is some insight I never thought I’d have the chance to attain! He reflected on his efforts to redeem himself after hustling to make a $600million street profit off crack sales, also his views on the drug laws, the prison system, his business endeavors since his release and even that platinum rapper from Dade County, FL. We know the story about the real Rick Ross and him being a pawn in an enormous socio-political and economic scheme. The scheme I’m referring to was the massive mid-80’s influx of cocaine imported into numerous urban networks and communities. The conspiracies are things we won’t speak on right now, because this all about Ross who was a street capitalist just as Wall Street has its white collar capitalists. Main difference is the product; crack cocaine. For an adolescent growing up in South Central, I can only imagine that it would be an irresistible temptation to fight not indulging in the drug game when they see the big money. I’m not justifying the choices Ross made, but consider all the details that go into his story. Google him and see how Ross has transformed his life and business agenda. I jumped right into the opportunity feet first to dig into the mind of the one and only Freeway Ricky Ross. Have you ever felt like you were a prisoner of your own conscience due to your past? We only know of what we see. If you don’t know any better, you can’t do any better. What stopped you from becoming a community leader and activist early on before the drug business? It was a lack of knowledge. What do you say to the people who claim you’ve done more harm to the urban communities than you did to aid and assist? Everybody has an opinion and everybody also needs to take responsibility for their actions, including myself, but then you have those

who ask, “Well, what have you done for the community to stop this problem?” If they haven’t been on the front line trying to get people to stop it, then I would say to them that they are no better than me. What have you done to try and counteract the effects of your past actions? First thing is that I’m being a man and there aren’t too many men that younger boys can look up to. When you got into the drug game were you flashy, or did you try to keep a low profile? I started out a little flashier than I should’ve been. Do you think there’s any real rehab in the jail system? None. It’s a warehouse. They don’t train you. There has to be some type of personal interaction for there to be any rehab. The only thing our jail system is doing is sending people to prison for a long time. How was jail a blessing in disguise? The time I spent gave me a chance to think and get to know myself, where I wasn’t affected by everything that was going on around me on the outside. How would you alter the drug laws? Is there really a war on drugs, or is it a war on the community? We all know you can’t fight a drug. I mean, what can you do to a drug? When you take one person off the streets another 3 or 4 others will take their place. There’s no way you can fight a drug war. As a politician, I’d make drugs legal because they’ve been illegal for 50some years and now the streets are full of drugs. We know that doesn’t work, so we have to try something else. I don’t know, maybe I’m crazy, but if a method doesn’t work then why would you keep doing the same thing expecting different results. That’s a form of insanity. Do you as an African-American male feel deep inside a conflict within yourself based on your effect on the African-American communities? Why or why not? No, I don’t. I’m a victim of this society. The community made me who I was. They sold it and told me how to sell drugs. What’s your opinion of a government who’s willing to sacrifice its own people for a national or global agenda? It’s really messed up, but many governments in different countries do those things. It’s part of human nature to prey off the weak. What comes to your mind when the system tries to silence journalists like Gary Webb and Milton William Cooper? The government has to protect its interests, so they don’t want anyone to come around and go against the system. That’s just the way it is and the people have to stand up and defend themselves. Nobody really cares about the people. The people need to speak for themselves. What are your thoughts when I bring up the idea that Danilo Blandon was hired by the D.E.A. after all that had transpired? They wanted to show that they weren’t interested in stopping the drug problem. They just went for the money. Was there ever a part in you that made you want to get out when you found out how deeply involved you were, or did the allure of the money have its claws in you? I was in jail when I found out about all that stuff. What’s your opinion about Oliver North being promoted by the

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Christian Coalition when he ran for Senate in Virginia? I’ve never thought about that until now. The only thing that I would hope for is that they do some of the good stuff for me that they did for him. Everybody has their own opinion. Some of the same people who didn’t like Hitler gave money to Hitler. Do you think you’ll ever have your own TV show like Oliver North had and if so, what would be your forum / agenda? It would have to something about business, but it wouldn’t be like Shark Tank. Those guys are greedy and I’m not a greedy person. If I called ex-President Reagan an international drug dealer am

the person to answer that with my background. I’ve been through so much and strayed so far left that I really can’t say. What do you say to the labels who market false images? They don’t care about the people involved anyway. All they care about is the money. Do you believe the shooting incident in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, was staged by Mr. Roberts or do you think someone really meant to harm him? I don’t know. I don’t really know the guy too well, but that’s a pretty stupid thing to shoot in an occupied area. Even if you wanted to film a movie on site and shoot blanks, you need a permit to do all that. You’d have to be pretty far out to stage something like that. If you ended up without money and raising children in the same neighborhood you grew up in, how would you keep your children away from the drug game? Well, I wouldn’t stay anywhere that I didn’t want as my home. I would make the sacrifices with the determination to get myself in the position that I want to be in. As far as protecting my kids from the drug business, I would educate them and I’m not talking about the typical education at a school now. Personal strength and a weakness you’d work towards improving? My strength is that I won’t quit. A weakness of mine is that I trust everybody. How difficult is it for you to convince people that you’ve changed and that you’re fully reformed from your past life? I don’t try to convince anybody. When you start living your life based off what other people think of you, then you’re in trouble. What’s your progress on your website? Tell the people where to go to check out all that’s new about Freeway Ricky Ross. Everybody out there, go to freewaysocialmedia.com. I’ve been managing an artist named D-Carter. Check out my clothing line named Freeway Apparel! Buy one of my tee-shirts! They’re really a hot product! Get them while you still can! Written by: Bill Oxford

I far off in my assessment, and do you feel the people high up in society should’ve done time with you? I don’t think you’d be far off by calling Reagan a drug dealer. I think you hit it right on the money. I don’t think many people would argue with you about that. When it comes to them doing my time, yeah, but you know I wasn’t in the loop, meaning I wasn’t knowledgeable about what was really going on. You have to be informed otherwise you become a victim. This pertains to artistic integrity in music. When a rapper named William Roberts aka Ricky Rozay took your name and image, do you feel rappers who do that, no matter how famous they are, deserve a spot in the game? Yeah, I mean, you can’t take away a person’s hustle. Who am I to say who deserves a spot in the Hip Hop community? Just because the guy is a crook and steals, does that mean that he shouldn’t be allowed to be a part of the Hip Hop community? I don’t think I’m

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Jennifer Layne Park

“Established & Not Satisfied & Always Envisioning a Better Way”

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J

ennifer Layne Park made it out of joyous, yet humble beginnings on the East Coast only to maximize her gifts/ talents to see her childhood passions come to fruition in later years. It takes a strong person with an even stronger heart to stay true to oneself in an entertainment industry that can at times be pushy when shaping their vision of Hollywood’s landscape and how you fit in the big picture. Jennifer was able to find her own lane for cruising and her own spot to park. Yes, that’s a play on words, but she has created her reality; one where it’s not all about her. Jennifer’s spent more time than the average celeb tangibly giving back to the people that really need help. She’s not your typical Hollywood personality who might stick to the film industry and big feature movies. To my surprise, Ms. Park has also won the Best Actress Award at the Philly Hip Hop Awards in 2012. Jennifer’s been rated as 1 or 20 Hottest New Film Stars and has graced the cover of other publications. Her professional range is incredible and what she’s done as a person outside the entertainment industry only solidifies her stamp on the industry as a well-respected one. Jennifer Layne Park bring unique ideas and concepts to the film set and enjoys her passion as a profession which is something I feel many of us out there wish we could say. Some of us can and that’s Jennifer for one. She gave me some insight on life and her approach towards success and all that comes with it, so I figured I’d share this with you. XS10 welcomes the talented Jennifer Layne Park to the fold. Where’s your hometown and how have you utilized the success you’ve gained to give back? I’ve spent a lot of time back and forth between New York City and Philadelphia, but presently reside in the Atlanta area. I’ve participated in a lot of charities and have done volunteer work many times at places like the library and shelters for women and children who’ve been victims of domestic violence. The thing is I do it because it feels right to me. I don’t do it for the press. For the last three years I’ve been the celebrity ambassador for a non-profit organization in both Philadelphia and Washington D.C. called Menzsit that helps disadvantaged and unemployed men find jobs. We also provide the right outfit for them to wear to the interview, so they feel special and look appropriate. Sometimes we just need someone to show and teach us things like interview etiquette and financial literacy when they get a job and have a budget to maintain. Menzsit has literally helped thousands of people and that makes me feel really good inside. As you know, when the man is able to provide for the family it positively effects the women and children. You are known as an accomplished singer/songwriter, also film producer, director and writer. With all that on your plate, how do you manage to balance your personal life with your professional life? I’ve been at it for so long that it’s not that tough for me. I have friends in my personal life who for the most part understand how time consuming my career is. I’m in that “Hurry up and wait!” type of business where people want things at the last second. My father helped me get a better grasp on the balance necessary due to his experiences. Which actor(s) have you had the best on set chemistry with? It’s tough to say, because I have nothing but great things to say about all my co-stars, film crews, directors. Richard Gere and Alfred Molena stand out as the first two that come to mind, because it was such a fun experience and exciting being able to work with established Hollywood actors. Working with them was the first time I was on set with actors who were at the top of their game. I acted with them, but we also improvised a lot which was fun, because you don’t take a class for improvisation. I admire Lili Taylor so very much. Her skill level made me say, “Wow!” If you’ve ever been on a movie set; we work really long days, sometimes 15 hours. With that being said, it makes for a better experience if we can have fun together on set. Are there any films and/or videos that you’ve produced and directed? Which ones stand out as your favorites? I co-directed and helped produce the music video for the track “Maria”. I also played two roles in the video; one is the lead character Maria. The musician’s name is John Murdock from Chamber Music which is an indie record label. It’s an incredibly, heavy hitting heartfelt song pertaining to date rape which made it that much more meaningful to work on the video. Not that this is a public service announcement, but to the ladies be careful when you go out on dates and have drinks. Watch your drink and take it with you if you walk around, because all it takes is a few seconds for a man to slip something into your drink. I know a couple friends who unfortunately became victims, but thankfully I’ve been blessed not to go through all that. What is your greatest achievement thus far? I feel like my greatest accomplishment is something that I’ve yet to realize. One of the top would be writing and XS10 MAGAZINE 27


singing one of the top ten songs in Billboard Chart in 1998. I’ve done work with Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine back in the late 90’s. That right there was a great time and very humbling too. Around that same time, Sean McCoy passed away. I loved him. He was my best friend and love of my life, so it was especially tough of me back then. We went everywhere together, even overseas. Great times! We as a group re-united in honor of Sean in 2011 and did shows in New York and Philadelphia. Our show in Philly sold out in just a couple hours after tickets went on sale and to say the least we were pleasantly surprised. What do you consider to be a turn-on in a man? That would be his voice and eyes. There’s a truthful and confident sound and way in which he projects those qualities. The eyes are windows to the soul. What was the best part about growing up for you? I wasn’t expecting that question. (Jennifer pauses in deep thought) Some of my best memories were with my mom. She’d always made sure that I was strong inside, had the courage to just be myself, believe that nothing is impossible and to do what works for me. I really appreciate those things, because I always had the arts and culture around me. There were always books in the house to read and I actually taught myself how to read with my young thirst for knowledge and inquisitive ways. I also developed a love for writing and acting early on. I’m really happy that I followed that passion. Do you have any projects that you’re working on

presently, or have just released? Yes! I have a new indie film I was working on recently titled, “Future Weather”. That went On-Demand in March 2013. I’m really excited about this film and expect it to win awards left and right. What’s the best piece of advice in life that you’d share with the readers? Treat people the way that you would like to be treated. We need more people that are willing to help others and not hurt them, and then this world would be a much better place to live in. What’s your greatest joy in life aside from acting? It’s my ability and access to helping people improve themselves and realize their dreams. My family is the most important thing to me, but I like reaching out on a one on one basis instead of just charities. I’ve been the type of person that’s thrived off adversity. It’s a trait of a champion and winner in life. Visit Jennifer Layne Park on the following site: Twitter @JLPisJLPisJLP Article written by: Bill Oxford 28 XS10 MAGAZINE


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Junior Br

“One Who Solidified the Bridge Betwee

F

rom a humble upbringing in the heart of the Midwest and amongst a diverse community with parents who truly had his best interest in mind, Junior Bridgeman has made a name for himself in a major way. He grew up in a blue collar community and was exposed to what true work ethic and discipline really meant. It didn’t take long for basketball coaches to take heed to Mr. Bridgeman’s skill set on the court, but what they couldn’t foresee is Junior’s desire to aid the communities he could touch. Personal character and professional ambition are not lacking in any way shape or form in Mr. Bridgeman’s vocabulary. He knows what it’s like to make something from nothing and has taken that ability from the basketball court into the business world. Bridgeman Foods LLC. is Junior’s extremely successful 25 year old business brainchild, but that’s not the only thing that motivates Mr. Bridgeman. There’s so much more to this athlete turned business guru, this article can only scratch the surface, but it’s definitely a story today’s athletes will want to learn from. From childhood to the high school gyms, to the NBA and onto conquering the business realm; Junior Bridgeman takes the world by storm! Describe one your fondest moments growing up. We grew up in an area where pretty much everybody worked at the steel mills. The three most important things for us growing up were going to church, getting an education and if you went out for any athletic team and made the team, even if you never had much of a chance to play you never quit. It’s hard to pick one moment, because it was just a good time and a good place to grow up in. As a kid, it’s beneficial to grow up around a variety of people. We had people in our community of Mexican descent, Puerto Rican, Serbian, Croatian, Italian, even Greek, because people from all over found work in the mills. It wasn’t until I went away to college and met people from all walks of life that I was truly able to appreciate my childhood. Who do you feel served as the best positive influence on you early in life? Without a doubt that would be my parents. I was fortu30 XS10 MAGAZINE

nate enough to live in a two-parent household and they were the ones that laid the foundation and guidelines, and made sure you’d understand why certain things are done the way they are. I learned the difference between right and wrong, also realizing what’s really important in life. Describe one of your fondest moments in the NBA aside from getting drafted. After playing 12 years in the league, it would have to be the retirement ceremony when they retired my jersey and raised it up into the rafters of the Milwaukee Bucks arena (Bradley Center), because I spent most of my career as a sixth man coming off the bench. Even though we didn’t win a championship during my years in


ridgeman

en Pro Athletics & the Business World”

the league, the franchise retired my jersey based off my contribution to the team and to the surrounding communities. You made mention of serving the community, so I ask how have you done so? I’d participate as a team member in summer basketball camps for the kids and we’d pass out school supplies more so than just tee-shirts and basketballs. We wanted to emphasize the importance of education over sports. I also got involved in the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer. After all those events, charitable outings and speaking engagements at high schools and elementary schools, I think the people appreciate the assistance off the court more than the gutsy play on the court.

You were drafted in 1975, so I’m wondering what was the typical NBA rookie salary? David Thompson was drafted #1 and if I recall correctly, he made $350-370k a year. If you got drafted with the 8th pick like I was, you’d make 100-150k a year. With that being said, what financial advice would you give up and coming athletes who sign ridiculously huge rookie contracts? It’s hard to tell any of them to live within their means, because they’re making so much money. That’s kind of an unrealistic thing to do. The thing they don’t seem to understand is that you’ll only play for so long. You might play anywhere from five to 15 years if you’re lucky and you should plan accordingly. You still have the rest of your life to live afterwards. After they walk away from the game, they should have a couple, or a few million set aside in the bank that they paid taxes on and which accumulated from all their years in the league. To be able to walk away with that type of money in the bank is a great blessing to have. That should be their goal, not how many cars, watches and boats they have, because none of that stuff is really important. Who was your most influential basketball coach along your journey to the NBA? That would probably be my high school coach. I was someone who didn’t get a chance to play a lot growing up. My high school coach would be at the gym all summer and I was there always working on my game. After we’d have our pick-up games in the afternoon, he noticed my effort and improvement, and would complement me. It’s amazing what words can do to really hurt someone, or at best help someone who desires to truly be the best player they can become. What’s your toughest challenge running Bridgeman Foods LLC, and how did you come across that business venture? When I was done playing basketball, even though I liked the food industry, it wasn’t a thing where I always thought I’d be in the restaurant business as a franchisee. I was sitting with one of my friends who’s a banker and XS10 MAGAZINE 31


a couple of his clients happened to be in the restaurant business. My friend suggested that I get involved with them, because at that point I only had a year or two left in the NBA, so when I retired I would be able to make good money and not have to take the first job offered. I followed through and learned more about the business. What was your educational emphasis while attending the Univ. of Louisville? I was a Psychology major. Business is something that kind of came to me afterwards. Before I was drafted into the NBA I had plans of going to Law school, because I wasn’t sure if I’d have the opportunity to play pro basketball. If you were Pres. Obama, what would be your main focus while in office for the betterment of most/all of the U.S.? It would be two-fold. First, I’d try to eliminate the bi-partisanship. Secondly, my concern would be the jobs that are available. You have to produce higher paying jobs to really sustain the middle class. Most of the jobs created are by entrepreneurs, not just the big mammoth companies. We have to figure out a better way to find affordable jobs for people, or ways for them to start up more of their own companies. What’s the best personal advice you’ve received that you’d pass onto others? You should never stop learning. You don’t always have to have a formal education with advanced degrees, but you have to be a lifelong learner. You also have to be willing to read and learn about and from other successful people in order to become a success in today’s world. How do you want to be remembered when all is said 32 XS10 MAGAZINE

and done? The main thing is that you help somebody else and that your life wasn’t about how many things you’ve accomplished, or how much you own. If you can’t look back at your life and say you helped someone, then in all your years on this earth, what have you really done? How would you describe yourself as a person, and how do you think others perceive you? That’s a good question, because there are two sides to that. You know who you really are and then there’s the side you want to project for others to see. You can fool yourself into thinking you’re a certain type of person, but you’re really not. I would say that I’m the person who cares a lot about people. I don’t think I have a personality that’s overly caring like a Mother Teresa, but I want to see wrongs righted and see people do well. Share a story from your rookie year. Well, when I was in college the teams we followed were the Lakers and the Knicks. At the time, the Knicks were the big team and we heard all about Walt Frazier and his personal style. When I had a chance to play as a rookie in my first home game as a Buck, a teammate and I showed up in suits, shirts and ties, all decked out. Everybody else on the team showed up in their regular clothes, so it was kind of funny and embarrassing at the same time. They were like, “Where do you think you guys are going???” It was a clear sign that Milwaukee was not like New York. What do you feel is Bridgeman Foods LLC’s greatest contribution? After all these years being in business, I think the one thing we are most proud about is that a lot of people who come to work with us have worked their way up in the company’s ranks and enhanced their earning power to provide better things for their families. We started with five stores in Milwaukee about 25 years ago and employees, along with clientele have stuck with us through the years. We know we are doing something right and will continue doing so! Article written by: Bill Oxford


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Kevin Spencer

“From the Original Dynasty to the New Millennium, Kevin Spencer’s Pen is Mightier Than Any Sword” Some of us can afford to spend time running around wild with our friends as children and some of us, due to untimely circumstances in life, exist for a different and more meaningful purpose early on. Legendary singer and songwriter by the name of Kevin Spencer didn’t have your typical fun filled childhood playing street football, as he’d take on the responsibilities of caring for his ailing mother. This young talented child with an ambitious character was raised in the church, so you know it’s like he has music in his blood. On top of that, Mr. Spencer has the faith to see his way through all struggles and the faith to know that his music business endeavors, no matter how many classics he touches, will always be certified timeless. His music career resume stretches back to the mid to late 70’s, but this right here is just a glimpse into the reality Mr. Kevin Spencer created out of his life. We know you as an iconic songwriter and singer, but if you could look back on life’s more innocent days as a youth, tell us what it was that initially took you down the path of a career musician? See now, I was the only child of the household and there was always a piano around. I had an ear for the keys at an early age and it was truly a gift. When I was at home I didn’t bang on the piano keys like most kids do, but I’d pick out the notes and try to create a melody. My mother made sure that I had a chance to fulfill that gift. If you know anything about Southwest L.A., it’s the hood and both music and poetry played a big role in my life early on as an escape for me mentally and emotionally. My mother used to always play the piano and sing for me. She worshipped and was a woman of God, so she raised me to pray. I was around a lot of people from business entrepreneurs to singers and musicians in the church. I was inspired by musicians like Quincy Jones and Sly Family Stone to name a few and learned how to play the piano, violin and the horns at an early age. I grew up listening to classical, jazz and gospel music, because I wasn’t allowed to listen to artists like James Brown, Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell on the radio in the house. Describe an adversity that shaped the direction your life went in as you matured. When I was 9 years old my mother became very sick and had a cancerous tumor in her knee. The doctors tried saving the leg which needed to be amputated and because of that I spent more time at home taking care of my mother. At the same time I refined my creative skill set while at home. I couldn’t go out and run around playing catch with my buddies. I had a higher purpose to serve when tending to my mother’s needs. I saw her in a lot of pain in a full body cast for a year and they

didn’t have in-home care like they do now, so I always had to be within ear shot of her voice. I was writing songs when I was 10 years old. The music as a creative outlet was a form of survival for me at the time. I learned how to cook meals due to my mother being incapacitated and not being able to get out of bed. She’d call out the recipes and I’d follow what she told me. I was working like it was a job, but it wasn’t a real job. I was her arms and legs from that point on. Who was the first person or group you ever wrote a song for? That would be for Shalamar. The first song I wrote was their first hit record titled, “Take That to the Bank” which Leon F. Sylvers III had a hand in producing. What do you think you’re most known for by others and how do you want to be remembered? When you talk about musicians and songwriters, I’m known as one of the top in my craft writing number one hit records. It’s my style that I brought to the equation. I contributed greatly to Solar Sound and what became known as the Sound of Los Angeles. L.A. didn’t have a musical style until people like Mr. Sylvers and I came around. People will also remember my style on the piano! While we were on the West coast, producers on the East coast started copying that style, but it was a compliment! It was a way of saying that people from coast to coast were paying attention to what was going on in L.A. Describe what you love most about 70’s R&B and Soul music? Well to be exact, I was more dominant in the late 70’s all the way into the early 90’s. The 70’s was the disco era before people started dropping to the floor and coming back up. We were a part of bringing people out of that era and in 1978, I was part of Dick Griffey’s Solar Records label with distribution through RCA. We brought that soulful funk and a lot of different rhythms to a beat that otherwise would be a repetitive disco loop. The musical style we brought had more of a song to it. Back then it was more about making music and songs with an unexplainable dynamic. I like it when I see the kids today grab the records from my era. Those old cuts have been sampled many times and artists from the late 90’s like Camp Lo recorded with me. The end product was their hit “This Is It”. Which relevant artists in today’s R&B and Soul genres would you record with? I’m not too familiar with many of the artists recording today. Justin Bieber comes to mind, because he came up under L.A. Reid. L.A. Reid and I produced records for each other with Solar Records. When I stopped the song writing in the 90’s it was within a 10 to 15 year period afterwards when I start-

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ed noticing my songs were being pulled out of the bag by the next generation. At this point in my life I’ve accumulated so much acclaim and experience about what the music really means. Not to discredit myself, but I often wonder why me? Out of all the thousands of songs written to resurface and be re-introduced to a younger audience, I’d hear mine! That always gives me a good feeling. What are your two favorite songs out of all those you’ve written? How come it has to be just two, because there are so many other hits? The ones that stand out most are “Keep On Lovin’ Me” by the Whispers and “Make That Move” by Shalamar. Since you write a lot about love, relationships and life, what would you deem as the necessary qualities you’d want your woman or partner in life to have? It all starts with her heart. That’s not the only thing, but that’s where it begins. If it doesn’t have a good motor in it then I don’t care what the body looks like. She needs a sense of humor too, because if you can’t find a way to have good times when life is hard, then you’ll make other people miserable too. That’s a good start for her to have a good heart and a joyous soulful vibe. Tell us a story in your career that you feel is entertaining and ironic in nature? Many people ask me how I met Leon F. Sylvers III. I was at a park with some friends and saw this nice looking Black girl. I didn’t even know who she was, but we got to talking and she gave me her number. In the next couple of days I called a few times, come to find out that girl was the little sister of the legendary Nancy Wilson who would show up to these community events in my area where Black families would gather kind of like the Fourth of July. About a month later, she invited me to this gathering in this exclusive area where a bunch of famous people reside about half hour away. She ended up being friends with a member of the Sylvers Band. Karen Wilson showed me where that house was and I got my bass guitar and amp together, because I had it in my mind that I was going to audition for the Sylvers. I showed up to the Sylver’s house unannounced three times. When I showed up the third time, they

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(far right - Kevin Spencer)

answered the door wondering “Who are you and why are you here?” I responded by saying I heard they were looking for a bass guitar player. That’s what I had to say to keep them from slamming the door shut in my face! Things in the end worked out for the better. Any advice you can give based on that situation? You have to keep showing up if you really want to do something and get it done. Just because nobody gives you the time of day, you can’t stop pursuing what your heart’s desire and gift is. Be around people that are doing things that are at the level you want to be at. What’s your rapport like with Lamont Patterson of World Movement Records? Lamont’s a legend in his own right! He has a heck of a history! Lamont was a young blood in the industry before I ever learned how to play an instrument. He’s like a big brother to me. I wanted to learn how to play and perform in a band, so I picked up some pointers from Lamont and would still be in amazement of him as I’d learn. I could also say similarly great things about Leon F. Sylvers III. They had the L.A. Forum back then where the concerts would take place and it was all about the Jacksons verse the Sylvers. Everybody at my high school (Crenshaw High) knew about that and wanted to find a way to attend the show! The Sylvers and the Jacksons used to battle and compete with the footwork over who was better at dancing. A lot of people don’t know about that. Now they do! Since you’ve encountered those people who jump out of the woodworks throughout your illustrious career, how do you define a real friend? Most of my friendships are 40 years plus. If I become friends with you then I’ll stay friends with you. You don’t have to be pissed at me and I’m not here to disrespect you, but I won’t be disrespected either! We can get along just fine and I’ll be there when you need me. I’d treat people the way I want to be treated myself. If I can’t help you, then what I won’t do is hurt you. On a social level, what would you do to focus on improving the American educational system? I think the system needs to put a stronger

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(front and center - Kevin Spencer) 38 XS10 MAGAZINE


emphasis on re-implementing the arts programs for the sake of children’s creativity. Of course, work to improve upon the basics like reading, writing and arithmetic, but they started cutting back on the creative arts educational classes. A good number of families couldn’t and can’t afford musical instruments, so how can you learn to play an instrument you feel you have no access to when it’s not in the classroom either? I saw violins on TV, but never thought I’d have one of my own until an elementary school teacher assigned me a violin of my own to practice playing. It’s not just the educational curriculum, but it’s also the social dysfunction in how the kids interact with each other. You could take into account the bullying, but that’s another conversation. There’s a lot to be said for how things have changed to the point where it’s at today. If you were President of the United States, what would you do to improve the U.S. reputation abroad? In spite of the fact that we are a multi-culturally diverse nation of immigrants, we don’t respect each other’s beliefs and cultures well at all. The U.S. is wide open for people from all nations to come here and build a livelihood. We should also find a way to make amends for how we’ve gone into other countries and caused devastation to countless innocent civilians. We as a military pull in to judge a situation and inflict our actions, then pull out all the while destroying and killing a lot of innocent people in the process of fighting for someone else’s freedom; their rights and liberties. The U.S. people know that the world abroad doesn’t like them. We don’t like ourselves and then we go overseas and do things in other countries in the name of what’s supposed to be righteous? Right for who??? According to who??? Right compared to what??? What’s it like being recognized as an icon and major contributor in the music industry? Have you ever watched a basketball game from the stands and looked at the players like they’re really going after it!? If you get into the game, the intensity increases. When we as musicians were in the middle of working on our craft, we were so busy and deep into the projects making sure every aspect of the project was on point. We knew that we had songs at the top of the charts one after another, sometimes a few hits charting at the same time, but we were so caught up in the process and what we’d do next for us to fully grasp how successful and influential we became. What would you consider to be your most memorable moment with the group Dynasty? That would be when we were the first American R&B group to go to Lagos, Nigeria in Africa and

perform at The National Theatre in 1981. It was standing room only with 13,000 people in the audience with more people in there who weren’t supposed to be in there, because they sold more tickets than the venue’s capacity. It was hot outside and the air-conditioning wouldn’t work, but to see the reaction of the people was awesome for us as we performed a two hour show with a brief intermission. Add the temperature to our energy on stage together with the fans jumping and screaming; I almost passed out during the show! I liked the fact that it was all about us as a group and that we were the only ones holding it down for Solar Records. The Whispers and Shalamar came overseas after Dynasty. What’s the best part of being in your shoes and what’s the toughest part? Some people I came up with in the industry now own record labels, such as Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis who I once worked with and I like the fact that we (Mr. Sylvers and I) were a driving force for other people to come along and follow our trend. Some of those artists have put together wonderful live shows! What’s difficult is learning how to appreciate my accomplishments without looking at how much money I’ve made and saved. I’ll get certain gigs and record with artists, then people in the world look at me like I must be rolling in the doe. It’s not like that and fans wonder why not. If I went by what everybody else’s perception of what great music is then I’m good to go, but people/consumers don’t really understand that it’s more about writing timeless classics and being remembered, not so much about how rich I am. Define yourself as a person, not as a musician. I came from very humble beginnings when it came to the materialistic world, so life and success to me hasn’t been about money and material things. It’s more so about being accomplished and achieving things that inspire and help others to achieve. I’ve got a lot of compassion and I come from the heart. You give what you receive, so if you give love then you’ll get love back.

Article written by: Bill Oxford

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Wendy Day

The Rap Coalition Founder and Avid Fan of Hip Hop

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n the past 21 years Wendy Day has been a prime example of how someone can claim a prominent role in a cut-throat industry without selling their soul and giving up their core of decency as a human being. She’s comes from a family that struggled to make ends meet, but still provided the best options feasible. Wendy knows what it’s like to be the outsider with good intentions and a greater heart. Accomplished and humble is her demeanor, but if you look at her resume you’ll notice a string of careers she’s affected in a positive way; a way that her humility won’t allow her to appreciate fully. Not yet at least. Greatness sometimes takes years to sink in before it hits you like a Mack truck. Wendy Day has seen the world from the eyes of the more fortunate to those of the have nots, so it’s easier for her to accept critical acclaim whereas for others it’s not so simple. She has the caring, giving, optimistic persona that thrives off knowing she’s played an intricate role in the success of those artists she’s reached out to and touched. If you’re a big name in the music business, chances are you’ve crossed paths with the one, the only Wendy Day. A true ambassador for the rappers and the Hip Hop side of the music business, even though as the years have passed her musical tastes have varied. Just as the currents of the ocean and the winds change, so do the ways to make a dollar with a strong entrepreneurial spirit. That spirit pushes Wendy every day and all those close to her know she has the faith to see things through. Everybody who’s somebody in the music business knows who you are, but only a few know the roots of your being. Give people a better idea as to where you grew up and what it was like for you. I grew up in the 1970’s in suburban Philadelphia. My 40 XS10 MAGAZINE

parents didn’t have a lot of money, but they made sure my sister and I were placed in the best schools due to them knowing the importance of a solid education. I kind of felt like an outsider, because we didn’t have much money. This played to my advantage because as life progressed this gave me the chance to get comfortable fitting in where I didn’t fit in. For example, I’ve always been comfortable being a white female in a black male dominated Hip Hop scene. You mentioned education, so I ask what is your opinion of America’s educational system and what would you do to improve the overall scheme of things? The problem I see with the educational system is that it’s built off memory. You give me “facts” as a teacher and I’m supposed to remember it all for a test. It’s not based on learning, but more so recall and respond. If I ran the educational system, which I don’t want to, but if I did then it would be more about teaching real world problem solving and life skills that apply to every day and not so much memorizing what year a war started. I had a discussion with my sister about this and as children we were never taught how to balance a check book or invest money properly to turn it from 10k into 20k. My sister and I have the entrepreneurial spirit and don’t work a 9 to 5. We realize that the educational system was designed to prepare you to find a job making someone else money. The economy’s terrible and it’s hard to survive under that type of structure, so there are more entrepreneurs around today. Who were your biggest influences aside from family while growing up? Even though I was a TV baby raised sitting in front of the TV watching sitcoms, I had a group a good friends to surround myself with. It wasn’t until I reached college age when I embraced other personal influences because in high school I never really studied. When I was in college I took school seriously and I had this amazing professor of Western Civilization who for the first week of class had us take notes on all these “facts” she told us. The next Monday, we came into class and she had a pop quiz for us on the information she gave us the week prior. Before we got the tests results back, she admitted to us that all the “facts” she told us before was all bullshit. She noticed and told us that not one of us raised our hand and questioned what was being taught. Her lesson in doing that was to always question authority. Even if it’s someone with the title of teacher you should still research what’s being taught and make sure the things going into your head are the seeds of true knowledge and not just someone’s perception of what really happened. This lesson was so eye opening to me at a young age and it


let me know it was ok to question authority. You’ve been a music business consultant for some of the biggest names in the industry, so what’s some of the best advice as a consultant that you would give to an indie artist coming up in the game? Learn the business inside and out. This music business has a very low barrier when it comes to entry, meaning you don’t have to have an education or a degree. Pretty much anyone that wants a career in the music business can get in, but it’s about longevity. It’s important to realize that all the stuff you see on BET, MTV and WorldStarHipHop aren’t needed to get into the spotlight. Sometimes the labels sweeten up the story. It’s an industry that takes a lot of work and isn’t based on talent and luck. Some artists as they grow up are under the assumption that if they have a gift for rapping and/or singing, that somehow it automatically qualifies them for a shot in the music business. The industry doesn’t work that way, because it’s almost like 10% talent and 90% grind and work ethic. Learn everything that goes into the music business and find out early on if you’re really willing to invest all the time and money. What I see is that most artists are broke and it’s like a cruel joke when you come into the industry with no money and it takes money to record and market your product and image. The industry is a very unforgiving entity and it can be very tough for some of these artists without a budget or investor behind them. What do you consider to be a “fair” record deal now verses the early 90’s when you got your start? I think today’s typical record deal is a 360 deal which I’m not a big fan of. The 360 deal is when the label gets a percentage of all your avenues for revenue. That includes show money, sales money, endorsements, your film and TV endeavors, merchandising rates, your publishing to name a few. It’s almost like the record label partners up with the artist and takes a share of all the artist’s income streams. The problem I have with that is the major label doesn’t invest enough in money and resources to warrant that outrageous cut. They can take anywhere from 15-50% of your show money, but they don’t help you book and promote your shows and I don’t like that. I don’t see why an artist can’t just do it on their own with a loyal team, because there are enough people out there to work with or to hire for promotions. There are videographers, studios, street teams that excel and are affordable, so in the end there’s really no reason for an indie artist to stress about getting signed to major label. It’ll get to a point where major labels will be close to extinct because more artists will learn how to do all the necessary things to be successful; all the things a major label would’ve done for them 20 years ago. What does it feel like being a strong and influential woman in the music business? First of all, I love ya for that. That felt great for my ego! I

don’t really look at myself like that unless someone tells me I am. There are so many things I want to accomplish in the music business that I haven’t even touched on yet and I tend to focus on the things going on and not so much what I’ve already achieved. Thank you for the compliment, but I truly feel like I’ve only accomplished 10% of what I’ve set out to do. I think educating a couple generations of artists in the music business has been my best achievement. Prior to my involvement, artists seemed to take whatever deal was thrown at them. Now they are more knowledgeable about what’s best for them. What’s some advice you’d have for the women in the world, not just in the music business? Don’t ever accept being treated like a second class citizen. Build your self-esteem and strength, and do what you know is right. Second piece of advice is, don’t fuck in the industry! It’s an emotional and creative industry that isn’t set up to be a dating zone and sometimes young women in the industry get sucked into that where they think they’re building a relationship with someone, but they’re really not and they end up hurt. To the women in the music business, learn all the aspects and not just what you specialize in. Definitely work towards being the best at what you do and become very skilled in your lane. One of the reasons why I’ve been able to stay relevant for so long is that I learned how all the jobs needed to be done from negotiating contracts like a lawyer, to managing artists, promoting artists like a street team would, to doing radio promotions and publicity to name a few skill sets. You can learn as much as possible and not just stick to one lane. Give me one situation where you felt overwhelmed, but overcame it to shine brighter. The Cash Money Records situation was probably the most challenging, because I worked nine months for them for free and helped them go from a decent company to a great brand name. I was in the process of shopping them a deal and we were about to finalize the deal with Universal. Cash Money decided they could save money by not paying me for my services and the attorneys provided to negotiate the record deal. We ended up suing them and the lawyers

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got their cut first because they were more necessary to the process than I was. I remember feeling very helpless and frustrated because it took like 3 years to get it through the legal system, but I never gave up and stopped doing what I was doing in the music industry. I did a lot of work for Cash Money and they didn’t see the value in me which was very hard for me to handle. I finally received my settlement for 150k, which was what Cash Money was making to do a 2 hour show. Believe, the irony wasn’t lost on me. What’s one thing in life you’d like to do, but haven’t done yet? I think it would be amazing being American and living in a foreign country. I don’t know which place I’d go to first, maybe Africa, China, or somewhere in Europe. I would have to wait until my mother passes away, because I wouldn’t want to be that far away from her until then. The overall experience and cultural education would be priceless. It’s a way to look at America through non-American eyes and to see how others view us. It would be different because in America we’re so focused on what we possess. When I lived in Montreal Quebec, they’re more focused on family, relationships and friendships as opposed to materialistic needs. Going elsewhere like that would be the perfect reality check. So you gave up everything to start the Rap Coalition and that’s a huge sacrifice to make for a higher purpose. What else is it about you that makes you unique from the pack? I like the fact you mentioned that I gave up everything! I did and it was tough. That was when I was 30 years old and I decided I would try it for a few years and if it didn’t work then I’d just find another job doing something else. Giving up everything never really crossed my mind. It’s like being at a poker table and you put all your chips in the center of the table and call. For me, that’s what it was like because I really believed in what I was doing. Part of what sets me apart from the rest is that I’m about seeing other people around me do well and succeed when a lot of people are about “me, me, me”. I share helpful information freely in-

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stead of keeping it from people who need it. I have a share mentality, not a hoarder mentality. I’m still able to do my best for clients even when there’s no real value in the situation for me. If I’m negotiating a deal for an artist I manage and I know the deal on the table is atrocious, I’m not going to push the artist into signing the deal because I need a new car or need to pay a mortgage. I do what’s best for the artist/client. I don’t know too many people that think that way. Too many people are all about their own needs and doing things to benefit themselves. I worked with lawyers who would push me to get artists signed to bad deals and I’d argue with the lawyers about it. Some lawyers would argue that they’ve worked 100 billable hours and that the artist better sign the deal, then I’ll look at the lawyer like you’ve got to be kidding me! Are you serious? That deal is terrible! Some of them are more concerned about self than the artist possibly signing a deal that could destroy their dreams and livelihood. When you came up with the Rap Coalition why did you call it the Rap Coalition and not the Music Coalition? What is it about Rap verses other genres? I started listening to Rap in 1980 and I didn’t start working in the music business until 1992. I looked at the Rap Coalition as a vehicle of appreciation for the pleasure that Rap artists had given me throughout the past years. What attracted me to the music was the energy, passion and delivery of the artists. My passion for the music has been so strong that’s all I would listen to from my 20’s to my early 40’s. It’s not so much like that anymore because I’ve changed and so has the music made. When I started the Rap Coalition I didn’t consult only Rap artists as I’d also represent a couple Rock n Roll and Pop artists, and a few Country artists. Rap was always number one to me. I’m on my 21st year for the Rap Coalition and the primary focus is set on artists, DJ’s and producers. Since Tupac was the first member of the Rap Coalition’s Board of Advisors, I was wondering why him?


Tupac was actually someone I met when I lived in New York and I really didn’t like him much. He came across as an arrogant, opinionated asshole. When I found out someone tried to kill him, at the time I had direct access to the Nation Of Islam due to working on a few projects for them. I called the Minister’s son in Chicago and I asked him if he could send the Fruit of Islam to come and protect Tupac 24-7 until he went to prison because it was obvious someone tried to kill him when he was shot at the recording studio. Tupac wrote a letter to me thanking me for making that call. I wrote him back with a bit of an attitude. I didn’t really appreciate him. In my letter to him I said that a lot of the problems he has are brought upon by him. When he wrote me back I was assuming he’d insult the heck out of me, but he thanked me for my honesty. He told me that a lot of people couldn’t understand him and tolerate his realness. I was very impressed by his level of acceptance of responsibility for his actions. He told me where I was correct about him and where I was wrong instead of telling me off, and I respected that a lot. That all made me want to get to know him better, so the whole time he was incarcerated in Clinton Correctional he and I were writing back and forth. I was able to understand him as a person aside from the music. It was like a complete 180 as he would win me over as a human being. His advice to me as a young white woman in a black male dominated industry is that I was going to need to be co-signed by successful people. If you want to be taken seriously, you can’t just win people over based on your accomplishments in a world where co-signees matter so much. Tupac told me that he’d co-sign for me anytime and anywhere because he saw my heart and who I am as a human being; also I gave him some great advice on

improving his career. He knew I needed a Board of Advisors and told me to make him the first one. Chuck D of Public Enemy was contacted soon after. Once I had Tupac and Chuck D aboard in early 1996 that opened up so many doors for me. What are your intentions and expectations with your endeavors such as A Scratchy Throat, SlavesNoMore.com and The Knowledge to Succeed series? A Scratchy Throat is a social media marketing company that I started with my partner Tony Guidry in May 2012. It was founded out of frustration built up from our clients going to other companies saying they’d provide those services at a high level, but fall through on their end of the deal. Tony with all his incredible expertise in digital internet marketing combined with my skill sets will see A Scratchy Throat become the prominent site industry people refer to for their overall needs. The Knowledge To Succeed is a series of nine books that I’m only one book into completing, so I have a lot of work to do on that. Since everything is going digital and I don’t want to deal with warehousing and physical distribution, I’ve decided that series will be available primarily in digital form with the option to buy in-print. SlavesNoMore.com is a new site intended to provide a know-how in the music and entertainment industry for artists, musicians and entertainers to learn the ins and outs of their career choice. How do you want to be remembered when the curtain closes? I’d like to be remembered as someone who cared enough about Rap music and Hip Hop to the point where I actually gave back. I’ve set the bar for people who want to work in the industry and not be fake. I’ve shown that you can be a decent person in the music industry and still make a living within it. It’s very hard to find someone who doesn’t like me based on a real premise. There are many people out there that don’t like me, but haven’t met me and don’t know me. Maybe they thought I should get them a record deal and I didn’t because I didn’t believe in their music. Nobody can honestly say I fucked them over and there are slim pickings in the music business where you can say that about them. I’m very proud of not having to be grimy to make a dollar in the industry. Article written by: Bill Oxford

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Kevin Townley “With Discipline & Charisma, Kevin Townley & Urban Vision Ent. LLC are Primed for Continual Success in the Film Industry”

Kevin Townley is one dominant urban entity in the film industry that gains satisfaction from knowing that his best creative work has yet to be done on the big screen, but his greatest accomplishments come from a deeper, more humble root. Kevin is the brains and creative spark behind Urban Vision Ent. LLC as he rose like Derrick from less than ideal personal circumstances as a youth in Aberdeen, MD. His travels would take him to Atlanta, GA., where Mr. Townley has made himself a highly regarded film director and writer, only after he focused on family and the military early on. Kevin’s the last person to allow anyone to pigeon-hole him and his ambitions. He’s gone from winning “Director of the Year” at the Underground Grammy’s in 2008 to directing shows on the UPN television network, along with music videos for artists like T.I., Young Jeezy, Tamika Scott and many others. To think that this is really the beginning of a lucrative and healthy career in film for Kevin Townley isn’t much of a surprise. If you know this man, you’ll know that he has so much more in store and you definitely won’t be seeing the last of Mr. Townley anytime soon. Go ahead and read the following to learn about Kevin’s upbringing, why he started film and how he plans on leaving the film industry on its knees with awe-inspiring creative concepts in his future endeavors. What was the thing you appreciated most about growing up Aberdeen, MD.? It’s definitely the unity in the community. The town wasn’t that big, so it’s like everybody kind of knows each other. There’s a military base nearby, so there’s a wide variety of people that we’d see pass through Aberdeen. When did you get your start writing, directing and producing film? I’d have to think back to when I was in the military. Did you grow up in a family with a military background where it might be expected for you to enroll in the Army? No, not at all. I grew up around alcoholics, pimps, thugs and other people who worked 9 to 5’s. My grandmother worked her fingers to the bone and my mother was the person who’d work 2 or 3 jobs making sure we were taken care of. I didn’t know much about the military growing up, but as I matured I learned to respect the military and what it does for you as a person. Even if I didn’t like some of their policies it helped 44 XS10 MAGAZINE


instill discipline in me. Who would you give credit to for helping jump start your career in film? Chris Robinson of Robot Film was very influential in my start and Mike Taylor who gave me the cradle of knowledge and the know how to shoot film for about 2 years straight. We did some really nice projects together like T.I., Jeezy, B.O.B. amongst many others. Chris and Mike gave me some big time opportunities that helped me get to the level I’m at now. If it wasn’t the military and film, what would you be spending your time working on? I’d probably end up being an artist, or painter due to me painting pictures on a canvas as part of my spare time. What’s the biggest difference between directing a TV show on UPN verse a movie? When you direct movies you’re dealing with a larger budget and usually a higher grade of actors and actresses. I had two music countdown shows for independent artists on UPN for a year (Urban Vision Show and the Street Playaz Show). If you could sit down with just one person for a conversation over dinner, who would that be and what would you expect to learn? That would be Steven Spielberg for me, because he is my idol. I’d talk to him, because he’s at the highest level possible which is where I want to be eventually. You always should try to learn from smarter and more experienced people in your field. I’d ask him when he’s directing films, where do all his creative ideas come from and when does he know that he’s created a masterpiece. What is it about Steven Spielberg that you admire and look up to? Steven Spielberg is extremely detailed about everything he does and I happen to be a very detail oriented director. His writing level is beyond great and when he’s putting a film together, you can tell he’s giving 150% with every aspect from the sound to the visual. He doesn’t do just one film genre. He’ll do a variety of films from Schindler’s List to The Color Purple. How have you separated yourself from your peers in the film industry? I found my own lane with my own style which is what you should do in my shoes. When you stay true to yourself and your style, I think that’s what really helps you gain success. My style is charismatic and it definitely brings out the best in the actors/actresses I work with, even the artists who have me direct their videos. For that reason, I think a lot of people in the industry have been drawn towards working with me on a creative level. Part of my approach is that I don’t quit, nor will I

take “No” for an answer. I’m also not afraid to push the envelope to the highest level at all costs and at all times. I’m one who shows the utmost respect to everyone in the game, especially my fellow directors, writers and producers. Some people in the industry when they disagree with your vision they might talk crap about you. I always look at it like sometimes there are better ways and options for doing things, maybe a better concept to use in the filming process. I get respect by showing respect all around. Why is directing your primary passion over writing and production? It’s the straight up creativity of it all! To come up with something fresh on paper and take it and make it a reality is something great. It’s like painting. You start off with a few brush strokes and by the end of the day you have a masterpiece. I think I was a natural at directing and writing. What can people learn most from you as a person, not just as a professional? Never give up on your dreams and keep striving to live a life you never thought about living. A dream is a dream, but if your dreams don’t scare you then you’re not dreaming big enough. Failure is not an option. What’s your overall best moment on a movie set? It was the first time I met T.I. at the World Premiere in Atlanta. I had a chance to work with him and be around him on and off the set. Also, I’d have to say working with Young Jeezy and Tamika Scott of Xscape top the list too. Who would be part of your “perfect cast” for a major film in your near future? Denzel Washington for starts. That movie “Flight” proved to me that he can play any character that’s asked of him. Will Ferrell is a very funny actor that can also play a good serious role. Halle Berry is an actress who has definitely taken her craft to another level. For Gwyneth Paltrow; there’s not a role she can’t play. With the list of Hip Hop videos you’ve done, are there any other genres of music that you gravitate towards? I’ve done projects with Gospel, Pop, R&B and even Country acts. Public Announcement’s Euclid Gray and Taylor Swift are examples of many people from a variety of musical genres that I’ve worked with. I’ll ask you this because you’ve been a celebrated Sergeant in the U.S. Army. What’s your perspective of U.S. military involvement overseas, more so in the Middle East? My whole thing with the military is that you as a soldier don’t know much about what the mission is, or the overall picture. The military is just doing the job they’re told to do. Speaking on it from a political perspective, global XS10 MAGAZINE 45


conflicts have been going on for millions of years and we’ve been trying to solve the same basic problems that haven’t been solved for the last million years. From a military perspective, we as soldiers are really just staying loyal to our leadership, saying this is our mission to do and succeed at. Can you give an insider’s view on new projects that you’ve been working on recently? I’ve got a movie coming out called, “Zero” that was shot in Atlanta, GA. and gives the perspective of the young teenagers out there. I don’t want to get too much into that, but it’ll be Hot! I’m arranging a talent show on Hipe City 365 TV that can be viewed worldwide like 106 & Park. Keep your eyes open for “Checkmate” the trilogy, “Who’s Killing the Men in Blue” and “When Your Cake is All Ready”. There’s a lot more I have planned, but that’s for another day. I wanted to touch on the political realm, so if you don’t mind me asking, what would you tell the Republicans if you were in Obama’s shoes? First of all, show some respect to the man that’s been picked by the people to lead us. The people spoke out by voting him into office. In order for this country to become a better America, we have to get rid of that old-fashioned thought process and approach to politics. To me, a lot of the Republicans are stuck in the 1800’s and there’s too much prejudice still existent in today’s political system. The younger generation doesn’t want to hear the arguing and bi-partisanship. The Republicans need to get with the times, because times have changed. If you keep thinking backwards in time, then you can never really move forward. 46 XS10 MAGAZINE

What do you see yourself achieving in the coming years? I feel that I’ve graduated from doing music videos, even though I’ll still direct them. Don’t get me wrong, but I’m more focused on big feature films and my company Urban Vision Ent. has made major steps in that direction. Do you have any inspiration to give the readers? You never should give up even when you think you’re at your end. There is no end when you are in my shoes, because even after death all the work I put in will last forever. Your name will carry on and so will your style and charisma. I’ve seen people with statues that commemorate them. Leave your mark on the world and know that God gave you your gift, and that you’re using it the right way. As I said, the way I fell into doing film wasn’t my choice. It was God’s choice and now that I know I have this level of talent, I utilize it the best I can. I don’t want to sound like the late great coach Jimmy Valvano, but don’t ever give up. God was there for me and helped me get out of certain situations, so I know He can help others just as well. Any last comments? I’d like to thank you for this opportunity to express my ideas and give the readers a better idea of where I came from and where I’m going in life. I definitely appreciate Tomeka Diaz for bringing us together. Believe in yourself and know that you can make it to wherever you want to be in life. Believe in God. You don’t have to go to weekend services to believe in God. Everybody has a gift and they have to learn when and how to use it. God Bless everybody and I wish everyone the very best.


Ill Gordon and Dat Bizness Bring Integrity and Substance to the Hip Hop Game

emcees with truth and substance to their rhyme. Substance is in the house!!

In today’s day and age, substance is a rare commodity in Hip Hop within the music industry’s mainstream, unless you’re talking about Ill Gordon and Dat Bizness out of the Windy City of Chicago. Granted mainstream mass appeal is a level they’ve yet to achieve, this duo of dynamic emcees appropriately refer to themselves as Substance. Reality on the diehard streets of Chicago provided these two superbly talented souls the lyrical substance necessary to shed light on a lifestyle the typically sheltered person would go any cost to avoid touching. With these life experiences, Substance has reached out to many crowds and supporters in recent years, only to touch on topics that mean more to the average bar/club hopper. After all, Substance is the name and Substance is in the game, in it to stay! Take a stroll through the complex minds of true

Describe where you’re from and what it was like for the two of you growing up. Ill Gordon (I.G.) – That would be the Southside of Chicago, born and raised, but I spent a number of years in a few different neighborhoods. It was rough growing up. It made me into someone who’s able to adjust and adapt to different surroundings easier. As bad as it was, I appreciate my upbringing because it made me into the man I am today. Dat Bizness (D.B.) – I came up on the South Eastside of Chicago and went through the typical hardships that a young black person goes through in a poverty stricken neighborhood. You pick yourself up off the ground when you’re lost and try to find yourself. What’s been your most formidable road block on your path to chart topping star status? D.B. – When I was 14 my mother was diagnosed with cancer and my father was addicted to drugs and left us. All of that seemed to hit me simultaneously, but it was one of those huge hurdles to make it over and through. It was when I was 17 when I realized that I have to keep it moving and life goes on, but I was real lost and didn’t know how to maintain during those 3 years. It was like mom’s sick, dad’s gone, deal with it and live life the best I can! The area wasn’t what they portray on TV. It’s still love and people do care for one another. I.G. – The biggest obstacle I’ve endured in pursuing this dream of ours is when my cousin was killed, may he rest in peace. It hit our family hard because he was the first to actually have life taken away. He was starting to make waves on the Chicago music scene just prior to his passing. I was at a point where I just wanted to put an end to making music, but close family and a couple good friends like Dat Bizness convinced me otherwise and to stay focused to overcome all that. When my cousin passed I felt like it was my duty to keep the music alive. What music did your family have you listening to as a child that shaped you into wanting to be a musician/artist later in life? I.G. – Funny part about it is that both my father and I are musicians and he taught me how to play the drums when I was 4 years old. I would listen to a lot of Sly and Family Stone, George Clinton, Parliament Funkadelic, ect. One of the things my father taught me was that good music XS10 MAGAZINE 47


is good music regardless of genre. My father had me listening to funk and my mother exposed me to the Soul music like Anita Baker, Phyllis Hyman, ect. D.B. – To feed off what my partner here, both of our fathers were musicians. He taught me how to play the alto saxophone at a young age and would be listening to George Clinton, Guns N Roses, Aerosmith, Chicago, ect. My mother was more into the soulful music from the church like Marvin Sapp, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, ect. Of course Hip Hop was always around in our era growing up, so we couldn’t avoid it even if we tried, but Hip Hop, R&B and Rock N Roll would be my top three most influential genres. How difficult is it for two talented artists composing a duo to stay humble for the sake of longevity, all the while putting egos aside? I.G. - Yes, we’ve had our disagreements as a group, but the one thing that keeps us well-grounded is our lives. We don’t live in a lap of luxury like superstars. Our everyday lives keep us humble with our eyes on the prize. That’s not tough for us at all because we both came up humble. We both understand that there are always egos at play, but we focus more on the group. There’s a mutual respect for one another, so that makes it easier when it comes to sharing progress and success, also when there’s a fork in the road. It’s that mutual respect that enables us to sit down at the table and discuss what needs to be done. What was the first show the two of you performed together where you felt like your careers would take off from that point on? I.G. – It was a show in Milwaukee and this was back before we had a mix tape, so we were doing shows without product. Not just us, but the people in the crowd noticed our chemistry on stage and were impressed. That’s when I felt like we were onto something big! D.B. – That would be the show we did at the Abbey Pub in Chicago. We were already travelling and killin’ shows wherever we went, but that was the first one where I 48 XS10 MAGAZINE

noticed how we could control the crowd and have them doing exactly what we wanted. Who out of all mainstream artists would you like to have featured on up and coming recordings? D.B. – The first names that come to mind are Nas and Black Thought. I.G. – That’s a tough one, but I’ll have to say Raekwon. Nas is really nice with the flow and so is Black Thought. When it comes to Raekwon, I respect his body of work and his longevity in the game for the last 20 years. I’d throw Redman in the mix too. Describe the qualities that define the ideal mate in life. I.G. - Patient, trustworthy, understanding and supportive above other qualities. She needs to know that this grind is not easy at all! Being with an artist that travels is a lot different than being with Joe Smoe who works the 9 to 5 at the corner store. We are asked to deal with a lot outside of the relationship itself. D.B. – Understanding and supportive lead the list, because one day you’re on top of the world and the next it’s like you’re barely floating. My woman has to be freaky too! You know how men are visual creatures where we see something we like and want to conquer it. If I know my girl is at the crib and she’ll hold me down on whatever type of level, then that rids me of temptation when I’m travelling and doing shows with Ill Gordon. We see a lot of stuff on the road and temptation is very real. What’s the difference in the Hip Hop that’s out now verses the Hip Hop you grew up on? D.B. – Today it’s like everybody’s in the club poppin’ bubbly with no worries. It’s unrealistic because not everybody lives like that, whereas back when we grew up there was a better mixture of music and sounds. I.G. – Now a day, whether it’s the radio stations, or the powers that be; they’re pushing bullshit to the consumer. I don’t listen to the radio at all. They’re programming your minds with what they want you listening to. Back in the day there was more of a balance where you’d hear music from every region. If it’s good music then its good music and it shouldn’t matter where it came from. Play it. The people in control care more about what sells than about the culture and the art form of Hip Hop. On a socio-political level, even with Obama in office what’s your perception on present day American race relations? I.G. – I feel like America was born off the back of racism. With Obama getting into office, it made the really racist people come out and overtly show their true colors. In the end of the day, no matter what your race is you are a representation of the country you govern. You’re up there making decisions based off what the Congress will let you do.


What’s the craziest moment you’ve had so far in your music career? D.B. - We did a show in Bloomington, Illinois where we were opening for Bob Marley’s band, the Wailers. We got off stage and met these white girls, and I swear it was my first time seeing real groupie throw themselves at us. They were saying they’d do any and everything to hang out with us. I don’t trust all that. I don’t trust someone wanting to give me themselves because my 16 bars are hot. I.G. – It was a show at the Bassment in Chicago with Gemstone. We got a really great response that night. This younger lady approached both of us and told us our performance was dope! We thanked her, but she responded with a pause followed up by telling us that while we were on stage she had an orgasm. I was shocked like “Are you kidding me??” We’ve had many moments, but that was one I’ve never went through before. What’s your rapport like with music producer extraordinaire Fareed Gramz of Ceven Cees Ent.? D.B. - Fareed is good people to know. That’s the homie! We met up a couple years back and worked on a project together. In this Hip Hop grind, you meet so many people who are fake and fugazi, but Fareed is one of those I stand by because he’s a stand-up guy. I.G. – There’s a lot of mutual respect between us and Fareed. He’s shown us nothing but love from day one. We were working with a few different producers at one point, including Fareed and some of those other projects fell through, but Fareed always kept in contact with us as a true supporter. How do you feel the mix tape has changed the music industry, more so the genre of Hip Hop? Good or bad and why? I.G. – I have mixed emotions about the mix tape scene. I understand the artist’s strategy to gain fans, but there’s an over-sat-

uration of free downloadable material and fans no longer want to go out and buy music off the shelves. At the same time, we as the group Substance wouldn’t be where we’re at if it weren’t for our mix tapes, so it’s definitely a mixed bag. I think mix tapes are good as long as you don’t overdo it and you use it for exposure, but then you have some artists who try to make a career off of mix tapes. Artists will put an album worth of material on a mix tape for free. You have to get the fans comfortable enough to the point where they want to actually go out and buy your music; after all we’re trying to make a living off this music. What are the best and worst things about the Chicago music scene? D.B. – It’s very open and diverse to the point where there’s no two alike. Chicago’s a melting pot where if you go into one side of town, it’ll be different from the other side. The downside is that it’s harder to find artists with an original sound. You have an artist that’ll make it big with a certain style or sound, then it seems like all these other artists want to follow that formula. In reality, that’s one artist being themselves and another is trying to be them, but that won’t work without sounding like an imitator. I.G. – I agree with Dat Bizness when he mentions the city’s diversity, but I feel that the artists coming up fall into the crab in the bucket syndrome. Some of these cats that have been making it big and signing deals with majors are bringing the spotlight to the city, but they aren’t representing the city as a whole. I’m not saying they’re wrong, but they make Chicago look like one kind of place and it’s really a melting pot as Dat Bizness said. I do feel like Chicago musically is its own worst enemy because no matter how bright that spotlight gets the city as a whole never seems to flourish the way it should. There are no physical outlets around here and Chicago is the 3rd largest market, but there are no major labels out here. There are a bunch of studios out here, but no major platform for artists to get heard like there is in New York and L.A. Any closing comments? D.B. – Just be on the lookout for Substance on tour and new material in the coming months! Check out our new release titled, “No Grey Area”!! We love all of our supporters and we plan on bringing you more Hip Hop classics for you and your children to listen to for years to come. Article written by: Bill Oxford

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