Issue #5 KURTIS BLOW GRAN DmASTER DEE
Legends Of Hip Hop
Nyia Dream XS10 MAGAZINE 1
A WORD FROM THE EDITOR
STAFF LIST Founder/CEO Mike Neely Chief Editor Aidem.MediaGroup Editor Mike Neely Art Editor Norma Martin Advertising Manager Kandi D
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
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 2 XS10 MAGAZINE
Legends Of Hip Hop
XS10 MAGAZINE 3
Doo-Wop and Hip Hop at its Best Courtesy of the
Force Md’s We, as product consumers of today and yesterday’s music, both hear artists harmonizing simultaneously supplementing the melody with clever and razor sharp word play. I don’t have to mention who the radio plays non-stop because my point is all that singing and rapping had to originate from one individual/ group. Staten Island, NYC in the early 1980’s birthed a sound like none other at the time and ever since. It was the collective soulful voice of the Force Md’s (formerly known as the L.D.’s and then Force MC’s). They have a distinct Doo-Wop and Hip Hop sound combined that would inspire generations of artists to come. XS10 Magazine sat down with the remaining members of the legendary Force Md’s; Stevie D. Lundy, Rodney “Khalil” Lundy and Damen Heyward for the truth in music history through the eyes of these timeless pioneers. What was life like as youth in Staten Island, NYC? Stevie D Lundy (Stevie D): It was strange. We were around a lot of different people and had a lot of support when we were younger, but as we grew older and got a whiff of the Jackson 5 our lives changed. As a young group, we tried mimicking them and people would tell us that we really sound like the Jackson 5. We started off doing talent shows when we were known as the L.D.’s. Rodney “Khalil” Lundy (Khalil): We grew up in a rough urban section of Staten Island. For a lot of the people living in our projects, it was like one big connected family. We shared our ups and downs, and the people enjoyed our performance and routine. (Damen Heyward would join in soon after with some commentary of his own.) Was there one friend who encouraged you to pursue music as a career? Who would that be and what was their influence on you? Khalil: That’s a good question to throw into the mix because there are so many people that played an instrumental role and individuals we connected with and formed relationships with. All of this helped to keep us motivated, but we were already selfmotivated prior to our success. Stevie D: We used to do a lot of mini-concerts around the neighborhood in different projects and sing for the people that would eventually tell us that we had what it takes to make it big! What did it feel like to hear “Tender Love” being played on the radio for the first time? Stevie D: I was an indescribable feeling! It took two hours to record the song. Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam expressed to us that
4 XS10 MAGAZINE
we should keep it the way it is without the drums, just the piano. Nice, grown and sexy. In 1985, Terry and Jimmy guaranteed us that “Tender Love” would be a major hit and they were right on the money! After we mixed it down it sounded great and beautiful on the radio. “Let Me Love You” was actually one of our first tracks that helped set the trend for all the R&B and Hip Hop blends to arrive since. I was hanging out with the late great Charles “Mercury” Nelson at his house with some women and we were bragging about how we had just released a hit record, but the women wouldn’t believe us. We told the women to turn on the radio and that it would probably be playing at some point. Go figure! The second the radio was on, it was our record that was being played! That was the first time “Let Me Love You” was ever played on the radio and we went crazy! Khalil: You might not know about this, but “Let Me Love You” (1984) was the first single the Force Md’s had on the radio and it was one of our first nationally recognized hit records. Damen: I wasn’t in the group back then, but when I first heard the Force Md’s on the radio I knew it was a sound that would change the game in the music business. That was like the first time I really felt like, “Wow! What’s going on here?” The Force Md’s sound was the first marriage between R&B and Hip Hop. It seems like every rapper wants to try singing and a lot of singers want to rap, but with the Force Md’s that was the first time that dynamic was ever really noticed in that type of way. What was your experience like collaborating with Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam? Stevie D: It was a great moment for us! They show great dedication to their craft, but they also let you do your own thing with your style. Here’s something else for the fans. We were supposed to be in the Hip Hop classic “Krush Groove” as the R&B and Hip Hop act, but at that time a younger New Edition was the more popular act that got into the film instead of us. We didn’t
get upset, because even though we didn’t play a role in the movie, we still had a spot on the soundtrack. What’s your perspective on the new millennium R&B and it’s evolution from the Quiet Storm R&B of your era in the 80’s and 90’s? Khalil: I feel that our generation had a more original and distinct sound. There were more true musicians that mastered their craft and sang with the best of them. Today’s technology is great, but it took away from the authentic sound from our youth. We had more classic songs that are timeless and a different approach towards the process. Today you have more microphones, but back in the day we might’ve had just one and we had to show out and give the people a dose of our personality too. Damen: Music in the earlier eras was almost angelical and it inspired you. It touched me and it touched many other people too with an emotional connection through the records. Like Khalil was saying, the Hip Hop instrumentation of today is more based on technology and machinery therefor that emotional element gets lost in the mix. It’s like sitting down at a piano and coming up with a melody, and as a songwriter like myself, I could get inspired to write a classic. I can’t really get inspired much by the music of today, but music from the Golden Era transcends decades. When you hear songs from the Motown era they come to you quicker as you recall them. Now a days, an artist can make a song that’s hot for a minute, but a year later people fail to remember the name of the song. If you take a song like “Tender Love” and listen to how many songs that have been inspired by that one record, you’ll understand. You don’t get that from today’s music. As music lovers, we love today’s music, but from an artistry perspective it was more unique in the Golden Era. Stevie D: I think there’s good R&B out now, but I don’t think it’ll be timeless on the same level as the music out of the 70’s and through to the 90’s. I’m just happy that we’re part of that era when artists released that special music. Other than the fact that you guys were pioneers in blending Hip Hop and R&B together, what was it about the Force Md’s that separated you from your peers? Khalil: So you and everyone know, the Force Md’s were the first artists to bring that Doo-Wop harmony into the Hip Hop and R&B. The Force Md’s were the first Hip Hop and R&B group to get signed to a major label. Stevie D was the first artist to institute the beat box into the music industry before Doug E. Fresh, Biz Markie, Rahzel to mention a few. Stevie D is one of the first artists to freestyle rhyme over a beat. The group Force Md’s, originally the L.D.’s and then the Force MC’s, were the ones who created a mesh like a bridge between genres. Damen: It was the first time people saw a group known for R&B show flashes of Hip Hop in their style and product. Stevie D: The elements of the human beat box and freestyle rhyme came around the time when we were the Force MC’s and we would do Hip Hop underground rap shows. We’re the first and only group out of Staten Island, New York that can make that claim. This was before Wu-Tang Clan when we broke into the
game rapping and singing. I never wrote my rhymes, but I’d rap and sing to the crowd and the interaction was great! If you talk to people like Doug E. Fresh, they’ll tell you they were inspired by us. A documentary in progress will really explain how it all went down. Speaking of your documentary what’s the title and what are your expectations? Khalil: The name of the documentary is “The Force Md’s Relived” and we’re hoping to have it out there before the end of 2013. We’re really busy with some new music. We went to three film festivals and got standing ovations at each one. The documentary will enlighten people on what the Force Md’s really meant to Hip Hop. Stevie D: I’m very sure that once people see this documentary they’ll be shocked by what they learn. Hopefully everyone sees it when it’s released. Since New York is known as the birth place of Hip Hop, how easy or difficult was it for you as a group of trendsetters to be accepted in the music scene? Khalil: Early on in Hip Hop most of the radio stations weren’t too receptive to playing Hip Hop and we as a group had to go through more channels to become well-known. After we broke through, it kind of became more of a downhill battle. How much did it mean to you to battle the Cold Crush Brothers? Stevie D: Ohhh! Wow! You brought us back to that battle! Let me tell everyone out there that the Force Md’s have a very strong respect for the Cold Crush Brothers. They are one of the top dogs from that era alongside the Furious 5 and the Treacherous 3. We were that one group from the “forgotten borough” of Staten Island and people laughed for starts at the battle. We finished and the crowd was like, “Wow! These guys from Staten Island are really good! I didn’t even know they knew about Hip Hop.” We went up in there and gained respect for our borough! Grand Master Cazz is a great lyricist, but back then it wasn’t all about lyrics. It was about your routine and how the people rocked along with it. We were considered the top rap harmonizing group at the time. When it comes to the battle, the Cold Crush Brothers didn’t even realize until years after that it was actually a battle and we showed up thinking it was and caught them off guard. They were used to doing 3 to 4 shows a night and most times we’d perform once a night. When we got there, Cold Crush was just leaving and we didn’t even hear what they said on the mic. People in the crowd were talking a lot about Cold Crush talking mess about us on stage and we came with mics in hand ready to spit that hot venom. We performed and the crowd went along with us! Cold Crush from the Bronx didn’t take us that seriously and that appearance helped propel the Force Md’s to another level of notoriety. Truth is, Grand Master Cazz could battle and destroy whoever’s hot out right now! Damen: The best thing about this is that we see Cold Crush today and it’s nothing but love and respect. Back then if you had a battle rap, as kids in our era, right after school if you get into
XS10 MAGAZINE 5
Damen: We can definitely bring them back! Damen, since you’re the last member to join the Force Md’s after they had already established a name, what was it like for you joining a renowned group?
a fight with each other, you brush it off and the very next day you’re back to playing with each other. The same thing applies to the battles back in that era. The Force Md’s and Cold Crush can hang out and party together, but we don’t talk much about that night. Other people talk a lot about it, but we don’t. Who’s the one musician that you always wanted to record with, but never got the chance? Stevie D: Michael Jackson and R. Kelly. Khalil: Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, the late great Whitney Houston and Jay-Z. Damen: Marvin Gaye. What in life brings you the greatest joy aside from your family and professional endeavors? Khalil: For me that would be meditation and reading. Damen: It would have to be opening my own Ministry. Stevie D: That’s my love for basketball. We hear about major label marketing trends, so what were your expectations back in 1984 signing to Tommy Boy Records? Stevie D: As rappers and singers we didn’t have any idea how the product would be marketed or how the people would perceive it. Since we brought that Doo-Wop and Hip Hop sound together, it was suggested by the label that we use an image similar to the Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers with the “F” on the sweater. At the time, we were just excited about the opportunities we had on the horizon, so we pretty much went along with whatever the label said would work. To this day I wish we kept those letterman sweaters with the F on them! It would’ve been a great brand to market. We went on tour and got the fur coats and gold chains, and as long as we sang and performed great the label appreciated us. We’ve been thinking about bringing the sweaters back!
6 XS10 MAGAZINE
Damen: I go way back with Stevie D and Khalil. Even though I was with a different group I still respected their rapping and singing abilities. We did a few shows together and I almost toured with them. They were partly responsible for inspiring me to record and perform. As time progressed, I joined the group and I look at Stevie D and Khalil as if they’re my brothers. I love the creative chemistry we have in the studio and I should tell everyone now that we are working on a new album! It’s an honor to represent the Force Md’s brand! The Force Md’s are still here! We’re still relevant trendsetters, so when you hear the new music you’ll understand why I said what I said. Khalil: Watch how we as a group move as a unit professionally and artistically. We’re moving forward and right now it’s really fresh how we work together musically. We all know the business side of the music. The Force Md’s are who you need to lookout for! Most groups would fall to the wayside when they lose half of their members, so what has kept the group going after all that adversity? Stevie D: There are two things. First, it’s the love that you had for your craft when you first started. Secondly, it’s the memories of the group members we’ve lost and our desire to keep the group alive in their name. There’s also a definite love for the fans that have supported us. I’ve been in the group the longest and for the guys that we’ve lost we wanted to stay strong as a group for them; artists like the late Antoine T.C.D. Lundy, Charles “Mercury” Nelson and DJ Dr. Rock. The fact that we’re here carrying on the name of the Force Md’s is great! When Damen came into the group, people told us they couldn’t tell the difference from the past, so we know the sound is on point! When we’re around each other on the road, there’s no drama because we respect each other and stay focused on what we do best. Khalil: When you’re building something or maintaining something, then everyone must be on the same page especially in music. Elements like drugs and alcohol can come into the frame, but they lower the morale, so by us being drama-free and drugfree we can be at our best and continue bringing the world that Force Md’s sound. Article written by: Bill Oxford Courtesy of: Cordelia of www.cordeliadonovaninc.com
Grandmaster Dee A Mentor & Pioneering DJ for Whodini
Before B.I.G. and Jay-Z made a name for themselves out of Brooklyn, NY, it was Drew “Grandmaster Dee” Carter of Whodini amongst a select few pioneers of his era who would help make Brooklyn a household name in the music industry. After being grown and seeing life for what it is through his eyes, Grandmaster Dee has seen his fair share of fame and glory, and also the ills of society. This alone has driven him towards mentoring and leaving an everlasting positive impact on the youth, far beyond his legacy as the DJ for Whodini. A hot record can be over-played and played out in less than a year, but mentoring the youth never loses its effect. Music can touch you, but not like another human that cares enough to make your life better with their physical tangible will. Only a few DJ’s can claim the title as Grandmaster, and Mr. Carter gets the nod by creating a noteworthy buzz early on with his tantalizing tactical techniques in his mastery of turntablism. When he speaks through his mouth and hands people listen either way. Check out this conversation with one of Flatbush’s Hip Hop pioneers who puts a new spin on the definition of “scratching on the 1s and 2s”. Grandmaster Dee has a story to tell and this is merely a taste, or should I say touch?
What did you like most about your childhood and where did that all take place?
I grew up in Flatbush, Brooklyn, NYC and had a good childhood with great friends. I owe a lot to both of my parents who kept me safe, preventing me from getting into trouble and tried to keep my mindset positive. They gave me a lot of support!
XS10 MAGAZINE 7
Describe the social settings of 1970’s Brooklyn so readers understand the roots of your surroundings early on and how it shaped you.
to God that I would get that chance to get on those turntables. GrandMaster Flash and GrandWizard Theodore were both inspirations, but it was Master Don that showed me the ropes. He’d
Across the board on a national scale there was tension, but when I speak about Flatbush in that era there wasn’t much tension in the air. We had Whites, Blacks and some Latinos in the neighborhood. There were parts of Brooklyn where you couldn’t walk outside after dark, but on my block it wasn’t really like that. I was in a multi-cultural neighborhood and everybody knew where everybody stood. Take a moment to elaborate on the evolution of Hip Hop out of the borough of Brooklyn in the 80’s. The 80’s were incredible from my perspective, but it really all started for me back in the late 70’s. I caught wind of Rap music in 1977 when I first moved to Brooklyn and that was my freshman year of high school. That was the beginning for me when I heard GrandMaster Flash and the Furious 5, DJ Clark Kent, Kool Herc to name a couple. The next step for me was seeing it performed in the parks. Now you hear Jay-Z, the late great Christopher Wallace amongst many others out of Brooklyn, let alone all of New York too! What was the struggle like breaking a record on urban radio when you were coming up? It was hard! I look at it like this; music is music, but they were trying to restrict the language and message back then and seemed to play more R&B. Matter of fact, in some situations the station wouldn’t even play Rap music and they’d go as far as playing just the instrumental. Shout outs to Kurtis Blow for being one of the first mainstream artists to bring that pinch of R&B to his sound and be able to crossover, even though the Sugar Hill Gang broke that barrier. That was the point in time when we knew Rap could become something huge! Taking into account all you’ve been through and tell us what’s your motivating force in life right now? It’s to stay healthy and keep growing. I’ll continue to owe all my blessings to God. Even though I’ve been part of hit records and traveled the world, it’s important for me to give back to the youth of the world. I see that a lot of the children today are easily misled, so positive guidance is the key in those encounters. If you can’t reach out to somebody and you’re in that spotlight then it doesn’t make sense for you to have that spotlight. God gave you that spotlight partly because you’re meant to give back when you reach a pinnacle in society. A good number of those children might not have somebody singing their praises for anything positive happening in their life. When was the first show you performed where you thought you could realistically perform as a career and not just as a hobby or side job? I was hoping one day my chance would come because I’d watch other DJ’s spinning and scratching records with the emcees rapping, and all that inspired me. It was around 1979 when I finally performed for the first time and it was on! I was just praying
8 XS10 MAGAZINE
let me scratch on his set of turntables after school in my teens and that’s what made me really get better. May he rest in peace. I loved him like a brother. What would you focus on globally in the name of philanthropy? I’d focus on becoming more of a mentor and getting others to follow in my footsteps. I want the youth to live long successful lives and not have to worry about fitting in at school. Sometimes if you’re the only child in the household and your parents dress you up well, then other kids at school might take exception and try to do something to you out of jealousy. Anybody in life can have all the things they could ever ask for, but it’s all up to the person’s heart and mind. There needs to be more mentors that can get the kid’s minds off drugs and crime, and get them to believe that you don’t have to get up on stage and act a certain way to be successful. Just be yourself. Some people who approach you will think you have an attitude, but they can’t judge you. I’d tell the youth to put down the guns! Go back to when you’d fight with your hands and the next day there’s a good chance we’d go back to being cool with each other. Brothers and sisters no matter what color you are; we need to come together as one! We need to pull it together for the sake of everyone and change our momentum for the better. We have to give back more instead of taking things away like lives. What’s your favorite music aside from Hip Hop?
Give the readers a funny moment in your career. Whodini did a show in Georgia with a bunch of other groups and back in the day if you did a show, you didn’t have to worry about getting your money afterwards. It would be there for you. We had been shorted by promoters before and this promoter told us, “Yeah, I got you. Don’t worry about it. I got you.” We got on stage and what do you know. Two songs into our set and we found out they didn’t have our money! We’re thinking, “He doesn’t have our money???” We had to stop the show and run downstairs before the promoter left, only to hear the man say that he wasn’t paying! Come to find out, he fell asleep on the right there on the sidewalk and the money he owed happened to fall out of his pocket. The lesson for us was to never trust a show promoter. I’m a fan of R&B music too, so I’d listen to Kem, Charlie Wilson and some of the older acts like Earth Wind and Fire, Chaka Khan, transitioning into Billy Joel and also the group Chicago. I listen to James Brown and it still gets me going! Describe the fans in Europe verses the fans in the U.S. Let me tell you. It’s a whole other atmosphere being in Europe. What’s crazy to me is that they know the history of rap music and Hip Hop more than the fans in the states! You wouldn’t believe it, but they do! As far as recording in Europe, we were ahead of our time with technology that no one was using in the states. They love Hip Hop in Europe more than you’d think. How easy was it for you to adapt to fame? I always looked at myself as an older people type of person, so as time progressed I learned the importance of not changing who I am. I focus on showing love and respect to those around me, especially for those who tell me how much they appreciate my contribution to Hip Hop. You have no idea how good that feels to me. You’ve been on tours with the group Whodini, but I’m wondering where in the world have you not been that you’d like to travel to, or maybe even live? I’d love to go to Africa, more so Egypt. What does it take in your eyes to acquire the title of Grandmaster as a DJ? You have to master the art of turntablism, being quick and unique on your set, spinning and using various body parts to scratch. I’ve been all over the states and Europe, and the response I’ve received has been amazing! What would you consider to be a strength, along with a weakness of yours?
Tell us what your experience was like performing with Jermaine Dupri? We had break dancers opening up for us and performing in between acts and he was one of them. As you know he went on to start up So So Def, but early on I wanted him to tour with Whodini and dance with our group. Where do you draw the line in the sand when it comes to what music is an acceptable representation of Hip Hop? I’d have to say that I respect artists and people that respect self. You’ll have to answer for whatever later on down the line and its best not to put out negative energy in music that your own kids can’t even listen to. For the new generation of artists coming up, give the kids something they can relate to because this generation’s dealt with the war overseas and terrorism. We’ve got to give them something to ease that pain. We have to step up our game lyrically, find a way to come together and give back to the fans and supporters a much better quality product in the music. We might’ve made a few mistakes in the past as the culture evolved, but let’s clean up those mistakes and not repeat them. When the dust settles let the kids grow up listening to meaningful music! I want to give to the world. The culture of Hip Hop was groundbreaking and now everyone adds onto the sacrifice that we made. Remember, if you respect the game then the game will respect you. Back in our era in the public schools, we had more sporting and art programs, so we need that back in the schools! We need unity in our community, because without unity we don’t have a community.
Article written by: Bill Oxford Courtesy of: Cordelia of www.cordeliadonovaninc.com
A strength of mine is that I always try to stay positive and focused, and keep my faith in God. I keep negative out of my circle that’s filled with positive people. Like the saying goes, “I don’t have time for a weakness.”
XS10 MAGAZINE 9
Standing Firm and Loving The Fact She Does! Domestic violence has never been a topic to take lightly, so I had to be very careful as I treaded through rough currents in asking Kandi the right questions. The interview was a conversation that reminded me how quickly those currents can go from raging to calm as can be and back to restless again. Kandi has been through a lot and seen too much with her own eyes leaving her deeply concerned about the livelihood of children growing up in unstable households, and how this can affect their grown relationships down the road. Kandi loves how the culture of New Orleans and how a solid family support structure has helped shape her into a strong woman who won’t break like the levees in 2005. There’s so much more to be done in her time on this Earth. Read about Kandi and what makes her so steadfast in seeing her dreams become a reality!
What passions in life have you pursued? My passion in life is what I do with Michael Neely and my participation in the music and entertainment industry. I love being a resource and a middleperson for the business and services provided. Music is my passion, as I tell everyone that my heart beats at 16 beats. I learned how to play the piano and flute at an early age. I love the entertainment business, but it’s not necessary for me to be in the spotlight. When you became a single mother, how did you balance your work, social life and family life? Ok, the thing I want you to understand is that when I was younger I grew up with both of my parents around. Before I became a single mother I was basically the live-in nanny for a household of four children, so I already knew how to take care of the household. My father’s concern was keeping the heat and lights on, us having food in our stomachs and clothes on our backs. He’s always told us that if you want something, you have to go after it hard and earn it. As a single mother it’s been difficult seeing my children grow up without both parents around like I had. It’s like water. Sometimes the current doesn’t go your way, but you have to either sink or swim. 10 XS10 MAGAZINE
How have you utilized your independence and success to benefit your children? I show them the importance of family and how if it doesn’t come first then their business won’t be successful. The same way you treat your family reflects how you treat your business relationships. I know that in my shoes if I sink, everything falls. As far as domestic violence is concerned, how would you advise women in similar situations compared to the ones you’ve been? When I take into account all I saw as a young girl into my grown relationships, I’d have to say no matter how good it once was, the moment your partner tries to control you as an object, get out! No matter how much they say ‘I love you’ and try to isolate you, that’s not right and you need to make a change. Be the brave person and walk away, regardless of how much you’ve invested. I look at my own life and realize there’s no need for baggage. It’s not worth it to you if your partner is hurting you verbally and/or physically. If you stay, it’s not healthy for you and for those closest to you that care deeply for you. In my shoes, I walked away from my home and job for the sake of a stable environment for my children. When I
walk away, I’m gone forever! I don’t come back. Some people don’t understand how difficult it is to just leave, so what stopped you from leaving your abusive relationship when you first realized you were being abused? Most of those people who stick around through the abuse actually love the abuser. Some victims feel sorry for the abuser and confuse other things with love. Sometimes the abuser helped the victim get out of a previously bad situation and for whatever reason
Normally I’d say an eye for an eye, but in a good number of cases I think therapy is needed for the abuser, not always just a harsh jail sentence. Therapy would be intended to bring closure to their situation, so they can learn from it and not allow it to be repetitive. Whatever the crime is, the punishment should fit it perfectly. I feel that everybody has a gift and curse within themselves, so what would be yours? My heart is both my gift and curse, because of how caring and nurturing I am. I love hard, work hard and play hard! I’m the type who’s very inviting and willing to form friendships and relationships, but I keep my circle tight. I’m honest to a fault and overly optimistic! What qualities do you look for in a man/partner? I want someone who’s ambitious and focused on their goals. I don’t want a dreamer that just exists in his dream. He has to be taking the steps towards living out his dreams and be family oriented at the same time. Being humble with a sense of humor helps too! If you as a man know what you want out of life and are pursuing too, then we have something in common to talk about. What do you feel people have learned from you most? What have you learned from others? Something I learned from those closest is that sometimes you can get so caught up in your endeavors, you can tend to forget some of those who are closest. People have learned from me that no matter what people say about what you’re going through; take the time to find out the truth.
something is owed to them. The strength is within and shown when you walk away. The only person holding you back from a life full of happiness is you. This is the first time I’ve been single in my life since I was 18 and I’m happy because I don’t have to deal with the extra stress and controlling temperament. If I don’t meet and get to know the right man for me, then I’m still happy with my life because I have my children and a purpose in providing for them!
Article written by: Bill Oxford
What consequences do you think are fair to abusive partners? XS10 MAGAZINE 11
Kangol Kid A Trailblazing Hip Hop Pioneer from the U.T.F.O. Crew This Haitian native of Brooklyn, NY, I bet had no idea he would become such a trendsetter just by acting out of a need for liberation. I know you know where all those Kangol hats came from and why it’s lasted as an urban fashion trend. He’s definitely left his imprint on the game. Kangol Kid discusses some of his inspirations musically, the truth behind “Roxanne Roxanne”, being a proud father and what it’s like for children to be like apples falling so close to the tree. Kangol also spoke about his desire for knowledge of self, what it’s like performing under adverse conditions and rocking the crowd. That’s only part of the big picture, so take the time to read about the rest and how his life has evolved from his time in Brooklyn growing up all the way to and beyond U.T.F.O.
What do you appreciate most about your Haitian heritage? I grew up as the son of a Haitian father and mother, but I didn’t know anything about my culture because I was born and raised in Brooklyn NY. Within the past few years I eventually made it around to gaining more knowledge of self and I love what I’ve learned. My parents spoke a Haitian dialect around me at home, so I can speak the language, but find myself struggling with reading and writing it. I wasn’t educated in the schools about anything relevant to Haiti, but now I’ve been exposed to some of the great things that Haitians have done in the world’s history. How was it for you growing up in Brooklyn, NY? I love Brooklyn! I love New York City! Living in Brooklyn isn’t a way of life. It is life and a tough test I passed. My TV was my second teacher and was like a baby sitter to me. What I saw on TV taught me how to perform and how to dress. Watching live shows on TV with groups like the Jackson 5 and the Osmond Brothers, I’d see how they would make the crowd go crazy. It ended up being some-
12 XS10 MAGAZINE
thing I picked up on at an early age. That would be stage presence. I learned a great deal from vocalists like Shalamar and yes I give credit to a friend named Howard who taught me how to sing. I had an opportunity to develop that skill and at the same time I’d mimic what I saw on TV. Now, here I am! Was there any other genre of music you gravitated towards early on before Hip Hop? Back in the day you had a choice to buy the least expensive AM radio, or an AM/FM radio. My mom bought the AM radio and had me listening to artists like the Carpenters, Elton John and Billy Joel. Later on I’d do my homework on music and catch up on the Motown Era which I missed out on because I was so engulfed in that era’s Pop music. I incorporated certain things into my music production, for example the vocal arrangements of the Carpenters. Did you ever think that just by wearing a Kangol hat you would become a fashion trendsetter and how lucrative has that style been for you? I definitely didn’t know I would be considered a trendsetter, but we as pioneers never tried predicting the fu-
ture. Things became what they did and if I knew better I would’ve capitalized on it more. I had no idea that the hat would become synonymous with Hip Hop to begin with. My purpose with the hat was different because I felt liberated by wearing the hat due to being in Catholic school where I had to wear a white shirt with navy blue pants and a plaid tie. I wore that uniform from 3rd grade until 8th grade and hated it! I ended up going to a public school in Brooklyn and I finally had a choice as to what I’d wear to school. I wore the hat to school every day and the one day I didn’t wear it was just like the one day someone with glasses doesn’t wear them. They’d have people looking at them like, “Wow, you look weird without your glasses on!” That was me with the Kangol hat. When it came time for me to establish myself as an artist in the music business, the nickname “Kangol Kid” stuck with me since those high school days. I had no idea what I was doing, but I did it and it became part of Hip Hop history. What would you consider to be your best memory with U.T.F.O.? I would say one of my fondest memories was being on the Soul Train stage when all my life I envisioned being there and there I was! Also, we were scheduled to perform a show at the Gary Theatre in Gary, IN. I was able to perform on a regular basis, but that night I didn’t feel good at all. The guy told me to come to the show and sit side stage, so if I felt good enough then I’d perform. The announcer told the crowd that “U.T.F.O. is here!” The crowd went into a frenzy and then they were told that “Kangol Kid will not be performing due to an illness.” It was wild because once the announcer walked off the stage the crowd started chanting, “Kangol! Kangol! Kangol!” We looked at each other and my partners asked me, “Do you hear that?” At that point I had to go out and perform, sick or not. The love I got from the audience healed me. I really felt better, but they knew that night I wouldn’t be able to do much. Every time I grabbed the mic the roar I heard was crazy and the energy I felt was something I never felt before.
“Roxanne Roxanne” was considered by some as a battle record that helped launch the career of U.T.F.O., so what’s your perspective on artists who try to make a name for themselves off the strength of diss records? You know, I’ve been saying this for the last 30 years that it’s hilarious to me when someone calls “Roxanne Roxanne” a battle record. Thing is, we battled no one. “Roxanne Roxanne” was a song about three guys trying their best to win over a young lady, but they get shut down. If anything, we all lost because none of us got the girl at the end of the song. She wasn’t attracted to any of us, so that’s why we got shut down. Other rappers might talk about how many women they have, how many cars and all the money they have, but we kept it real because no matter how hard we tried she wasn’t down. Every woman at the time seemed to want to be that young woman depicted as Roxanne. As far as artists gaining a rep off diss records; I respect them as artists in Hip Hop which is the genre of music closest to sports. You have artists that take the approach an athlete who’s a contender would take talking trash to the title holder about how they’ll take the belt. That artist will ride the coat tail of the top dog until they surpass the top dog. I support the younger Hip Hop movement and I hope they don’t play themselves. The only difference between Hip Hop and the sporting arena is that today’s Hip Hop lacks the sportsmanship. Describe your experience in your ground breaking performance at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre opening for Hall and Oates and the Temptations. We were kids and didn’t really understand what we were doing, or the significance of the moment and opportunity. There was filming taking place in Harlem at the Apollo and the Regal Theatre in Chicago with us as the first rap group to perform in Chicago. We performed in front of people like Tony Danza and other celebrities, some of which never understood and appreciated Hip Hop. We emceed, did a break dancing routing, had a DJ scratching and spinning records and left the stage high fiving each other. Where do you get your inspiration from in your creative process? There’s no single inspiration because it comes from whatever is on my mind and any situations I’m in at the time. I try to master the wordplay with the song’s concept and move forward with it the best I can. I can’t say there’s a set formula for me doing what I do. What’s some advice you might give to up and coming stars/artists? Today’s young artists have it made with a key to success in their hand. You see, we didn’t have the Internet, Google,
XS10 MAGAZINE 13
etc. Make the most of it, because with all the information that exists there are no excuses. That information is out there for everyone, so it’s an even playing field. Your job is to find what makes you unique and generate a buzz. Your marketing has to be on point, because anyone can go home and grill a hamburger that tastes a million times better than McDonald’s hamburgers, but can that same person market their burger better than McDonald’s? The answer is no. A lot of people can make a song and put it on YouTube, but what is it that makes them stand out from the rest who do the exact same? It’s their marketing. If 100 is the goal, then I don’t care if I have to make it there with 100 pennies, 20 nickels, 10 dimes, or 4 quarters. I’ll make it and manage my businesses such as Kangol’s Kreation Inc. and Kreative Media Group, to the best of my ability.
a vocalist and dancer. Years ago when they were entertaining the thought of getting into the business, I wasn’t a fan of them doing it. I didn’t have a problem with them liking certain genres of music. It was just the idea of them being directly involved in the business that I questioned. I tell them to know the business and that you can’t make it off talent alone. I don’t want my sons making the same mistakes I made. Once they were mature enough and realized they had creative musical talents, then I didn’t mind them getting involved to the point where I was willing to assist them in getting them where they wanted to be. I want to be as supportive as possible hoping they will reach and sustain a high standard.
You mentioned early about educating and doing lectures at high schools and colleges, so how does it feel for you to reach out to the youth in that way?
I’ve learned to respect them. What I mean is that every parent needs to check themselves at some point. A lot of my peers deal with the generational gap in Hip Hop where they say they can’t understand today’s Hip Hop and can be critical. I have to respect the fact that today’s Hip Hop is their Hip Hop, not mine from my adolescence and that’s Ok.
It’s an incredible feeling to do that, because every parent should want their child to do better and I’m able to reach out at home and at schools trying to help guide the youth down a better path. I get a great sense of satisfaction by sharing the information I’ve learned amongst the youth.
I’m sure you’ve passed on a lot of gems to your sons, but what have you learned from them?
Describe yourself as a man aside from the music? I still find myself scratching my head about that. I focus not on how things are done, but the way things should be done. I’ve taught my sons to be better men towards women. I’m a very conscience person who enjoys being the man of the house and the house’s super hero! Whatever decision is made in that house falls on the man’s back, whether it’s a success or failure. I understand that responsibility and proudly wear that “S” on my chest. As a man, I want to mention how proud I am to be a father. I noticed in time how my sons would mimic me, so I want them to have something good to mimic. Being a father is the hardest and best job I’ve ever had! What do you want to be remembered for most when the curtains close, aside from being a great father and musician?
What’s it like having three sons who chose to follow your path in the music industry and how have you advised them? My oldest is a rapper, composer and producer that recently inked a deal with Irv Gotti’s production team. My middle son is a vocalist and songwriter. My youngest son is
14 XS10 MAGAZINE
I’d like to be remembered as a trailblazer who paved roads for others. As for U.T.F.O., we never wished for the riches. All we wanted was to be famous and we succeeded. We got our wish and with that I’m comfortable. I hope that people challenge themselves at becoming the best at something they do! Article written by: Bill Oxford Courtesy of: Cordelia of www.cordeliadonovaninc.com & Kangol’s Kreations Inc. / Kreative Media Group
Kurtis Blow A Life Meant to be Synonymous with Hip Hop! If you know your Hip Hop history, then you know that Harlem World’s original King of Hip Hop was and is Kurtis Blow! Some of the new school younger generation of music consumers might just be catching onto the roots of the culture they say they love and appreciate. Praise goes to those who acknowledge the impact Kurtis Blow has made on the Hip Hop culture! From his educationally gifted childhood, to his part in the making of the Hip Hop film classic, “Krush Groove”, to his desire to see the generational gap in Hip Hop be bridged, also the battles he’s won against drugs, his respect for James Brown’s influence on Hip Hop, to a chance meeting with Malcolm X’s widow at the time, Betty Shabazz. It’s all here and more! Open your eyes to the world of the first solo Hip Hop artist to get signed to a major! That’s Harlem’s own, Kurtis Blow! What’s your fondest moment growing up in 1960’s Harlem? I remember going to church for the first time and being elected to take special classes for intellectually gifted children. I had a 12th grade reading level in 4th grade. Growing up in the 1960’s was incredible! We had the Motown sound, Wilson Pickett, Jackie Wilson, James Brown, Sam Cooke, B.B. King, Sly Family Stone to name a couple. Overall, the music scene was great! Of course, in that era we had the Civil Rights movement, but all said that’s what I recall most.
downstairs now!” They all turned around and left. She waited and watched out for me as I finally opened up my door. She saved my life! From a musical perspective, do you think all the sampling of the music from your era takes away from today’s originality
Since you grew up in the Civil Rights era, whose ideology and approach would you utilize if you were on the front lines of that social conflict? Would it be Malcolm, Martin, Huey, etc? Actually, when I was in 6th grade I did an oral report and I chose to study up on Malcolm X. I read his autobiography written by Alex Haley and did the report based off the information in the book. I was intrigued after reading Malcolm’s story and I mapped out the earlier days of my life after those of Malcolm. As I matured I also realized that Martin had the right approach and was successful too. I think every African American has a little bit of each in them. It just depends on what time of day you come around. Do you have a story from back then you’d share? I actually moved into a building when I was 11 years old in Harlem, Uptown around 140th Street between Amsterdam Ave and Convent Ave. Guess who moved in right next door across the hall on the 9th floor! I knocked on their door and it was Betty Shabazz and her children. This was back in 1968 and I can say that I grew up with Malcolm’s oldest daughter. Malcolm’s wife Betty saved my life one day. I must’ve been 12 or 13, but I was trying to get away from some guys who were chasing me down the block wanting to beat me up. I ran all the way up stairs 9 flights and they were still chasing me! When I got up to the 9th floor I reached into my pocket to grab my keys. I was scrambling through my keys and couldn’t open the door quick enough. There she was and she opened up her door. I ran straight for her open door and grabbed and held her saying “Help me, help me! They’re going to kill me!” Right then is when they came up to the 9th floor around that last corner of steps. Betty told the kids, “Go on now! You leave him alone! He’s a good kid! Go back
and musicianship, or does it compliment music today? I’m known as the first artist to use a sample and to sample loops. I’m all for technology and I think we should all adapt to it. I’ve grown to try to create and play original music consistently even though I still might sample here and there. When it comes to sampling, what do you think about the Nas and Lauryn Hill remake of your single “If I Ruled the World”? I’m so grateful that they chose to use my music for that single! Sony Music gave me the demo so I could clear it. I went outside, put it in my car and listened to the track on repeat for about two
XS10 MAGAZINE 15
hours. I was thinking, “Oh My God!!” and called my guy to tell him you’ve got a double platinum hit right here! This is going to be large! I love it! It’ll be great! I’d like to thank Nas and Lauryn Hill for putting a spin on my song and making a classic out of it! Which female emcees of today do you wish came up in the prime of your era to make hit records with? Lauryn Hill is the first one that comes to mind. Lil’ Kim and Nicki Minaj come to mind too. What were your musical influences growing up? If your parents played music at home and around you, what did they have you listening to? For starts, I’m a product of my environment and I must state that my mother inspired me to start getting into music. An avid fan of music would describe her so much that we would go to the corner record store and back in the 60’s the record stores had speakers outside playing music all day every day. We’d go to the store and I recall after I learned how to read I would read the music charts with the Top 10 Hit Singles. I always stayed up to date with the Top 10 Hit Singles and I’d eventually become one of the neighborhood DJ’s. That was one of the things where we had a good time with good vibes. We connected through the music. I must say that James Brown was the one artist with the most influence and inspiration on the Hip Hop of that era. All the big boys of that era know that they wanted to be like James Brown at some point in time. Soul Train came on every Saturday at 12 o’clock in New York and we were glued to the TV. We watched the dancers do James Brown moves dropping to the floor and doing splits to coming back up with all that footwork. Soon after, people came together and formed B-Boy dance crews before all that extra acrobatic stuff. It used to be just footwork originated by James Brown’s style and moves. When we’d get crews of more than 2 or 3 guys together we’d do routines and then solos, and back to a routine as a crew. It all came from the moves we saw on Soul Train and wanting to be James Brown! If it wasn’t being a musician or artist, what is it that you could’ve seen yourself doing in life? In elementary school, I always wanted to be a scientist and my whole thing was that I wanted to create a mechanical heart so that it might possible to live forever, minus going brain dead and in a coma. A couple of my buddies went on to become scientists and one became an astronaut. I got side tracked by Hip Hop. What was it like recording with the late great Whitney Houston for “King Holiday”? When she came into the studio we already had some music done, but she hit the booth and hit high notes that almost blew out the speakers in the studio. It was like listening to an angel sing. The engineer and I had a debate on the spot about keeping the take or re-doing it. In an adamant tone I told him to keep it and that it was amazing! Whitney asked me what I thought and I told her that I loved it! Those were great times! What’s the most noticeable difference in the way major labels deal with new artists now compared to your era?
16 XS10 MAGAZINE
I don’t really see much of a difference. It’s a business and capitalistic entity. A lot of the record companies aren’t making the same level of money they made a while back and the artist makes more money doing shows and touring. The 360 record deals offered today are ridiculous in too many cases. Tell the readers what you remember most about making “Krush Groove”. It was really hard work filming “Krush Groove”, but we got it done in a matter of three weeks. I had to wake up every morning early to make it to the set and on top of that I had three albums in progress at the time. The end product was great, but I was burnt out due to the combination of the music industry and the filmmaking process. I retired to California to raise my family and live my life. Describe yourself as a man aside from the music industry? I’m still trying to figure that out. That’s a tough one. Describe your role in Operation Push and the Rainbow Coalition in Chicago, IL. Jessie Jackson has a deep rooted place in my heart, because we go back to a point in my life when I was searching for answers in life and I branched out. He spoke to me when I was in Chicago acknowledging me and my Hip Hop generation as icons and heroes for the urban community. After that conversation I would end up spending more time in Chicago with the organizations. I’d end up becoming friends with Jessie Jackson’s family and we would occasionally celebrate holidays together. We also helped run a campaign to elect Harold Washington as Chicago’s Mayor. I was like Jessie’s right hand man. It was Rev. Al Sharpton, Don King, Rev. Jessie Jackson, myself and the newly elected Mayor Washington at a meeting in Chicago in the 80’s celebrating his election win. The city of Chicago has a very strong spirit! Do you presently have any music industry endeavors?
I have a whole new digital distribution network company where I can take a song, cd, or homemade video and work towards getting you a legit record deal, also placing your music online everywhere. What’s a personal strength of yours and a weakness you’d work on improving? That’s a good question. Nobody has ever asked me that before. I think my strength is my will power and that I’m very strong minded, so when I put my mind to getting something achieved it’s pretty much a done deal. I want to talk about those Kurtis Blow drug years in the late 80’s and early 90’s. It was something I went through that I’m not proud of and I’m blessed to have come up out of it alive. Not to glorify drugs at all, but I’ve tried almost every drug you could think of. I want to stress that I do not condone the use of drugs! The reason why so many people die from taking drugs is because they don’t know their limits and they get greedy. They don’t know when to say “Enough is enough.” My weakness is my love for women, more so a pretty lady that just looks me in the eyes with a great smile. If a woman can hit me with those eyes, it’s like being hypnotized and it’s a wrap. Another problem is my anger management. I’d punch you in the face. Chin check! Boom! God gave me the comfort and the spirit necessary to deal with my anger management and it’s been a gradual transition. Few people change overnight. This is a journey that we’re on trying to move down the line and get somewhere and most of us never get there. What matters is the journey and building a relationship with God. You can say, “I’m not perfect and I’m not a saint, but I’m a long way from where I’ve been. Praise God!”
Hip Hop saved my life simply by being an outlet for my creativity. What’s crazy to me is how back in the day when we’d rap there weren’t as many people doing it, but now you can go to France, Germany and even Japan, and they’re rapping in their language! A lot of people on an international level have accepted Hip Hop’s culture. Also, consider that some of these people become emcees and achieve chart topping status in their homeland. How do you suggest the people adjust their focus away from the violence to preserve the culture, but at the same time make marketable music? We can counteract the violence by having other outlets and we need an adequate social platform for the people. I wish I could just go out there and make an album for the people with music and lyrics you need to hear. A lot of cats out there shout out “This is real life! My life is real out here!” I counteract that by not talking about how life is, but more so how I want life to be. I’m just trying to inspire people around me to make the right choices. Take a look at my life and how I’m a survivor that didn’t kill himself with drugs and also one who loves God. The thing is when people say, “Yo Kurtis, You’re an O.G. Triple O.G. O.G. You’re a gangster!” my reaction is, “You’re right and praise God!”
Article written by: Bill Oxford Courtesy of: Cordelia of www.cordeliadonovaninc.com
For the last 3 years you’ve been an ordained Minister, so how do you benefit most from that? I realize that there’s a divine spirit or being that binds us all together. It’s a beautiful thing to acknowledge that there’s something greater out there. Other than that, I know I’m great, but that’s because God made me to be great! Give me your perspective on how marketing and promoting urban music seems to be hyper-focused on violence and degrading women, but there are emcees out there that take a different approach and don’t get a fair shake from the mainstream? I speak on behalf of the Old School era by saying that we laid down the foundation for everything out now, worked hard, sacrificed and had a strict code of ethics. I mean, I could’ve made gangster rap a long time ago! Man, I’m from Harlem! We have our ideas about how things have evolved to present day with these young kids signing record deals and getting five million. Somebody from the streets all of sudden has fat pockets! The lyrics change and the message follows suit. Grand Wizard Theodore said it best when he exclaimed, “Back in the day the emcees used to uplift the community and had a code of ethics. The interest was in what’s right for the world.” There’s a generation gap in Hip Hop and we need to bridge that gap in all ways. The question becomes how we go about bridging that gap. It’s done with love. The Hip Hop side of the music industry is feeding a lot of people. There are a good number of emcees staying away from drug dealing, gangs, or crime all because of Hip Hop.
XS10 MAGAZINE 17
18 XS10 MAGAZINE
“Like a Crown with Many Points, The Diverse Karmyn Jonez Wears It like Royalty”
Ladies and gentleman, Karmyn Jonez has established herself as a jack of many traits in a world where specializing in one craft is an over-rated commodity. Versatility with one determined focus on the big picture is what builds empires from the ground up. As a mother of four lovely children, Karmyn has also worn the hat of actress in the bio-pic about Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis titled “The Express” in 2008, as a dancer and choreographer since 1995, photographer since high school in Chicago, model since 2003, but more importantly a lifelong instinctual lover of life and love itself. Through all these skill sets, Karmyn remains humble with her family oriented, family first attitude. Her family is her biggest set of cheerleaders on Earth as they are always there to reassure her of success to come if she keeps pushing through adversity. Nothing professionally has stood in Karmyn’s path where she felt the odds where impossible to surpass. It’s that drive and passion in life and career that carry her through the toughest of moments where petty acts by others become a source for laughter. A source of inspiration You may know Karmyn Jonez as the lead choreographer for HeadTurna Ent. CEO J-Lyn of Chicago. Check out the J-Lyn’s videos for “Get It”, “Housemaid” and “Body Paint” on Youtube under the 3G’s Mgmt team. Karmyn and J-Lyn most recently celebrated the release of J-Lyn’s newest, hottest album titled, “The Birth” at the Velvet Lounge in Chicago, late June 2013. Karmyn will tell you and show you that she has a big, compassionate, fun-loving heart and after only one half hour conversation I caught a strong scent of integrity. During the interview, Karmyn spoke about her desire to reach out to the children of the world as she’d be hyper-focused on the victims of sex-trafficking, the abused, neglected, raped, killed, even those in sweat shop factories working for pennies. Education would be top priority on Karmyn’s To-Do List if she were in the seat of power on a global scale. She’s been known to travel the high tide and rolling seas to distant romanticized foreign lands like Italy in which she most recently visited. Rome and the Vatican was the highlight of the trip. Karmyn was quick to tell me that the Holy Spirit was ever so evident and that you without a doubt can feel it in the air. (Photos for the article were taken during Mrs. Jonez trip to Italy). To be considered romantic in the mind of one lady named Karmyn, if she was single you as a man could take her for a walk along Lake Michigan conversing over many topics with a picnic and then a horse and carriage ride if it’s not too cold. She loves men who are naturally kind-hearted, intelligent, ambitious, and also able to motivate her and someone who has a strong work ethic too. Karmyn is a workaholic who will never quit and always bounces back, so for her to want those qualities in her partner for life isn’t much to ask for considering what she brings to the table as a strong willed African-American woman. Karmyn Jonez will continue on her quest at being the best at her desired craft, whether it’s choreography or anything else and also zone in on being the best mother possible. Our next generation of children is the key. Just as Josephine Baker and Dorothy Dandridge serve as Karmyn’s idols for their classy, ground-breaking and extraordinary ways, she strives to provide the proper example for all younger women. There’s nothing that’ll stop this runaway train named Mrs. Jonez that’s headed for a life full of the best success and memories a woman could gain. She’ll tell you “Do what you love to do and love what you do.” It’s her ability to stay true to self and enjoy life that carries as Karmyn floats along the turbulent waves of life. Welcome to the world of Karmyn Jonez!
Article written by: Bill Oxford Courtesy of: Hollyhood Inc., 3G’s Mgmt and Headturna Ent.
XS10 MAGAZINE 19
A Story of Survival and Savvy
Life in the form of a new birth and brushes with mortality are both considered eye opening ordeals. If they don’t at least serve as a personal revelation to self, then I don’t know what will! As a father and survivor of 6 bullets, Gary, Indiana native Larry Love fully grasped the necessity of the entrepreneurial spirit and became the founder of Isoberic Clothing Co. This well-thought out business endeavor took years to build from being only a concept in Larry’s mind to coming into fruition. Mr. Love’s mission is to provide the proper comfortable fit made just for you and your body’s specifications, all the while giving you an obvious sense of head turning fashion. He brings his double-edged street smarts mixed with a keen business sense and a family first motivated agenda to firmly cement his brand name Isoberic in the world of fashion. Read the following and take a hop, skip and a jump into the business mind of one, Mr. Larry Love.
Tell the people where you’re from and what it was like for you as a child. I was raised in Gary, Indiana, the home of the Jackson 5. Gary, being such a small town, is a place where everyone seems to know each other. We were the murder capital for about five years straight, so yes, the crime rate was high while I was growing up. I’m a product of my environment and I ended up getting involved in the drug scene which I’m not proud of at all. I was also shot six times. My childhood created a tough shell and made me hard. I did ten years in a Federal prison, but when I was locked up I met some very influential people in my life that helped me start to put this business together. When I was imprisoned I realized that life was much bigger than just the streets. I knew there was no way that I could live the life I wanted to live on the outside if I stayed on the same path that landed me in jail. I decided to get into the realm of fashion which was always a passion of mine. That decision took me in the direction of going to fashion design school (Illinois Institute of Art) and now Isoberic Clothing Co. is a reality. Who’s your biggest inspiration? There are so many people I could name, but my father stands out from the rest. He never spoon fed me and was a strong man that served in the Vietnam War, so he’s definitely one of my heroes. What’s the greatest joy you get from life and being in your shoes? Just living and raising my daughters and seeing them grow up into women. I’ve enjoyed seeing that process take place, because I know there were a couple times when I almost didn’t live to see these days. I was shot when my oldest daughter was only six months old. It was a situation that changed my whole perspective on life, because I knew I had a mouth to feed. My mind set was where I had to either get a job in a poverty stricken area, or turn to the streets and get it how I lived. I have a lot of comrades from my youth that are no longer here, including a brother of mine, some cousins and even uncles too, so I’m very thankful for life and a chance to live out my dreams. The fashion industry is something I’ve always had my eyes on. Every day I watch my vision and my progress grow and it’s just amazing to witness the change I’ve made. What’s your biggest fear in life? I’m a go-getter and I’m very success-driven, so not to succeed at something I put my mind to is a fear of mine. Describe Isoberic Clothing Company. Isoberic Clothing is a company that I actually started in prison. Isoberic is an acronym that stands for “Imagine Someday Opening Brothers Eyes Realizing In Change”. When I was locked up, I saw a lot of brothers that had the same problems and struggles I had, so all the negativity I had was something I needed to change into a positive. Hence, I came up with the name and acronym. I learned some valuable lessons in business and branched off into creating Isoberic which is a reflection of me and everything I’ve been through to everywhere I’m going. I’m on the grind big time and I plan on taking
20 XS10 MAGAZINE
XS10 MAGAZINE 21
Isoberic Clothing Co. as far as my Creator will let me! I didn’t invest all my money, time and resources into this business and schooling with plans of half-stepping. I’m going all out with Isoberic! What’s your rapport like with Delroy Bridgeman? Delroy is a really good dude! We’re on the same page and have taken a few different turns in life, but we’re always there if we reach out to each other. At one point I was trying to get Delroy involved with Isoberic Clothing by integrating his music and entertainment with my fashion. If you invested in any other commodity other than Isoberic, what would it be? That would be the music and entertainment industry, because I’m big fan of music that grew up in the LL Cool J and Run DMC era. On a social level, what do you feel is plaguing the U.S. on a grassroots level? When I was growing up you had other people to look up to. Society lacks mentorship, because too many people are out for self and not reaching out enough to help others. Employment-wise, so much of it is being outsourced. Is there anything you’d do in the name of philanthropy? This homeless epidemic has been weighing heavily on my mind, because I actually understand what it’s like to live around have-nots. Upon release from jail I was sent to live in a halfway house where my first assignment was to work at a shelter for abused women. I sat down and was able to talk to some of those women, only to learn a lot from them. Counseling is also something I’d like to get into. Since you’ve been through the justice system, I’m asking you what your opinion is. The recidivism rate is so high and I speak out for my comrades that are out here with me now and the ones I left behind upon release. It’s a very scary business. Everything is about big corporations. When I sit in my office and I look at the furniture I’m reminded of what we built and assembled in jail. The prison system gets the slave labor by the prisoners. I was making something like seven cents an hour and I was doing work that people on the outside would do for $30-50/hr. It’s a terribly vicious cycle. You have guys that have no jobs and nothing to do, sitting around. An idle mind is the devil’s playground and situations can arise where they get locked up. When they get back out into society, they have an X on their back with no job and nothing to offer. You have to be a strong willed person who truly wants to make something better out of yourself, because there’s no help out there for someone with that X on their back. How do you feel you’ve grown most after all the years and lessons learned? My character has improved, because as I’ve said, I’m a strong willed individual so no matter how tough the circumstances get I overcome. I’m out of trouble and always on my P’s and Q’s trying to win not only for myself, but for my daughters too. I’d like for them to keep their heads up and look at me as a great role model that they could be proud of. Every day I meet different people and it feels good to know that people recognize my change for the better and that I inspire others. When I was released from prison I started out in Chicago, but I’ve expanded to Memphis, Oakland, Orlando, Indianapolis, Knoxville and Minneapolis to name a few markets I’ve tapped into. I could’ve let going to jail get me and keep me down, but now with a renewed spirit I have a team of people that work with me and they’re all over the country. Take the time to promote your business. Isoberic Clothing Co. is a lifestyle brand which I’m working on expanding into a dominant global business entity outside of just the U.S. It’s a company that’s come from nothing and I’ve worked extremely hard to make it a reality. Lookout for Isoberic Clothing Co.!
Article written by: Bill Oxford
22 XS10 MAGAZINE
“With Music in His Blood and Rhymes from Up Above, Chicago’s Matlock Gives Thanks and Gets All the Love”
Beastie Boys, MGK, Eminem, Evidence, Paul Wall, eat your heart out! I don’t think Matlock from Chicago would be shy in battling any of these well respected emcees and doing more than just standing his ground. The power in his words, punch lines and metaphors are nostalgic in bringing the crowd back to what Hip Hop was really meant to sound like. Listen to a few of his Chicago classics heard worldwide and you’ll know Matlock’s catalogue can be compared to some of the greats whether you consider him indie or mainstream. From his flow to his presentation and overall crowd interaction, it’s not hard to picture him traveling on worldwide tours. Matlock has the respect he wanted and has come to a peace and place in life where he’s less concerned with Grammy Awards and more concerned with family and raising his seeds. It’s a noble and wise transition to make knowing international fame is right around the corner. He can always jump in the booth and on stage if the urge to do so got to him. I’d like to think that he’s not done recording yet, but for selfless reasons we as true Hip Hop fans have to understand a genius’ priorities and how they change in life. Sometimes it seems as if Hip Hop is on a respirator when I listen to the radio, but Matlock is an emcee that takes us back to that thought provoking, earth moving, witty mind set reminding us that Hip Hop is far from over! His music is testament to that. I reached out to him in an effort to promote real Hip Hop and he was quick on the trigger to make it happen. The below will provide a deeper look into the world of one of Chicago’s greats. Matlock is a great example of when adversity meets head on with skill, ambition and integrity. For that, Chicago has his back and Matlock will represent his native city the best he can so long as he breathes!
M a t l o c k
XS10 MAGAZINE 23
Where did you come up? Was it always Chicago? Describe the toughest thing about growing up the way you did. Back and forth between the northwest suburbs and the northwest side of Chicago. When I was young we lived in Albany Park, but I spent my teen years in a low-income apartment complex in Rolling Meadows which was the inspiration for my album “2707”. I later moved back the city and have lived all over the north side. Irving Park, Rogers Park, Albany Park, Mayfair. Being poor was probably the toughest thing about growing up. Is there anything you would change about your youth? Is there a missed opportunity you wish you had back? When I was about 14, I had an invite to play for a traveling baseball team and I declined the offer. That was right around the same time I started making music and getting into all sorts of trouble, so baseball just wasn’t on my schedule anymore. I played shortstop, but pitched most of the time. I threw hard and had a nasty curve too. Nobody could hit off me. Kids that would talk shit to me in school would come up to bat and I’d bury a fastball in their chest. BOOM! Down he goes! Hahaha. Definitely wish I would’ve stuck with that. Who got you into music and was that always your primary focus? Any sports, arts, craftsman, engineering, ect? Music has just always been around me. I can remember being 4 years old and flipping through my parent’s records and thinking they were the coolest things on earth. I’d be there with my toys or whatever and my Mom would be cleaning the house listening to the Stones. My Uncles all played music and had a band in the 70s called “The Bloodshot Eye”. Before I got into music I was heavy into baseball like I said. I used to draw a lot when I was younger too. For a big part of my twenties I worked as a Carpenter and that is the only day job I ever really enjoyed. What was it like for you coming up in Hip Hop and trying to gain the respect of your peers and fans? I never had a problem gaining anybody’s respect. People who first heard me rhyme back in the day respected me because they could recognize a true artist. Nobody ever said I was wack. I’ve never been booed. It was only after things got political in the scene that I started feeling hate. If you have an “I can’t believe that just happened to me!” moment, take the time to describe it. The first time I heard myself on the radio. We were in the car somewhere listening to Kevin Beacham’s “Time Travel Show” on 89.3, and all the sudden my song comes on. I was like, “Holy shit! That’s me!” Who were your favorite emcees growing up? Who do you wish never grabbed a mic? Nas and Redman. And it’s strange because Redman has that crazy, out-there and sometimes comedic style and persona, whereas Nas is the polar opposite; he’s intelligent and dead serious 100 percent of the time. Redman doesn’t make me think deep thoughts and I don’t think Nas had ever made me laugh once, but those 2 were definitely my favorites growing up. I know “Dare Iz a Darkside” and “Illmatic” by heart. Good enough where you could put on the instrumentals from those albums and I could spit them word for word. Every lyric. I wish people like Asher Roth and Mac Miller never picked up a mic. To me, they don’t represent the culture at all and they make it harder for other white artists to be respected in hip-hop. What’s your perspective on Chicago Hip Hop and Hip Hop in general amongst other genres? What’s holding us back as a city from blowing up? Well, our biggest problem in Chicago is that we’re not New York or L.A. We’re a huge city smack dab in the middle of the country, but because we don’t have a unified sound, nobody can really see us as one big picture. Right now in 2013, people who are not from here see Chicago as the place where 50 people get shot every weekend and we all sound like Chief Keef when that’s not true. We have a deep-rooted hip-hop culture here with our own legendary artists and classic records, but we’re over-shadowed by those other market’s “underground hip-hop” scenes because they are more identifiable to the listener. And then you have the fact that we all hate each other’s fucking guts and don’t support our own. Also it’s because Chicago is just cursed in general. Who or what is your #1 inspiration in life? My family. The love I feel from them keeps me going.
24 XS10 MAGAZINE
What do you consider your favorite features and qualities in a woman? My woman’s face is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t pick a favorite feature. Maybe her cute little nose. Maybe the nape of her neck. I really appreciate her long legs and firm hindquarters as well. She has all the qualities I could ever want in a woman. She is very warm and loving, extremely intelligent, has a wonderful sense of humor and is one of the best cooks on this planet. I love her style, her dedication, the way she carries herself. She’s like a piece of art. I’m a very lucky man. People love your music, but what’s a weakness of yours that you’d improve upon? What’s your #1 strength/quality? I’m too much of a perfectionist. I analyze all my songs to death as they’re coming together. I’d say my #1 strength is that I can write any kind of song. I’m not pigeon-holed into doing one kind of record, or portraying any one kind of image. I write about whatever I’m feeling and show any side of my personality when I want to. I can be ferocious on the mic at times and then I can switch to being a storyteller. I can make you laugh, cry and everything in between and do it all well. Why would you quit rapping when you still get the respect a great artist would deserve? I’m looking from the outside looking in and I’m assuming you have the respect you want, so why stop? That’s a very good question. When I started I set a realistic goal for myself, and that was just to be a well-respected artist in the Chicago hip-hop scene and I’ve done that. I didn’t really see past that. That was enough for me. Of course, I had those very optimistic moments in my career when I wanted a Grammy and the cover of the Rolling Stone and all that, but the closer you get to the “big-time”, the more fake it all seems. What I’ve accomplished has satisfied me. I have fans from all over the WORLD that tell me how I inspire them, or how my music helped them get through hard times and THAT makes me feel better than any phony award could ever make me feel. The following I have is loyal and they understand me and I understand them. I don’t need or want mass appeal. To quote Bob Seger, now I “Realize I just don’t need it all”. If you took the political route, what would you do in Mayor Emanuel’s shoes to improve Chicago? I would take a dump in Mayor Emanuel’s shoes. Putting you in a position of power as U.S. President, how would you improve U.S. foreign relations and our reputation as a country? I would start by sending out text messages to all foreign leaders that would read: “Hey, wanna hang out sometime?” I would add Iraq as a friend on Facebook. I’d poke North Korea. I’d go over to China’s house with a case of beer and finally pay back that loot we owe them. I think that would be a good start. Share with the readers some of the best advice given to you by a veteran in the game. Don’t rely on a label or team to promote you. If you believe in your music, NOBODY will push it as hard as you will. . -www.MatlockLand.com Article written by: Matlock, courtesy of Fly Pig Ent. Intro written and article edited by: Bill Oxford
XS10 MAGAZINE 25
Nyia Dream French Hip Hop Vixen, Model and Lover of Life Height: 1m78 Measurements: 38-30-44 Did you always see yourself as eventually being a model, or was there anything else you would pursue? I always wanted to do the pictures. I would also like to create my line of clothing and under clothing. Who or what made you want to be a model? I love the photos from my childhood. It was when I found out about Melyssa Ford, Vida Guerra, Gloria Velez, Nicole Ricca and Dollicia Bryan, I turned to the photos and being a Hip Hop vixen. Do you have any advice you’d give women trying to follow in your footsteps? You have to be patient, have the character and ability to adapt to any situation like a chameleon.
26 XS10 MAGAZINE
When you wake up and look yourself in the eyes, what motivates you to continue pushing forward? It’s my love and passion that boosts me up every morning. My life is full of dreams and my dream is that the world sees my photos. What’s your biggest obstacle in life and your profession? In France I try to impose my style to change the criteria of beauty. That is not easy to do. What music do you listen to? I listen to Rap, R&B and Soul. What qualities and features do you look for in your partner? I’d like him to be faithful, patient, caring, protective and funny. What do you consider to be romantic? A man who every day shows me his love. Do you have a favorite food? I love to eat everything. I do not have a preferred dish. Tell the readers the biggest irony in your life and career. Seeing people change their minds about my physical view. Consider the time people spend on TV or on American sites. These same people who refused to give me the time of day are coming back to me now. Patience pays. What would be the greatest moment in your career? It’s when Americans start to take an interest in my work. Describe yourself as a woman with 5 adjectives. I’m a woman of strong character who’s patient, gentle, versatile and smiling. What’s something you want more of in life and something you want less of in life? I want to accomplish my dreams. I do not want negative in my life, just the positive. Give us the best part about being in your shoes? When I shoot or defile. It’s also when the fans send me positive messages that give me a boost of strength to continue to fight. Thanks to them that my photos travel around the world. I like to see them publish my photos. Thank you to XS10! http://instagram.com/Nyiadream https://twitter.com/NyiaDream Courtesy of: Nyia Dream
XS10 MAGAZINE 27
Yo-Yo “From a Black Pearl to a Butterfly and Always a Difference Maker” How many rappers and actors/actresses do you know who actually step aside from the fame to make a tangible difference in the lives of children growing up? Of course, you have a few examples, but I’m here to remind you that West coast veteran rapper and actress, Yo-Yo can be added to that brief list of active entertainment grassroots philanthropists. She’s taken her lessons learned in her music career and her ability to convey deeply rooted emotion in acting, only to give all of her energy and time to the community of Los Angeles, California. When you talk to Yo-Yo today, you can tell she’s been battle-tested in everyday life and that her guidance is trusted. Credibility has never been a problem for the one female the Hip Hop world and young students know as Yolanda Whittaker, aka Yo-Yo!
If you could reflect back on the way you used to be at a younger age verses the type of woman you’ve grown to become, how have you matured most? When you know better you do better. I’m more conscience and aware of how I conduct business, but when I was younger I was free to do what I felt was best for me and I had people catering to me. Now it’s more of me taking my business endeavors into my own hands. You went outside the box and against the grain while under the wing of Ice Cube with your earlier album titled, “Black Pearl” which was an album fans didn’t expect to hear coming from you. How difficult was it for you to market a successful album with that go around?
28 XS10 MAGAZINE
It was very hard for me to make a success out of “Black Pearl”. That’s when I had a rude awakening. Of course, me being a free-spirited person, I had been living on a cloud early on in my career. I had no idea about the power of lyrics and Hip Hop at that time. The kids that watched me saw a strong black woman from their community doing something positive. As a young artist, I felt free to use my imagination and be as lyrical and creative as possible. I can recall a time when I caught myself listening to Tupac’s lyrics in the early 90’s and this was when the censorship issue was huge. This was the time when it dawned on me; the importance of substance in my flow. I figured if I was sending a message to my peers and the kids out there, that I should give them something they wouldn’t forget. “Black
Pearl” didn’t directly involve Ice Cube, even though he was instrumental in my career at that point. With that project I was doing my own thing. A lot of people love that album and of course some people dissed it, but at that age I was just happy that I got the album done. Do you feel that you didn’t get the same marketing and promotional push that you would’ve if you stuck with the same image you started out with? Whether you make a hit record or flop, it’s a fine line between the highest of highs and lowest of lows. Getting it right in the middle is like falling in love. I didn’t know what it took to make it in the music industry, but I do understand that success lies within me. Even though I consider
myself a success musically, I feel like the well-known male producers weren’t giving many female artists hit records to record on. Once producers gave women hot beats to record on; take a look at Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown, and how they ended up. Cube came around and concentrated on making sure I had a hit record to work with. Male producers gave a lot of hot tracks to people like Cube, because they wanted to impress him. What do you feel you learned most from Cube? Follow that up with something he learned from you. Cube taught me a lot, but most of all he taught me work ethic. He helped me get through obstacles, but I’m my own woman and I went my own way. I have my own mind
XS10 MAGAZINE 29
and decisions I make. There was definitely a level of respect established. He saw my talent and that I wasn’t afraid to step out. He and I both know that if you’re going to get it, then you’ll get it. It doesn’t matter if you’re assisted, because some people are destined for success. Do you have any female artists you listened to as a young woman that influenced your career? I did a lot of poetry for starts and was inspired by Maya Angelou. I was influenced musically by the likes of Anita Baker, Chaka Khan, Salt n Pepa, to name a few. I was drawn to the synergy in the entertainment not just the partying. Since you’ve added acting to your resume, do you have any new films you’re working on or have you put acting on the backburner? I’m more focused on establishing my foundation called Yo-Yo’s School of Hip Hop and re-launching my Intelligent Black Woman’s Coalition. I’m also active in the arts/activities programs at a Los Angeles charter school. It can be really hard at times, but it’s about putting the child first before you. I’ve dedicated a good part of my life towards helping my community with a grassroots, hands on approach. I’m like a combination of a young Angela Davis and Maxine Waters for my community. I mentor the kids and make myself available to them, so it’s a mix between hands on and behind the scenes. I’ve also been active in the form of initiating a protest in L.A. over the Trayvon Martin murder. I can use my celebrity status and credibility
30 XS10 MAGAZINE
in the music industry and the people will listen. Being both an actress and emcee, which one do you consider to be the biggest challenge? I love the music more because I’m an entertainer and I love the creative side in the studio. Acting is something I love too, but music has been the most challenging of the two. I have not found a way to bring my music completely to the forefront. From a woman’s perspective, what advice would you give other women who struggle to establish their identity if you were a spokesperson for a female empowerment movement? Come to realize your own truth and get to know who you really are. You have to make yourself happy, because happiness comes from being real with yourself. Accept who you are and move forward, because a lot of people portray a life as if they’re somebody else. You have to fall in love with you first. It’s not easy, but you must get up every day and work on improving you. Look yourself in the mirror and be honest with yourself about everything from the great qualities you possess all the way to your flaws. If you don’t like yourself, then get up and do something about it! Say you were cast away on an island like Tom Hanks, how would you attain happiness? If I have good health, then I can find other ways to be happy and stay in my right mind. It’s not like I need a
Margarita! What was the concept behind your EP titled, “My Journey to Fearless: The Black Butterfly”? We come from a dark place and this music and culture of Hip Hop was a huge influence and escape. I wake up sometimes and smile at myself because I don’t know who I was back then, but I’m happy about who I’ve become. When you don’t know any better, sometimes you do the stupidest things and my journey to fearless was me reaching out of that dark place where I can trust again. It’s my journey and part of not being afraid of my past. Would you open up an Academy for Performing Arts? Yes! In a way I already have and that’s Yo-Yo’s School of Hip Hop in Los Angeles, California. We also have one in Highland Park, Michigan. I’ve helped teach children how to read, how to improve in writing, critical thinking, computer skills, vocal training, theatre, to name a few subjects. Do you have any perspective on why some children get passed through grade levels unprepared for a higher education? I believe that ever since they passed the law for standardized testing that placed a lot of pressure on schools because they don’t want to close and the teachers don’t want to lose their jobs. There are new ways to teach the children, but the establishment doesn’t use those methods and instead sticks with the traditional teaching model. As far as men go, describe your idea of a perfect man and partner in life. He loves God and is non-confrontational. Along with being involved in the community, he’s a hard worker, in shape with some muscle, politically educated, a daily searcher of knowledge, fun-loving and wanting to change the world with me. Those are a few qualities I admire and desire. Do you have a funny or inspirational story to end this interview?
point in my career not knowing what I was going to do or where I’d go. I became my own assistant, only to continue making music and a name for myself. This period in my life helped me get back out there because I was a major’s baby my whole life. It was then that I took control of my own career. You know, sometimes people think you need a team when all you need is you. Any last comments? Yes! Check out the Yo-Yo School of Hip Hop at yoyoschoolofhiphop.com. We travel and reach out across the map. Check me out on Instagram @YoYoFearless. I also have a web site IBWC.com I have a lot of things going on and I’ll never quit!
Article written by: Bill Oxford Courtesy of: Cordelia of www.cordeliadonovaninc.com
When it comes to funny moments, I think back to a promotional tour stop in Miami early in my career. The crowd loved my music, but they chanted “Yo-Yo Throw That Pussy.” I was like, “What??? I know you’re not telling me!” I didn’t realize at the time that it’s a chant you would hear in a Miami club where they’d say “Throw That P, Throw That P, Throw It!” I said, “I know you’re not trying to disrespect me like that!”, then next thing I know I’m getting booed off the stage. They gave me a warm welcome, then I shut them down and they threw me out! Now, if you want some inspiration I remember being at a
XS10 MAGAZINE 31
Hip Hop legend Grandmaster Melle Mel tells all of us about life with the Furious 5, also what it will take to keep Hip Hop off life support, the importance of substance in one’s music, how the social settings around him shaped his aggressive and potent lyrical content and why he still remains relevant to this very day. Take a journey through the mind’s eye of one Bronx Hip Hop pioneer, Grandmaster Melle Mel!
“If You Spell ‘King of the Bronx’, That Would Be M.E.L.L.E. M.E.L.”
What separates you from the rest of the Hip Hop pioneers, alive or deceased? To this day I’m still the most-improved at my craft and I say this because I’m still trying to get better on the stage and in the studio. I even think differently while constantly reinventing myself. The way I see it taking into account my whole career, I’ve grown to understand that I’m always another one hit away, but a lot of these old school cats think
32 XS10 MAGAZINE
they don’t have another shot like it’s all over for them. As long as you can maintain a certain level in this business you always have another shot. You just have to come up with that song that’s catchy. When that song hits, I’m right back to where I’ve always been and even better with another notch on my belt. I’m referring to the younger artists releasing music today when I ask if you were fully in charge of who gets admit-
ted into and omitted from the mainstream segment of the Hip Hop genre, what would be your pillars for what’s considered acceptable music meant to properly represent the culture/genre? The first main point is that the music needs to have some real concept and a song to it, not just rhyming. On the other hand, the artist needs to come with superior product for me to open the door for them to get in the game. If they come with some garbage I’ll tell them to go back to the lab and come back prepared. A lot of these guys won’t get in because they don’t bring superior product to the table. Bring great product that says to me that you deserve to be in the same room or sentence with all the greats that have done it not just in Hip Hop, but music in general. There’s a certain lifestyle that goes along with someone of your caliber in the music industry, so how tough has it been for you to adjust to the notoriety compared to living everyday life? The fame definitely wasn’t forced onto me. We were used to partying on the weekends and rocking the mic at summer block parties. That was part of our reign in the beginning stages of Hip Hop. One of the things that made it hard for us and the R&B groups coming up back then is when the thug element was accepted into the game and a lot of artists were born in that era. The drug used to be cocaine and then it was crack in the 80’s, but a lot of old school artists never made the transition with how the genre evolved. It was like we were the crack test dummies for our era. We as Black people were at Ground Zero for the crack and A.I.D.S. epidemics, and I’m very blessed to have made it through that era. Describe your musical influences growing up in 1960’s Bronx, NYC. Those would include James Brown, Parliament Funkadelic and Chaka Khan amongst others. One thing about Hip Hop that people don’t acknowledge is that it’s a by-product of all the other types of music, not just a genre/culture that evolved from nothing on its own. For example, the beats are sampled from anything from Motown to Rock & Roll. I’m sure you’re thankful for having music as an outlet to save you from the wrong path in life, but have you invested in a school for music and the arts?
changed a lot of lives. That’s part of what music is about! You can make a song for the club, but you can also make a song that becomes the soundtrack to someone’s life. What’s one thing above all others that you’d change about Hip Hop culture? Violence has become so inbred in the Hip Hop you hear today. The person that does Hip Hop in most cases is not the shooter or the drug dealer. Hip Hop is a record company culture. If the violence and drugs were taken out of Hip Hop it would be much better, but we have a violence driven media that has allowed it and romanticized it. That’s one of the worst things about how the culture has evolved. It’s like we’re all going to end up in jail and the artists now a days are too stupid to see what’s really going on. The violence in Hip Hop should’ve never been allowed, but too many of the grown people in Hip Hop know better and do it anyway. Describe one of your fondest memories as a young artist and member of the Furious 5. We used to set up our sound system with the speakers and turntables, and we’d stand next to Flash at the turntables as a group. We’d take these lunch tables and line them up next to each other like a stage. People could actually see what was going on from all the way in the back of the crowd. Our presentation and chemistry helped change the whole dynamic of what Hip Hop was all about. There’s only a select few people that could say they got on the mic and rocked shows with Flash on the turntables and I’m one of them! Those moments that defined us as trendsetters are some of the more memorable ones I can think of with the Furious 5. What’s one song of yours that’s your personal favorite, aside from “The Message”? That would be “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)” in 1983, because I wrote and produced the whole track. It was the first track that showcased my all-around talents as part of the Furious 5. What was it like recording with Chaka Khan for the single “I Feel For You”?
I might not be a teacher, but I have the longevity and respect so when I reach out to teach, people listen. We, as pioneers in the music business, are unofficially mentors and teachers for the youth. I’m trying to put something together and lock it down with a center that focuses on physical fitness. A lot of people from back in the day got caught up in the street life and music was an avenue that
XS10 MAGAZINE 33
That was a blessing in disguise. The first concert I ever went to had Chaka Khan, Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes plus a few other acts, and Chaka was the headliner. She’s an artist I’ve admired for years and was so thankful for the chance I was given. “I Feel For You” was recorded in the mid 80’s and Chaka already had the song ready, but they decided to add a rap to the song’s concept. After a while, I didn’t hear anything about the song until I was driving around in Uptown at 5am and heard the song on the radio. At first I was like “Really? Really? Is that my song being played?” When the second part of the rap came in it was then that it hit me. I was thinking, “It’s on now!” and the rest is history. Can you remember who the first person was that told you that your music helped change their lives? If so, tell us what that felt like for you. I can’t even begin to tell you, because it happens so often and at least once a day every time I step out to go somewhere. Throughout our careers as a group, it’s one of the things that helped us is making the type of music that creates a healthy environment. If you make a certain type of music it’ll make the listener act a certain way, so when we’d put out records they consistently had positive messages. Did you ever think when you were younger that you would reach the icon status you’ve attained, or was it all birthed out of fun? What were your expectations?
34 XS10 MAGAZINE
I always knew I’d be a good entertainer, but as far as Hip Hop is concerned I always thought I’d be a person of great stature. I knew that even when my future was on the hinges, the music would stay as my focus. For people that are considered pioneers, it’s like we have to protect the culture of Hip Hop because it’s our Holy Grail. People in the game have to respect the game. As more revenue’s been generated, money has become a bigger topic and we hear it in the music. Another thing that keeps me going is that I don’t let my people down. Every time you see Melle Mel, I’m dressed nice, I sound good and I’m in good shape. I represent the culture of Hip Hop the best I can every time I wake up. Do you have any last comments? I’m taking part in the creation of a film based around the culture of Hip Hop and I want the younger artists out there to know that they are just as much a part of the culture as we’ve been. It’s important to know that we all play a role in the survival of Hip Hop as a culture. Hip Hop now a days is seen in a whole new light, we as a family of pioneers want to make sure Hip Hop stays standing strong in the light!
Article written by: Bill Oxford Courtesy of: Cordelia of www.cordeliadonovaninc.com
M i k e y D
XS10 MAGAZINE 35
From Queens’ Backyard on A Journey Worldwide XS10 Magazine takes a walk down the path less taken by Queens, NY. Hip Hop legend, Mikey D. He gives you a sneak peek into the influence Motown had on him, also his experience coming up alongside LL Cool J, his Clientele Brothers days, his perspective on how money can be both a blessing and a curse, and a notable lyrical clash with Bronx rhyme titan GrandMaster Melle Mel. Mikey D is still trying his best to bridge the generational gap in Hip Hop and he won’t stop until the casket drops. His older brother was out there doing his thing in Harlem World when all this Rap music started. I ended up getting the beats used at the parties. Money would steal the tapes from his older brother and bring them to Queens in the summer time. You’ve got us young kids, probably only 10 or 11 years old, sitting on the front porch listening to the tapes and just loving it! Remember, back then they didn’t play Rap music on the radio. I loved how the crowd would react to Kool Moe Dee going at Busy Bee. You could say I was blown away and emulated those guys from then on. Eventually I began writing my own rhymes and that’s how it all started for me. Was there any other genre of music aside from Hip Hop that inspired you musically?
Describe a day in your life growing up in Queens, New York. It was quiet for me in suburban Queens. I lived under my grandparent’s roof and they were strict, so I couldn’t really run wild. I had family and friends around me, so it was all good. Describe how the social setting of Queens in your earlier years shaped the person and emcee you became. I’ll break it down for you. My next door neighbor had a grandson who used to visit the grandparents in the summer and as the years passed, he and I became buddies.
36 XS10 MAGAZINE
Anything my mom would play I loved! She played all the Motown music. I was brought up on all those classics. Add to the list the Jackson 5 and Lionel Richie. Once Hip Hop came into my life around 1977, mostly everything I listened to was Hip Hop from that point
You had a rapport with LL Cool J growing up in Queens, so I ask did you rhyme with or against him, maybe even teach him anything about the industry? How has that rapport evolved? In 30 years of me being in the music business, that’s never been a topic of discussion brought up by anyone. I’ll come clean with it just to let you all know. Let’s take it back to when we were about 14. I consider him as someone who grew into becoming a great rapper and I was a great rapper too, but we attended rival high schools in the Queens area. We had peers coming up who would brag
about their school being better and the rapper out of their school being superior. By the way, his stage name use to be J-Ski and somehow some way we ended up being pitted against one another as emcees. He and I ended up meeting with each other at a spot that Flava Flav from Public Enemy used to host shows at. We were supposed to battle representing our hoods and schools. You would bug out because our sounds and styles at that time were so similar! We didn’t even need to battle each other. We just rocked the show together and as time went on we’d start to hang out together aside from the battling. When it comes to rhyming, I feel like I was always the more aggressive emcee who would battle anybody. Cool J signed a deal with Def Jam and they said we could be the next Run DMC. At the time, I was more into the streets and Cool J was already business-minded. He knew what he wanted and he followed his dream. I was so into hanging out in the streets that I didn’t believe Cool J when he said that Def Jam wanted to sign us. We sounded alike, so when he came out with “I Need A Beat” a number of people thought that it sounded like me and they found out it was Cool J! You had the guys running around saying that Cool J stole my style, but all along he already sounded like that. I never taught him anything, but we both rubbed off on each other. He already had the skills from day one when we first met up. Back in school he switched up his name from J-Ski to Cool J and I suggested to him that he should put something in front of Cool J. I said to him that he’d always wanted the ladies to love him, so he took “ladies” and “love” and ran with it. That’s how LL Cool J was born.
ers of Queens. The Clientele Brothers did everything I wish I could do and I was younger than them. They used to see me rocking in the parks and they told me to meet up with them later on. After that, they put me in the group. Our fondest memory would be when we did a show at the Racket Club which was a tennis court in Queens. I remember being one of the youngest people in there and my mom let me out that night because the show was right down the block. We had a routine, but we switched it up where I ended up sitting on the shoulders of my guy as I was rapping and rocking the crowd. That was the highlight for me!
Back when you first started rhyming it was about skill, fun and uplifting the people of the community, so where do you feel Rap music took a wrong turn? Rap didn’t really take a wrong turn. It was more so that the major labels did what the media wanted done. Hip Hop has united people of so many different races and backgrounds. See, anytime you have unity like that they want to break it up and pull the culture towards the negative. Once the money started being generated from the Rap music and the people behind the scenes get their hands in the pot, then like they say, “More money, more problems.” Artists started following the major’s agenda. They went from respect to calling women bitches and holes, and talking about how many people they can kill. I mean, really??? I think things took a turn when the majors promoted all that gangsta negative, death, murder, kill type of music. What’s your earliest and fondest memory working with the Clientele Brothers? That was the hottest crew out of Queens and it was great being down with them! They were the Cold Crush Broth-
What’s the best advice you would give artists when dealing with management and major labels? The name of the game is “show business”, so when you walk in the door you have to “show” that you know the “business”. Always stay true to self and don’t follow what everybody else is doing. Don’t jump on the bandwagon. I’m a trailblazer because I make my own way, stay in my lane and that’s why I’m still relevant. Anybody who tells you that you can’t do it, let them know they can’t stop you. They’re not your friends. As long as you believe in you, stay true to self and take care of business good will come
XS10 MAGAZINE 37
your way. What’s your perspective on younger artists and their level of knowledge and respect for the foundation of Hip Hop that you helped establish? I can’t be mad at the younger generation, but I partly blame how things have evolved on the old school and the parenting skills as far as showing these young emcees the ropes. I can’t fault, or knock someone for trying to feed their family. We’ve got a lot of people hating on some of the new school acts, saying they can’t rhyme; they lack originality, or didn’t pay dues as if they came up overnight. There has to be more emcees like me who can show them the way and truly bridge the gap. What were your expectations heading into the Battle for World Supremacy in 1988? My expectations were to win it! I was already known as a battle rapper who would go anywhere and battle anyone! The second I found out about the opportunity I said, “Heck yeah, let’s do this!” What was it like battling GrandMaster Melle Mel? Technically that battle never should’ve taken place, but he won the Battle for World Supremacy in 1987 and I won it in 88. Originally it was supposed to be last year’s champ against this year’s champ, but rapping together with the championship belts on both of us. Melle Mel didn’t want to do that. He felt somehow deep inside that he wanted to turn the event into a battle instead of a show. At that time, the South Bronx was coming at Queens hard and the old school was a bit aggravated by the new school artists coming up. I already had two strikes against me. I was from Queens and Melle Mel was the King of the South Bronx, plus I was considered by him as a new school artist who was 16, 17 at the time. He didn’t want to hear that! He thought I was a pretty boy from Queens. He wanted to battle me for my belt telling me that I can’t be a champ unless I battle to defend my belt. Somehow, the crowd coerced the situation and it turned into a battle. He spit great rhymes and I give him that. He’s GrandMaster Melle Mel, but I did what I had to do! I felt like Ali that night knowing if I wanted to be champ, I’d have to take the belt from my idol. That’s exactly what I did. Everybody in the crowd knows I won that battle. I think the crowd’s response would’ve been better for Melle Mel, but he went about initiating the battle the wrong way. I had a lot more respect for that man prior to our battle and if it meant that much to him I would’ve given him the belt. It was because of how that event went down and how Melle Mel conducted himself that made me dislike the old school generation of Hip Hop for a while. He went about it in a way where I had to defend myself and I did, resulting in a win!
38 XS10 MAGAZINE
Describe your transition into replacing Large Professor in the group Main Source? I was on hiatus from the music for a while and was just chilling. A friend of mine told me about a group that he didn’t identify, but who needed a rapper. I got the address from him and knocked on the door. It was the Main Source, so I knew I wasn’t being sent off. I didn’t know that Large Professor already knew who I was. I thought it would be a great opportunity! I mean, I was off for a while and it would be a great way to come back into the game. The label in New York wanted us to come back from a trip to Canada and see us in our element, but things didn’t work out. I felt like I was the extra leg of the group and it was like a no win situation. The mother ran the management and she looked out for their son first before she would help me. Unfortunately that happened, but I’m fortunate because I left the group before things got out of hand. Describe one personal adversity you faced, how you overcame it and what you learned? The first thing would be drugs and alcohol, and mixing the streets with the music. I drank 40s for so long and thought it was a cool image, but I didn’t know at the time that it would be such a bad image. Now I can sit back and reflect on what I did wrong and how I would do it differently. I’m prepared for everything now. I still have Queens in my heart, but I moved away from any of the drama and negativity. I might be 45 years old, but I’m bridging the gap because I’m accepted by the young and old generations. I was born in the old school era, but I have a new school swag. Now, these rappers make the shit look cool popping bottles of champagne and smoking blunts, but the media loves that! It was a crazy part of my life and I definitely wouldn’t do it over again. Who do you collaborate with now since you’re still active in the industry? I don’t commit to doing many collaborations because I feel like I have enough material and versatility to hold my own. A lot of these rappers do collaborations, same time trying to ride another artist’s coat tail and grab their crowd/following. It sounds great working with other creative minds, but it’s easier to roll solo and do it myself. There are exceptions. Large Professor and I collab all the time. If I did a collab with someone in the future it would be LL Cool J. That would be like everything coming full circle. What’s your opinion of today’s Queens Hip Hop scene and 50 Cent’s impact in the last 12 years? As far as I’m concerned Nas is the one that still holds it down for Queensbridge! There are other acts that are
and it was released early April of this year. This album will take your mind and heart on a trip back to the future. We’re doing it like we used to do it, but with a 2013 swag. I have a group I’m in called The Elements of Hip Hop. I’m the lead emcee and we have two DJ’s; DJ Mercury who was the DJ for Professor X of the X-Clan, along with DJ GrandWizard Rasheen who was the mentor for DJ Cash Money and DJ Jazzy Jeff. You definitely have to check out The Elements of Hip Hop! We’re like a breath of fresh air to the music industry because we’re making the old school sound new again. This is what Hip Hop has been missing!
talented, but just never got the notoriety that Nas has received. 50, now that’s my guy! I’ve got love for 50 not just because he’s from around the way, but because he’s real. I know he’s real just from how older cats in the streets and industry speak on him. I like how 50 took the streets and flipped it into something positive with his business ventures. He’s a rule maker and I like that in him. What’s the greatest benefit you get from being in your shoes right now? Oh, it’s hard being me, but I make it look easy. The best thing about being me is that I get respect and love from everybody because I’m a real person and I’m humble. I do things from my heart and not for the money. It amazes me to see other people amazed at what I do and I love sitting on a panel with 17 year old rappers asking me of all people for advice on how to approach their future. What’s the title of your newest album and what are some of your endeavors we should be on looking out for? The name of the album is “The Calm Before the Storm”
Leave the readers with something funny or inspirational to end this piece. Basically, live your life to the fullest, but don’t live your life wasting your time dealing with a bunch of “he say, she say” people. It’s not worth it. Don’t build your life off drama because at the end of the day you’re the only one that’ll suffer. LL Cool J and I were friends and really tight before all the records and the fame, but we let people get in our ears and it separated us. For years and years we had been competitive rivals making records and taking jabs at each other back and forth. There’s no jealousy on either person’s part and I’m not mad that he’s made millions. We just started talking again and the conversations have been great like we didn’t miss a beat. We have our friend’s back and the attitude is to just keep it moving forward.
Article written by: Bill Oxford Courtesy of: Cordelia of www.cordeliadonovaninc.com
XS10 MAGAZINE 39
40 XS10 MAGAZINE
XS10 MAGAZINE 41
42 XS10 MAGAZINE
Rhona Bennett Entertainer Extraordinaire & Business Mogul in the Making You can say I’m thankful for being able to sit down for a fun filled conversation and interview with Ms. Rhona Bennett. You may remember her performing with the group En Vogue, but I’ll remember her for being comical, candid and composed in her responses. If you could be a fly on the wall and see the world as Rhona sees it, you might just add her secrets to success to your own formula and we’ll be talking to you soon as a star on the rise. For now, Miss R&B is the topic of discussion as she continues to shine and share her light with the world. As an entertainer and personal life coach, here are some of her thoughts on life, career, success, how to avoid failures and stay motivated no matter what! You and I are both from Chicago, so I’m wondering what it was like for you as a younger woman in the city of wind? What’s up Chi-Town native! I love the fact that I’m from Chicago even though it’s very cold! You’ll meet some very talented, hardened and humbled people in Chicago, but when you’re well-grounded like that you can take that with you anywhere in life. I like the authenticity Chicago brings out of you. I appreciate the weather, but at times it can be a pain in the butt, so in a way the city is like a double edged sword. What’s been your motivation doing what you do? It’s very natural for me to be in the business that I’m in, but I used to be in my parents basement and would be very self-contained. I wasn’t a recluse by any means as I had a social circle, but if I ever had to self-entertain and step off to the side that was no problem for me. I had a very vivid imagination and would sing and perform to the wall that would be kind of like an audience of peers. I would go and visit my grandmother in Alabama and my sister and I would do a talent show for the foster kids present and we’d round up the cousins too. It was always something that was in me to become a singer and performer. The late great Whitney Houston was one of the first singers to inspire me to go down the path as a performer. Share some advice you’d give young singers and actresses coming up in the entertainment industry? Love what you do because you’ll be tested and remember that it’s a business. Don’t forget that. You can master the creative aspect of music, but you need to know the business end of it too. Love it enough that you’re willing to go through all the red tape if you will.
Maybe people don’t know that I’m as goofy as I am. I wonder what someone would say about me to describe me. I like to have a great time, laugh and be silly. Aside from being a performer, I am very driven. I like to roller skate, bowl, read, study and grow overall. I think I could be a great friend. Everyone has something or someone in their way as an obstacle to success, so how tough was it for you breaking through with “The Women of Brewster’s Place” and the “Mouseketeers”? When my mother found out I was very serious about pursuing this profession, the very first thing I did was start asking questions because I didn’t really know where to start. I ended up attending a theatre on the Southside of Chicago where I’d audition for the children’s acting program. That’s where I got to spread my wings and start discovering some of the things I wanted to do in life. I had my eyes on the prize early and realized that I was using a lot of the tools that when I study champions now, I see that I was doing those things in my sub-conscious. Now I deliberately create it, but before I didn’t even know. I was just chasing a passion that I love and the doors opened wide. I had tunnel vision and there weren’t as many distractions. I was willing to put in the work to get to reach my goals. I wouldn’t say I had major obstacles, but I had disappointments where I didn’t get certain roles. I feel like I did really well for myself coming up as a young girl. Who were your musical influences as a young aspiring singer? Whitney Houston was one of my first major inspirations. I also admire a lot of the artists my parents exposed me to like Marvin Gaye, the Gap Band, Luther Vandross to name a few.
Who are you as a person aside from being Ms. R&B, and what’s the biggest misconception about you?
How did you become part of En Vogue and what was that like for you?
That’s a good question for me to ask someone else, because I don’t know if there’s a misconception about me.
At the time, because of my Mouseketeer connection I have a friend named Ricky and he’s a producer that asked me
XS10 MAGAZINE 43
to do a demo in the studio. After I did the demo session I was approached on-site like, “I don’t know where you’re at in your career, but En Vogue is looking for another member. Would you be interested?” I said that I’d look into it a.s.a.p. Soon after, I would travel to the Bay Area where I would meet the other members. I showed them my stuff and that was it. It happened pretty quickly. How was the chemistry in the beginning and how did that evolve? In all actuality it was really good as if we fell in line with what it was intended to be. I had a wonderful relationship beyond the work we put in ever since I began working with them. Describe one of your favorite moments as a member of En Vogue? The first thing that pops into my mind is the first tour we did together. It was a tour where they merged the best classical music with R&B and Pop. They had at least 60,000 in attendance at the concerts. It was huge and a lot of fun! There was a lot of networking and connecting. It was a way for us to really stretch ourselves musically and I felt very fortunate to be able to perform in that type of environment. Give the readers one lesson you learned when the group broke through into the mainstream. The group had already been established, but when I came aboard I became part of an established brand. I learned how to share the light when all eyes are on us. With positive energy and faith we’d feed each off other and supply one another the strength necessary to make us into something even greater. A lot of people for some reason think that women can’t work with each other on the level we’ve achieved, but we proved it was possible with the success we’ve had. It was a gift being able to share the light and work with other people while building on something bigger than you. If you were a spokeswoman at a seminar for female empowerment or anti-domestic violence, what would you say when you have the stage to speak? You know, I’m a personal empowerment and life coach. I would say to love yourself enough to allow a greater love into your life. Give yourself a chance to become something bigger than you thought you’d ever be. You don’t have to settle for mediocrity. Don’t be afraid to give yourself the best. I’m more than accessible. I have a YouTube channel and you can visit me on Facebook and Twitter where I’m very interactive. I just started a new video series called, “The Freedom Papers”. I’ll be making an installment today
44 XS10 MAGAZINE
about using skepticism to grow. I want people around me and in the world to live a liberated life. You mentioned helping people grow, but some people are scared of maximizing their own potential. Do you have any feedback on that common occurrence? Yeah, I agree and I think it could be a few things. Maybe that person is scared of success and/or failure, because of the responsibility that comes with it. Success takes persistence, not having excuses, knowing that it’s all up to you and that it takes accountability and responsibility. Sometimes people don’t see all of that and want to point the finger at somebody else when their dreams end up deferred. Take the time to question yourself. How committed are you? Know that persistence is an on-going action. Some people don’t want to face the possibility of failure and what it’ll feel like. That’s one of the reasons I gain great joy in working with people and empowering them to dream and make it come true for them with work ethic and faith. Something about that endeavor needs to be juicy and compelling enough for you to push on through. Your motivation has to be stronger than your fear for you to make it when the difficult times arrive. If your reason why you want and desire this is stronger than your fear, then you’ll face the fear and do it anyway! Give your fans one strength of yours and a weakness you’d improve upon. Persistence, drive and ambition are strengths of mine. I don’t like to claim weakness. When you played the role of Nicole on the “Jamie Foxx Show”, describe a funny moment on set during the making of those episodes. There were so many to recall because if you could just imagine working on set with Jamie Foxx, Alex Thomas, and Chris Spencer to name a few. One of the times when we were in between takes and they knew I could sing Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”, so they pushed me to do it in front of the audience. I finally decided to do it, but I only sang the chorus for the song. After that, the people went crazy. It was one of those funny moments that stand out. What do you like most about acting in stage plays verses TV sitcoms? What’s one funny moment you’ve had on stage? With live theatre I like that you need to bring it every time and you don’t get to do another take on stage. One take and that’s it. You can’t go backwards and correct yourself, so if you get lost you have to improv and show some creativity on the spot. It takes a lot of skill to muster up
the emotion of fear, sadness, joy and anger especially in a heavy hearted scene. Acting in stage plays really sharpens you as an entertainer. As for a funny moment, I acted in a play with Lavelle Crawford and he was supposed to enter the scene through a door into a party. Somehow his mic was turned on and he was snoring in the dressing room! All we could hear over the P.A. system and across the stage was Lavelle snoring! It was hilarious! We could barely hold ourselves together! Describe your radio show, “Perspective’s Corner” and your web site askrho.com. “Perspective’s Corner” is an opportunity for me as an entertainer and life coach to bring people together from all walks of life to talk about life issues and listen to hot music that compliments the discussion of the day. I do a thing called “Music Therapy” on the first Thursday on every month where listeners can go all in about different conversations about the music out now and the industry behind it. Askrho.com is my blog that I started back in 2010. At the time, I knew I had to get back to the basics and figure out what I’m doing, where I’m going and what my next step is. I was dealing with a personal drought in my own world and I knew I got away from some principles that helped me succeed. I’d ask myself what I was doing before that brought me success and in that search it was a journey within itself. I decided to take my life experiences to help other people through my blog. What’s been the biggest irony of your entertainment career? It’s probably back when I was in the Mouse Club and we did a dance cover for Salt & Pepa and En Vogue’s “Whatta Man!” and now I’m actually part of the group. If you were the most powerful woman in the world, what would you do first? Wow! That’s an expansive thought! Being in a position like that, I wouldn’t answer with some random thought. I’ll think about it off the strength that you asked me and that it would open me up to the chance of having greater responsibilities in the world. I’d definitely give back, but in what powerful, amazing and exciting way; I don’t know yet. You mentioned education, so on a local scale what would you do as the Mayor of Chicago to improve the Chicago Public School system? I would revolutionize how we study. This has been on the forefront of my mind for a while now. I’d go into the schools with the intention of helping people develop foundational tools to success such as their interpersonal
skills. We don’t get that in schools now, so you have to live life and develop it on your own while trying to learn how to relate to other people. It’s important to look further than the circumstance you’re living in. I think there’s great merit in maintaining the arts and sciences in school. I’d focus on keeping the creative aspects of the curriculum active when they’ve been slowly removing them. I think for students to get a holistic approach to education both the arts and sciences need to be taught together. If you won the Lotto what would you do and how would you try to keep everyone from knowing? I don’t know how good I’d be at keeping others from knowing, but I might blame the great fortune on a business endeavor that never really existed. I would invest in a social center so I could give back to the community in the way I’ve always wanted. If you had one superpower what would it be? I definitely wouldn’t want to know what people are thinking! Heck No! I’d say maybe having the ability to communicate with anybody in the world and convey my message as best I can. I could go anywhere and I don’t think I’d have problems because I’m good natured and people would understand me. What would you want more of in life and less of in life? I’d want more courage and less worry. What are your favorite qualities and features of a man? I like a lot of things, but I’ll give you a few. He would be a family oriented man who’s intellectually stimulating with a sense of humor and an open heart. What’s the best part about being you? That would be my open mind, because I don’t cut myself off from learning about life. I also get to do what I love for a living. Where do you see yourself in ten years? I want to be a very successful business mogul who’s happily married and maybe with a child in the picture too! Visit Rhona Bennett @ www.askrho.com http://rhonabennett.com Article written by: Bill Oxford Courtesy of: April Hartsfield
XS10 MAGAZINE 45
46 XS10 MAGAZINE
Drew Raber Taking the Music & Entertainment Industry by Storm In a world where young artists sometimes struggle to find a niche in their craft, Drew Raber has the undeniable focus, drive and necessary support system to live up to his own monumental expectations. Las Vegas, Nevada has served as a hot backdrop to the music scene Drew is gradually taking command of. He’s a young high school student who’s creative, charismatic and well-versed in athletics, music and film, so you know he’ll find a way to make the most out of his broad skill set. With a strong family backing and the personal determination to overcome any obstacle in his way, Drew Raber has a vast future ahead of him and stands ready to break down the doors of the music and entertainment industries. There will be no comparisons when Drew hits his prime. The girls and most of his peers love him and his genuine persona and he’s convinced he is ready for the spotlight. As it’s been said before by other unstoppable grinders, “bring it on!” Mr. Raber is ready for whatever. These are some of his thoughts as I spoke to him via Lamont Patterson of World Movement Records and Jacque Schauls of Coda Grooves Entertainment. Learn what makes this young star shine so bright and always remember the name, Drew Raber. How has life in Las Vegas shaped the young man you are developing into? I wouldn’t say that the city as a whole helped mold me, but more so my family and the fact that I’ve surrounded myself with good people. What career education do you think you would pursue if it wasn’t for the music industry? I’d probably be doing something in film and photography, also I’d use football as a stepping stone to get a scholarship and still apply myself towards an education in film. I used to play football, but gave it up to pursue music. Who or what made you want to start singing and performing live? I would say Usher, because when I was younger he was a huge inspiration to me. I was a really big fan who was fascinated by his singing, dancing and pretty much everything he did.
I’m trying to give back as much as possible, because I have a lot of things and there are other kids that don’t have as much as I do. Do you like the extra attention in public, or do you already at a young age get tired of it? I love the attention. I don’t think I’ll really ever get tired of it, because when I played football I stood out from the rest as the smallest and one of the best on the field. I received a lot of attention and popularity from that. All eyes were on me and it felt good. How easy has it been for you to adapt to the fame when popularity is a huge thing at your age? It kind of just worked out. As I said about playing football and how I would stand out; it all felt natural to me. I blended it with everything else that was going on and handled it well.
How would you describe yourself as a person and then as an artist/performer? As a person, I’d say I’m genuine, honest and stand with integrity. As an artist, I’m confident, humble and love what I do. What would be your favorite thing about girls, fans or not? Well, the first thing you always see when you look at a girl is her physical appearance, but that’s not the most important thing. What matters is her personality, because a girl can be the most beautiful girl in the world, but she might be rude. How does it feel to be in your shoes nowadays? I’m just so blessed to have everything that I have. That’s why
XS10 MAGAZINE 47
cause of the tricks they do. I don’t really follow snowboarding, but I enjoy it as a way to get out of the house to have fun. It’s said that you write most of your lyrics. Who gets credit for the other lyrics you sing? DB’s the Lyrical; he actually wrote the verses on “Time for Two”. Brennan Ford wrote the hook for that song and for “Telephone” too. My brother Donovan wrote the rap verse on “Telephone” and my dad (Tim Raber) will critique it all and help me with my delivery on some songs when I need it. How’s it like having active parents in your music career? It feels really good to have the support, because some kids want to pursue the same career I’m in and they don’t have the same support where if they fall down, it’s harder to get back up for them. I feel really blessed. Describe the fashion style for Ante Up Supply Co.? It’s like a versatile, urban clothing brand unlike anything else on the market. Just like my music. Is there anywhere in the world that you would love to travel to more than other places, that you haven’t been to yet?
What’s your ultimate lifetime goal for now, since goals sometimes change? I’d like to become a successful fashion designer, along with being a great music producer, writer and filmmaker. I have a lot of lofty goals and expectations that I’m focusing on at the moment.
Milan, Italy is definitely number one on my list, because it’s like the fashion capitol. Also, it looks really nice from the pictures I’ve seen. If you could say anything to your family and supporters out there, what would that be?
I get into filming and editing music videos. Anything with a camera; I feel like I have a good eye.
I’d like to tell them all, Thank You! I love all of you guys who are supporting me! If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be at the point that I’m at! My newest, hottest single is called “Never” and I expect it to be a huge hit! It’s available on Amazon and I-Tunes. I really have high expectations for the song and I hope it brings me to a higher level that I’ve been pursuing in the music industry. Check out my new album, “Perfect X” to be released September, 24, 2013.
What is it about Usher, Frank Ocean, Justin Bieber and Justin Timberlake that inspire you?
To find out when and where Drew Raber’s future shows will be, check him out on www.smokinappleent.com
They’re all unique in their own way and that’s why I look up to them. There’s nobody that writes like Frank Ocean. Justin Bieber doesn’t have any competition. People always seem to compare me to Justin Bieber. Me personally, it’s not that I don’t like Justin, because I respect him a lot. I just feel like that’s a lazy comparison, because people only see us as both being real young. It’s an age thing.
Since you skateboard and snowboard; to what capacity do you admire Tony Hawk and Shawn White?
Article written by: Bill Oxford
What type of film do you indulge in?
I respect both of them, but I’m not a huge fan of either of them. My favorite skateboarders are Terry Kennedy and Sean Malto. They’re revolutionary to me as skateboarders, be-
48 XS10 MAGAZINE
Twitter @DREWRABERMUSIC Amazon, I-Tunes www.worldmovement.com
Courtesy of: Smokin’ Apple Ent.
XS10 MAGAZINE 49
From Texas to the West Coast
Lamont Patterson His World Movement Stand Firm in the Sands of Time
Lamont Patterson has utilized his vast array of talents to leave a permanent and dominant imprint on the world and the music industry within it. Everything from networking, to being a vocalist, to playing the tenor saxophone, to producing music like a natural chef concocting something from nothing, also managing artists, owning his own studio and label, running a radio station, a publishing company as well. You get the idea! Lamont Patterson does much more than just run his professional brainchild, World Movement Records and Publishing. He reaches out to the youth and provides a highly regarded guidance that’ll properly assist that person/artist/musician/act in their quest for success. Lamont can help develop your music career. Not only that, but he can find the time to talk to you and educate you on the nuances of the music business. Whether you take those words seriously and to your advantage is strictly up to you. If you don’t, then I’m sorry to say this, but you’re doing yourself a disservice. To the people and artists alike; we were born with two eyes and two ears for us to observe and listen, to read and learn, so take some time out of your day or restful night to gain a more in depth look at an old school Soul and R&B icon who still stands as a very relevant figure in the music business landscape of today. Take us all back to your origins and upbringing? Explain what motivated you at a young age, who your influences were and a brief overview of how you got your start in music. After being born and raised in Bonham, Texas within what I’d refer to as a musical family, I came to realize there weren’t too many opportunities growing up. You either played sports, made music, or picked cotton. Early on, my aunt was the matriarch who played the keyboard in church. She inspired me to start singing in the church and I eventually would begin preaching in the church at age 10. My mother moved me to California where it seemed as if there were better opportunities for jobs and income, but no matter where I went to school I was always into music. At one point, I was a member of the school band all the while singing in the choir. We had Tenor Sax players like Sonny Rollins back then and even John Coltrane who is still remembered as a prominent figure in the history of Jazz and music overall. During my college days at L.A.C.C. I met and befriended a woman named Dorothy Morman who was the niece of a record producer named Harvey Fuequot. Mr. Fuequot was working with the group New Birth and that’s how I became involved with the group New Birth. Prior to that, Aaron Neville worked with me on my first album with Elements of Peace. Things continued to take off from there! How do you feel the music industry has changed for the better and for the worse from your younger years compared to now?
50 XS10 MAGAZINE
Things have changed for the better and I say that because back in the day we’d have the music stores and moms and pops shops. Now the distribution model is completely different where the majors monopolize the industry. It used to be where if you weren’t signed to a major, then your music career didn’t go anywhere. Now with the advent of the internet and its influence on today’s music, it’s basically evened the playing field where you can get your product/music distributed to your supporters without using the major as a vehicle for distribution. An artist can continue being successful if they’re internet savvy and knowledgeable of all the mediums and social networking sites available to them. The majors are here more for the independent companies such as mine, World Movement Records (W.M.R.), who develop the artists and break records which are two things the majors don’t really do anymore. The majors decided developing artists wasn’t cost efficient and made it so the independent companies had to take the gamble on up and coming talent. If we gamble with breaking an artist and they become successful, the majors come knocking and will invest nice sums of money. If the artist doesn’t max out on their potential or even tap into it, then the independent company loses out in the end, not the major label. I would definitely say it’s a great time for independent artists who are creative, hungry, know and love their craft, and who go out there and make it happen! How did you growing up in the Motown Era effect you and your life? I had chances to meet and get to know a lot of Motown greats from that era back in 1971-73 like Smokey Robin-
son, The Four Tops, to name a couple. That was when I had an office next door to the Motown Records office on Sunset and Vine in Hollywood. I used to sing their songs at talent shows coming up, so yeah, overall Motown has had a great influence on my career in terms of artistry, production, being an entrepreneur and also a manager in the music industry. I’d like to add that Motown had a sound that no matter which group or label was heard; you knew who it was and what label it came from even if you didn’t know the artist personally. Just by listening to the production and selection of live instruments, a label like Philly International that would be known as the Philly Sound, had a distinct sound, so it was no longer just a label name. It’s the same distinction that Motown has. When working with Quincy Jones, what did you learn from him that sticks with you today? Quincy has always been a mild mannered, quiet spoken professional who believes in leaving the drama outside the door. I met Quincy through this gentleman named Bill Summers. Even guys like Sting from the Police have also served as part of my support system and have been very instrumental with their guidance. Willie Ford from the Dramatics was the one who told me to never get too big or too busy to listen to the next person’s music. You never know where the next hit record will come from. How have you grown most as a person in life and as a professional? Being an entrepreneur in the music industry has been a strong point for me since I once was an artist/musician. I went from being an artist to a producer followed by a manager and then a studio owner, all prior to starting World Movement Records. There are a good number of younger entrepreneurs that want to do all these things, but have no experience and background. I had to attack those responsibilities one by one, because I didn’t know any better at
the time. It’s the fact that I’ve developed a well-rounded knowledge of all those parts to the machine and that’s worked to my advantage throughout the years. What is it about your music and creative energy that makes it so others around you grow? As the founder of World Movement Records, it’s a fact that I hold more credibility in my position than most others due to me wearing those numerous hats. An artist can talk to me and relate with me better because I’ve been in their shoes as an artist. The producers I talk to know I’m competent in production and that I can read, write and understand music. How would you describe your rapport with Jacque Schauls of Coda Grooves Ent.? Jacque is the bomb! We’ve worked together since the mid 2000’s. Jacque is a wiz when it comes to social media marketing and online networking. I don’t think there’s anybody out there that can top her at doing what she does. Also, I feel the need to shout out Kermit Henderson of Every Coast Music Domination (E.C.M.D.) who I work with on a daily basis and have known since 2000. It terms of breaking records there’s nobody out there better! The man has credit for over 200 gold records! We’re a team that works together as a strong unit and really know what we’re doing. Everybody needs that supporting cast, because nobody can do it all by themselves. If anyone out there thinks or says they can do it all by themselves, it’s a joke. So your label is called World Movement Records and now I ask what drove you to create this industry monster? I started World Movement Records because I didn’t want to be pigeon-holed. I really feel like we as people stifle our growth due to a lack of vision. Our motto is “Moving the World with Our Music”. We are playing on a global level playing field, not just on the block or your local city. How tough is it staying humble after all the achievements? Since I was the classic country boy growing up, I look at all I’ve attained from the million dollar home to the Roll Royce and I realized that all those toys and trinkets don’t make the man. It’s been easy for me to stay humble because I’ve had a lot and lost a lot, and then had a lot again. I’ve seen my fair share of ups and downs and I’ve come to a point in life where I have a balance. When you attain that balance and surround yourself with positive like-minded people, then it’s real easy to stay humble. Take the time to talk about your radio station, I Am Indi.
XS10 MAGAZINE 51
It’s called I Am Indi on BlogTalkRadio.com and it’s a show strictly dedicated to all the independent artists. There seems to be some confusion in these artists. The first thing they think of is trying to get signed to a major label, but they don’t understand that if you have a brand then you have something worth signing. If not, then a major label won’t be checking for you at all. I Am Indi provides these artists with the forum to play their music, promote and discuss their careers, and gather beneficial insight from music business artists, producers, attorneys, the list goes on. I don’t try to be a teacher, but more so a person who shares knowledge and helps provide tools for others to research and come up with their own answers. I think that’s a more powerful approach! If you took your career back to when you were an artist/ musician, but do that now in present day, who would you want to get in the studio and record with today? Strange as it may seem, that would probably be Jay-Z and not just because of his talent as an emcee, but because of how he’s developed himself into an entrepreneur. I would sit down and chop it up with him, because I think he has some experience and knowledge that I feel could be beneficial to me. I can definitely see myself paralleling with him. Aside from that, what’s a goal you’d love to accomplish that you haven’t achieved yet? That would be for me to own a full-service entertainment company and not just for music, but also for stage plays, movies, TV shows, books, and I want it to still be standing when I’m gone. I already have a publishing company called World Movement Publishing, so that’s a great start! What’s a personal strength of yours and one weakness you’d improve upon? A strength of mine is that I’m a creator and a natural producer. Quincy Jones would always compare himself to a master chef and I look at myself the same way too. A great producer sees things in other people such as artists that those individuals don’t see in themselves. That’s aside from being able to combine all the right ingredients to produce a masterpiece. When it comes to a weakness, sometimes I help people who are not deserving of that help. Since I’m a caring and giving person, I tend to extend myself a lot of times when people aren’t up front and forthright. Since you’ve gained a lot of advice through the years, what have you learned that you would share the most? That would be focus and preparation, also having a plan. You have to know where you’re going and where you want
52 XS10 MAGAZINE
to be in life. I tell all these younger artists coming up in the industry to learn the business side to the music. This is the Music Business, not Music Play. If you don’t learn the business then you’re setting yourself up for failure. Is there anything you’d do in the name of philanthropy? My main focus is helping these independent artists making a name for them on a global level. Something I’ve noticed is how they’ve started taking performing arts out of the school curriculum and that’s where I went through formal training in choir. If you’re not from a well-to-do family you’ll most likely never get piano lessons. I’m trying to educate and motivate the next generation of musicians and vocalists. I put this all on the government and educational system, because the kids lose that creative outlet and that’s sad to me. We used to not have to wait until college, or pay extra for lessons, because we had those programs in school. That opportunity to learn the performing arts is slowly disappearing. Are there any big projects that you have in the works for World Movement Records and Publishing? We have a stage play in progress called “Diary of a Dysfunctional Family”. Currently, Kermit and I have a project involving a young solo male artist out of North Las Vegas by the name of Drew Raber. To end this discussion on a good note, give the readers something from your life and career that will stay in their memory for years to come. I have so many of them. That has me thinking of Bill Summers who has to be one of the most humble musicians I’ve ever worked with. Don’t be big-headed, because there are a lot of egos in the music and entertainment industry, and not everyone will like your music. If you’re one of those artists that would go home and cry because someone can’t stand your music, then you’re not going to be successful. Get up and keep grinding! You’ll face criticism, but if you have confidence you can definitely move past the criticism because nothing beats failure like a try and another try. If you keep trying you’ll eventually succeed.
Article written by: Bill Oxford Courtesy of: World Movement Records & Coda Grooves Ent.
Rodney Perry Bringing Funny Anywhere He Travels One of the funniest, freshest, respectful and disciplined jokesters to grab the mic is here in XS10 Magazine and the name’s Rodney Perry! With roots in the Chicago area mixed with life in the Dirty South, the world has created a genius comic, family man as a father of six children. Mr. Perry is here to tell you about his inspirations like Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy, his rapport with Mo’Nique, his military background, how he derives most of his joy away from family with the laughter of others, along with the work ethic that has helped him develop into the highly demanded and publicized comedian he’s become. Rodney has the courage and determination to hurdle any obstacle thrown in his way and he’s bound to leave a compellingly humorous imprint on the landscape of stand-up comedy. What’s an aspect of your childhood that stands out the most? I was born and raised in Chicago, IL, where I spent my earlier years until my sophomore year in Carver High School. I’d go down to Louisiana to finish high school and college. Chicago is tough and living there helped me into the man and comedian I’ve become. Matter of fact, I had a teacher in second grade that would let me tell jokes at the end of class if I shut up during class. You mention that you moved from Chicago to Louisiana, so I’m wondering how you would compare and contrast the two environments. There isn’t much of a difference because most people in Chicago have roots and strong ties with down South in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, etc. I think coming into my own as a comedian with a mixed background is a benefit because it makes me better-rounded. Who was it that inspired you to be a comedian? If it’s narrowed down to one individual, Eddie Murphy would be the most influential comedian. I saw him on Saturday Night Live and thought to myself, “Whoa! This is what I want to do.” I’d definitely give credit to my parents that would have gatherings and play Richard Pryor records. I would see a bunch of grown-ups laughing in the living room. I wanted to captivate an audience the way he did. Where and when were you performing stand-up comedy when you realized you made it big? I don’t know if I made it big yet. I’m still working on that to this day. Maybe it might be one of the first times I was on TV as a comedian on BET’s Comic View in 1998. That was a performance when I knew I was on the right path. Television has a way of validating you to the people in your life. I was performing, but people would be like, “Man, when are you going to get a job?” When they see you on TV even for a brief routine, it changes their perspective on you. What’s one strength and one weakness of yours? My strength rests in my organizational skills and my foresight to keep my career moving and always creative. One thing I learned from Tyler Perry is that moguls create. They don’t wait to get hired. They create space in the market for themselves to work. My weakest point is procrastination. I like to keep people around me who don’t do the same. What would you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
XS10 MAGAZINE 53
That’s being a good dad. My life has been 100% comedy, but now as I get a little older it’s very important to get the approval from my family more than being the top dog comedy-wise. I love being around to watch my children grow up into people that I enjoy being around. The worst thing you could have is a child that you don’t like as they get older. I always ask myself if those weren’t my kids, would I want to hang out around them and I’ve got six of them, five daughters and one son. What was it about the U.S. Navy that made you choose to be a comedian over a career in the military? I met some lifelong friends and some really great people during my service, but I had comedy in my heart. I didn’t necessarily diss the Navy. I just chose comedy. I served for eight years in the Navy and I was at a cross-road because I thought if I did another four years I’d have to retire. Consider doing another eight years on top of that to get to 20, so after doing my first eight years of service I decided to give comedy my 100%. Everybody can name someone who “used to be the man” and I never wanted to be that guy. I didn’t want to be the guy who did comedy and quit for personal reasons only to have peers and fans say, “Remember him? You know that guy Rodney Perry. Funny guy, wasn’t he?” I only ask this question due to you having experience serving two tours in the military, so do you have any perspective you’d like to share on U.S. military involvement overseas? I look at the military like this. We as Americans take the military for granted the comfort level that we have. A lot of that comfort comes from knowing we have military stationed worldwide. The military gives young men and women opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have. If you’re not an academic scholar in high school you could go to the military and they’d pay your tuition and you’ll hopefully move on to being able to support a family. I applaud members of the military. How does your experience in the military correlate to your success as a comedian? The military gave me work ethic. I mean, I always worked hard, but the military qualified it. To this day I don’t believe in ever being late and that punctuality is a military thing. I take great pride in my personal presentation with my clothes and how I look. Even now, I keep my shirts pressed and the same goes for the crease in my pants. Everything’s neat and on point, and that’s a military thing too. It’s nothing for another person to see me buffing up my shoes military style right before performing a show. In general, it’s said that comedians are some of the saddest people, but also the happiest because they laugh their way through the pain, so where do you find joy in life aside from just family? My main source of happiness outside of family is being on stage. I know comedy is part of my greater purpose in life, because some of these people watching me really need a laugh and I’m there to make it happen! You never know what a person is going through when they attend a comedy show. People really need to laugh sometimes! For some, they have crazy kids, a business and a lot of bills to be paid, so for a few hours they get to depart from that and laugh. Describe your rapport and chemistry with Mo’Nique, and how she’s impacted your career? She’s impacted me on so many different levels! On a personal level, she always tries to be nice to people and she told me, “If you’re always nice to people then you don’t have to ask yourself if you were nice or not. You know you were.” If you watch how she deals with fans and people that come into her life, she’s the fairest and most lovable female I’ve encountered in the game. There are too many people that don’t follow through on their word, but if Mo’Nique tells you something will be done, it’s good as done. I call her my personal angel. During my first encounter with her, she took my wife on a shopping spree. I didn’t even know her well at all and she did all that! She’s an awesome human being and a cool friend to have around! Comedians crack jokes all the time about other nationalities, so what is one joke that you’ve heard about Black people where you paused, thought about it, admitted to it being true and laughed it off? I deal with some stereotypes in my act and one that comes to mind is the one about eating chicken, but I don’t know anybody anywhere that doesn’t like chicken. I would eat chicken seven days a week and if that makes me Black, then I’m as Black as they come! Watermelon is good! It’s edible and thirst-quenching. Who doesn’t like watermelon? I don’t
54 XS10 MAGAZINE
know how they became Black delicacies. I try to keep my eyes and ears open for the sneak racism that some comedians disguise as jokes. I don’t like that. I did a show some years back for Premium Blend on Comedy Central. I don’t know if the White comic performing knew there were Black comedians present at the showcase, but he was throwing the N-word around as a punch line like it was nothing. I got up on stage and said that if the show is about this, then I don’t want anything to do with it. I walked off the stage. Do you have any boundaries with your comedy? There was a time when I would’ve said, “No.” I think that some stuff in our community should stay within and not become a product of public consumption. I’m not in the business of intentionally hurting people with my comedy. I don’t want to hurt your feelings if I can help it, but sometimes people are super-sensitive. I don’t think it’s cool to joke about our icons, even though some comics crack jokes about the late greats, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. What’s the best prank you’ve pulled on someone? What about the best prank pulled on you? I don’t really tolerate that stuff being done to me. My best advice is to not prank me! I wasn’t much of a prankster back in my earlier years. I mean, we used to do crazy things like prank phone calls, but everybody was doing that. It was a crowded medium with people like Rickey Smiley and stand-up became the thing for me. What are your expectations for your TV comedy special, “Rodney Perry All The Way LIVE”? Shout out to Shaq for helping to make it happen! It was a great experience creating my first comedy special which will be on ShowTime. It’s a mix between sketch comedy and stand-up. I’m really proud of our progress as we’re putting the final touches on it! How do you want to be remembered when all is said and done? When they cover me with dirt in my grave I want people to say I was one of the best comics to ever do it. If I could be in a group with the top comics of all-time that would be a real blessing! Do you have an inspirational story to share with the readers? In 1998, I took a leap of faith and packed up the bags with family for Los Angeles. When I got to L.A., I was doing everything other than comedy. I looked at myself two years later and I still wasn’t doing what I came to L.A. to accomplish. I took a job at the Veteran’s Administration (V.A.) and I met this guy who was a double amputee. He was such an impressive guy, because he wouldn’t let you feel sorry for him. I’d eat lunch with the guy on a regular basis and he’d share jewels of wisdom with me. I told him they were considering hiring me full-time at V.A. He looked at me and asked, “What are you doing here?” I replied, “What do you mean?” He asked me, “Why are you in L.A.?” I told him, “I came to L.A. to become a famous comic and travel around the world making people laugh.” He questioned me again wondering, “Well then, what are you doing here at the V.A.???” That was my wake-up call. I packed my bags that day and haven’t done anything other than stand-up comedy since. I used to put so much emphasis on working hard, but I’d work hard all the time. Now my motto is that I’m no longer working hard, but I’m flowing effortlessly through the universe. I challenge anybody reading this to flow without trying so hard. Flow effortlessly and let the game come to you. When you get a chance at the plate, knock it out of the park.
Article written by: Bill Oxford
XS10 MAGAZINE 55
56 XS10 MAGAZINE