We sat down to talk with Chris Crossdale, the man behind @ccrosdale7 Mecario, to discuss his musical inspirations, fear, hope, joy, and the release...Read More
D. Ciano was born & raised in Savannah, Georgia and is a lyricist who keeps his listeners impressed with witty & clever wordplay all while delivering inspiration. Using his trials and tribulations as the brush to paint a picture with his words, his sound & concepts separate him from the norm on today’s Hip-Hop scene. D. Ciano is currently based in Atlanta and just released his third project entitled "Falling Forward". We connected with him to ask about his biggest musical influences, what we can expect from Falling Forward, and more.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
D: Some of my biggest musical influences are Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Common, & more recently I’d say J. Cole & Kendrick. Just seeing how Kanye went about music when he first came in molded me as an artist. I feel like before Kanye, there weren’t many prominent artists who rapped about being themselves the way he did. I believe his subject matter & path opened a door to a whole new generation of Hip-Hop. Lil Wayne was my favorite artist from a little before the Carter 2 up until a little after the Carter 3. That was like a 4 year span where I felt he put out his best music. Aside from his wittiness, songs like “Something You Forgot” that he wrote about Nivea are some of his best work to me, and songs like that are the reason I’m comfortable making such person songs about my own relationships. Common makes timeless music, and is so subtle with his hardest bars. So I try to do the same.
What do you remember most about your experience meeting rap icons like Talib Kweli, Pete Rock, DJ Mick Boogie, & Ski Beats during your time in New York?
D: It was a great experience. That was my first time in New York, and we were at the Le Poisson Rouge. I remember Kweli talking to me about my music, cause when I sent in the 3 tracks, I also sent a link to my first project. I didn’t expect for his camp to listen to the project, but it turns out he did. I didn’t even know Ski Beats was going to be there, he was just vibing out enjoying himself, a very cool dude. I remember Pete Rock & DJ Mick Boogie both killing it with the mixes. Coming from the South, I was used to hearing club songs in nightclub type of venues, but up there they were spinning classic Hip-Hop records all night and that was the first time I experienced that.
When/how did you come to the realization that music is what you wanted to do with your life?
D: That first trip to New York did it for me. I don’t know if or when I would’ve left my city before that happened, because in a way I had no reason to other than for a random vacation or trip. That moment opened my eyes to how music could be a career for me, and how it could be my way to see the world as well as change the world. My first project was just made for fun & I didn’t really think much of it. I was handing out hard copies all over campus and around my city. I started to gain some notoriety but what really helped was during school breaks when students would take my music back home with them and spread the word. That led to random listeners all over hitting me up and letting me know how much they enjoyed my music. I was just winging it before all of that, but after I felt like I found my purpose in life.
Comparing yourself as an artist now to who you were when you recorded "Freshman Year" in your dorm room at Savannah State Univ., how are you different than before?
D: I’ve conformed a lot more. I’ll never conform my message, but I do conform by dumbing down my lyrics to an extent just to add in a melody. The old me just wanted impressive lines back to back to back lol. I didn’t care for riding the beat a certain way, or trying to say something in a way where people would remember it. Making music is still fun to me, but at this point, making music involves a lot of strategy that it didn’t before. For instance, the song A Part of Me that I shot the music video for. The first 2 verses I consider as me conforming, but the 3rd verse is the old me.
Tell us about the Falling Forward LP. What can we expect from this 24-track release and do you have a favorite song or one that has a deeper meaning?
D: You can expect good music, some inspiration, creative concepts, an overall positive message, thought provoking stories, funny skits, & witty, clever wordplay in every verse. Sleepless Nights is a special track to me. I personified “Sleep” into a person and that’s who I’m talking to throughout the verses. The song has 3 different chorus and I love how I arranged & blended them as the song goes on. Broken Home is another favorite of mine. I tell this story from 3 perspectives and after hearing the last perspective, which is the father, you can see that the mother is the villain but tells their son that the father is. and Odysseus is another favorite of mine. It started with just a line comparing my story to the Odyssey, but that line was so special to me I then made the whole song centered around that theme.
When most music fans think of Atlanta rap, Trap music is the first thing that comes to mind. Artists like Future, Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan are carrying the torch for this very popular sub-genre but there is a new generation of rappers making major noise in the Atlanta region and beyond. One of these emerging artists is BAMN. BAMN has been featured on our site several times since we started in July 2014 and his appearances have all been well warranted. He's been making great music for three years, with the culmination being last spring's "The Ride", an eight song EP featuring the production prowess of Spittzwell.
We connected with BAMN to ask some questions about his philanthropic work in the community, what we can look forward to from him musically this year and much more. Most importantly, BAMN just dropped a DOPE new video for his track 'Give It Up', which is our current Song of the Week, and appears on our recently released compilation album "The Definition of DOPE". Enjoy.
Why is charity work in the community so important to you? B: It's more important than most things society focuses on. Its simple! We have to give more than we receive! I mean I'm blessed to have a bed to sleep in and food to eat. Some people to have that. I would'nt even call it charity work. To me its just seeing the value in life. I can't walk by struggle and not do anything.
What can we look forward to from you musically this year? B: I recently released my newest single "Give It Up" which can be found anywhere you buy music. ie: Itunes, Google Play, Amazon Music etc. Almost right after the single release I also released the visual for it on Youtube @thatguybamn. Be expecting more singles and visuals to back them. And an Album too! All dopeness and alot of it!
How will your next project be different than The Ride? B: I think "The Ride" was really smooth. It was more relax and chill music on that project, and I used one producers for the entire project. The new project will a variety of producers and different sounds. You can already tell by the single "Give It Up". It's way different than what I released on "The Ride".
For someone who's never seen you perform live, what's a typical BAMN show like? B: It's not "typical" at all. First and foremost its amazing music. My energy is high, interaction with the crowd, and if my company BeFirstClassENT, LLC. is behind it we like to give away things. I like to connect with the crowd. I want them to leave feeling like it was an amazing show.
What does the phrase 'Be First Class' mean to you? B: "BeFirstClass" means being the absolute best that you can be in what ever capacity you choose, as well as inspiring others to do the same. Inspiration is a big part of everything that I do. I told my team that this year the goal is to inspire, and that's what we're going to do.
Fresh Out Da Box (Osabio x KRO x ABD x I.N.C.H) is a rap group from France, specifically the south of Paris, the 91 district. They started making music back in the 90's, separately in different groups but in 2012 they decided to make a group together and the rest is history. The guys just released their new video entitled 'Respect' feat. Godfather PT III from the Infamous Mobb. We caught up with Fresh Out Da Box to inquire about the rap scene in France, how they came together to form the group, and more.
I know that France has a vibrant Breakdancing and Graffiti culture but what's the Rap culture like for artists in France, Paris in particular? FOTB: The rap culture in France exist since the 80's. A lot of people are following the Hip Hop culture from the day it began. Paris is full of rap artists, from the old to the new school.
Actually there are many rap genres here, as in US but many rappers of these days used to copy flows from overseas. The authenticity of our rap culture disapeared back early 2000's, that's why we want to stay original and purpose our music.
How did you guys come together to form Fresh Out Da Box? FOTB: We grew up in the same city.We all started to hit the mic when we were young. We coming from different generation and crew but we known each other almost 20 years now. We wanted to combine our flows on a same group Abd Kro and I (Osabio). Fresh Out Da Box was a concept that came out to when we wanted to make it bigger all together.
To connect with a member of the legendary Infamous Mobb/Mobb Deep crew is a really big deal; how did the collaboration with Godfather PT III come about? FOTB: I (Osabio) met him during the shooting of a video clip, I introduced myself as a french rapper, we spoke a lot about rap and music in general, we chilled together all this night. At the end I purposed to send him a beat to get a verse on our project and he was ok for that. We decided to record many songs together on our project. He stayed many months in Paris chillin' with us, we had good time with him, it's a homie and we keep in touch. He also invited us to perform the first part on his all European tour (Mobb Life Tour) and it was a dope experience.
What's next for you guys in 2016? What goals for your music have you set? FOTB: Right now we are ending our first project. And then we will work on our personal ones during 2016. Our goal is to spread our music around the world. French people listening mostly mainstream artists and no take attention of underground Hip Hop. It's not promoted like it should be here.
What message do you have for Hip-Hop fans in the United States and Canada whose first exposure to French rap music is the 'Respect' video? FOTB: Just say that in France we are Hip Hop, we want to put on the map our scene and show that we got fresh tracks right here. We hope that they liked it, and also that they want to ear more from us.
1WayTKT, a DJ/production team out of New York City on Deep Root Recordz, has performed with or produced for some of the biggest names in Hip-Hop and now they are making a name for themselves in Electronic Dance Music. Their music combines many genres from jazz to dub-step, but what really sets them apart is their melodic sounds, basslines, and the sweet addition of a trumpet. We connected with 1WayTKT (Josh and Chris) and asked them about how they came together to form the group, how they got publishing placements with some of the biggest companies in Hollywood and much more.
How did you guys come together to form 1WayTKT? 1WayTKT: We grew up together and have been friends since grade school. Since then, we have embarked on several musical collaborations, from being in various school bands, to releasing hiphop albums (always under different monikers of course). 1WayTKT began as an outlet for us to be our own artist for a change. we got tired of always being at the whim of the artists and labels that hired us, and not controlling our own careers. It also happened to come at time when our personal interests were shifting towards electronic dance music, mostly because hip-hop gave us a "been there, done that" feeling, creatively. The business of hip-hop is also rather disorganized and backwards, which certainly played a roll.
You guys have performed with and produced for a wide array of artists; do you decide in advance what type of instrumental you're creating or do you let the beat guide you, so to speak? 1WayTKT: Working with so many different artists leads to quite a variety of creative processes. Its a case by case scenario, so if we were to answer quickly, all of the above. When we are producing for other acts, we are there to support their sound and bring their ideas to life. Conversely, when we are producing for 1WayTKT, we are in charge of the sonic direction. Ultimately, we are big lyric and melody guys, so when there are vocals, we let them dictate the proper musical backdrop. In terms of which comes first, its a bit like the chicken and the egg; it always has to start somewhere, and both work well. Most often, we produce a skeletal track ahead of time. we keep it very simple until the song gets recorded, so we dont get in the way of the songwriter's creative process. The final versions we release sound very different than these initial skeletons. They go through phases of deconstruction and are rebuilt to best suit the song and artist at that time. We believe in experimenting, so there are many versions of each song that never see the light of day. But once its right, its right.
Getting publishing placements with Pixar, Disney, and ESPN is a really big deal; how does one go about establishing that connection? 1WayTKT: You know what they say, its not what you know, its who you know. It took a few different connections to make those placement happen. A lot of it is word of mouth, friends of friends, etc. We are constantly scouring the internet for bigger and better publishing opportunities. There are so many great services out there nowadays. Of course, having proper sonics and professional engineering certainly helps. Additionally, having great songwriters that write incredible songs go a long way. Great songs are undeniable. On the business side, we are big advocates of being flexible and taking risks. Too many artists are scared to send music around, and even more fearful of signing exclusive single deals with publishing libraries. But you have to give to get. We look at everything as stepping stones towards greatness. Sometimes its okay to compromise certain things in order to align yourself with the right outlets. After all, we can always make more songs.
I'm a really big fan of your new single 'Time' with Pleasant Russell; how did this feature and song come about? 1WayTKT: We have actually been working with Pleasant for years. He is a local songwriter/artist here in New York. We knew what a powerhouse he was, so it was only a matter of time, no pun intended, until we featured him on the project. Creatively, the process occurred through a method we previously outlined, with a very simple skeleton beat. After we recorded the vocals, we built several new beats, almost entirely from scratch. By the time we were done with it, all we kept from the skeleton was the key, tempo, and chord progression.
What next for 1WayTKT in 2016? 1WayTKT: We are starting the year with a big New Years Eve show at Santos Party Haus in NYC. We have many more shows in the works, but its too early to broadcast them. Release-wise, have quite a bit of finished material on deck, and even more in the pipelines, so we going to just keep cranking out content. We are really just getting started. Even though the project is a few years old, we only recently established our sound. Having a consistent sonic identity adds momentum to the creative process. So now its all about pouring gasoline on the fire. Its going to be an exciting year.
Cameron "Cam'Star Right's" Hawkins is the Founder/CEO of Mid'East Entertainment, an artist management company out of Raleigh, NC, a brand manager for DOPECAUSEWESAID, and artist. We spoke with Cameron about his goals for Mid'East Entertainment, how he and SPACE, the artist he represents, connected, what's next in 2016 and more.
Does the name Mid'East Entertainment have a special meaning? C: Mid (middle) stands for the location that I'm from on the East coast of the United States.
How did you and SPACE, the artist you represent, connect? C: We connected at a mutual friend's house and the music that was coming out of him was absolutely mind blowing and as soon as he told me he did not write his rhymes I was like whoa! He continues to strive to be innovative with his lyrics; HE IS A STAR.
What are your goals for Mid'East Entertainment? C: To progress alongside the great labels, be innovative, stay motivated, stay the course of our careers, humility, give back to those who are less fortunate, stay true ourselves, be honest with each other, and make Classic HIT RECORDS!
Who are some of your favorite artists and what are some of your favorite songs? C: The usual suspects - B.I.G., Stevie Wonder, Pac, Otis Redding, Four Tops, Creed, Rakim, James Brown, Treach, LL, Jay-Z, AZ, Patti Labelle, Nas, Dione Warwick, TI, Pimp C, Celine Dion, Arrested Development, Earth Wind and Fire, Ice T, Ice Cube, Busta and the list goes...etc. Songs wise? Its a Hard knock Life, It Ain't Hard to Tell, Hail Mary, Wit Me or What, Sugar Hill, and Today Was a Good Day.
What's good for 2016? What can we expect from Mid'East Entertainment in the new year? C: You can most definitely expect the official website for Mid'East, we have some shows already booked so far, we are looking to connect with the right energy that will further our Union and business plan. Campaign starts with SPACE's EP "The Boy Who Cried Music" in January; its finished. The first single "Johnny Apple Seed", the cover artwork will be out soon. On Soundcloud he has gotten 8,200+ for his first single 2 months so far; I'm very proud of him. My EP is coming soon; it will start at the end of February (Five of 10 and Goal).
How do you juggle being the CEO of an entertainment company and an artist? C: It is difficult, but I remain humble, I don't complain, I zone out. I'm the type of individual that knows my self worth, knows my brand, I know problems will occur in business and life, and I know I will shine like a diamond through adversity.
In today’s fast moving world so many artists are looking for ways to set themselves apart from the rest and get discovered. We go to open mics, put on shows, and try to get noticed on social media. The goal, of course, is to get discovered by an A&R rep for a record label or some rich old man who really believes in your talent and wants to change your life. It’s an admirable goal, but those things don’t really happen so much these days. However, you could meet a Hip Hop Genie to grant your wishes! Dwane “Koko” Williams is an executive producer and manager at Nex Level Entertainment. Maybe he’s not an actual genie, but he can do some pretty magical stuff with your music.
I recently sat down with Mr. Williams to discuss how an executive producer works and the doors that could open for an artist. Nex Level Entertainment is a music publishing company whose job it is to connect the right artist to the right opportunity. Although the publishing company would own the rights to the music, the artist would still be getting paid handsomely though royalties each time it’s played. The bigger the venue/opportunity for the song to be played, the more money the artist will rake in.
DopeCauseWeSaid (DCWS): So Mr. Williams, what made you want to start such a company?
DW: I’ve been surrounded by music my whole life; my dad was a musician who could play many instruments. He had great success and a record label so it’s in my blood. A lot of my friends are artists as well so I combined my entrepreneurial spirit with their need to be heard.
DCWS: What kind of experience do you need to run a company like this? DW: You definitely need an ear for good, marketable music and the ability to see the bigger picture. The biggest thing is knowledge of the music business, PR skills and of course connections in the industry. I also have a partner who I run the company with.
DCWS: Awesome, who’s your partner? DW: My partner is a producer. His name is Villo Beats; I mentioned that a lot of my friends are artists. I met most of them at my neighbourhood community center where there’s a music program, we eventually got to talking and had the same ideas so we decided to start a company. Villo attends the Harris Institute, which is one of Canada’s premier music schools, I definitely trust his opinion.
DCWS: So what is each of your roles within the company? DW: We both work as talent scouts primarily. We see a raw talent and try to take them to the next level. I might see someone at an open mic, Villo might see someone at a talent show, the artist would come to me to discuss contracts and management. The artist would then go to Villo to record a few songs. Once we’re both satisfied with the songs we send them out to different outlets that need music and hopefully we have a winner. From there we discuss details and negotiate the best deal for everyone.
DCWS: What kind of places could play my music? DW: Anywhere we see an opportunity; that could be a shopping mall, sports arena, movies, commercials, fashion shows, anywhere you could imagine that needs good music for the background.
DCWS: Good stuff, there’s so much opportunity! As an artist what would your services cost me? DW: Right now we’re working on packages for artist development, but if we stumble upon a super talented individual then Villo Beats and I would definitely cover some of the costs.
DCWS: That’s great to hear since there are so many “opportunities” for artists to break through but end up costing the artist a fortune. What’s next for Nex Level Entertainment? DW: Right now we’re just doing the finishing touches on our website for the upcoming launch later this month. We usually work on referrals and scouting, but we want to expand, we’re actually looking to go international and get some talent from the states.
DCWS: Tell me more about the website. DW: The website will be a hub for talented artists to be showcased. Users will have the ability to contact us for representation and find out what events we’re putting on that they can come out to. There'll be a regularly updated music blog and we’ll also be featuring artists so there’ll be lots of opportunities to put yourself out there.
DCWS: That’s exciting! I wish you all the best. We’ll definitely keep up with you as your company grows. Thanks for chatting with us.
So there you have it ladies and gentlemen, if you want to achieve success, sometimes you have to think outside the box. Keep going to your open mics, keep putting on shows and keep trying. There could be a music producer in your town just like Mr. Williams who can help you take your career to the next level, or should I say “Nex Level”?! - Asha Mullings
John Wells is a rapper from Baltimore with witty wordplay and knack for dope production. Earlier this year, John dropped a project entitled "The KEILANI", which featured banging tracks like 'Grass' and 'Elizabeth'. We caught up with John to find out what inspires him as an artist and see what's to come in terms of new music in 2016.
The KEILANI dropped in early 2015 and is a great collection of tracks with really dope production and introspective lyrics; what's next on the horizon in terms of projects in 2016? J: I have a lot planned for 2016. I have an EP dropping in March, a mixtape dropping at some point this summer, and an album hopefully by fall/winter.
How did you and Scotty Banx connect with each other? J: I met Scotty through school. I'd known who he was since probably middle school, because him and Henry Traxx were basically the first young rappers in our neighborhood. I'd seen his music video on the morning announcements, and I'd seen him perform at the school talent show my freshman year of high school, and I followed him on Twitter and everything, but I never really met him until my sophomore year of high school during this thing called Enrichment that our school was doing so kids could get more involved in school and join clubs. We both went to the music video club on the first day. Just to throw it out, Scotty, Don Neil, me, and a lot of other big people from Baltimore went to Kenwood; you'll be hearing that school a lot once some more artists from Baltimore come up.
Would you say that your upbringing in Baltimore heavily influences your lyrical content and viewpoint as an artist? J: Yea, definitely. I find some deep shit in pretty much everything, so it's like everything around me is something I could write a song about. So it's definitely influential as far as my lyrical content, and as far as my viewpoint, I just feel like if I was a completely different person, and I was from like Wyoming or something, I definitely wouldn't see things the way I do, cause I wouldn't have had the same life. So being from Baltimore has probably shaped my viewpoint as an artist in a few more ways than one.
When someone listens to "The KEILANI" or one of your new tracks for the first time, what do you want them to take away from it? J: I think as long as you're taking something good from it than I'm good. Everybody perceives things differently and that's understood so if you like the beat or you figure out the cure for cancer or something from listening to my song then that's what's up.
Where does your inspiration to write rhymes and produce music come from? J: I started writing when I was hella young, my mother always said I have a gift in writing so she kind of always pushed that. I wrote songs when I was little, but rapping is more fun and it comes easier to me and it sounds cooler than my singing. I started producing in April of 2013 before I even started putting out my raps (I was rapping way before I ever made a beat, just to clarify) cause I couldn't find any beats I liked on YouTube, and Kayo (Scotty) put me on to FL Studio. I was also heavily inspired by a dude from Baltimore named Butch Dawson; he's one of my favorite producers, I really wanted beats like his.
murkury is an Undergrowth Foundation affiliated producer whose style combines futuristic, bass-heavy sound design with chill melodies and hard-hitting drums. His minimalist yet groovy style has been entrancing audiences in the Western Carolinas for over four years. We caught up with murkury to find out how the Undergrowth Foundation came about, how he became interested in music, and much more.
Tell me about the Undergrowth Foundation. How did this collaborative network come about? M: What a story. I can't even begin to describe the many tiny, seemingly-random life events that eventually snowballed into this idea. I mean, this time last year, I didn't even know the other founders of The Undergrowth. Fast-forward to this summer: on a whim, I followed my gut to Asheville. Almost immediately, I met this visual artist, Jakeb, by chance, and at my first show I was introduced to his friend Greg, a DJ. We all hit it off and Greg invited us to spend 4th of July at his cabin outside Asheville. That weekend, we spent hours on end listening to Greg mix vinyl, exploring the woods, drawing, and talking about music, art, and the universe. We saw great talent in each other and felt like if we combined those skills, we could do great things. Not only this, but we felt the need to unite other likeminded artists who were talented but didn't have a platform to express themselves. We felt some force beyond our comprehension leading us to the understanding that this was to be our purpose in life. It was only given a name after we were inspired by "Life In The Undergrowth", a wildly profound BBC documentary that illuminated the lives of the insect world. This undergrowth scene, we thought, was just like the underground music scene. Overlooked and underrated by mainstream society, it's actually what holds everything together. It's the place where every good musician rises up from. It just made sense to us, and the rest is history.
What's the music scene like in Asheville? M: Well, keep in mind, I've only been living in Asheville for a few months, yet every day I'm in the city, I'm working overtime to make my way deeper into the scene. I know first-hand what it's like to not have a recognizable name in Asheville...and while that's difficult in any city, it's still amazing to even be here as an artist. The people who are established are friendly and very open to discovering new talent from all genres. You just have to know where to look. There's so much opportunity for someone to make music in Asheville...way more than Boone, which is why I moved to begin with. And when you aren't getting shows, you can busk. With the right people behind you, you can even create your own scene, like we are with The Undergrowth. It's just a great place to do something different and there's inspiration on every corner. People in Asheville are very open to hearing new sounds and experimenting with new artists, which is perfect for an electronic junkie like me.
When and how did you become interested in music production? M: I think producing was just a natural progression for me as an artist. I always played instruments growing up (piano, guitar, drums) and then in college at App State, my passion for music turned into DJing. We threw parties wherever I lived and somebody had to be the DJ, so why not me? I've always loved the idea of setting the vibe and taking people on a journey through sound. At first, I didn't have any equipment of my own, so the mixing was rudimentary at best. I did this for a long time for lots of different people, eager to take the next step but without the resources to do so. To compensate, I got some production software and learned how to make edits and bootlegs so it would be easier for me to mix live. That evolved into making remixes, and eventually, after watching countless hours of tutorials, I started producing originals. Finally, I got some equipment of my own and started to branch out and find a style to call my own. Most of the material I've made will probably never see the light of day, but it's all practice. Even the tracks I released this past month. It's all just practice trying to convert the visions in my head into organized sound. Game day only happens when I play live.
Do you have a dream collaboration? M: Cashmere Cat or Tipper. I know those styles seem contradictory, but honestly, I just want to get in their studios and see how the hell they make their music because I have no idea how they do it. Here are some dudes who propel the consciousness of anyone around them to some next level ish, and that's what I want. 99% sure it'll never happen, but it's nice to think about.
What's next for you and your music? M: Apart from a new EP and several more singles, remixes, and bootlegs, I'll be collaborating with the rest of the Undergrowth crew on our first official mixtape, to be released in 2016. It will be chocked full of drippy, trippy, undergrowthy vibes, so be on the lookout for that. I also hope to play my first music festival next year. Dreaming big got me this far, so why stop now?
King Chase is an emcee from Prince George's County, Maryland who has released two solo mixtapes, five Coast 2 Coast mixtape feature spots, and a successful EP entitled "Young King". We recently caught up with him to see what's up with his upcoming EP "Crown", to find out his musical influences, whether he feels being signed to a major is still important in 2015, and much more.
What's the Rap scene like in the DMV for an emerging artist such as yourself? K: The rap scene here differs based on region. You could perform a song in DC that might not have the same crowd reaction as a Virginia show. The DMV as a whole is a diverse area, and the music reflects that. Whether it's a pure hip-hop track that takes you on a mindtrip to the old days of "boom-bap" style raps... Or a new age sound that may get you on the dance floor. There's artists of all types and backgrounds here. And for that reason, I feel we are the most slept on region for good quality music.
Is everyone supportive of each other or is more every man for themselves? K: I try to support as many up and coming artists like myself. Whether its sharing a link or sharing some knowledge that might help them take a step ahead in their career. I can't say the same for everyone else though. Sad to say, it's the classic case of the "crab in a bucket" complex. Nobody wants to show love to anyone. Too busy hating or throwing social media shade at one another.
Do you have a favorite artist? If so, how have they influenced you? K: I have a few artists that I can honestly say have influenced me. Wouldn't be fair to give all the credit to one. Nas and Jay-Z get the two top spots. Jay's work ethic is nothing short of inspiring. I can honestly say I watch his interviews more than I listen to his songs. It's almost like he gives the blueprint to success every time he speaks. And Nas, his ability to tell a story and spread a message all in the same track. That was and still is the dopest thing to me. I try to bring that same feel to my music. I want my listeners to take away something from the experience. Whether it's one person, or one thousand people. I thrive off of that energy.
Does it really make sense for an emerging artist such as yourself to sign to a major record label in 2015, especially with our sites like ours, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, and other free means to promote your music? K: I can honestly say I see valid points on both sides of that argument. There has never been a better time to make a name for yourself independently than right now in this internet age. With slight knowledge of social media and networking, possibilities are endless. But having a label backing your brand has tremendous upside. Wide-spread distribution, international promotion, and the endless plugs and connections you gain under record companies almost make it worth while.
But I feel the answer to that differs based on who's being asked.. If you have the drive and work ethic.. You can make your own brand, your way.. And for me, that sense of accomplishment is unmatched.
What is it you look for when you select the production you decide to write to and record?K: Originality. Thats the number one thing. If your average, round the way rapper would use it... Chances are I wouldn't. I'm constantly chasing new sounds, new styles, and new cadences. Different beats allow me to experiment with new ideas & challenges me to become a better artist.
Are you dropping a new release soon? If so, when? K: I have a new 8-track EP coming very soon. We're leaning towards Thanksgiving Day.
Young King EP
We connected with King Zell, a 20-year rapper from Baltimore, who is part of the music group Rated R, about his musical influences, how he selects beats, how he and Rated R connected and more.
Tell me about Rated R? How did you guys connect and do you have an EP or mixtape on the way? K: Rated R is a music group that consists of 5 members (4 Guys and 1 Girl).The 4 of us guys went to high school together & we became friends from there. I knew one of them (Ruso) since we were younger though. They were making music before me, this is in 2012. I told them I would be the hype man & that's really what it was at first. Being around them & listening to a lot of music growing up made me want to start making music so I made my first song in the summer of 2014. In 2015 we got a girl in the group with a very unique sound to her. We've been clicking since then. We are currently working on a Rated R mixtape as well as solo projects.
Being a part of Rated R as well as a solo artist, how do you decide what beats to keep for yourself to write to as opposed to using them for your group? K: I pick the beats that I feel would be the best fit for all of our styles. We all have a different style to our music but for the most part we find a way to finesse the beat for all of us. If they don't want to use a beat that I pick, I'll use it for myself & find one that sounds better all of us.
Chicago is known for "Drill" and Atlanta is known for "Trap"; would you say that Baltimore rap has a distinct sound? K: I don't really think Baltimore rap has a distinct sound yet. It's kinda like a mixture of Trap, Drill, Gangsta Rap & Soulful Rap. We do have a type of music that we dance to called "Baltimore Club Music".
Who are some of your influences lyrically as an artist? K: Growing up I listened to a little bit of every rapper but my influences are Lil Herb, Meek Mill, 50 Cent, Chief Keef, Lil Durk, Drake, Lil Bibby, Kanye West & More.
When a new listener hears one of your tracks for the first time, what do you want them to take away from it? K: It's nothing I would want them to take away; I want them to hear & feel everything that I'm saying in any song.