HGS presents Welcome to the H: The Movie (Short Film)

While rising rap group HGS (Madison Jay, Perp, Kaniq, and P Mania) is on their grind promoting new music one beautiful Raleigh afternoon, they encounter a record label executive (Ill McKenzie) who promises BIG MOVES for the group by working with them. Things go sour after weeks of empty promises from the label executive and they make a plan to "finesse" the executive to make amends for his wrongdoings! 

Featuring original music from their 'Welcome To The H Vol. 1 EP' (released earlier this year on Datpiff) follow HGS in their quest from hopeful underground artists to potential mainstream darlings and everything that comes with it, ALL UPS AND DOWNS!

Screenplay written by Percy Rogers

Filmed and Directed by Big Game Audio Visuals

Starring: Madison Jay · Perp Dakota · Kaniq · P Mania · Ill McKenzie · Kia · DJ El Shawty

Suicide Notes: Stranger than Fiction

Suicide Notes is a fictional Hip-Hop group from Austin, TX. DJ/Producer LROY (Legitimate Rhythms Own You) & Producer/Emcee HADES (Hungry Artists Don't Ever Stop) got together one day at dark times in each others lives. Feeling like they'd almost accomplished all they wanted out of life, it became a running joke to end it all or leave soon from natural causes. 

When reflecting on the music catalog that would be left behind, it became clear that there was more to say. Something that could sum it all up. 

Boo G. Ratchet & Frankie Donatello came after the failed suicide attempts to help LROY & HADES leave a proper suicide note behind in the form of an album. Boo G. Ratchet is a wannabe aristocrat and barely functioning sex addict & Frankie Donatello is a sleazy, desperate low-rent con artist who lives with his mamma.  

Suicide Notes's debut album drops on December 1st on Black Market Pluto.

Connect with Suicide Notes: Website   Facebook   Tumblr   Twitter   YouTube   Soundcloud

The Gold Standard: Bateau

Bateau is an Austin, Texas based Trip-Hop/RnB/Hip-Hop singer-songwriter who at the age of 19 decided to pursue a music career after The John Lennon Tour Bus made a stop in San Antonio, Texas and gave her an opportunity to professionally film, produce, and record a music video for her original song  “Runaway” in March of 2013. Early the next year, in January 2014, she released the single “Put Down The Bottle” on YouTube which quickly attracted a following. Although she initially started to generate a buzz in the Texas indie folk scene singing under the stage name Melina Evalyn, she felt restricted by the genre and increasingly uncomfortable with the squeaky clean image that she felt pressured to maintain for her career.

Melina took a break from everything in 2015 and for three months took up a job waitressing to save money for a move to California. Even though she felt emotionally drained and hadn’t performed for months she couldn’t help but wonder if her fans would accept the underground Hip-Hop sound that inspired her to write to music in the first place as a teenager in Houston, Texas. Unable to leave music behind for good, Melina quietly recorded and released the single “Gold“ as Bateau and officially retired her old stage name Melina Evalyn on Facebook.

On September 20th Bateau released her self-titled debut album "Bateau" and it's FIRE. We had the opportunity to connect with her and ask a few questions about her sound, the album, and more.  

How would you describe your musical style and sound? B: My musical style is Trip Hop with Hip Hop undertones. My style of singing is atmospheric and light in contrast to the dark and ominous beats. My lyrical style honest and direct, as well as heavily influenced by pop and indie-folk writing traits.

Do you have a favorite song on your recently released debut album "Bateau"?  B: My favorite song on the album would have to be Money Honey. The song is honest and harsh, while touching on dark matters that most people don’t like talking about it. It is also one of the most energetic songs on the album.

Would you say that the various places you have lived have contributed to who you are as an artist lyrically and concept wise? B: Most definitely. I have lived in three different cities in the past five years, as well as traveled very frequently. The things I have learned from other states and countries influence my style by giving me a wide range of perspective. The album has a sense of wanderlust due to my travels, and most of my songs are influenced by my longing to go back to California. 

I'm really feeling your song/video for 'Gold', especially the utilization of the Active Child sample. How did they come about?  B: Thank you! Gold was the very beginning of Bateau. At the time, I was doing my singer-songwriter bubblegum pop. A friend of mine made beats, and had a bunch of discarded ones he was not using. I asked him for one just so I could try out singing over it, since I have always been a huge fan of soul and hip hop. I was not even aware it was an Active Child sample until much later. I was basically driving to Houston when he sent it, and I wrote the hook over the three-hour drive. I just listened over and over again until I had the hook. I never even wrote the lyrics down, and it all happened really fast. After that, I sent it to my friend Walter in San Antonio, who laid down some verses. It was mostly for a fun experiment, but took off more than I anticipated. 

"Bateau" by Bateau (stream below)

Connect with Bateau: Website   YouTube  Facebook   Soundcloud   Instagram

Free The Optimus (FTO): 1234 and More

Free The Optimus (FTO) is a North Carolina Hip-Hop collective comprised of C.Shreve the Professor, DJ Jet, Mike L!VE, Phil Dangerous, Ill Will, She Carretta, Good Shepard, James Millen, and other affiliated collaborators including Pragmaddix, Phlo Deli, C.Pitt, ILe Flottante, Tha Last Boss, Soulful Chemistry, Jerrel Moore, P.U.R.P. and Beek the Sneak. Sub-sets of the collective include Mind Ninjas, and PRO-Dangerous as well as everyone's solo work. The focus is on raw food for thought packed full of phytochemicals.

The “1234” video below finds FTO in higher education mode at Cypher University where they thoroughly demonstrate each element of the Hip-Hop culture that has so thoroughly shaped their lives. The lyrical aggression comes from witnessing “the wackness that y’all perpetuate, that’s insidious” and their response to “rap for dope North Carolinians” – bottom line, dispensing with sucka MCs will always be an issue, and we’ve had a knack for handling business lately.
Filmed in Boone & Asheville, NC, and in Knoxville, TN, this is the follow up to the Summer Ransom series of videos that helped propel FTO to win Best Hip Hop Group at the 2015 Carolina Music Awards. The production comes from Dylan Guye (Greensboro, NC), who has several songs on FTO's upcoming album FTOLive. FTOLive will be released later this fall and will star C.Shreve the Professor, Mike L!VE, and DJ Jet along with features from Jrusalam, Tuscon, Hunter, Pragmaddix, and Chachillie with production from P.U.R.P., Dylan Guye, Flue, Millie Vaughn and more.

Please believe that DOPECAUSEWESAID will keep you posted as to when the FTOLive album drops; in the meantime, scroll below to stream/download Summer Ransom.

Connect with Free The Optimus: Website   Soundcloud   Facebook   Twitter (FTO)   Twitter (seeshreve)   Twitter (JetMusake)   Twitter (LongLiveLive)

1234 Video

The Cypher Documentary

Summer Ransom by C.Shreve The Professor

Hindu V: Vancouver Stand Up

Vicky Chand born (January 28th, 1990), also known by his stage name Hindu V, is a South Asian rapper. He was born and raised in Surrey BC (Canada) and has amassed a large internet following while striving to achieve major success. Originally known as Vicky Chand, under the moniker “VC”, Hindu V first rose to national prominence after the release of his debut single featuring none other than West Coast legend WC (Westside Connection) with a song titled “Still Westsidin”. The single received high praise by fans, bloggers and radio stations world wide who were infactuated by the West Coast movement. WC gave V an early CO-Sign in his career saying V would be "the next to blow!" 

V is becoming one of the few rappers to put Canada on the map. Well known and respected in his city of Vancouver, Hindu V has worked with WC, Young Buck, Gorilla Zoe, Euroz & has performed with artists like Warren G, DJ Quik, Jadakiss, Fabolous & Rich Homie Quan. V's Highly Anticipated Debut Album "Guilty By Association (GBA)" will be released late fall 2015 with full digital distribution through Universal Canada. Hindu V seemingly moves confidently through his career in hopes to not only carry the weight of an overlooked country, but also give the South Asian community across the world the chance to hear their voice in the Rap industry.

QUICK Three Interview:

What's the Hip-Hop music scene like in Vancouver? It is really competitive and cutthroat or are the other artists on the rise supportive of each other? H: It's kind of every man for themselves out here. There hasn't really been that one guy that's broken through and received mainstream success in the states, so everyone is trying to be that guy. There's a few groups of rappers/singers creating local movements a there's definately a lot of talented artists in the city, but I feel like there's just not enough infrastructure or outlets that help push local music.

How hard is it for you, specifically, and generally as a Canadian rapper, to be yourself as an artist and not try to emulate Drake and his sound since it has proven successful with American listeners? H: Personally it hasn't been difficult for me at all. Drakes a huge artist and has definitely open a lot of doors for different rappers that have a similar sound or flow, but my style has never really sounded like Drake and I don't think anyone is looking for the "next" Drake so trying to emulating his sound has never been my approach. If anything like all great hip hop artists have done in the past, I try to see what's worked for Drake and put my own flavor on it to make it something unique. 

When someone listens to a Hindu V track or your upcoming debut album "Guilty by Association (GBA)" or sees you perform live for the first time, what do you want them to take away from the experience? : I want them to feel my passion and my commitment to my craft. I want them to know that every time I get in the booth and every time I get on stage I'm getting better. I want people to know that I speak for them and I speak from a genuine place inside myself. Most importantly I want people to know that I'm a real artist and and a real person that won't ever lie to my fans or glorify the negative. Keeping that in mind my music will never be censored and will always give you the good the bad and the ugly, just like in life.

Connect with Hindu V: Website   Instagram   Facebook   Twitter   Youtube   Soundcloud

Video: Money on My Mind feat. The Kid

Mixtape: #GBAcomingsoon

Who is John Wells?

John Wells is an American rapper, producer, and songwriter from East Baltimore, Maryland. John began writing raps at the age of 11, writing his first rap over the beat to Nuthin' But A G Thang. He began releasing music at 15 with friends from school, and eventually began working with Scotty Banx, whom he'd known of since middle school, but never actually got to talk to until 10th grade. In February 2015, John released his debut project, The KEILANI, produced by himself and mixed and mastered by Scotty Banx. Inspired by everyone from Chance the Rapper to Lil Boosie, he always wrote in order to illustrate the essence of what his life is, whether it be a story of waiting for his father to pick him up on his birthday, or an allegory of love and lust alluding to the dope game in Baltimore City, or a satire of the kids in Baltimore County who love to act like they live in the hood. Lately, John has been working quietly, occasionaly dropping things like "Beat Up Little Seagull," a song he wrote and produced during the uprising that went on in Baltimore, and more recently, the video to his song "Grass," the fifth track from The KEILANI. John is currently working on upcoming projects and plotting his next move, so clearly, there is much more to come.

Connect with John Wells: Twitter   Instagram

The Keilani

SaRap Fresh is living the FRESH LIFE

SaRap Fresh is an up-and-coming Michigan artist, currently working out of Los Angeles, whose rhymes are very much influenced by the stylish world he creates around him. SaRap Fresh is an 80’s baby who discovered the Hip-Hop genre in the mid-90’s and has been hooked ever since. He is who he is and preaches self-discovery and the courage to find/be yourself. 

SaRap Fresh has a throwback wardrobe style and is a big believer in lyrics and melody. He's influenced by all types of artists from early Lil Wayne, Ma$e, 50 Cent, Kid Cudi, Big Sean, Obie Trice, Action Bronson, Big Krit, to Drake and King Louie and says that if it’s good he'll probably listen to it. 

SaRap Fresh has released 4 projects thus far, including: 1. ) ACID WASH – Side A (June 2014); 2.) Mike Lowrey Freestyle Sessions (December 2014); 3.) B Side – ACID WASH (February 2015); and his latest 4) FRESH LIFE vol. 1. These projects are available to stream/download on his Soundcloud page.  

Connect with SaRap Fresh: Facebook   Instagram   Soundcloud   Twitter

Who is Valentina Scheffold?

Valentina Scheffold is a 19 year old singer/songwriter based in Vienna. She was born in Kitzbühel, Austria but grew up in the Dominican Republic and started singing when she was really young. Along with singing, Valentina has also been writing her own songs since she was a kid and taught herself how to play the guitar at the age of 11. Music has always been a huge part of her life, and she really doesn't see herself doing anything else.

Starting a YouTube Channel has been Valentina's way of sharing what she loves with people, and it has given her a chance to develop as an artist and inspire others. The first video Valentina ever uploaded was actually back in 2008 and it was an instrumental cover of "Burning Up" by The Jonas Brothers. She later proceeded to delete this video, and on July 29, 2011 opened up a new account (Mugavero0896) and has been uploading frequently ever since. Today, Valentina has more than a 1,700,000 views, and hopes to keep sharing her passion with many more of you. Valentina tries to live everyday to the fullest and make as much music as possible since at the end of the day it is what makes her happy.

Connect with Valentina Scheffold: Website   Twitter   Facebook   Instagram   YouTube  Soundcloud


Toron Rodgers, based in Knightdale, North Carolina, has been writing and creating ideas for film, books, online and network television for the past fourteen years.  Toron created NINE25 PRODUCTIONS in 2011 and looks forward to the opportunity to collaborate with individuals or groups hoping to take the step to entertain the world.  The library of his work contains 100+ individual projects of all genres: comedy, drama, sci-fi, horror, animation, plays, sitcoms, documentaries, reality television, music video treatments and commercials with the dynamics to entertain all races and cultures easily for the next fifty years.  Toron has a very open mind and would like to work with like minded as well as share knowledge and creativity of this industry and provide a platform for up and coming entertainers. Toron is also a hard worker and is dedicated to his passion.  After maintaining stability with NINE25 PRODUCTIONS, his plan is to venture into other forms of business, such as owning hotels, creating a line of automobiles, cologne, shoes, drinks, creating an organization to help the relationships between the police and citizens, help veterans and work on the hunger and homeless issue in the world. Toron doesn’t believe in limits.  

If you're interested in collaborating with Toron and NINE25 PRODUCTIONS and/or participating in the 64 Bars interview and freestyle series featured in the videos below, email him at toronrodgers@yahoo.com.

Connect with Toron Rodgers: Facebook   Instagram   Twitter

Tha Cyph@

64 Bars

Music Videos

How to Survive On a Music Video Set

Hey you! Yeah, you! Do you want to be a world famous music video personality? Well don’t we all? Slow your role and I’ll tell you how to survive on set. A lot of our favorite artists like to put out behind the scenes or BTS videos about what’s happening behind the camera at their music video shoot. Yes, you do see some fun things going on like the star pranking their team members, maybe some celebrity appearances and some old friends that the star grew up with. Other than that the only thing really going on is a bunch of waiting. The point of the behind the BTS video is to make an ordinary day look super exciting; think about it: The BTS has a director so you already know that the material is not organic, then there’s always some person you’ve never heard of with a featured twitter handle talking about absolute nonsense. It’s basically a short commercial designed to make your favourite artist look human but still super cool. Did you see the BTS for BBHMM? All Rihanna did was semi-sing the song and just groove to how good she thought it was with some random people we don’t know. The only person really having that much of a great time is the artist and probably their manager. I’m not saying that being on set isn’t fun because it is; you get to meet cool new people, free snacks, the artist will usually come and meet/greet the extras and you’ll actually get to see yourself on TV when it’s all done. It’s definitely not a picnic though, being an extra isn’t for everyone, but it is a necessary step to take if you want to move up in the music video business.

You’ll arrive to set about 2 hours early just so they can collect all of you. The stylist on the set will want to see if the outfits you brought work for the video so that time also goes to changing/dressing and make up. There will be a makeup artist on set, but trust me it’s not for you. If the artist is a decent person they’ll spring for some actual food for all of you hungry youngsters, if not then expect to be munching on chips, apples and drinking bottled water. As an extra you are a part of the background so no one really feels that they have to tell you the plan for the day. If you are the main chick/guy however you get to be tended to by a makeup artist, some decent pay and you most likely get to go home first which is actually a great thing. There are some music videos that will pay you as an extra/background talent, but most are non-paying (especially if you are first starting out). So here are the basic things you need to know about your survival as a video hopeful.

1. It’s not a party: Everybody getting drunk is just “doing it for the vine” AKA they’re pretending. In all actuality a music video costs lots of money to make so they don’t want a bunch of drunkies wobbling around, arguing and breaking expensive equipment. So when you see music videos on TV where everyone is getting “turnt up” just know that it’s not actually happening. I was once on set for a video where people were being sent home for bringing alcohol.

2. Expect to be there all day: Most video shoots will start after that 2 hour wait/prep time, but sometimes production still runs late. The director also has to figure out the blocking (where they want you to stand) for each scene which can take a long time. Then with each scene they’ll want to film it again and again and again from different angles. They might redo the scene too if the artist makes a mistake or if the extras don’t look like they’re having a good time.

3. Bring an activity that isn’t your phone: Most likely the location will be remote and there will be no free charging outlets because of all the equipment. In these situations you’re better off making friends or bringing a book because they don’t tell you how long the shoot will last and you may have to call a ride. ***Also you’re not allowed to take any pictures of the set, you’re sworn to secrecy until the video drops. ***

4. You won’t know the song: Most times they won’t tell you what song it is due to a whole marketing plan they already have drawn up. This is why you can’t take any pictures or snapchats of the set that let people know what video you’re at and what artist it’s for. They’ve worked hard so they don’t want any social media leaks. Also it’s awkward at first to dance when you haven’t heard the song, but by the end of the day it’ll be stuck in your head.

5. Bring supplies: Unless you have an agent you have to fend for yourself so bring anything you think you might need: Flashlights, sweaters, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, extra juice, lotion, etc. You’d really be surprised at the things they won’t provide for you even though you’re probably working for free.

6. Networking isn’t that easy: Sets are great places to meet other video/acting hopefuls, artists and even friends; just don’t go thinking that you’re gonna wiggle your way into the artist's entourage. I’ve been on a few sets where people were acting all extra because they were trying to show everyone else how cool they were and talk about all the other videos they’ve been in… those people annoy me. Don’t be that person. At the end of the day you’re all still at the same place: You’re not famous (yet).  Networking is still possible, as corny as it sounds though just be yourself and the right people will find you.

7. Take it for what it is: It’s an easy opportunity for exposure so just try to make the most of it and have a good time. - Asha Mullings


Who is Bambino?

Bambino is an up-and-coming, refreshing, soul and hip hop artist. At 20 years old, he is the youngest member, and a co-founder, of Castello Round Table, a creative music collective based out of Vancouver, BC. His passion for music has been evident since he was just a young boy, songwriting with his older cousin, FC (founder of Castello Round Table) and performing leads in his school’s choir and musicals. With a soulful delivery that is rare in today’s ‘scene’, Bambino’s strong point is his poetic lyricism. In that sense, he is a student to some of his biggest influences; Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, André 3000 and Chance the Rapper. As high school president and valedictorian in 2013, Bambino promoted creativity, collaboration, and the idea of ‘being yourself’ to hundreds of students. In June 2015, he released his debut EP, Conception, a project that he crafted for two years to positive reception. Although music is his main outlet, it is not the only thing in Bambino’s artistic pallet. He is also an aspiring filmmaker and graduate of Capilano University’s Cinematography Program. The versatility, originality and passion of Bambino are what set him aside from other artists in his genre. Hence the name ‘Bambino’ (meaning “young boy” or “baby” in Italian), he uses his creativity and culture to preserve his ‘inner child’. In the words of Picasso, “Every child is an artist.”

Dreams is the first video and second single off of Bambino’s debut project, ‘Conception’. With it’s smooth vocals, catchy beat, thought-provoking lyrics, and high quality visuals, the video for Dreams is not only refreshing, but symbolically powerful. The hook features vocals from FC, who co-wrote the song with him. The concept of the video is based entirely on both Bambino and FC’s childhood ‘dreams’, and uses real friends, family members and locations. 

The video begins when a young Bambino receives a note from a young girl and runs to his nonna and nonno’s (grandparents) house. There, he is served a plate of pasta as he watches his favourite team in penalty kicks. As the camera pans in on the old fashioned TV, an older Bambino is revealed playing in a soccer game. From then on, the video interweaves through three disparate scenes. Each alternate reality is a different representation of the word ‘dreams’ (aspirational, surrealistic, and nightmarish). 

In the first dream, Bambino is a shown as a soccer player, determined to make a mark on the pitch. In the second, he sips an espresso outside a local deli as he is approached and drawn in by what he thinks is the girl of his dreams. Bambino runs through a forest in the third dream, unsure of where he is and why. At the end of this dream, the message is fully revealed when the older Bambino realizes he’s been running from his younger self the whole time. In other words, ‘you are the only person in control of your dreams, don’t run from them’. 

Connect with Bambino and the Castello Round Table: Facebook   Twitter   Instagram   Youtube

Exclusive Screening of Eric Contractor's 'Mad for the Light' video: Friday, August 7, 2015

On Friday, August 7th, Infiniti Features offers an exclusive screening of the new music video for Eric Contractor’s infectious single, ‘Mad for the Light,’ directed by Audrey Lorea. The black-and-white video features neo-noir glamour, back-dropped by a distinct American decay: abandoned, dilapidated go-go clubs, and lonely graveyards set against a suburban terrain. Through various vignettes of aging American infrastructure, a twisted love triangle unfolds.  With hypnotic images and cuts, director Audrey Lorea sought to tell a story in a less literal way.

"I wanted to create images that would feed the unconscious more than the conscious. In the new frontier of the digitized moving image, it is vital to understand the power of the symbol on the mind," says Lorea, who also performs in the video, playing one Contractor’s two love interests.

Standing alone in stark contrast to mind-numbing reality TV, and a selfie-hashtag-driven era, this engrossing otherworld begs you to enter, and become just as enveloped as its featured lovers.

“This haunting marriage of radiance and sound is a light-of-the-loving-dead film noir, starring two lovers trapped in a world of darkness they never made, both reflecting on what might have been and what could be, if only they could burn together in the heat of ecstasy like moths attracted to a flame” – Ken Fulton, “The Light Hearted Astronomer”

The video will debut at the red-carpet dance party “Rapture: Go Go Girls + Gold Guns” on Friday, August 7th 2015 at Drom, 85 Avenue A, New York, NY. The party will feature other cinematic achievements from Lorea, including scenes from her experimental-sci-fi feature film, ‘Heaven is Now.’ An illustrious night of arthouse cinema, music, dancing, go-go girls, glitter and more: this colorful, counter-culture event is not one to be missed. Be sure to mention: 'Heaven Is Now' at the front door.


TICKETS: $10 General Admission Standing Room, $25 VIP Table Seat, raptureatdrom.ticketleap.com

For interviews, photos, videos or additional information, please contact:
Risa Pappas, press@infinitifeatures.com

Video Vixens Are OK With Me

When I was doing my research for this article, a lot of it was very negative. Authors described these beautiful women as “a female model who appears in hip hop-oriented music videos. Her only purpose is to show off her body, which is seen as her worth, inevitably becomes a commodity or prop to be used for the viewer’s viewing pleasure” (Ride or Die Chicks, 2015) Sometimes people call these women “video hoes” which I think is wrong. Just because a woman agrees to be in a Hip-Hop video and show her skin does not make her a ho; we don’t know what she does in her personal life and that is none of our business. Some people have issues with video models, as they should be called, because they believe it takes us back to the Hottentot Venus or Saartjie “Sarah” Baartman as she was actually named. Venus was a woman from the Khoisan people who were the original inhabitants of South Africa. To sum it all up, a white scientist was amazed (not in a good way) by her obscure body consisting or large buttocks, hips and hanging labia. The scientist decided to buy her and send her off to be exhibited to multiple freak shows across Europe in the 1800s. She was of course treated as less than a person as patrons came to ogle her and would even pay extra to poke her with sticks. She was original comparison of the wild, savage black woman compared to the docile and normal white woman. Venus was exhibited until her death in 1815, her genitalia, brain and bones put on display in the Paris Museum of Man until feminist groups complained about the degrading display in the 1970s.

As we can see here, it’s not a nice story; we have a normal black woman who was considered to abnormal by a white scientist and put display to be seen in a negative light. I understand people’s concern, but I don’t think of video vixens/models in that way. Venus was essentially stolen, lied to and mistreated; women in music videos consciously choose to be there and are happy to display the body and the image that they have worked hard to create. In the early days when models like Karrine “Superhead” Steffans started out, maybe sexual activity between sets was expected. The way I see it, these days, there’s a choice; you can go to all these shoots and mess around with whomever or you can establish yourself another way. I would say that models should go to shoots where the artist has a good reputation or make their start with female artists first so that these scenarios are less likely. Once established, models can start going to more shoots with any artist they want, difference being that the desperation/thirst to be seen won’t be there. If rapper X tells you to do something you don’t want to do for more camera time, you can do it, but you can also leave with your integrity intact and know that you’re not starving for money because you spent the time building yourself up.

I see video vixens as an alternative to what video models were before. Pre Hip-Hop movement, it was Rock, Pop, Blues and Soul on the TVs. There were video models of course, but there was the tall and thin and mostly white standard to live up to. Hip-Hop really opened the door so that all women of every shape, colour and size could be appreciated and have a chance to show off. Video models are the ultimate “suck it” to mainstream media expectations and beauty standers because anyone can be a star; we got bald head and tatted up Amber Rose and girl next door Lauren London. Some have braces, some have glasses; some are thick, some are thin.  There is still the issue of women dancing to lyrics that can be misogynistic, but at the end of the day it’s just a job and I think it’s empowering to take those jerks’ money anyway and give them no play! Most video models are smart enough to make a better career out of it anyway; Melyssa Ford went into real estate, Blac Chyna has an online boutique and a beauty bar, and Keyshia Dior has a cosmetics line. My only issue with music video models these days is the trend that less black women are being used than before. The original Hip-Hop movement was all about uplifting the minority population and getting the message out there so minority women are in the videos. However, due to the recent “Kardashian-ing” of the world, we’re seeing more and more white women being idolized for their “exotic features” and praised in rap lyrics. I believe this is due to the many unfortunate stereotypes that exist against black women today. Sure, its okay by everyone if white and Hispanic women wanna give their man problems, but when it’s a black woman who has a bone to pick, it somehow becomes a big headache… I blame reality TV, I blame world star and I blame everyone who wants to “do it for the gram/vine”. I’m not telling any woman to go pick up a pencil skirt and become a “positive influence” but I am saying to be mindful of stereotypes out there and try not to get engulfed by them. Professionalism and positivity are always appreciated on set and it’ll get you somewhere; perhaps a J.Cole video, he appreciates all shades! - Asha Mullings

Wu-Tang Clan Vs Boot Camp Clik: Who Ya Got? (Nostalgia)

A few days ago as I was listening to Black Moon's first album "Enta Da Stage" I began to reminisce about a heated debate that my friends and I had back in high school over who was a better collection of emcees overall and who would win in a head to head battle -- Wu-Tang Clan or Boot Camp Clik (BCC). Having been a rap fan since the mid 80's and having heard my fair share of great rap battles up to now, whether it was LL Cool J vs Kool Moe Dee, LL Cool J vs Canibus, Jay-Z vs Nas, or Boogie Down Productions vs Juice Crew or Rocafella vs D-Block, in Hip-Hop, individual emcees and crews have always been put to the lyrical test and often times, fans chose sides and picked the winner. Unfortunately, for the loser, oftentimes, their careers never recovered. 

I hate hypothetical questions and 'what if' scenarios but for the sake of nostalgia, I'm going there. Back in the mid to late 90's two of the most respected rap collectives were (and still are) the Wu, who singlehandedly changed rap as a whole on so many levels and the BCC, who personified East Coast rap with members such as Black Moon, Heltah Skeltah, OGC, and Smif-n-Wessun. Both the Wu and BCC had individual members who could stand on their own as solo artists but as collectives, both crews were like Voltron formed to bring the East Coast back to prominence, along with other groups like Mobb Deep and Capone-N-Noreaga. Just listen to 'Cession At Da Doghillee', 'Sound Bwoy Bureill', 'Leflaur Leflah Eshkoshka' or 'Headz Ain't Reddee' from BCC and then listen to the Wu's 'Semi Automatic: Full Rap Metal Jacket', 'Daytona 500', 'Da Mystery of Chessboxin' and 'Protect Ya Neck' and honestly tell me that some of the best bars in rap during that time weren't spit in those tracks. Lyrically, there will never be another pair of rap collectives as strong as the Wu or BCC.

Me and my boys used to ride around Southeast Raleigh after school on the way to Crabtree Valley Mall or Bojangles listening to the latest from the Wu or BCC arguing about who was better between the two collectives and why. My favorite hypothetical battle back then was between GZA and Rock aka Rockness Monsta; my boy Bakari's favorite hypothetical battle was between Starang Wondah and Method Man. Everyone else had their favorite and least favorite emcee in the bunch but there were no real weak links in either group. Both crews have endured the many changes in the music industry over the past twenty years and still make great music but any Hip-Hop purist and fan of the two collectives will tell you that both the Wu and BBC were at their best over the sample based beats that the RZA and Beatminerz provided back in the 90's, though creatively, legally and financially, it's not realistic to expect that sound today.

We'll never know who would win if Ghostface Killah went at Sean Price or if Inspectah Deck went at Buckshot, but it would have been great to hear them go back and forth at each other, not to indulge in beef but for lyrical competitiveness and for us fans so that we'll have something to argue about at the neighborhood cookout or at the barbershop like we did with Nas and Jay-Z. - CB.