The 25-year-old wordsmith and philosophy graduate has managed to combine his love of words and music to inspire people to break free from their own limitations. Joshua's self...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.
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.
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.
DOPECAUSEWESAID will be releasing an early Christmas gift to all our supporters and music lovers on December 22nd. "The Definition of DOPE" is a compilation album featuring the best rap artists who have appeared on our website since we began in July 2014. Comprised of 24 songs and an Intro by celebrity radio host Nikki Nikole, this compilation guarantees to satisfy every rap fan.
This project is sponsored by Southern Snack Shack, The Undergrowth Foundation, Mid'East Entertainment, Artije Photography, and BeFirstClass Entertainment.
DOPECAUSEWESAID is proud to be a sponsor for CyHi The Prynce's performance at the Pour House Music Hall tonight! This show is presented by POVICNATION Music & Media Group and along with CyHi The Prynce, features Rome Jeterr, Rasta B., Cirrocky and more. The show starts at 9pm. It promises to be a great show so get your tickets and be in the building for G.O.O.D. Music.
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.
Emerging from New Bern, a small city nestled in Eastern North Carolina, is Ron Beatty (formerly known as Chedda Chapp); a southern rapper who shares the same mentors as Roc Nation's Grammy Award Nominated Artist J. Cole and is co-founder and flagship artist of lifestyle brand Life's Grand. On "Heard About Me" he reflects on difficult family issues and his come up in the game and will be featured on his forthcoming project, Manifest Destiny.
The Love Triangle Trilogy
As the fourth quarter comes to a close, Chilly Chills has released his second EP titled “DOPE,” presented by one of the biggest DJs in the south –DJ Greg Street. Already cosigned by legends Outkast and Kanye West and a hot record in the streets (Poppin in Here), Chilly is prepared to set new standards for what it means to be an emcee from Atlanta — No longer does the stigma hold that Atlanta rappers are not lyrical. DOPE is moody, yet melodic and follows a 7 track story line about Chilly’s external and internal consciousness.
His wordplay suggests that he himself is the dope, and wants his listeners to be addicted to him and his music. On the project, Chilly opens up about his father’s addiction to crack cocaine and how he overcame all odds despite his living conditions, all of which work together to express sophisticated ignorance. The DOPE EP includes production from heavy hitters such as The Yardeez, KC Da Producer, Ducko Mcflii and newcomers Vee Dozier and Dx2c.
Click the album cover to stream the DOPE EP.
"SPACE" is a Emcee from Raleigh, and now is paying his dues with performances at several venues in the Triangle area. This light from the heart of North Carolina has a heart for music, and as long as he stays the course, he will be opening up his new "SPACE" in the sky beside your favorite rappers. His new EP, "THE BOY WHO CRIED MUSIC" is coming soon.
What is the EP, "THE BOY WHO CRIED MUSIC" about? S: "The Boy Who Cried Music" is basically about the anguish out-crys of myself: "Space", through the pros and cons of living the life as a musician, and being able to be elevated to keep a balance mind through music!
What and Who are some of your influences? S: I am more of a fellow ear for boom bap, but don't get me wrong, I can dig this day and age and mind you, I'm only 20 but the heaviest influences at the moment would be: Joey Badass, Kendrick Lamar, King Los, Drake, Yella Wolf, some old Wayne, Vince Staples, and 2 or 3 others.
When a new listener hears one of your tracks for the first time, what do you want them to take away from your artistry? S: I would love for them to actually take with them the rhythm, energy and my different style of provocation, within my sound... I most deff would love people to understand the difference in sound and type, #TheBoyWhoCriedMusic has a reason of importance ...I would just love for the people to have a great time with it and enjoy listening to it.
Urban Creek Records was founded in 2013 by recording artists Brandon Jones, R.E.A.L. tha Poet, and producer J-Ideas. Seeing the cut and paste nature of major label record labels, the crew set a goal to provide alternative themes and sounds within the realm of music without having to be shoved into a box of what's fresh, what's new, what's on the radio or what's "different". At Urban Creek, the motivation is the love of music and the creation behind it. The music and content released by Urban Creek provides a window into each artists' mind and soul.
Below are the biographies of the Urban Creek artists as well as their recent releases available for you to stream and download. These include R.E.A.L. tha Poet's "The Real World", J-Ideas instrumental album "My First Car Was a Caddy" and Brandon Jones's soulful "Shot of Bourbon".
R.E.A.L tha Poet
R.E.A.L Tha Poet is a true school rapper out of Paris, KY currently residing in Lexington, KY. His influences include Outkast, A Tribe Called Quest, Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, Kid Cudi and The CunninLynguists. R.E.A.L uses his unique views to paint a vivid picture of everyday life.
R.E.A.L drops knowledge that others are commonly afraid to shed light on. R.E.A.L's ability to craft records with playability in numerous settings while still being very lyrical showcases his talent on the mic, songwriting ability and his ear for beats.
Producer J-Ideas loves cranking out hard head knocking beats that make the trunk rattle as well as smooth soundscapes that make you lay back and relax your mental. Hailing from Pekin, Indiana, he brings a small town, blue collar sound in his production, while making it complex enough to compete with anyone in the game.
As self taught musician, he feels he isn't constrained by the usual set of rules that others tend to feel boxed in to. J-Ideas tries to bring a different energy into each beat he creates with a style that shows he's a student of the craft.
Actor/Singer/Songwriter Brandon Jones was born and raised in Kentucky and currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. An old soul in new shoes, Brandon blends both past and present into a beautiful mix of styles and musical textures.
Brandon is influenced by the jazz of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, the blues of Buddy Guy, Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan, as well as the soul of Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye. Drawing from real life experiences, Brandon's music is raw and honest, creating a gateway into his soul for listeners to explore.
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
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
Raleigh, NC Hip-Hop staple Madison Jay returns with the emphatic new single "4 Eternity" from his upcoming debut album 'Return Of The Gap'!
Madison enlists production from emerging North Carolina producers Legion of Musik to provide a scathing and haunting production for him to lay down hard hitting lines such as: "The signs are becoming so clear/I'M the one that they fear/The humble shit ending this year, YEAH!" which is safe to assume his mindset going into his upcoming debut.
As the promotional run for the album begins check out this scorching new track which is our current Song of the Week and be on the lookout for Madison Jay's debut album 'Return Of The Gap' due at the end of the year on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and other online retailers.
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.
EVOLVE is an Indie MC based out of Donna, Texas and is the owner of Boom Bap Masterpiece Records. EVOLVE has worked with some of the illest mc's and producers in the underground Hip-Hop genre including El Da Sensei from the Artifacts, Esoteric (AOTP/CZARFACE), C-Rayz Walz, Goretex (NON PHIXION), and Mickey Factz, among many more. He has also shared the stage with Hip-Hop royalty including Public Enemy, Masta Ace, GZA, Ghostface Killah, Immortal Technique, Chino XL, Blueprint, Ikey Owens (Mars Volta), Prime Element, and many more.
'Deathmarch (Larry David)' is EVOLVE's latest track off his new EP entitled "Death March". The track is produced by K Black of Moodie Black and it's available for you to stream/download below, along with "ETC..." which is comprised of 21 fire tracks featuring Mickey Factz, Pawz One, Kido, Ray Rozel, and more.
EVOLVE and Boom Bap Masterpiece Records represent that real authentic Hip-Hop where lyrical content and beats both matter. So no, Hip-Hop isn't dead; it just EVOLVED.