Who is Stayc Johnson?

Marcus Foggle Jr. (born September 19, 1991) better known by his stage name Stayc Johnson is an American Hip-Hop artist, producer and videographer from Fort Worth, TX, by way of Atlanta, GA. He is one of the four co-founders of the Hip-Hop collective #DrettiPosse, with whom he has released two mixtapes.  

Leaving #DrettiPosse late 2013 Stayc set out to push The Most High Brand, his music collective and production team.  Stayc released his debut album Avenue L in October 2014 to follow it up with the release of his EP Fo’ set to release late October 2015.

Connect with Stayc Johnson: Soundcloud   Facebook   YouTube   Twitter   Instagram



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

BLOG: Are You Ready for the Fast Life?

Hey everybody, my name is Asha Mullings. You may remember me from some articles I’ve written for this fantastic site. What some of you may not know is that I’m also an aspiring female rapper who knows by the name Ekelle. I know that it’s not an easy industry to crack into, but I feel like I have as decent a shot as anybody else. The following is what I have experienced and learned thus far since my small beginnings on this journey. Although I’ve only started to seriously pursue my musical goals this past January, I’ve learned a lot in that short time. Hopefully this short list of advice will help you or anyone else you know who is also on a journey to pursue fame and fortune.

1. Get Your Money Up
You’re going to hear me mention this a lot, but that’s because money is so important.  Of course the game is about who you know more than what you know but money always talks real loud! I’m not sure where some of y’all are in your journey but you should start saving towards your next project and then some because you never know when unexpected expenses might come up. So if that means you need to work those night shifts at McDonald's to record your mixtape, just do it with no shame because you know where you really belong.

2. Network, Network, Network!
I’ve always had creative ambitions, but like most I was never really encouraged to pursue them so I went to school first. Yes, I have a full 4-year program degree and the student debt to prove it. At school they would always preach the power of networking for your career, but I was never that interested. In regards to music though, I’m always excited to meet new people and shake hands. Midsummer I performed at an open mic at a popular restaurant in my city’s downtown. A month later I had an artist from Chicago message me on Facebook to tell me that he and his crew were coming up to do a showcase and wanted me to perform in it. Fast forward, I did end up performing, met with another entertainer from my city and so much more. The entertainer was someone I saw at a different open mic and she gave me all sorts of information on opportunities I could get my hands on next summer. I ended up also getting an interview for an up and coming Hip Hop magazine called Urban Color and when I went after-partying with the Chicagoans, I ended up meeting Tasha the Amazon! You all may not be totally familiar with her yet, but I tell you she’s the next big thing out of Toronto. 

3. Stay Open
Stay open to all the possibilities that you can. We all want that fame and fortune but at the beginning of your musical journey you’re gonna have to work for free for a little bit. I’m not sure how long, but that is just the reality until you start to generate some buzz for yourself. With that being said, be open to anything that can give you good exposure. Since the industry is more about just music these days, see if you can start modeling, try out for some TV shows and music videos, or be in the audience of a talk show. Basically you need to start getting into the practice of doing things you’ll be doing when you get on top such as talk show interviews, photo shoots, music videos, magazine interviews, etc. You need to start preparing yourself for the life you wanna live!

4. Market Yourself!
The good thing about being at the beginning stages of your career is that you’re the boss. No one can make you do anything you don’t wanna do. If you don’t see the value in certain things or people then you can just walk away. With that being said though, I think the biggest mistake a lot of new artists make is their marketing approach. You can put all the songs you want on Soundcloud, but if no one’s clicking on it then it doesn’t matter. I’m not saying that you should spend an obscene amount of money on marketing but maybe something like $100 dollars towards promotion of a new project is decent. Keep in mind that having Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Bandcamp, Facebook, etc are free methods of support but there are millions of people on them so you need to stand out. Don’t be afraid to make your friends and family promote your stuff because that’s what they should be doing in the first place if they want to see you be successful. Try and get yourself in as many online publications as possible and any local public access TV shows too because someone is always watching. 

5. Stay Busy!
I do think that there are a lot of good opportunities out there when you go looking for them, so don’t stop looking! No one is going to hand you anything at first so keep finding work for yourself to do. Try not to have a huge gap between productions and videos by keeping yourself busy with the shoots, open mics and other things you’re doing. When you’re meeting new people and making your connections just be aware of who these people are and what their intentions with their careers are too. For example if you meet someone who proudly says they’ve been in the game for 13 years but they’re still at street level, really consider whether you need to have them in your posse. The other day through my adventures with my Chicago peeps I met another female artist who has some of her material on The Source which is pretty cool. We exchanged info and hopefully something great will come out of that connection. I’m not saying you should go around like a snob and only talk to some people but just be mindful of how their presence will affect you.  Surround yourself with other likeminded individuals but don’t be afraid to cut people off who aren’t supporting the hustle. If you’ve asked certain people 10 times to share your link or come to your show then you need to cut them off! All you need is to keep believing in yourself, find yourself a go to team for production, photos, videos and even duets and you’re good to go.

I hope that was helpful! - Asha Mullings

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

What's Good with Skuzi?

Skuzi is a rapper on the come up from Hampton, VA who released an EP entitled "The Musing" earlier this year. We caught up with Skuzi to see what's next for him and to drop his new 'Now I'm Mad' freestyle. 

What's been up with you since you dropped 'The Musing'? S: Since I have dropped The Musing a big focus of mine has been what I need to do next musically and business wise. I will be re-releasing The Musing on iTunes, Spotify, etc. along with some new songs before the end of the year, along with some videos. Additionally, I am working on my next project, and an all Caribbean EP with Unique Nation of Bermuda. So, lots of work coming lol. I am also looking for any and every place to perform, so if anybody needs performers let me know!

How different is your upcoming release from 'The Musing' in terms of the production and would you say that you have grown lyrically since its release? S: I would say after this re release my next project will probably be the Caribbean project. Which will be WAAAAY different because I have to connect more to my original culture more aesthetically and focus more on the feeling of the music as opposed to focusing so heavily on the writing, which gets me out of my comfort zone. Normally I produce all my own work, and all of this production will be handled by another person. Fun fact: this is the same guy who co-produced "Raunchy" on The Musing. However, I do have a lot of singles dropping in the near future that will be full of quality lyrics.

Being that you are from the Hampton, are you influenced by music from Pharrell, Pusha T, his group the Clipse, or any other local artists in the Hampton Roads area? S: I wouldn't say inspiration comes from the artists, but more so the vibe of the area. The 757 is a blend of many different cultures since it's a mostly military area. On top of the fact that it's right in the middle of the South, the DMV, and Northern areas like Jersey and New York. So we get a mix of Go-Go, trap music, Jersey and Baltimore club, the list goes on. So rhythmically that mix and feel gives me a bounce in my aesthetic background and a little more to work with. I will say Pharell is very inspiring as a producer, plus we were both in Marching Band in high school I've actually been to competitions at his alma mater. Pusha T as well is a pivotal figure especially as an emcee.

Will your next release feature any of the artists who appeared on 'The Musing'? S: My next project will definitely include some of the artists that were heard on The Musing. Right now I am trying to grow more as a musician and network with as many people as possible before releasing a whole body, so I'm open and excited to work with any and everybody.

Connect with Skuzi: Twitter   Tumblr   YouTube   ReverbNation

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

What to Know Before Buying Beats

Music Producer Scotty Banx gives artists the knowledge they need to avoid confusion when investing in the production of their albums. In this post he discusses common misconceptions artists may have when purchasing beats from producers online as well as what price points usually mean. Leases, Exclusive Leases and Exclusive Rights; do you know the difference? You get what you pay for.  

Click here to read Scotty's full blog post. 

Who is Monev360?

Monev360 is more than just a rapper or a beatmaker; he loves making music. Monev360 is from a small town called Princeville, NC and has loved hip-hop since he used to go in his Uncle’s room to listen to his vinyl records as a kid. At the age of 11, he got the inspiration to put pen to paper and its been on ever since! This continued on through high school, college and the Air Force. He's performed on stage numerous times and has recorded lots of music. Monev360's dream is to make a living making music that comes from the heart, not just fly by night, here today gone tomorrow commercial music that doesn’t stick to your ribs. The code that he follows is punchlines and metaphors, flows, and choppin’ up samples to make beats with bangin’ drums. He's real without being a gangsta or a thug and Black with or without African medallions and a Christian without his songs being corny. He can’t and does not want to be all things to all people, but knows that there is a market for authentic hip-hop. Monev360 can always be counted on to deliver classic material to his audience of listeners.

Connect with Monev360: Facebook   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

Who Were Your Favourite Rappers Before They Hit It Big?

With the ways celebrities make their own rules and fully opt out of society sometimes it’s hard to remember that they were once normal people like you and I. Between all the Twitter beef, self entitlement and outlandish behaviour, it’s a struggle to picture them doing normal things like the rest of us do. For those reasons I want to take a look back at what these super stars did before they hit it big in the music industry.

Nicki Minaj, better known as Onika Miraj, had a slew of random jobs before she signed to Young Money and blew up. Nicki was reported to have worked as a waitress at Red Lobster, an administrative assistant, an office manager and finally a customer service rep before she hit it big. She even questioned her decision to quit her last 9-5 as her music wasn’t heading in a steady direction, “I went home and looked in my refrigerator and cabinets, and there was nothing there. My bank account was empty. For a slight moment, I was like, 'They're right. I need to go back home to my mother” (Fuse.TV). Well luckily Ms. Minaj kept on pushing herself and released 3 mixtapes between 2007 and 2009 before Lil Wayne and co. discovered the ravishing rhymer. 

Yazz the Greatest Aka Bryshere Gray plays Hakeem Lyon on Empire. I think we’ve all probably tuned into and loved the show’s first dramatic and addictive season. Yazz plays very spoiled Hakeem who wants to make his play for the family’s empire with his rap skills. Our boy Yazz is the complete opposite of this character in real life and actually had to work hard at his craft to get where he is today. The 21 year old first started rapping at 16 after a football injury and decided to take it further. He took rapping so seriously that he would write song lyrics at his Pizza Hut job which eventually got him fired. It was actually Pizza Hut money that helped him to pay for his first music video, 'Homework'. After that, little Yazz kept performing his heart out all over the place, the streets, festivals and wherever else until he was discovered by Charlie Mack, a friend of Will Smith, who got him to audition for Empire. 

Tyler the Creator is definitely an interesting dude with his raunchy rhymes and obscure concepts; would you believe that before hitting it big that he worked at Starbucks? Yes, that’s right, Tyler Okonma was a pleasant customer service employee for two and a half years before he made his breakthrough album Bastard. Like many of our musical heroes, he was also fired. Maybe the manager didn’t like him as he speculates, but it also could have been that he was stealing cheese danishes on the daily.  He then later released his second album Goblin which got him his deal with XL records. 

The last rapper I want to bring some attention to is our main man Kanye West. Like many others, Kanye also had a crappy job before he made it big; he worked at the Gap. Kanye didn’t seem to like the Gap very much and raps about them in his song Spaceship off his College Dropout album, “Let's go back, back to the Gap / Look at my check, wasn't no scratch / So if I stole, wasn't my fault / Yeah I stole, never got caught / They take me to the back and pat me / Askin' me about some khakis / But let some black people walk in / I bet they show off their token blackie / Oh now they love Kanye, let's put him all in the front of the store / Saw him on break next to the 'No Smoking' sign with a blunt and a Mall' / Takin' my hits, writin' my hits / Writin' my rhymes, playin' my mind / This f***in job can't help him / So I quit, y'all welcome.” Let’s hope that they didn’t actually treat him that badly. On the plus side, that stressful job gave him excellent fuel for that powerful album. He had to sweat it out selling sweaters for a bit and look at him now. 

As we can see, fame doesn’t come overnight for everyone. There are those rare cases I mentioned in a previous article, but that’s just not the way it goes for everyone. Some people are able to build connections while others have to put their blood, sweat and tears into their careers before it finally takes off. Either way there is no shame in how you get to the top as long you’re okay with everything you’re doing and what you have to sacrifice for it. Although all of these celebrities started off with crappy jobs, it’s that crappy money that helped support them until they made it. My advice to anyone who wants to pursue music full time is to go hard on your production and practice, but please don’t quit your day job until you have a reason; y’all need to eat too! - Asha Mullings

Clowdy: Connecting the World's Creatives

Clowdy is an online media sharing platform that allows the sharing of film, music, and photographs, all in the same place. The platform has no upload limits and removes the common restriction of allowing only one media type by encouraging quality creative content. The developers of Clowdy are based in Manchester, UK and in less than two years, the platform has grown to 100,000 members from across the world and has had 300,000 pieces of creative work uploaded to the platform.

Clowdy is basically Linkedin for creative people whose resume may be their tracklist on Soundcloud or their pictures on Tumblr.  Clowdy fosters collaborations and is a network built on recognizing creatives as well as giving credit to their colleagues. For the many artists featured on DOPECAUSEWESAID and any creative person, for that matter, Clowdy gives you the opportunity to set up a profile, connect with other creatives, whether they be fellow artists, producers, songwriters, directors, or photographers, showcase your work, and prospectively collaborate on new projects with the people you meet.  

We strongly encourage you to check out Clowdy and sign up for this great platform; we at DOPECAUSEWESAID have set up our profile and are looking forward to connecting with other music lovers such as ourselves. 

Connect with Clowdy: Website   Twitter   Instagram   Facebook   Apps: iOs   Android


Dope Rappers Taking A Stand: Response to Police Brutality Across Black Communities

We’re living in an interesting age; there is more acceptance towards different types of looks in the entertainment industry, i.e. Fetty Wap’s eye and the beautiful Chantelle Winnie with her vitiligo. There was mainly a welcoming acceptance of Laverne Cox and now Caitlyn Jenner and the United States of America finally legalized marriage for everyone. These things are amazing considering the fact that only about 50 years ago there was some serious open hate in the world. Although things are going well for certain groups, police brutality affects black and brown people at a disproportionate rate.  

I think that after witnessing the horrors of Ferguson, MO where Michael Brown was murdered by a police officer who got to walk off scot free, remembering the ridiculous media frenzy created with the Trayvon Martin story, Aiyana Stanley-Jones who was shot dead in a police raid at just the age of 7 and many more; people are just getting fed up. There are tons of viral videos taken by bystanders who witness these things and offer proof; did you see the one where the officer beats up a pregnant woman? These things are not coincidental and show that there is definitely more work and training to be done with officers across North America. Slowly, but surely things are happening so I just wanted to give a big salute to rappers who are using their fame for good and speaking up for Black communities affected by racism.

First we have Big KRIT. I was so excited when I saw this good-looking dude proudly rocking a black t-shirt that read, “Across cultures, darker people suffer most. Why?” on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon as the musical guest. That was a great way to show sensitivity to what is going on in the world today and to show some support towards the movement. He really did some thinking there!

Next on the list we have one of the realest rappers today, J. Cole! Who doesn’t love the Colester? Not only does he spit some relatable stuff on his tracks, but also he’s not afraid to show people what’s going on through video. In J. Cole’s video for “Crooked Smile” feat. TLC we see him going about his daily activities at home with his family. We see him brushing his teeth, doing chores and preparing for a family barbecue. At the same time we follow a man who we learn is a SWAT team officer going through his day with his daughter before he and his team raid J. Cole’s house and shoot his little girl in the cross fire. This video is based on the very true story of the Aiyana Stanley-Jones. Once again the bad guy got away with murder, but because of J. Cole’s video and great song, we won’t forget what happened.

Third we have a very smooth secret from hip hop’s Bonnie and Clyde -- Bey and Jay! Rumour has it that the star-studded couple gave tens of thousands to help bail out protestors who were arrested in the Ferguson and Baltimore as part of the “Black Lives Matter” movement currently underway. This could be true as the sources were a few tweets from activist/director Dream Hampton who worked with Jay-Z on his 2010 biography, Decoded. In an attempt to stop the uprising, some protesters’ bail was set as high as $500,000 (The Guardian, 2015). Hampton’s tweets were later deleted. I don’t know about y’all but I think the rumours are true. I choose to believe that Jay-Z and Beyoncé want to help uplift Black communities.

Next on the list is another music video; this one is from Run The Jewels feat. Zack de la Rocha. “Close Your Eyes (And Count To F**k)” depicts an unarmed Black man being chased by a White gun-totting police officer. It’s clear that these men have been fighting for days and are at the point of exhaustion. The fight clumsily carries on through the streets and eventually the Black man’s house. Sadly at the end of the video the Black man has nowhere else to run and he and the officer wind up exhausted in his room sitting back to back on his bed.  The video really makes you think and will probably cause those who are not affected to see the damage that is really being done. The video is definitely watch worthy and the track is amazing; the director really managed to capture the “futility of violence” (Rojas, 2015). 

Lastly, I want to give a shout out to Canadian rapper John River. Although he is still new to the industry, he was not afraid to take a stance on the racial violence that is so prevalent today. River wore a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt this past June at the Much Music Video Awards and was happily photographed in it on the red carpet before the national airing show.

I do understand the fact that some artists don’t want any backlash from their participation, but shouldn’t they be concerned as the Hip-Hop genre was born in Black communities and still mostly serves them today. Some artists probably don’t want to be seen as troublemakers or lose sales and some probably just don’t even feel affected anymore because they’re rich and famous.  All in all it is their decision to make, depending on how they choose to get involved, there doesn’t have to be any negativity. Let’s be honest and say that most people get into the entertainment industry to make money and we know they sacrificed a lot to get there, but that doesn’t mean that they have to forget where they came from. Big Ups to the artists out there who care! - Asha Mullings

Who is Stephan Marcellus?

Music is food for the soul, and new artist Stephan Marcellus is an up and coming Master Chef. Born in Brooklyn New York in 1990, the singer songwriter grew up during the neo-soul movement listening to greats from Maxwell to Erykah Badu to D’Angelo. The likes of these artists as well as legends such as Nat King Cole and Bob Marley inspired him to keep those imaginary studio headphones to his ears and sing at school assemblies and programs, allowing him to flow into the evolutionary pool of alternative soul. That’s not to say that Marcellus’s musical inspirations didn’t vary across the genres. “Anything that makes me ‘feel’ is also Soul.”

The year 2014 saw the release of the rising star’s EP Puppeteer. “[Puppeteer] talks about acknowledging that you've been hurt but allowing yourself to let someone else teach you how to trust again and ultimately how to love". Marcellus is currently working on new music to be released in the fall of 2015, drawing from a desire to be honest with his listeners. “In writing and recording my music I found that although being vulnerable can be embarrassing or terrifying it can also be liberating and empowering.”

Raised in Englewood, New Jersey by Guyanese parents, they always stressed the importance of education but were very supportive of their creative son. After joining his high school choir, Marcellus quickly caught the attention of his peers, coming out of the shadows to shine on
stage. After graduating from Bowie State University in 2012 with a degree in child and adolescent studies, Stephan Marcellus continued to broaden the scope on his music career.

He is currently flourishing under the management of Shavree Washington and Steven Muhammad, who has worked with talents such as Kelly Price, Big Boy, Q from Day 26, and Janelle Monae. After taking a Master class with Ledisi, Marcellus had the honor of singing for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the president of Bowie State University. His incredible voice has been showcased at the Fillmore for the DMV Brand Experience, and in 2014 he had the opportunity to open for Baltimore artist Mahogany Fame and Brave Williams. He’s also performed at the 2014 New York Oktober Fest and was the winner of the 2015 Gifted and Talented showcase in New York City.

Stephan Marcellus hopes to spread hope with his music. “The common theme in my work is hope…[My songs] start form a place of the realization of brokenness but each have a tint of hope, which I believe inspires the choice to believe that things can and will be better.” - Courtesy of SM/SW Management.

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