Hip Hop Artists Collaborate To Find Talent

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Date: Monday – January 30, 2012



Should independent hip hop artist Joe Bird make it big, there’s at least one thing he says fans can count on: He won’t hide his High Desert roots.

Just as the 26-year-old Victorville rapper — who’s opened for Chris Brown and 112 — works to fast-track his own career, he’s trying to instill a greater sense of pride, unity and collaboration among fellow local underground artists.

“For so long people would mock really where I come from, but it’s time for the people here to have pride,” said Bird, who graduated from Victor Valley High School and University of California, Riverside with a bachelor’s degree in history. “I’m really trying to spearhead a movement out here in this entertainment scene. I believe there is enough talent for the High Desert to be going for it.”

For years there’s been talk of a “760 movement” to put the High Desert in the hip hop spotlight, but for the most part the idea that there could be strength in numbers hadn’t really caught on, said Brian Eudy a.k.a. “ETA,” 28, a Victorville native who started the Royal Family Records label.

Eudy said a handful of locals have had success and continued to represent the region, like The Static Gang in the 1990s, while others seem to shed their ties to the Victor Valley once they gained fame. Hip hop duo The New Boyz, for instance, now on an Asia concert tour, were in Victorville high schools only a few years ago but their official biographies refer only to Southern California or the Los Angeles area.

Lately, however, momentum seems to be building to earn local artists credibility and facilitate an environment for learning from each other, instead of being pitted against one another in a cutthroat competition.

“Right now the hip hop scene out here is at a level that it’s never been before. It’s got a new energy, and it’s made me want to work harder at it,” said Josh Bowles a.k.a. “JDB,” 25, of Victorville. “It’s something fresh and I like the way we’re going with it. We could go toe to toe with anybody.”

Social media platforms have played a big role in driving local collaboration, including music hosting, promoting and networking sites like DatPiff, ReverbNation and SoundCloud.

A few months ago, Bird formed the Facebook group “HD Hip Hop.” Eudy has been running the “High Desert Hot 16,” a mixtape he produces after posting beats online and compiling submissions from local artists.

“People feed off of each other,” Bird said. “I strongly believe that one of us has to be able to make it and that the cream rises to the top, so I wanted to create a platform where whoever that may be can actually succeed.”

Now more than 100 local artists, producers, promoters and others use the Facebook group to share music and post feedback, publicize shows and, more recently, plan meetups for events like a cypher, an informal gathering of a group of rappers showing off their skills.

“I’ve come across new people that I’ve never heard of because of the group. We’re starting to get a little bit of unity,” Bowles said. “Before, everyone wanted to just be ‘the man.’ If someone’s going to blow up out here, I think it’s going to be a lot easier if we go at it together and work as a team.”

Earlier this month the group hosted a cypher, with participants rapping verses they’d prepared based on a 16-bar beat posted online and doing some freestyle a cappella around a turntable in the driveway of a Victorville home. In an effort to chronicle the momentum of the local scene, the cypher was filmed by artist Brandon Martinez a.k.a. “HEXXX,” a Sultana High School graduate who founded the Newport Beach-based Night Breed Films and record label.

The styles and content of various local artists are eclectic, with topics ranging from partying at the club to rough experiences in Old Town Victorville. Some verses contain foul language and are inappropriate for younger audiences, but the rappers explain hip hop is about direct, raw lyrics and telling it like it is.

“I don’t appreciate hip hop that’s vulgar just for vulgar’s sake, but there are a lot of things in life that are not pretty, and I think that hip hop is willing to touch on those things,” Eudy said. “Sometimes that makes people really uncomfortable, but in my opinion all really good rock and roll or hip hop should be a little bit dangerous.”

In Bird’s song “High Desert Livin’,” one verse goes “Joshua Trees, tumble weeds, tweekers with no teeth/Riding the D for dope down on D Street,” and the song’s hook closes with, “The High Desert is full of cities that don’t sleep.” Bird said he draws inspiration from a wide variety of music — including jazz, ’80s and ’90s hip hop and Gospel music — and that he views hip hop as an art form, likening the culture to the Harlem Renaissance.

To promote his next album set for release this spring, Bird plans to do street performances at local parks. Eudy plans to release his second solo album in July, and Bowles is finishing his fourth solo mixtape.

“Don’t let the naysayers bring you down — people saying, ‘Oh this is Victorville, nothing’s going to happen here,’” Bowles advised aspiring artists. “If you love doing something, just do it.”

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REVIEW: BIG SEAN – Finally Famous: The Album

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Big Sean maybe new to a lot of people, but he has actually been around for a cool minute. Sean met Kanye West at a radio station in 2005 and left him his demo tape. Dropping mixtapes and remixes paid off as Kanye signed the Detroit native to his G.O.O.D Music record label in 2007. Four years later, the 23 year old dropped his debut album Finally Famous: The Album.

There are two things that can sum up the project: One, is the over packed guest appearances. Features from Chris Brown to Lupe Fiasco to Kanye West to Wiz Khalifa to Rick Ross is a little much. And the second being, he is in the Drake/Wiz Khalifa catalogue…a rapper singing. Not that it is a bad thing. But at times, it’s easy to forget who you are listening to.

But there’s no need to worry because the album has a lot to offer. From fresh beats to clever lyrics, the album is fitting for the summer. The lead single My Last, featuring Chris Brown, could be the song the people will recognize but there are plenty of other good ones as well. Marvin Gaye & Chardonnay, featuring Kanye West and Roscoe Dash, is one that will bang in the clubs for sure. Memories (Part II), featuring John Legend, is a cool track that has Sean reminisce about his past. While Livin This Dream has Sean talking about his flashy life with some assistance from The-Dream. Celebrity, featuring Dwele, might be the smoothest track of them all. This in part has to do with Chicago producer No I.D. as he is responsible for producing half of the album. Others include The Neptunes, The Legendary Traxters, Mike Dean, Tricky Stewart, Boi-1da, and Exile just to name a few. Needless to say, there are plenty of beats to choose from. This alone makes the album a great listen.

However, there are some negative spots on the album as well. Songs like I Do It, Dance(A$$), and High are either forced or flat out corny. But thankfully, it’s only a small list. With a boost from top beatmakers and a major league guest lineup, the album is solid. It’s rare that a new artist gets this much for his debut album. But Sean takes advantage of it and delivers. Only question now is: What will be in stores for his next album? But being in a roster like G.O.O.D Music, there’s no need to worry.

Standout Tracks: “My Last”, “Livin This Life”, “Celebrity”

Are You Planking?

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Planking is blowing up the news and photo galleries these days. What is Planking? Older people would say it’s another instance of why the youth is screwed up. Kids would fire back that it’s the most fun you can have being still. Who’s right?

Planking is the act of lying face down for a photograph. The term planking originated from Australia but is actually just another name for ‘the lying down game’ (I’m not kidding). The specific instructions: to put your body face down to the ground (or table, or object, or anything) with your arms to the side.

It may be the latest craze that’s taking over the internet, but does it really mean what people think it means?

Rapper Xzibit is leading a new charge against “planking”, claiming the practice has racist roots. Xzibit recently Tweeted, “Planking is THE dumbest shit ever. Planking was a way to transport slaves on ships during the slave trade, its not funny. Educate yourselves.” The rapper continues with, “Don’t get twisted. I care less where your dumb asses lay face down and take pictures of the shit, I’m just telling you where it came from.”

Although Xzibit is sharing his thoughts on planking, some celebrities, such as Katy Perry, Demi Moore, Rosario Dawson, Chris Brown, and Justin Bieber, seem to care less and have taken part in “planking” and have posted the pictures online.

So yes, “planking” has roots in slavery. If you look at the picture to the right, it shows how slaves captured in Africa were stowed away on ships during the “Middle Passage” journey during the late 16th Century. Slaves used the planks as beds. Rumors have it that “planking” came from kids in Australia, but actual planking began at the start of the slave trade as captured Africans were transported by ships to the New World during the “Middle Passage”.

What do you think?

Busta Rhymes Bounces Back With New Album

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Busta Rhymes is back with a new album and mindset adding on to his multi-platinum career. The Brooklyn emcee wouldn’t reveal the name of the album, but said it would be along the lines of When Disaster Strikes, The Coming, Extinction Level Event, Anarchy and Genesis.

Scoffing at the notion of retirement, Busta had a breakout year doing features, most notably Jay-Z and Kanye West’s H.A.M and Nicki Minaj’s Roman’s Revenge.

“I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.” Busta remarked whenever someone mentions him retiring. The 39-year-old rapper has seen and done it all since entering the game in 1991:

Death Row Record’s dominance over the industry; how Biggie, Nas and Wu-Tang Clan revived New York; the untimely deaths of Biggie and Tupac; the South’s dominance; the rise of underground artists like Wiz Khalifa. Through it all Busta still remained relevant releasing hit-after-hit, selling millions of records and collaborating with the biggest names in the industry.

He promises to give fans some new flavor as well as some of the old rapid-fire-flow Busta is known for. “I’m really taking my time with this one,” Busta says of his new, untitled release. “I’m going into this one different than the last album. I don’t want to start talking about producers and album titles just yet because I don’t want to spoil anything. But you know I’m going to come out with that good sh*t . I promise you that. I’ve been in the business for a minute and I still have a hunger for it. I’m not going to stop until the people tell me to.”

Meanwhile, he’s enjoying his #1 single Look At Me Now featuring Chris Brown and Lil Wayne and the growing buzz from Welcome To My Hood with DJ Khaled. Both tracks will appear on his new album, which he says is 90% done.

Busta isn’t going anywhere anytime soon let alone retiring. “This is my sh*t. I am back in a space where I can talk about the things I love to talk about and touch on things people are a little uncomfortable talking about and really expose the truths, and do it in a way where it’s so extremely entertaining. I feel supreme right now,” stated Busta Rhymes.

His album is slated to be released in September.

BET Awards Nominations Announced

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This year’s BET Awards will feature many old faces returning to glory and a plethora of new faces to come onto the scene.

Making a return is Chris Brown, who released his album F.A.M.E. this year. Brown leads the field with 6 nominations including Viewers Choice, Best Collaboration, and Best Actor.

In the category of Viewers Choice and Best Collaboration, Brown’s songs Look At Me Now and Deuces will be going head to head with his ex-girlfriend Rihanna, and her collaboration with Drake on What’s My Name.

Rihanna will also be among heavy competition in the best female R&B category. Other nominees include Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson, Keri Hilson, and Marsha Ambrosius.


Just days after the death of their member M. Bone, Cali Swag District was nominated for Best Group alongside Diddy’s Dirty Money, N.E.R.D., New Boyz, and Travis Porter.

This year’s Best Male Hip-Hop Artist will be an extremely tough category with all of the contenders having an opportunity to take the crown. The nominees are Kanye West, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, B.o.B., and Drake.

The Best New Artist category is also shaping up to be a battle pitting Bruno Mars against the likes of J. Cole, Willow Smith, Miguel, and Wiz Khalifa.

The show airs live on June 26th from the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium.

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CHRIS BROWN – F.A.M.E.

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To say that Chris Brown has been given a rough ride recently would be the understatement of the century. The incident with Rihanna more than two years ago is still on the tips of everybody’s tongues. Many “fans” deserted him as he seemed to apparently be spiraling out of control. As if he didn’t have enough on his plate, somebody has leaked nude photos of Chris on the Internet. At times, it’s hard to stay focused on the music; his life seems to play out like a cringy soap opera but lets remember, Chris Brown started off fresh faced, 16 year old whose debut album Chris went double platinum, selling over 2 million copies in the United States alone. The talent of Breezy cannot be disputed!

Now this month, Chris is set to release his latest album, the greatly anticipated F.A.M.E.

The first track off the album is Deuces, featuring Tyga from the Young Money camp. We all know it, it has become something of an anthem…the ultimate break up tune. Still getting heavy rotation on the radio both stateside and in Europe.

But the rest of F.A.M.E. is not all as ice cold as Deuces. Chris shows a more sensitive side on tracks such as the slow jams No Bullshit and Up 2 You. Up 2 You gives us a glimpse of the romantic side of Chris Brown as he is the perfect gentleman whilst he croons, “It’s so unusual for me to be waiting/ But I don’t wanna blow it girl” — just what every girl wants to hear.

Wet The Bed, featuring Ludacris, is a sexual, sensual piece. Brown owns this track and does not get overpowered by Luda. Delicate water drops, drip their way through this delectable ditty. I will be adding this one to my slow jam playlist at home.

Look At Me Now was confusing to me. Chris doesn’t sing on this — he raps. I’m all for trying something new but after listening to this several times I still have come to the conclusion that Chris should definitely stick to singing. He does himself no favors. The beat is pretty hot though. A punchy, mid-tempo beat with a heavy bassline and something skipping over it sounding a lot like a cool, futuristic, mechanical bird. Busta Rhymes comes in after Chris and to put it bluntly — shuts Chris down. Busta’s flow hits hard and fast like a machine gun and by the time Lil Wayne came in I was like, “Lil who?” Not the worst track I’ve ever heard, but probably the weakest on this album.

She Ain’t You, one of the other more warm, mellow tracks. SWV’s Right Here has been sampled with just a few added tweaks. It was definitely complimentary to the sugar sweet vocals of Chris Brown and put me in a reminiscent mood as I was gently taken back to the 90’s. Loved it! Everything about She Ain’t You worked.

Tracks such as Say It With Me, Yeah 3x, Oh My Love and Beautiful People are all more fast-tempo, dance tracks. I’m not too much a fan of dance music but I loved the feel good vibe and positive messages in Beautiful People.

All Back and Should’ve Kissed You are more reflective than the rest. All Back was more of a ballad. The cliche ‘Don’t know what you’ve got ‘til its gone’ track. It was fairly average, but one couldn’t help wondering who he was missing. Could it be Rihanna?

I should probably say something about the recently leaked Next 2 You, featuring Justin Bieber. I didn’t like it, it was cheesy, unoriginal and sounded as if they were singing to each other rather than singing with each other. Big thumbs down.

After listening to this album a few times, I realized that there is a little something for everybody. From slow jams to tight rap verses all the way to dance music. F.A.M.E. was an easy listen. Nothing out of the ordinary or super original but not dull either.

F.A.M.E. is a good attempt by Chris Brown to re-establish himself as the Prince Of R&B, which unfortunately, I don’t think this has achieved. Overall, not a bad album!

Standout Tracks: “She Ain’t You”, “Wet The Bed”, “Beautiful People”

Tracklisting:

1. Deuces ft. Tyga & Kevin McCall
2. Up 2 You
3. No Bullshit
4. Look At Me Now ft. Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes
5. She Ain’t You
6. Say It With Me
7. Yeah 3x
8. Next 2 You ft. Justin Bieber
9. All Back
10. Wet The Bed ft. Ludacris
11. Oh My Love
12. Should’ve Kissed You
13. Beautiful People ft. Benny Benassi

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