Writing and interviews diving deep into the creative process
Featuring (click on the links and jump to their Section)
1) The Art Of Collaboration by Carolyn Baron HERE
2) The Rap UP by Romelo Delossantos HERE
3) Beats Working by Alexandra Smit Stachowski HERE
behind the creation of an independent tune
The Art Of Collaboration By Carolyn Baron
(Part One Here )
At that point, I began to subscribe to a subscription service for musicians. Through that service, I received listings every month from artists and producers who were looking for songs, and songwriters and artists who were looking for collaborators. I thought it would be a good way to be able to start pitching the songs I had already recorded, and to connect with some other musicians who were not on Broadjam.
Through that service I met Larry Flet. Larry is a fabulous French musician and producer. His music is a mix of electronic and dance music, and smooth jazz. I really liked his sound and found it quite original. He had been looking for some lyricists and top liners to work with him, and we got together and created three new songs. The first two, one dance track and one soul track, were both very well received, at this point we have been offered publishing contracts on all of them. On the third song called “Candy”, we ended up collaborating with Earl. That last collaboration with both Larry and Earl was quite interesting because they have very different styles, but the arrangement that came out of putting them together was great. Right now I’m working on some more material with Larry, including a very lovely smooth jazz track.
One of the difficulties I have had when I have worked with Larry has been finding good singers for our tracks. Whereas Earl and Ron are singers, both Larry and I are not. I can carry a tune, and sing well enough to write a melody and record it as a rough demo for a real singer to follow, but trust me when I say that no one would buy a recording by me!
So, at that point I began my search for singers, which continues to this day. Along the way, I have found some great singers with whom I’m still working, but I’m always looking for new singers with whom I can collaborate too.
On the first songs I did with Larry, we used paid vocalists for our tracks. Finding the right ones for our songs was no easy feat, and I spent countless hours searching for the right singers for each track.
Fortunately, when I did find the right singers, things generally went very smoothly. I saw that it was very important for me to know exactly what I wanted from the start, and when a singer didn’t get it right the first time, they were all willing to try again in order to give me what I wanted.
I must say that, during that time, I followed many dead ends, contacting companies that didn’t have what I was looking for, and people who never got back to me, or who did get back to me but were not able to supply me with what I needed.
Now, things are much easier because I’ve already found some great professional companies and singers to work with, and have also begun working with singers who are collaborating with me on the writing and production of the songs instead of being paid.
I would say that finding the right singers for my songs has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve encountered along the way.
After I had written a few songs with Larry, I decided to go ahead and go for my dream of trying to write some hip hop songs.
Now, I must start by saying that I love really good hip hop. Hip hop started out as an important social/political movement, and in the beginning it was a completely new and exciting musical genre. Of course, like all things, a lot of it has become commercialized over the past years, but the heart of hip hop still exists.
Hip hop is also, of course, a wonderful genre for a lyricist, and that was one of the reasons that I really wanted to try writing some good hip hop songs. I knew that I was not the classic hip hop writer by any means, but I decided to try thinking outside of the box and give it a go anyway!
At first, I licensed a few hip hop beats from various sites that I found on the internet, but I didn’t come up with anything really good for them. I felt insecure and somewhat blocked as a writer, even though I knew that it was all there inside waiting to come out. That’s when I found Mark Bos (BosBeats). I loved his beats immediately, and wanted to write to every one of them! So, I wrote him a long e-mail from my heart about my music and my ideas. He listened to some of my songs, and what I had to say, and the next thing I knew, he was sending me lots of beats to try out. It took me a while to get started, but once I did, the songs just came pouring out of me. His beats really inspired me!
After I had written a few hip hop songs that I liked, I started looking for rappers to record them. At first, my plan was to pay for a rapper or group to record a few of them. Once again I decided to use Broadjam as a valuable resource. So, I started listening to lots of rap/hip hop artists on Broadjam. After a while, I had found a few rap artists that I really liked. I was careful to look for people who were making positive songs with uplifting messages, no violence, negative language, or heavy macho bravado. No “bitches and whores” for me!
I wrote to all of them, and received responses from them all. All three said that they’d be happy to listen to my music. In the end all of them said that they liked the songs I had sent them, and would be happy to make the recordings for me at a price that I could afford, but it never actually happened with one of them. Sometimes, things just don’t move forward. However, two of these projects did get started then, and what happened after that was really amazing.
The first group, PLX and The Fith Element (rapper PLXDABOSS and singer/producer Bruce Todd Larsen) recorded a couple of the songs and thought that they came out so well that they proposed making an entire CD of songs together! I said that would be great, but that I couldn’t pay for the recordings as I had done with the first two. They said that if I could just chip in for some of the expenses that would be fine. That was the beginning of a big project that continued to this day, and has been extremely well received. That entire project, “Different Worlds”, is about to be released on Plusquam Records. Many of the songs have been picked up by publishers who pitch songs for film and television, three of the songs from that project have been included on Coast 2 Coast mixtapes, two are about to be released on a compilation CD in Italy, one was selected to be on rotation among music supervisors for cable television, and others are being considered for some other compilations.
The songs from that PLXDABOSS project have also been receiving quite a bit of airplay, including being played regularly on NBT Music Radio!
Also, our much loved Christmas hip hop song from that project “Christmas Is Cool” won Alive Radio’s (UK) competition for best Christmas song in 2011, and has been made into a wonderful house remix by the up-and coming European producer Ev-G.
During the recording of the songs from that project there were some differences in opinion at times about how the songs should be mixed, and it would have been easier had we all been able to be together for the mixing sessions, but it all generally went extremely well. Once in a while I would ask them to re-record a part, and they always did.
In the end, the project became a true collaboration, with PLX contributing some lyrics of his own to the songs, and with Bruce collaborating on the writing of some of the hooks and writing all of the arrangements of the background vocals.
I’m still working with PLXDABOSS and Bruce Todd Larsen, although the two of them are now involved in separate projects, and of course I’m still working with Mark Bos.
It turns out that there is a very good alchemy between Bos and I when it comes to songwriting. I’ve written quite a few songs with him in different styles including pop, pop/rock, electronic, r&b, and hip hop. He has turned out to be one of my most important writing partner, and the songs that we have written together have been creating quite a buzz.
PLXDABOSS and I are currently working on a group of new songs, and a great singer/rapper named Adam W. Thomas (T-Boy) is now collaborating with us on some of them too.
the previous chapter: ONE
My name is Carolyn Baron, and I’m an American songwriter living in Florence, Italy. My story is very similar to that of many other musicians around the world. I’ve been writing songs since I was a little girl. When I was eight years old I began playing the violin, and when I was fourteen I quit the violin and started taking guitar lessons. When I was in college I played bass in a couple of rock groups, and in the late 1990’s, I was the principal songwriter for an Italian band called Rain.
Over the past twelve years, since the demise of Rain, I have written music with some fantastic local artists and record labels, notably Bernardo Baglioni (Berna), and Maurizio Bozzi (Bozorius), and Drycastle Records in Arezzo, Italy.
A few years ago I decided that I also wanted to write in some genres in which it is rather difficult to find collaborators in Florence, particularly r&b and hip hop.
Since I’m an English lyricist, I also began to feel a bit frustrated by the fact that it’s difficult to find good singers here who do not have Italian accents when they sing in English. So, I decided to use the internet to reach out to artists from English speaking countries. That was about three years ago, and the rest is history!
Something that started out very small has now grown into quite a large and active group of international collaborations with some incredibly talented artists from around the globe.
Once I had made my decision to look for collaborators from abroad, I searched the internet and found a very good musician who was looking for lyricists for his songs. Actually, he was looking for what is known as topliners. A topliner is a person who writes lyrics and melodies to an already existing track or beat. He also worked with a number of really great American r&b, jazz, and pop singers.
I liked his music, and decided to contact him. He listened to some of my songs, and said that he thought I was a talented writer, and that he would love to give me the opportunity to write to some of his tracks. I was thrilled!
I wrote a number of songs with him which were very well received, and it definitely helped me to hone my craft. The only problem was that, since he was a very successful producer, writer, and musician, he charged a fee for licensing his tracks. He was very generous with me because he said he believed in my talent, and knew that I didn’t have a lot of money to spend, but I still had to pay him something to license the tracks. So, after recording a number of songs with him, I decided it was time to look for artists with whom I could collaborate without having to pay.
My first collaborations of this kind were with a wonderful singer and songwriter named Earl. C. Webb from Bristol, England, and soul singer Ron Parks from San Francisco. I “met” the two of them through Broadjam, an independent musician’s website. I had been a member of Broadjam for quite a few years, but other than having written reviews of fellow musician’s songs, I had never actually taken advantage of the site and contacted other musicians directly.
I had reviewed Earl and Ron’s music on Broadjam, and had become a fan of both of them. Earl is an incredible musician who can play a variety of instruments really well. He writes and arranges songs in many styles and genres. He’s also got a great, rich and expressive voice.
First, I wrote to Earl and asked him if he might be interested in writing something together. He listened to some of my music, and replied that he’d like to give it a try. That was the beginning of a very prolific writing partnership. In the past couple of years, we’ve written numerous songs together in many genres. One of our R&B songs called “What Do They Know About Us?” will soon be recorded by the American singer Sumeka Jackson for her upcoming CD, and another of our R&B songs was recently published by Naz-Sect Publishing.
Shortly after contacting Earl, I wrote to Ron and told him that I was a fan and would love to collaborate on a song if he ever felt like doing it. He has an extremely smooth and sexy baritone voice somewhat reminiscent of Barry White. His classic R&B is out of this world. He told me that he had never done that before, but that he was open to trying. At a certain point, we decided that we wanted to get Earl involved too (it turns out that the two of them had also been in contact through Broadjam), and the three of us ended up writing a song together. That song, “I Want To Know Love” ended up being recorded in two different versions, one by Earl, and one by Ron. People loved them both.
About a year later, Ron and I wrote a second song together called “Start Over Again”. Both of these songs will be included on his next CD entitled “Got Smooth?”.
At first I thought that it would be difficult to work at a distance and to not be able to be present in the recording studio for the production and mixing of the songs. I am, after all, quite a perfectionist.
However, I found that it all went amazingly well with Earl and Ron because they were both real professionals who had exquisite taste. With the two of them there was hardly ever anything that I felt needed to be changed, and when I did make suggestions, they always tried to follow them.
Earl usually plays all of the instruments on his tracks, and I always like what he does. He’s confident enough to play just what’s required in order to make a track sound great. He never plays too much just to show off his amazing chops. Ron works with a fantastic musician and arranger named Johnny Reason who really knows how to make those sensual, smooth tracks. So, I never had any problems with the work they did.
After working with Earl and Ron for awhile, I decided that I wanted to branch out some more and do some work in other genres that I liked a lot, particularly hip hop, and dance/electronic music.
To be Continued:
You can hear a lot of Carolyn's Colabs all over the NBTMusicRadio
but specially during the SOUL Hour which goes out at 10 PM every night (Berlin Time)
The Rap Up
Romelo Delossantos IS Memphis Reigns IS part of Mind Mechanics.
He has a hand in simply some of the coolest indie rap/hiphop around and now writes for NBT too :)
Archive Rap Up Reviews here
The Swapmeet Ensemble
Oakland, CA. - Silence Dem ALL & Poach Stevens have joined forces as The Swapmeet Ensemble to launch "One Man's Trash..." on May 1st, 2011, their new album independently released under "God I'm Done with this Music".
The new album is preceded by the first single, "The Frat House", available now for download.
Beginning March 1st, 2011 the Swapmeet Ensemble will release one free downloadable song a week
leading up to the launch of One Man's Trash, dubbing it The SwapLeak series.
ONE MAN"S TRASH - Imagine you are strolling around an open air market and one stand in particular catches your eye. Two slightly disheveled men are perched on worn-out lawn chairs selling their wares while listening to Tears For Fears on and old transistor radio. On their table is a collection of some of the most random items you’ve ever laid eyes on. There are a couple a few dusty Che Guevara & Huey Newton biographies, a moose head the likes of what you’d see at a college frat house, a Wu-Tang cd, an empty bottle of Carlos Rossi, 1 Vogue tire, what appears to be a pint of blood, a Spice 1 poster, some paint brushes and several clearly-NOT-NEW-but-your-sure-they-were-seductive-at-one-point women’s g-strings. The men at the table not only look at you non-apologetically, but they seem almost unsurprised that despite your shock, confused and repulsed expression…you can’t seem to leave their display. I introduce you to The Swapmeet Ensemble!
One Man's Trash also features appearances from Mean Doe Green, IVAN, Tony Vic, Kristo of The Freshmen, Priscilla Cruz, Izriel (Mr.Town), Raulie Barron, Rae Resario, Kisura Hendrix, Blayze McKee, Shark Sinatra and production from Poach Stevens, Bitter Rocc, Finlizm Paper Son and Yung EFX.
Silence Dem ALL
has been featured on mixtape circuits in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Brooklyn, South Africa, and all throughout the Bay Area. He put out the San Jose compilation Tank Bizness, to rave reviews, as well as contributed to the albums of several local and international artists. Most recently, Silence just came off of a tour in South Africa, where he and producer/CEO Draztik are working on rap's first American/African collaborative album. They also filmed a music video for the first single off of the project on location in Johannesburg and released it online & to media outlets. He has performed all around the country and in showcases throughout California.
has opened for the RZA, Ghostface Killa, San Quinn, Company Flow and De La Soul, and has toured with the Handsome Boy Modeling School and was showcased along side the likes of Rass Kass, Eminem, Talib Kweli, Souls of Mischief, Thurstin' Howel the 3rd to name a few on the Lyricist Lounge tour. He has done frequent work with the Rondo Brothers, his vocal talents and songs used in commercials, movies and video games. He recently has worked on projects as both vocalist and producer with Northern Cali heavy hitters Mean Doe Green, J Stalin, Kaz Kyzah, Stevie Joe, Ike Dola (Keak Da Sneak's Farm Boyz) Tower, Ashkon, PZ and (Nas and Commons DJ) DJ Fresh.
For all things Swapmeet Ensemble, including press photos, cover art and tour dates, visit:
twitter: @SilenceDemALL & @poachstevens
This month, I chose to do something different and review a producer. The reason being, many times we forget that songs that we love wouldn't be what they were without the music and finely intertwined instrumentation. We often give all credit to the singers and emcees and forget that it is because of these producers, these artists are able to deliver their message. Weaving the drums, the samples, the instruments and everything else involved in beat producing into one is a very intricate process and some can only master the taming of such a beast. In my opinion, the final product acts as the catalyst and driving force in a song writer's creativity.
So without further a due, I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce you all to California producer, Remshot (aka Jeremy de la Cruz). The Bay Area native's production style can be described as a fusion of imaginative samples flipped and coupled with a detailed rhythm section. Remshot's attention to detail is phenomenal and is evident in the music that he produces. I've spent a good time dissecting this guy's music and at each attempt I find something new to talk about. So many things going on in every song that I've heard. You would think chaotic at first but, the impression left is far from that. The snake charmer does an outstanding job of harnessing the pieces into such beautiful pieces of masterful work. A very diverse and eclectic taste in music. His pallet covers anything and every genre you can think of. His blend of vinyl, synths and live instruments make for the perfect canvas. Though he specializes more in hip-hop, rap and R&B music, his capabilities are not limited to these genres. Very flexible style who can accommodate to any musician, period.
Remshot has a made a nice name for himself in hip hop scene. He is avid participant in local and national beat battles. Remshot possess a few Champion titles in the Phillip Drummond sponsored Bay Area Beat Battles. These beat battles have been identified as the longest running beat battle in Northern California and possibly in the country. The battle is designed with a tournament style feel that allows competitors to face each other head to head. Battles have included themes that have included anything from Rock, 80's, Reggae to the Beatles. Remshot is the defending champion in the Rock and Rocky Horror Picture Show themed battles. He's won several other beat battles and his efforts have earned him invitations to Scribble Jam 2007, Scribble Jam 2008 and The Bay Area Producer Conference in 2010.
In addition to being a music producer, Remshot also works as an Audio Engineer. His beat making originates during his college years at UC Santa Cruz and upon completion of his undergraduate degree, he went and earned himself an Audio Engineering Degree at Bay Area's Expression College for Digital Arts. Currently, he serves as an Audio Engineer at the highly reputable 17 Hertz Studios in Hayward,California where he partakes first hand in the production, recording, mixing and mastering of many local and upcoming R&B and hip hop artists.
I've had the honor of watching Remshot grow into such an amazing producer. In so little time, he's left quite an impact on the hip hop community. His potential is limitless and he is consistently progressing to bigger and better projects. Super producer Remshot is a thunderous force to be reckon with. The hunger, the desire and fire to be the best resides in the belly of this beast, but don't take my word for it, listen to his work at one of the many websites below.
"The Plunge" mixtape
The Dime, a hip hop collective out of Northern California consisting of emcees Chi and K.nightshift open "The Plunge" mixtape with a track entitled "No Candlelight". Perfect introduction to the crew with a nice jazzy beat complemented by some soulful singing. Almost synonymous to a calm before the storm. The storm more symbolic for brain banging beats and heartfelt rhymes that encompass life learned experiences. The follow up track, "Okie Doke" is the perfect track to cruise to. This track brings me back to the first Outkast album. The vibe is Southernplayalistic like. Hook is fun and both emcees destroy their verses. "Rollin' Up 2 Remix" marches in with another catchy hook that leaves you singing along with the Dime. This time, the DIme flexes in Pharcyde like delivery. I appreciate versatility in emcees and these guys definitely showcase their ability to do so. The cuts are a nice touch to their story. The next track brings us to the original version of the track. The beat features harder drums, making its own distinct version, but equally dope. Both tracks talk abut their quest in finding the perfect woman. The Dime takes the gentlemen approach in this track and do a great job expressing their appreciation for a woman's self confidence and originality. Good job on deciding to put both versions on the album. Different vibes that yield the the same outcome. The opening emcee on "Blue Galaxy" flexes nice wordplay. His verse is welcoming and invites you to come along on their journey to the Blue Galaxy. These guys are phenomenal with hook writing. These guys always deliver with the hooks and set the stage for each song with catchy concepts.
The next track "Never Dies" opens with such a powerful verse. The song talks about where they've been and what they've done to be where they are at and their appreciation to those who have helped along the way. Such an emotional song. You can feel the emotion of each emcee's verse. The beat and female vocalist do nothing but intensify the emotion of the song. My favorite track of the album….so far. "Tears" opens with a great sample. If you've ever read any of my reviews, I have such a bad habit of announcing my favorite track and then I get immediately hit with the next few tracks which end up with me retracting my previous statement. The Dime preaches encouraging words to the struggling. Such a motivating song. The message is strong and the stories are true. I can feel the rain drop on me too…"Vinegar"….wow, I like this song for the title alone! Such a great song for the the haters. The Dime cooks up heat with this song. If you can't stand the heat, then get the hell out of their kitchen. Sad to say, I am now on the final track of the mixture entitled, "Weave". "Weave" is the perfect closer to the album. Another fun hook that provokes nothing but for all of us to have a good time. Turn the radio up and ride out the rest of the evening on a high note.
In all, The Dime's, "The Plunge" mixtape is such an enjoyable album. The music is a combination and fun and emotional true life stories. Chi and K.nightshift deliver Outkast like hooks and Pharcyde type deliveries that leave you hooked and feening for more. What an interesting fusion of styles. Such a deadly combination that makes for what I believe to be a successful group in today's state of hip hop. And not to brag, but I've had the honor of sharing the stage with these guys. Certified Chief Rockas that never fail in their promise to deliver. The Dime is working on The Brickyard Cove, their next release due out 12/31/10. I highly advise you to look out for it. Bay Area hip hop at it's finest.
The Counterparts Crew
This month's review is another Beatrock Music release.
The Counterparts Crew is an all star West Coast cast that consists of emcees: Braelen B, T-Know, and Otayo Dubb and producers/DJ: Gamma Ray and Fatgums. Prior to my review of the album I was familiarwith the works of T-Know, Gamma Ray and Fatgums. With that in mind, I was pretty sure that The Counterpart's self titled release would be nothing short of
The Counterparts commence launch of the album with "Blast Off", a smooth introduction instrumental that plays perfect as the calm
before storm. Rightly fitting for this head knocking boom bap album. The CC crew immediately follow with "#1 Crew", their introduction to the world. Hard production and scratching provided by Gammagums, while the three emcees flex braggadocio rhymes on why we shouldn't fuck with them.
Definitely not the "same mundane shit" and nice on the speakers. "To The Top" follows and I love this song for the hook alone. Excellent
use of the Counsious Daughter's femcee vocals. Each emcee talks about their journey and quest for the top. The hook invites you to join them as they conquer obstacles to become one of hip hop's top crews.
Braelen B nails the coffin with his response to underground or maintsream preference...."I'm down with getting paid for radio play, as longs as I can look at myself at the end of the day!".
I've seen a lot emcees who love talk about how they would refuse to break mainstream if the
opportunity ever arose. If the music's good and your digging with what your writing and with what's released...why not get paid for it?
I'm with you all the way man.
The next track, "What We Do" is their track about their sacrifices and love for what they do. Sacrifices of missing parties, family functions, weekends, and everyday life for the art of music making in a 102 degree booth. The fruits of your labor and the endless driving from Los Angeles to the Bay have definitely paid off...besides, the late night sessions have to be worth it just for the Hennessy and Chicken Adobo?!"Home In The Bay" features guest emcee, Tahaj the 1st and on this track they address thier dedication and love for the Bay....
all things Bay mentioned on this track....SF Giants, Oakland A's, earthquakes, Vietnamese Pho, you name it....I "hella" like this track ;) This track is followed by"Guns Of Cali", a track that features Bambu and Kiwi of the Native Guns.
T-Know's murders the track with his verse. I had to play this guys verse a couple times because it was so dope....let this cat educate you about the the stuggle. My favorite line, "..Besides, my pledge of allegiance
is for civil disobedience".
The beat on "Picture This" is killer....the song is a great story about their appreciation for the simple things in life. The flows are hypnotizing.
Each emcees asks for you take a second to look around and soak everythingin. Don't let good things pass you by. Great concept and great hook. My favorite track on the album thus far. "Universe", a track that features emcee, Revision discusses how each experience that you live carries a lesson...just look, you'll find it.
Another great concept and another killer beat by Gamma Gums. Definitely another favorite of mine. "Trading Places" discusses thier viewpoints and opinions about the media and the stories that they tell. "Re:Act" is an excellent track about sieizing the moment. They tell you that nothing will happen if you don't make it happen...brilliant message by these go getters. The track also features a nice scratch break by Gamma. Gavin Grant features on the next track entitled, "The Message". Verse 1 on this song is bananas and sets the entire mood.
Beautiful beat to compliment their story about crafting the perfect verse for each song that they write.
"So Much Love", talks about their appreciation for the love shown by their fans. Not a worry about what the crowd will say, the results, and success as long as they put heart in everything they do. Not a bad motto to live by, but these guys will have no problem picking up fans.
"Dreams Deffered Remix" is about the fire that fuels them to do what they do. No matter what they do a piece of them always revisits their love for the music. The fire continues to flicker, which in turn keeps them making great music. "Until", opens with nice female vocals and is followed by set a of emotional verses.
T-Know, Braelen,and Otayo take you back to thier upbringing and tell you why they are the way they are. Each emcee spits a heartfelt verse and I can feel the emotion behind all. What a powerful song....these songs could probably make a ganster cry :)
The Counterparts Crew conclude the album with "Patnaz". A song dedicated to all their people...near and far. This is their thank you for all the memories and sticking with them through thick and thin. Perfect ending to a great album.
In closing, the Counterparts Crew succeed in delivering a great head knocking boom bap album. I could never lock onto a favorite song or beat, because each time I tried, the next one would be better. Each song is well crafted and I appreciate the intricate work engineered into each song.
The album is full of well placed breaks and cuts by Gamma and Gums. Each detailed tweak of the beat compliment all emcee verses and aid significantly in getting the point of each song across. I would love to get my hands on the "Instumentals" to this album. Great job by Gamma and Gums. Bralen B, T-Know and Otayo Dubb are all powerful emcees and each have no problem in telling thier
Each emcee brings a different flavor to table, and all three on a track is like putting Voltron together. I didn't see the need for any guest emcees, but all Contributions were great additions to the album. Each verse is carved to perfection and calculated. The songs all succeed in keeping the listener focused and attentive.
The tracklisting was well constructed and I did not find a dull moment in the album. Overall, outstanding album by these west coast all stars. Support these cats by visiting them at: counterpartscrew.com or on the Beatrock Music home page.
The self titled album is boom bap in it's finest form.
MC Nomi of Power Struggle brings to us an album of amazing stories and powerful messages in his latest release entitled
"Remittances". Nomi teams up with Bay Area producer Mister REY and LA's Fatgums under the Beat Rock Music label
to deliver his "philosophy of life". The album opens strongly with "Air Out My Lungs", a song in which he tells us
what a day in the life of Nomi is like. Nomi paints a clear picture of his quest for
the perfect world. In "Traveling Man", his GZA type delivery is precise and does a great job
of telling the traveling man's story. I picture a haggard hermit with a weary soul as a
result of his life long experiences with the system...additionally, I dig the word play that he
flexes in the verses of this song.
"Mr. Sagitarious...A Proletarian Path To Enlightenment", another song of life lessons and experiences.
Probably one of my favorite tracks for the ending alone..."I'm an immigrant man with immigrant hands
painting images of idiots on Indian land". In "United In Struggle", he reminisces and talks about
his trip back to his motherland and their connection through struggle. Nice upbeat hook and once again superb
storytelling. In "What Goes Up", the hook says it all. A message to all about money's hypnotism over all
walks of life. In "Three Basic Problems", Nomi recruits Kiwi, Mister REY, BWAN and Saico for assistance
on track. Nomi is powerful alone, but with these other Cali super MC's, the track is bananas.
I'd like to highlight Mister REY, BWAN and Saico's verses. All these guys kill 16 bars
while flexing in Tagalog. Mister REY's message is ridiculous. Pay close attention and listen to his story
to any of you all who can understand. Saico goes ape shit and spits his Tagalog verse in double time.
This dude will definitely give Gloc-9 a run for his money.
"Inspired By Dream" is another dope message heavy track in which Nomi talks about methods of self motivation
sparked through an assortment of external factors. Nomi follows this track with his opinion of high
society in "Wash It Away". "Sunshine", one of his more fun and upbeat songs features Bambu, Pele and
Tina Shauf. Defnitely one of my favorite songs content and beat wise. Nomi displays his kinda soft side with "Blood of My Heart", a love song which is delivered in a Johnny Blaze/MJB-esque All That I Need fashion. Song features Big Drew and Typical Cat,
Denizen Kane. Nomi wraps up the album with "Artofficialfreedom" featuring Mister REY and "Kill The Vultures", which again displays his amazing ability to tell stories.
In all, "Remittances" is a very deep and thoughtful album. The talented threesome of Nomi,
Fatgums and Mister REY do a great job of locking in your attention with the content, delivery and
quality of beats. Typically I get bored of albums that go on and on about politics and their various
struggles in society, but these guys bring it to you in a way that keeps the head knocking.
Please support these cats and pick this album up. Good hip hop like this is hard to come by....
Check them out at http://www.myspace.com/powerstruggle or at http://beatrockmusic.com.
Alex tuned into dance as a small kid, jiving on the streets of downtown Durban, South Africa.
She furthered her passion as a music journalist, did PR for bands and events and of course,
also hung out at clubs until the early morning hours,
as the sun came up and the last song was being played by the DJ to chase the people home.
Nowadays she fulfills her craze for music by buying CDs, DVDs and watches the music clips,
when there's a channel not pushing the same old, same old tracks. Dance gets the blood flowing
- all she's looking for is music which hits her musical G-spot
Beats Working Archive
An Interview with Mike Petrone
Mike Petrone spent time on the frontline in Iraq. The experiences have flavoured his new album The Last Hundred Yards. I asked him a few questions.
1.Two military tours in Iraq is impressive: As the US now exits Iraq, would you consider Operation Freedom a success or a failure? What lessons have we or should we have learnt from the wars in Iraq?
Well, it’s still too early to tell if the Mission was a complete success or not - either way, something had to be done over there. We went over there, we did a job that had to be done and now it’s definitely time to come home. Those people definitely needed our help and now its time for them to stand on their own!
2.The single being touted is ‘Crank It’ – my personal choice off the single would’ve been ‘Baghdad’. I feel it’s a better song and is pertinent. Who made the choice to go with the first track? Was it due to the political content that ‘Baghdad’ was not pushed instead?
‘Baghdad’ was actually the first single because of the video for it. I felt like you did and that it’s a more powerful song but at the end of the day, more people would dig "Crank It". Being an independent artist, all final decisions go through me so it was ultimately my decision - both are singles off the album.
3.‘Night Life’ shows a disco club-side to you – while in the army, did you hear a lot of dance music?
In the army, you hear a lot of everything! There is so many different people and personalities - that everyone listens to different music. I actually got the idea for ‘Night Life’ when I was in the army. A friend of mine I was deployed with was pumping Styx one day and "Mr Roboto" came on. It gave me the idea for the sample and for the song.
4.‘80’s Baby’ is a fun track – you pay tribute to the bands, who inspired you while growing up. Do you come from a big family? Who was playing these tunes or was it the radio?
I do come from a big family, but ‘80s Baby’ was just a tribute to when I feel like music was fun. 80's music is some of the most innovative music and artists were making music because they loved doing it. It was fun and full of life. I heard a lot of these songs on the radio growing up and it just inspired me to bring some of those classic songs to light again!
5.The PR material has you in a Guns ‘n Roses t-shirt – what do you think of ‘Chinese Democracy’ and what other rock bands do you listen to nowadays?
Guns N Roses are amazing. I think ‘Chinese Democracy’ was a very decent album. I don't think it was at the same status of ‘Appetite for Destruction’ or anything, but I think it was definitely a good comeback album after being gone for so long. I grew up on classic rock and I love the blues so I still listen to Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin heavily. I probably should’ve been on the cover with a Led Zeppelin Shirt, to be honest! (Lol)
6.Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia – it is clear from your lyrics - that honesty and trust is very important to you. Do you feel these qualities are missing in today’s society?
Absolutely. I feel like they’re missing in music and in society in general. It’s a very Dog-Eat-Dog world and everyone is out to get over on the next man. I feel like everyone loses when you live like that. I'm all about helping the next man and being fair. It’s really sad the way people scheme and get over on each other. The world could really be a better place and I like that to be known.
7.‘Chump Change’ reminded me of a DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince song – do you sometimes feel torn between the heartfelt hard raps and the lighter dance songs you write?
I don't - and the reason for it is because I'm an artist but I'm also human. I have a wide range of emotions like any other person, so sometimes I feel like writing a heartfelt song when the inspiration hits me and sometimes, I feel like writing the lighter dance songs. That's not to say the heartfelt song isn't genuine – it’s just what I was feeling as a person and an artist at that moment in time.
8.I’m about to fly to the US on Sept 11, ‘Flight 175’ is a chilling account of someone on one of the hijacked planes. What were you doing when Sept 11 happened?
I was actually a freshman in high school - when the Towers were being hit, I was in the principal’s office being kicked out of school for causing too much trouble. They were in the process of sending me to an alternative school so I was sent home for the day. I was home all day watching the events unfold.
9.‘Generation Kill’ tackles the topic of youngsters, weapons and war – this is a worldwide problem – how do you suggest we help solve this issue?
Teach our youth. Stop the brainwashing. Unplug our TVs. Educate and love. We can’t teach the youth if we as adults aren't educated ourselves!
10.What advice do you have for any rappers who want to get into the industry, any tips?
It’s a tough business to be in! You have to make sure it’s what you really want to do and then you need to do it and not look back. Give it all you got. Make sacrifices, put 100% into it and believe in yourself. If you don't believe in yourself- no one else will.