Gone, But Never Forgotten

“Where were you when you heard?” “Hey man, are you good” “Did you hear?” Around 4 pm today, my phone pinged with text after text like these. I didn’t know what had happened, but I knew as soon as I responded, to ask what was going on, I’d be in for a major heart break, so I didn’t respond…I didn’t have to. Something was seriously wrong. I felt it in my stomach. It’s the kind of eerie, gut wrenching feeling that you get before knowing you’re about to receive horrible news; and truly horrible it was.

I didn’t have to respond to any message to figure out what had taken place. The buzz around the office was enough to confirm the recent loss. That, and the coworkers that actually came to my desk to ask, if I’d heard the news of rapper, Mac Miller’s passing. As a major Mac Miller fan, I honestly thought it was some type of social media stunt. People are pronounced “dead” all the time in memes and online trollings as jokes. This wasn’t one of those times, nor was it a joke.

Mac Miller was found, and pronounced dead after an apparent drug overdose around noon, this Friday in his San Fernando home. Only a couple of years prior had Miller himself said, “I’d rather be the corny white rapper than the drugged-out mess who can’t even get out of his house. Overdosing is just not cool. You don’t go down history bc you overdose. You just die.”

However, in cases like this, you don’t “just die”. In the Hip-Hop community, in the hearts of the fans, and in the hearts of his family there’s a shared pain that we understand all too well. Someone near and dear to us was taken way too soon.

In 2014 Miller released his mixtape, Faces, which was almost wholly centered on personal drug use. It’s here that he also makes references to a premature death. It’s almost eerie how artists who leave this earth at far too young ages somehow seem to predict their ill-fate.

Nevertheless, if there’s anything that someone who’s been around for a minute can tell you, it’s this, “In every dark cloud, there is a silver lining”. Every moment in life has the potential to be learned from, if you can find it’s teachable moment.

On that note, I think it’s my place to spread the news of October being National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. It’s during this month that drug awareness is raised in an effort to lessen the stigma surrounding real life’s issues, while also shedding a light on healthy coping methods. Miller may have ascended to a higher plane, but his legacy of music, honesty, vulnerability, carefree spirit, and all around good vibes will never be forgotten.

Did You Sign to TDE?

“So how was it meeting Kendrick Lamar, and the rest of TDE?” “Did you sign with TDE?” “How do you know Kendrick?” The list of questions that I got after posting this picture was endless. They weren’t bothersome, but there were quite a lot, so I’ll just answer them hic et nunc (here and now in Latin). For starters, meeting Kendrick was hella dope, but not as long as you’d think. The whole process lasted maybe two minutes at the most. That’s me being generous.

Before I even turned the corner, I just knew what I was going to say. “What’s up K dot? When shit hits the fan, I’ll still be a fan.” Clever right? True Kung Fu Kenny fans would get the saying. Being no newcomer to being around celebrities, I just knew, I’d be fine. Being starstruck was for the inexperienced, and surely I’d had enough experience to be fine, right?

Wrong! So here’s how it ended up panning out instead:

Kendrick: Hey Champ, thanks for coming out today. I genuinely appreciate it

Me: (Looks around at other TDE members) No prob, man.

Me: (Getting up from taking the pictures). Aight, y’all be easy.

TDE: Aight.

That was it. No cleverly planned out lyric or questions on my end at all. I honestly only forgot because I wasn’t expecting a majority of the label to be there. If SZA would’ve actually been there at the moment, I would’ve been lucky to have gotten the few words out that I did manage to let escape out. There’s always next time though (yes, there HAS to be a next time).

I Had a Dream(ville)

Image result for dreamville members

I had a dream that great rappers, and even great lyricists would come together in one single label, and create a worthwhile sound, so that their music could be judged not by the catchiness of the beats, but the content of their words. I think Martin would be proud of that intro, and even prouder of the record label that has taken major steps in realizing this dream: Dreamville Records. The label, established by J. Cole and his manager Ibrahim Hamad, is comprised of. Cole himself, BAS, COZ, Earthgang, J.I.D, Lute, Ari, and Omen, all of who are considerably talented on their own. Earthgamg, the duo most recently signed to Dreamville are currently touring, and opening for Cole on his KOD Tour, exposing the general masses to their unique style. Of course, it goes without saying that those who follow underground rising stars already knew about all of these label-members before their signage, but, it’s good that every new signee will now be getting the marketing shine necessary to spread the knowledge of their music to those who limit themselves to whatever is on the radio. For the longest, whenever someone would dare utter that “Hip-Hop is dead”, the typical response would be, “Nah man, we got Cole and Kendrick!” As the adage goes, knowledge is power, and on that note, now you have a few more nuggets of knowledge to aid in Hip-Hop’s defense.

MisLabeled?

Tee-na-shay or Tin-ash? Is that how you say it? This question kills me every time I hear it. Never would I have imagined that someone who has so much potential, her own home-studio, a background in acting, amazing vocals, three released albums, three extremely popular mixtapes, and a more than dedicated fan base would not be subjected to this question. However, the reality of the matter is, that’s exactly what’s happening. Tinashe’s Aaliyah-like vibes and phenomenal mixtapes are what propelled her popularity from the very beginning. There wasn’t a person who had any type of knowledge of the underground music scene who didn’t know about Tinashe. From the start, she was seen as the “next BIG thing”. So, what happened? Why isn’t she as BIG as she should be?

The easiest answer, and her biggest mistake, was signing to a record label. As a devout fan from the Reverie and in Case We Die, mixtape days, I can vouch for this statement. Tinashe’s connection to RCA has always been her Echelles’ Heel. Before signing, she had 100% freedom to make the music that she wanted, and the music that the fans clung to. However, I do understand that remaining unsigned has its drawbacks, the worst being lack of funds and marketing. Nevertheless, it’s still more than doable; perhaps more difficult, but, still doable. The poster boy for remaining unsigned and still acquiring extreme success in the music industry is of course, Chance the Rapper. Not everyone can pull of this feat though, but if anyone could have achieved it, it for sure would’ve been Tinashe.

So what exactly has resulted from her signing to RCA though? Let’s delve into that. For starters, Aquarius, Tinashe’s freshman album was pushed back later than it should have been. So what, right? All of her original fans stayed loyal, and even opted to get the special edition, where fan’s (who purchased this edition) could have their name put in the album book/poster. But the following album release was disastrous! Tinashe’s third album, Joyride seemed to have been a flop, and with good reason. Not only had the chill sound that brought fans over change, but there was a HUGE delay in the album’s release, which caused her to release Nightride as her sophomore album instead. For those who’ve gotten confused, here’s the breakdown:

1. Aquarius released in 2014

2. Nightride released in 2016 (in place of Joyride, thanks to the label)

3.) Joyride released in 2018 (years later, with half of the songs already heard her fans)

Because of this, if you’d gone to the Joyride tour (which of course, I did), then you’d essentially heard half of the tracks years early, as she exclusively performed them. Tinashe herself said that RCA constantly delayed her album release, so that they could better focus and market newcomer, Zayn Malik’s album instead.

If you thought that was bad enough, don’t worry, it gets worse. Just recently, Tinashe was set to release a fourth album, Nashe, or so she thought. RCA put a quick halt to that project no sooner had she released tracks, Like I Used to and Throw a Fit . It’s like they don’t want her to be great, or at least, not too great. Keep in mind, this is the very same label that houses Chris Brown, Childish Gambino, SZA, Justin Timberlake, and many more, leaving the likes of Tinashe, Bryson Tiller, and a few more artists without much shine, recording time, or marketing. It’s all very reminiscent of the TLC 360 deal. On that note, all we can hope is that her contract comes to a close soon, so that she can get back to making the music that captures the hearts and ears of many.

MOOOre Than Meets the Eye!

If you’re someone who keeps up with social media, and like most people, you don’t live underneath a rock (no offense, Patrick Star), then chances are you’ve heard the famous lyrics, “Bitch I’m a cow, Bitch I’m a cow. I’m not a cat, I don’t say meow”. Catchy, right? This fun song instantly went viral, within mere minutes. The song was so catchy in fact, that multiple unknown artists remixed it and placed it on Spotify before the actual artist could! With a song as trivial as Mooo, people started to question who the artist, (Doja Cat) actually was, and what she had to offer, while others wrote her off as a viral sensation.

Anyone who knows anything about Doja Cat knows that she has much mooore to offer than her recent viral hit. Doja Cat, known for her song So High, has been on the music scene for a while now, with many other musical accomplishments. The 22 year old, California native recently released her sophomore album in March with RCA Records.

When interviewed about the popularity of Mooo, Doja admittedly said that she never expected it to be such a BIG deal. “I was just trolling, out of boredom, and then the memes were everywhere.” If this is the offspring of boredom, then I wish many more hours of boredom upon this budding star. The video’s release couldn’t have come at a better time: right before her announcement of a 2018 tour! From what’s been seen so far, tickets are going pretty fast, and with good reason. Diehard fans who’ve been supporting Doja since her SoundCloud days were no doubt the biggest reason for the tour’s high demand, but let’s not forget the new bandwagon fans, whose contribution and Mooo’s can be heard nationwide!

On that note, if you haven’t checked her albums, Purrr! and Amala out, then really, what are you doing with your life? You’re sitting on your couch, and your life is just passing you by (for my people old enough to remember those Everest College commercials). Seriously though, if you’re into the indie r&b/neosoul vibe, give the albums a listen.

Worth the Listen!

One thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain. — Bob Marley

In a world full of mumble rappers, there still are amazing artists actually worth listening to. You just have to know where to start. For those of you who think today’s music is falling off, you might want to take the time to reconsider, and check these artists out:

1. Earthgang

2. J.I.D.

3. Duckworth

4. Smino

5. Saba

6. Boogie

7. SiR

8. GoldLink

9. Kyle Dion

10. Masego

11. Elhae 

12. MikexAngel

13. The Internet

14. Kevin Ross

15. Kali Uchis

16. Ravyn Lanae

17. Ruth B.

18. Jorja Smith

19. Isaiah Rashad

20. Ella Mai 

21. Trevor Jackson

22. Topaz Jones 

23. Noname

24. KWAYE

25. Doja Cat

26. Raveena 

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