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[FEATURE] Dear Urban Immigrant Merchants: “An Open Letter by DJ Layne Luv”

Dear Urban Immigrant Merchants:

First of all let me start off by saying Congratulations! According to favorable statistics, you have overcome many obstacles to make it to the free world that they call the United States of America. Indeed there is great suffering all over this globe, so there is no telling what you and your family may have had to go through to establish residency in the US of A whether permanent or temporary. And of all things, you have not only made it to the land of opportunity, you have chosen what some may call the most riskiest of occupations. You have chosen to open a business in the urban community to sell your product and services to African Americans.

I commend you on your enterprising spirit, that you have carved a profitable way to provide for you and your family. However, your stereotypical behavior toward African Americans is where the relationship gets a little tricky. I need you to understand that the money you receive from urban neighborhoods is what causes your business to thrive. And before any particular ethnic group takes offense to this letter, let it be clear that I am addressing ALL urban immigrant merchants. Asian, African, Middle Eastern, Indian, Caribbean, and even including our Latin brothers and sisters and any other possible ethnic groups I left out. If you have opened your business doors to the public and you are accepting African American dollars, there are some things that need to be put On The Table. (pun intended)

While my views may not speak for the entire African American community, I know a lot of them share my sentiment. The grievance I have with you is the way we are sometimes treated by your culture. As if your relationship with us is only transactional. Yes we are aware, African American culture is THE highest consuming culture in the world. However, it has even been rumored by a few of YOUR brothers and sisters and told directly to me that, most times your culture is debriefed before you set up shop in the neighborhood (“hood”) that African Americans are rude, obnoxious, lazy people that don’t care about anything but making babies, looking good and getting high. You are told that by no means should you trust us. That if you turn your back AA’s will rob you blind. Not to mention, media portrayal, rap videos and hood movies don’t aid to dispel this belief. Sometimes you are even correct in your assumptions & belief in the ignorance that comes from people of the ghetto. However you take that “ghetto” money to put your children through private school and college. You use that “ghetto” money to establish living quarters and purchase property for as much family that you can bring to this country. You also use that “ghetto” money to send back to support your family in your home country.

I know I know! Shame on us for not opening up our own convenience store 30 plus years ago. Shame on us for not owning and controlling our own hair supply stores. Luckily we’ve started to in-house nail-techs in beauty salons and we still for the most part control that and barbershops, but shame on us yet and still because we don’t own the building which means money is still flowing out to other cultures hands.

Yet after you’ve made a living from the community you snub your nose at….this is a true story I witnessed. 3 African American children come into the convenience store. I was in the store with my two friends. We were getting keys made because we just inked a deal to merge three businesses…I digress. Anyway, the owner (Indian decent) yells at the children. “One at a time! Only one child in my store at a time! Only one can go and get what you need, you other two have to stand by the door so that I can keep my eyes on all of you” (I swear I can’t make this shit up) The owner then turns to us three gentleman and says to us “I know they are going to steal” and proceeded to give the nod of approval like we were going to agree with this racial discrimination. I got so pissed I left my friends at the counter saying “I don’t have time for his bullshit today.”

In the past three years I’ve seen immigrant merchants call the police on people that regularly patronize your store. One case in particular is the case of Eric Garner from Staten Island NY that lost his life for allegedly selling “loosies” in front of the convenience store. But this last case right here in my hometown of Columbus Ohio took the cake for me. The brutal beating of Timothy Davis in a Columbus Ohio convenience store was appalling. Even after all the video and articles I’ve read, I’m still not educated to speak thoroughly about this case. But what I did witness was either the owner or storekeeper looking on as if Mr. Davis deserved the punishment he was receiving by Columbus Police. The storekeeper even went as far as trying to aid the police cover up their horrendous behavior by telling the bystander to turn off the phone camera. The owner continues to look on as Mr. Davis’s clothes is being stripped from his body and being beaten mercilessly. It is obvious that the owner does not care that this is someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s nephew, someone’s cousin. All you see is a man that is not profitable to you so you don’t care what happens to him.

I remember in 1993 how accurate it was to see these stereotypes being played out on the big screen in Menace II Society. At the very beginning of that movie, the store owner and his wife suspiciously and overtly monitor Kane & O-Dog’s every move. The store owner and his wife are robbed and killed by O-Dog (Lorenz Tate) for his offensive remark “I feel sorry for your mother.” The movie resonated with me because I too have been followed around a corner store. I have been spoken rudely to by an immigrant merchant simply because I wanted to return an item. Needless to say, I never stepped foot in those places again.

I’m writing this letter hoping it will spark a change on both sides. You have to understand Mr. or Mrs. immigrant merchant, the government plays a large part in ”ghetto” behavior. Yes! I too have seen plenty of ignorant shit happen in your stores. Half of the shit I wouldn’t put up with as an owner. But there is a story behind the story in regards to ghetto behavior. A number of urban African Americans live in places called the “projects” which is sometimes what it is..an animalistic “project” filled with rapists, drug dealers and killers. But you have to understand GOOD people are being raised in those same projects and they are annoyed by the same element you are annoyed by. As Tupac Shakur says…”The same thing you fear…We fear..except we live next door to the killer” I also feel that some urban people are the product of poor public education and ill indoctrination. One would even have to consider surviving continual trauma can bring about the high rate of mental illness in the hood. However humanism still has to come into play at some point. You must realize you are making a living off of PEOPLE and that deserves and ounce of respect. Don’t judge people from the ghetto. They’ve been through a lot, and survival is sometimes the only thing they know how to do. I’m not saying to be a sucker. What I’m encouraging is for you to show some compassion. Show some empathy.

Because the scary part is that African Americans are waking up. We now know that if we can be President of The United States scandal free…We can do anything we want…including put you out of business and do for ourselves. No obstacle is too great that we can’t network with import and export companies and demand that companies respect the needs of our community and treat us with the respect we deserve. We know that we are America’s biggest consumers, and it’s time we got a piece of that pie (Thank you Jay-Z 4:44) . …and by the way..we’re not asking anymore, we’re just doing it (Word 2 Nike). We may not be able to control the economy as a whole, but bit by bit, we can put people in office and hold them accountable for the promises they made to the African American community. Look around you, a new black business is opening up everyday. And a lot of it is not only because of conventional lending but through creative financing as well. And if we start opening up beauty supply stores or successful carryouts right next to yours, where do you think we’re going to spend our money? A merchant that allows us to get beat by wicked police, and speaks to us rudely? Or someone that knows the plight of being black in America and treats us with love & respect? Think About It…..

Sincerely,

A person that has had enough of the bullshit.

@DJLAYNELUV

@StraightOfficialMag

@FleetDJs

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[FEATURE] R Kelly: Every Rose Has It’s Thorn by: DJ Layne Luv

The year was 2002, and with the highly anticipated Trackmasters produced album of The Best Of Both Worlds…R Kelly was set to release a historic album that would forever solidify the marriage between Hip-Hop and Rhythm & Blues. I mean how could he go wrong? This was Mr. I Believe I Can Fly! This was Mr. Your Body’s Calling Me! And after all these number one songs and albums, the stage was set to blaze the world by collaborating with the equally talented, un-paralled, Grammy Award winning Jay-Z.  But then, all of the sudden, anything that could go wrong…did. I do have to give a big shout out to the internet, because the world didn’t have social media at the time but, the news of R Kelly urinating on an alleged 14 year old little girl had the world wide web buzzing…and not in a good way. Soon, the DVD boosters got in on the controversy and all of the sudden, the R Kelly sex tape was being sold in every barber shop, beauty shop, gas station and flea market across urban America. The Best of Both Worlds album was projected to sell 10 million copies, but with the grotesque scandal looming as a black cloud, although the album went platinum, the would be historic album lost it’s appeal.

Soon after, and one by one the music industry began to distance themselves from the alleged child rapist. Jay Z’s star was continuing to rise, so therefore he could not do a video nor tour to promote the collabo album. But one that loves music can’t deny the club bangers the project possessed. Therefore, BOBW became a cult classic for the fans of both artists. Still, it couldn’t stop the world from asking the obvious question…Would R Kelly’s career be finished behind this madness?

Like the great Harry Houdini, R Kelly’s legal defense prepared the case as if it was not the artist in the sex video and the expected to be convicted R&B crooner got off scott free. But as the song says in Bob Marley’s  “Get Up Stand Up” you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all of the time. The world just watched for the 2nd time (cue Orenthal James Simpson the first) a man get away with a serious crime simply because of how talented he was, and because he had the money to afford top-notch sufficient legal aid. Robert Kelly got off, and a lot of people hated it, but still no one could deny his incredible talent. The urban community did not want to forgive R Kelly, but his next music project changed everyone’s mind.

February 18th 2003 R Kelly released The Chocolate Factory. Music critics tried everything they could not to like this album. In my opinion the album was ok, but two remixes from The Chocolate Factory saved R Kelly’s career the first time. Those records were Step In The Name Of Love (Remix) and Ignition (Remix). It’s really hard to hate a man that has created mandatory songs played at weddings and family gatherings. R Kelly cashed in on his success with Step and followed up with an album entitled Happy People/U Saved Me in which the world felt his sorriness, and thus the double album became R Kelly’s redemption.

The Chicago native became the blueprint for how-to-handle-your-scandal in the entertainment world. The plan is simple. Work really hard, create unforgettable moments, and deny everything until everyone forgets. If you don’t believe me…just ask Kobe Bryant and Chris Brown. 

I’ve always felt in my heart, people don’t catch criminals…criminals get caught. Why? Because exoneration breeds arrogance. Soon after the case dismissal and being put back into radio rotation,  urbanites witnessed R Kelly back in the videos with numerous women, but this time wearing a mask and calling himself the Pied Piper of R&B. This was almost a scoff to everyone’s intelligence including mine. Because no matter what we saw on that alleged sex tape, R Kelly was back in our good graces. But this time, he could get away with being bold and brandish, because now it was a play on the public’s psyche. If we as a people forgave him for what was obvious, we had to accept him for who he was at that point. Remember this is a man that married America’s sweetheart Aaliyah at the tender age of 15. and it was swept under the rug as if it never happened.

Though the interviews that followed throughout the years, especially the infamous interview with Toure’ the world had to accept Robert Kelly’s pedophilic ways. But just like the drunk uncle or the crackhead cousin in your family…you love them, but you just keep your eyes on them. I mean there were a number of attempts to shelve this man’s music…but we just couldn’t deny his talent and the songs that will be forever a part of urban fabric.

Until….Today.

As I was listening to The Breakfast Club with my 15 year old step-child on the way to the dentist, we heard the recording of Jerhonda Pace tell the story of being in R Kelly’s sex cult. She exposed his manipulative games and tactics to keep the little girls head in a fog. But when it came out that he was beating the child, all bets were off. I had to turn off the radio simply because I was tearing up.

Now I know in this world of entertainment people are paid to say things. Entertainers are hunted daily simply because of the resources they have. One person can create an all out witch-hunt as in the rapes cases concerning William Cosby. So I try to be objective when writing my blogs. However, I heard the conviction in the young lady’s voice and I know how manipulators can be, in my mind, I started to sound like my grandmother… “If more than three people are telling me the same consistent story…everybody ain’t lying Delayne!” lol. So even if there is a lot of spin to the story, I believe there is some truth to what she is saying and as stated earlier, Mr. Kelly has already admitted to the world that he loves underage girls.

It’s gotten to the point that everytime another woman comes forward about Mr. Kelly, it’s not even breaking news. It is no longer a distraction from world news. We in the urban community just simply say “Oh another one” But when will it stop? When are we really going to hold Robert Kelly accountable for his actions? Is it the degree of separation because it’s not one of our children? No matter how talented he is, R Kelly has a serious problem. My worry is that if it continues to go unchecked, he will set the tone for other gifted, talented and rich entertainers to follow in his footsteps.

As Tupac Shakur says in “Keep your Head Up” It’s time to heal our women, be real to our women. Seriously, if Mr. R. Kelly was not the King Of R&B…somebody would be trying to beat his ass for what he’s been able to get away with. It’s time to hold Robert Kelly to the flame, even if that means as a DJ, as urging as it would be to play Step In The Name Of Love at a wedding, just standing on that alone would take a stand that the crooners behavior is unacceptable and we in the entertainment industry have had enough of Mr. Kelly’s shenanigans.

It’s time to take the “Mask Off” Word 2 Future. 

LOS ANGELES – FEBRUARY 8: Singer R. Kelly arrives at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center on February 8, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

 

(The views and opinions of this article are solely those of DJ Layne Luv aka Delayne Whiteside as an independent blogger and do not reflect that of Straight Official Magazine)

@DJLAYNELUV

@UptownWeekly

@StraightOfficialMag

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Life Expectancy: Money, Health & Hip Hop by DJ Layne Luv

How Can We Make A Healthy Lifestyle Cool In Hip Hop? 

In the United States, being a young & black guarantees a person born under those circumstances a significant amount of obstacle & struggle. Not only is the African American still inferior economically, the race’s environment has a high percentage of being subject to, poor diet, questionable healthcare (which means they can’t afford adequate treatment for disease), and violence (whether it be amongst each other or by the hands of law enforcement). Even in a time where the life expectance for the average human is 75, throughout time, a lower number has always been the case for the African American male. This is because the African American race has always had to survive under the most stressful conditions dating back to slavery. But my question is, why isn’t health and money for healthcare brought up more in the Hip-Hop community? How Can We Make A Healthy Lifestyle Cool In Hip Hop? Is it because it doesn’t weigh in on the “cool” factors to talk about? Is it because dying or the threat thereof  has become the ultimate badge of honor? Why are we still having to do fundraisers and benefits for disease treatment and funerals? What financial plans are in place for rappers, DJ’s and B-Boys when they get sick or expire?

These are tough questions, however most of these issues could be solved with the proper funding and education around the matter of Hip-Hop and Health. We just recently lost Prodigy of Mobb Deep who battled sickle cell all his life. Sean Price of the group Heltah Skeltah passed away in his sleep in 2015. Heavy D died from a blood clot in his lung but it was later found out he did in fact have heart disease. Big Pun actually died of cardiac arrest.

I’m from Columbus Ohio, so even though this is a national publication, I want to honor an iconic rapper from my city who was special to us in the #614 and recently passed away… Sheron “Neswordz” Colbert  #RIH

Now let’s stop for a second, because I don’t want to get into the rappers that died at the hands of violence because that’s not where I’m going with this blog.

This is my point:

Hip Hop will be 44 years old this year. This means that the pioneers of Hip Hop are either senior citizens or on their way to being senior citizens. This means (God forbid) we may be losing a lot more Hip Hop icons in the “hopefully” distant future. But I’m noticing the mortality rate decreasing in age within the culture and I wanted to bring awareness to it in this blog.

One thing I loved about our last presidential administration, Big Up Obamas!, is that the Hip Hop community put them in office and President Barack and First Lady Michelle made it their business to bring awareness to healthcare and education directly to the minority in America.

How Can We Make A Healthy Lifestyle Cool In Hip Hop? 

How can we make LIVING cool in Hip Hop? How do we celebrate Life instead of Death? And most important, how do we put Financial well-being and Health together in this culture?

It definitely takes money and good decisions to be healthy. And maybe that’s why a healthy lifestyle isn’t cool to most young adults. Because Hip Hop from the beginning was all about taking the risk. Living on the edge. The new Rock N Roll. While Jay Z’s new 4:44 album is a great album to raise consciousness, the radio still bellows “Percocet, Molly Percocet” in regular rotation. Twerking videos and Drug money to the ear still resonates among adolescence. I get it! A safe lifestyle is a boring lifestyle. But yet, after the facade is lifted, and something tragic happens, all of the sudden we see that the rapper with money to the ear doesn’t really have sustainable income to treat the calamity.

Here’s this…The hardbody has always been the thing in Hip Hop, but what you don’t realize is Will Smith, LL Cool J, 50 Cent, Fantasia and Ashanti live very healthy lifestyles. They don’t engage in Marijuana, Alcohol or any other recreational drugs. Rumor has it that rapper Future…lol….doesn’t drink Lean or pop pills…but he advertises it to the youth in his music. So from that standpoint, what’s being fed to the public may appear to be a cooler lifestyle, trust me, eating right and adding exercise to your lifestyle will increase your chances of living a long and productive life.

Am I the old head in the room? Probably. But that doesn’t mean I can’t put this On The Table (Pun Intended) If you are one those people that just so happens to want to pursue or are pursuing a career in Hip Hop. Please take your health seriously. Black N Milds look cool until you get lung cancer. Sleeping with Twerk video models are cool until you get HIV. Living reckless with a bunch of beefs looks cool until we have to bury you and someone has to pick up those expenses. Live for today but plan like you will live tomorrow. Put a financial plan in place so that if anything does happen, you have your family taken care of.

It’s a new day! Taking care of yourself and your family is the “New Gangsta”

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@DJLAYNELUV

@UptownWeekly

@FleetDJs

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[SPORTS] Jordan Horston: Livin’ My Life Like It’s Golden By DJ Layne Luv

It’s one thing to represent your neighborhood, it’s also one thing to rep your city and even representing your state is remarkable, but representing your country on a world stage is nothing short of extraordinary. Ladies and Gentleman, meet Jordan Horston the 6’1 16 year old from Columbus Ohio currently attending Columbus Afrocentric Early College playing at point guard for The Lady Nubians and well on her way to becoming a basketball phenomenon. Horston left CMH for Buenos Aires Argentina June 7th and came back to Columbus a gold medalist competing in the 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.

Whoever said “Don’t believe your own press” was not talking about Horston. You can look at her and tell she is not here for the hype but for the sheer love of the game. When asked how she is dealing with all the press she replied “I like it, but that’s not my focus. I actually deleted all of my apps because I knew all the attention I was getting. Once my goals were accomplished, I slowly started adding the apps back on my phone, but that was only to thank the supporters and fans for wishing me well.” Most of the people in her circle say that Jordan is the most humble person they know, you wouldn’t even know she is as great as she is by the way she carries herself. “Just a fun-loving and down-to-earth kid” her aunt Sabrina Whitney says.

As I recall, I met Jordan about 6 years ago and I don’t ever remember a ball not being in her hand at some point of the day. I’m also friends with her mother Malika Horston on Facebook and there was not a week that would go by that you wouldn’t see the proud mother videoing her daughter in their family driveway playing a pick-up game with her sibling Jazmin or even tougher competition with her father Leigh Horston. And in true father form, you would witness Leigh making the 11 year old work for all her buckets.

Leigh has been accredited for Jordan’s work ethic, coaching her since she was a small child. However, word is Malika Horston is the true task master when it comes to Jordan’s will to win. When asked by Malika’s friends how Mrs. Horston was as a sideline parent… they replied “Yeah you would hear it from Malika if Jordan did not put 110% in a game hahaha” Jordan says “It’s truly my family that keeps me grounded.”

The Lady Nubians themselves have a knack for winning. They’ve made many appearances at Value City Arena for the OHSAA Girls Basketball Tournament. I caught up with Head Coach William Mckinney to find out what their formula was. He stated “The Lady Nubians started out as a blue collar team. We go above and beyond to outwork everybody. We bring a high level of high energy every game. Everyone is held accountable to do their job. 

Jordan says her experience in Argentina was unforgettable. She states “The hardest part was getting over the nerves. Observing other countries, you could tell they spent a great deal of time and effort working on their skill. So from that point you have to determine you are the better team and that you deserve to be there. Surprisingly, The USA team gelled together pretty quickly as a family by looking out for one another, which in turn really helped win us the championship”….”No matter what stage you’re on….It’s just basketball at the end of the day”

Jordan says going into the 2017-2018 school year, she’s willing to step up as a leader and face the scrutiny of being put in the spotlight. She says “Of course, when you’re playing at this level, people are going to play you harder because they have something to prove. But while they’re resting, I’m working. I know what’s ahead of me so I just try my best to prepare myself mentally and physically.”

Expect great things from this future Lisa Leslie (By the way, rumor has is Jordan can dunk a basketball) Follow her on ESPN and USA Olympic Team websites. Jordan was one of two people from Ohio representing the American team. And we expect many more accolades to come from this awesome young lady. Let it be known….Columbus Ohio is #TEAMJORDAN

@LadyLynn22_

@DJLAYNELUV

@StraightOfficialMag

@UptownWeekly

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One Mans Art….A conversation with Louis Picasso by @DJLayneLuv

When your 20 year old daughter tells you “Daddy you have to listen to this artist….” with all of her enthusiasm, you have no choice but to drop everything and give her your undivided attention. The back story is that she was attending a listening party and she got there extremely early to find a young man setting up stage and lighting. As she engaged in conversation with the young man she became intrigued by his views and outlook on certain things. They ended their small talk without any exchange of names. She gradually attended the party to the progression of the featured artist for the evening. As they introduce the featured artist, she then made the connection with the moment of clarity. Louis Picasso was the gentleman from earlier setting up his own show. She was even more impressed with the quality of his music.

Come to find out, he’s well known in Ypsilanti Michigan and has a commendable following. With his latest single Gold, he’s booked for a few dates across the country including some dates in California.

It is one thing to know a person by their art…but to get to know the authentic person behind the art is something totally different altogether. When I speak to masterful musicians, I am so amazed by their humility and dedication to their craft. This conversation gave me hope for my daughters generation. So much is lost in translation based on age differences that when two people put aside those prejudices, they find they have a lot more in common than not. Speaking to this young man made it refreshing that he is in my daughters circle. And Oh! did I forget to mention she is helping with his artist management now?

Ladies and gentleman… Louis Picasso

OTT: I’m always interested in the inner workings of an independent artists journey considering I’m one myself. So tell us how did you get into music?

LP: As with a lot of musicians, my entire family is involved with music. Everybody sings, everybody plays and instrument, so I was kind of born into it. However, I didn’t start writing music until about 2008. It was like another way to express myself verses being out here doing a lot of wrong, music was my sole outlet.  Then about 2013 I started to take it more serious.  I started learning about music theory and the history of music and different genres of music I wasn’t listening to before…so that’s how it started.

OTT: Because there are limited paths to success in the music business today, I see you’ve taken the approach of a Lamar, Cole, or even names like Lupe and Badass. What brought about your eclectic sound?

LP: My approach to the music always zoned in on lyricism vs the beat which is not the approach most people take. The majority are moved by the beat or the flow. I took a liking to B.I.G. because of his wordplay. Biggie was the first album that I went through and fully dissected and I got that from my dad when I was in middle school. And I just admitted I was feeling my dad’s music so please forgive that crime. (It’s human nature to rebel against your parents music LOL) Yeah but I was really feeling how Biggie put a song together and from listening to more rappers like him and Nas, I noticed how they put different feelings and emotion into their stories. Because you see… when you’re creating, you really don’t know how it’s gonna come out, but through their influence, I learned how to trust my feelings and expression.

OTT: Tell us about your evolution as an artist and finding your own voice.

LP: Well it’s like you said up until 2008, my interpretation of music was from everything that I listened to prior, so in that, there is a lot of mimicking and trying different styles. It took a lot of changing man because you have to be true to yourself and your art, but you also have to produce something your audience will love and appreciate.

OTT: Great transition! Without giving away your business secrets lol, how did you develop your respectable following?

LP: Weeelll…hahaha, I was tired of being told no when it came to my vision. Necessity is the mother of creation and invention so I was forced to think outside the box when it came to my marketing and building relationships. I remember wanting to rock at certain shows and being told no. I remember wanting to record in certain studios and being declined. I got fed up and started doing it on my own. You have to have faith behind your ideas and your craft. Because if you don’t, you’re going to get discouraged and eventually give up. You can put tens of thousands of dollars into your project but without faith you don’t have much. This is why you have the Missy’s and Pharell Williams and Timbalands that are masters at what they do because they took the time to learn everything on their own and they were hungry for that knowledge despite the roadblocks.

The last show I got told no to, it left a bad taste in my mouth so I created what is called a Pop-Up show at Third Rail. That was my very first show and it sold out the first week based on how we promoted it and previewed it. Well before the show, people were impressed with our presentation which made them interested. That’s a key right there. Your presentation has to be so appealing that it makes people want to check it out. The buzz was so real that I just took that formula and applied it to every single show.  I put my all into and keep my faith in tact.

OTT: Being that you are from Michigan, what is your take on the house that J Dilla built and his contribution to your home state and just music itself?

LP: The first time I heard about Dilla was around 2008 and a producer friend of mind  let me listen to him and it took a while to get into my system because I wasn’t really into that boom-bap soulistic style. But one thing about music is you have to open your soul up to it in order to receive it and once I did, I really see the time and effort he took to learn music and develop his sound and it made a huge impression on me.

OTT: Let’s talk about your project now…what is GOLD?

LP: Gold….. I want to describe it as an opportunity. With this project I want Gold to pertain to worth as in worth of self not so much materialistic . I dropped Gold around April 1. I wanted to get a bunch of creators around the area and like put together an orchestra that would display to the audience the worth of these independent artist in the area. That is what I wanted to display on Gold and then again my entire album.

OTT: Lastly, where can old and new fans purchase your music?

LP: Apple Music man, they can purchase the single on iTunes and mostly all of your favorite other steaming companies. Please get the word out and it is definitely appreciated. They can see my videos on YouTube under Louis Picasso and they can follow me on Instagram under @LouisPicasso. Thank you for having me fam.

OTT: We appreciate you as well. Best wishes on all of your music endeavors.

@DJLAYNELUV

@StraightOfficialMag

@FleetDJs

 

 

 

 

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[INTERVIEW] “On The Table” w/ Darrio Lamont by @DJLayneLuv

When it comes to artistry, one can only hope for the evolution to mastery and excellence. So when it comes to life, people go through different phases, but it all becomes necessary for growth. Through the past four years, I’ve witnessed Darrio Lamont from Cleveland Ohio go from a major #TurnUp king to a mogul minded business man. However, that level of maturity doesn’t come without a price. There are sacrifices that have to be made to reach a certain level of success and Darrio has paid his dues.

This upcoming week, Sunday May 21st, Darrio will be providing his loyal fan base an intimate private party entitled Ultra Experience brought to you by The Magna Media Group. The setup reminds me of the movie Death of a Dynasty. The location is not disclosed to the public and the only way you can get in is by special invite and RSVP. Yeah… some real Eyes Wide Shut type shit.

Darrio belongs to a part of a super group conglomerate of smart guys and gals that have adapted to the new age of marketing music. The Magna Media Group is not waiting for a label or distribution company to cut-the-check. They survive off of the relationships they build and the consistency in the quality of their art.

It was an honor and privilege to be given and invite as a tastemaker and a respected writer in the Ohio Hip Hop community. Days later I received a DM from the artist himself letting me know my presence would be greatly appreciated and if I had a chance to listen to some of the exclusives sent my way. It only made sense to have Mr. King Fresh aka Darrio Lamont as my special guest this week.

Ladies and Gentleman….Darrio Lamont

OTT: So when I met you a few years back you went by the name of King Fresh but lately all I see is the promotion of Darrio Lamont? How did the name switch come about?

DL: Well short and simple, Darrio is the name my mama gave me…..I mean she also named me Fresh too but even that term “fresh” comes with stipulations. People that have taken on the name Fresh may not necessarily be living up to what that name entails especially in the Hip Hop community. So to be true to myself, I wanted to be more transparent in my music so why not go with a name that associates me to the people that know me best. I chose Darrio Lamont.

OTT: ….I’m glad you mentioned that because the song with Super Nat “Mean Much” is much different than “Downfall” what brought about the evolution from “Turn Up” to substance? Did your name change have anything to do with that?

DL: ….well if you think about music in general, it’s just a moment in time Layne, and who are you to tell me I can’t grow? Not you personally but you know what I mean. We tend to box people in when it comes to this music based on what pop culture thinks or corporate America dictates. So that’s who I was then, and people tend to label that, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but understand I’m giving you a snapshot of my life as it unfolds. Use that to see what it took to get me from that to this. I just want people to appreciate my entire body of work and we’ll just keep adding parts and pieces as we go.

When I was in the Luxury League, I was promoting a lot. I was always in the club, and I had an all female promotion team. Shout out to my homegirl Louise. (Ladies Of Luxury) It was something we put together and we was getting money from those particular ventures. So naturally that lifestyle influenced the music and what we were about at the time. Magna is an elevation of that lifestyle.

By being Darrio Lamont, I can be more personal. And if the lack of authenticity is anywhere in the art, I’ll scrap it or I just won’t do it. I’ve been doing this for too long man. I’m trying to supply a need, so at a certain time, my listener does not need to hear about a beef I have with someone and I have to be in tune with that. At the same time I don’t need to make a Black Lives Matter song just because it’s the popular thing to do. If it doesn’t come natural I don’t do it.

OTT: For those that follow you on social media we’re seeing you in photos with Maybach’s, Phantom’s (Bentley Coup) and some really nice luxury vehicles…now I know what it’s about, but please explain for my audience the meaning of these photos.

DL: Haha yes we definitely live in an age of “Fake it Til You Make It” but my photos are for motivational purposes. No I do not own those vehicles but the people in my crew do. Everyday it’s motivation of something I can attain because I can see it, I can touch it, so it’s real to me. I’m not showing you what I think I saw. Yes that’s me in front of Phantom. Those vehicles are made of the same stuff everyday cars are made of….but those cars are symbols of levels…..

OTT: Whoa!!!! Nuff said….What is Magna Media?

DL: Magna Media is a management company. We’re not a record label and that’s what a lot of people don’t understand. This is why our organization doesn’t have a “sound” but we do have a creed and work ethic we live by. Each client has a different set of needs and we cater to those needs. We build our brand by the relationships we maintain and water. We survive off those relationships. That’s why we can excel and be on the cover of Columbus Alive back to back. 

Without giving away too much, this is just who I am. When it comes to building a relationship, I can do five things for you such as help with the marketing, make sure the artwork for your flyers is dope, get you hooked up with radio connections, book 2 or 3 shows for you and still blast you on social media. So even if I ask you to do one thing for me…it’s a no brainer at that point because I have put in the work. That’s the Magna Media Brand. WE KNOW HOW TO WORK.

OTT: Damn! So quickly before you go, tell us about the Ultra Experience on May 21st.

DL: So for the people that follow me might know that in the beginning of my career, I did a lot of shows to promote my music. After a while I took a step back just to brand myself as an independent artist and let the fans grow with me as it related to the body of work I was releasing.  Ultra Experience is just saying I’ve given my listeners all kinds of Hip Hop through the years from Backpack rap, to Trap, to 90’s recreations, I given conscientiousness. I’ve given all of this that has now lead to the Ultra Experience of Darrio Lamont.

This will not be your normal “Come hear me rap” scenario. I for a change will be catering to my listeners. You are the VIP. It will be at a private undisclosed location which means you have to RSVP if you get an invite. There will be staff on hand that will give you the royal treatment such as unlimited wine and an exclusive area just for you. It is a show of appreciation which is why there is a “preferred guest” list.

So many entertainers want their audience to do everything for them, without giving them an experience to remember. We are going to provide that need.

OTT: Well I’m happy that DJ Layne Luv and Uptown Media are invited guest. Thank you for your time Darrio and I wish you much success.

@DJLAYNELUV

@DarrioLamont

@StraightOfficialMag

@UptownWeekly

@StateOfHip_Hop

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[INTERVIEW] On The Table: w/ Brooklynite Jay Mula by @DJLayneLuv

When Lil Kim yelled “Brooklyn! Home of the Greatest Rappers” on her song “Lighters Up” she had every reason to echo that chant with bravado. When your borough shows and proves with a roster like Big Daddy Kane, MC Lyte, Shawn Corey Carter better known as Jay-Z, Mos Def to Talib Kweli, Foxy Brown, Busta Rhymes and last but not least Brooklyn’s FinestThe Notorious B.I.G. you start to realize real quick that Brooklyn carries a weight of its own when it comes to Hip Hop. But that doesn’t hold any pressure on the one they call Jay Mula’s shoulder’s…..he gladly accepts the challenge to rep his borough to the fullest.

About ten years ago, Eric Sermon of EPMD predicted in an interview that Hip Hop would eventually come full circle, and rappers would be happy to go gold again, and the artists would have to go back to building a personal relationship with its audience. Well, that prophecy couldn’t be truer in the age of social media. However, Jay Mula welcomes the grind. His day may consist of going to Power 105 for a 2:30 am an interview or an afternoon in-store signing, then off to making an appearance in Miami at a who’s who party. It’s a never ending quest to stay in the public eye and keep the music relevant. All that, while still talking that “Get Money” talk.

When I caught up with the 26-year-old rapper, (same age as Jay-Z was when he blew), we had a lot to talk about in regards to the new industry eco-system and survival tactics in this current digital age we’re in. I must say, his conversation was anything but stereotypical, and his humility was refreshing and respected.

Ladies and Gentleman…..Jay Mula. 

OTT: So let’s just jump right in Jay. Pause. What’s it like for a rapper to come out of Brooklyn these days in the age of this 2nd wave of trap music? Are people more focused on the historical glory days or are they embracing Brooklyn’s new style?

JM: They’re definitely embracing the new style. To me, it’s no pressure because most of the culture realizes the greats you mentioned come from an era that will never be matched nor duplicated. However, there are gatekeepers out here that make sure the music sounds right, and we don’t sound crazy by talking reckless out here. At the same time, we keep the same theme going by having fun and picking the nicest beats to rhyme to. Music is in our blood, so it’s nothin.

OTT: Your borough has been associated with a lot of music talking about activities on the block, similar to trap music. You’ve got Young M.A., Bobby Shmurda (Hold ya head), Uncle Murda, Maino, and a number of a rappers are talkin that street talk and many of them for good reason because they are really about that life. Is that the climate in Brooklyn right now?

JM: Well let’s put it this way. When you offer a product to sell, you cater to your customers right? Well, we as block artists cater to our listeners. The messed up part about that is that for people that don’t loyally follow our movement, may only know us for one or two particulars songs, but we can have so many ways we come at this music man. We talk about love, the everyday struggle, family…..but the climate you speak of is not just a Brooklyn thing….crime is everywhere….and people like me speak on that through music. I make music for everyone, but when I step in that booth, I’m going to spit it based on how I’m feeling in the moment.

In my music I can say…..down the street, I’m cool with these crips…up the street I’m cool with these bloods, then over here…I know the credit card swipers but at the same time they just respect me for being me, and I don’t even have to have anything to do with what they are a part of. But I’ve just always been cool, went to a good school, had good people around me and in my ear guiding me, at the same time still witnessing and seeing everything.

OTT: Your music tracks sound real mature, why do you choose to rock with samples over trap beats?

JM: It’s all based on influence man. Like, I rock wit older dudes like Mr. Cheeks and other rappers that paved the way heavy, so being around guys like that, they will develop your ear that stretches beyond radio, beyond Top 40, and that’s just what comes out in the music. I don’t force it, man. Whatever flows… flows and that’s what my audience relates to. But for me personally, growing up I listened to classic groups like The Whispers, The Isley Brothers and Teddy P.…real talk that’s timeless music and a true artist draws from that.

OTT: Considering you have Puerto Rican roots, can any of that be found in your music?

JM: Yeah man, I mean Brooklyn is a melting pot, so on our block, you will hear Salsa, Merengue, Reggae and Reggaeton and it finds it’s way into our music somehow. Outside of New York people are amazed by it, but to us…it’s just something we do. Anybody that’s been to a Brooklyn block party knows what I’m talking about.

OTT: Do you have any new projects out?

JM: Right now I’m working on a project called Rockaway Ave. Because that’s where I’m from. Not to be confused with Rockaway Queens, it’s Rockaway Ave in Brooklyn. 11233 is what I rep. I got a number of artists that showed me love on this project. My LB fam no doubt Uncle Murda, Murda Mook, and Ron Brows is on it so I’m sure that people will definitely feel it. There’s no release date yet so have your people continue to follow me for the singles. And once it comes out, I just need y’all to push it real heavy.

OTT: Where can people follow your success?

JM: They can catch me on dat gram at @IamJayMula for all the latest thing going on with me. I’ll tell em where to go to download my mixtapes. A lot of dem joints are on Datpiff.com I really appreciate the platform Layne and give me your info, and I’ll send you these joints as well. Tell ya people to go on Youtube under Jay Mula to check out all my interviews and video too. Muuuuuula!

@DJLAYNELUV

@IamJayMula

@StraightOfficialMag

@StateOfHip_Hop

@UptownWeekly

 

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614 Radio Legend: Kevin “The Man About” Townes by DJ Layne Luv

Blogger Sidenote: This is a very special blog post for me because, most people think my musical passion lies solely in DJing. While this is true, however, most that know me, know that I have a white-heat adoration for the occupation of radio & broadcasting.  To provide a bigger fun fact, although my followers know that Tom “The Fly Jock” Joyner is my current radio idol, my aspirations of wanting to be a disc jockey started with a gentleman by the name of Walt “Baby” Love and his show entitled “The Countdown”. I used to sit and listen to him every Sunday by the window seal.

Now I don’t know where you might be from, but but back in day in Columbus Ohio, if you were a radio disc jockey, you were THE hometown celebrity to be. You were “The Man” or Woman, and had much “juice” in my city. Names like Kirk Bishop, Eddie Saunders, The Nassau Daddy himself Bill Moss (CapSoul Records), Les Brown, Mike Reeves, KC Jones, and Mel Griffin ring bells in the city of Columbus to this very day. Unfortunately I can’t name a lot of female jocks because as James Brown put it best…it was a “Man’s World” back then. When acts would come to town like The Whispers, The Temptations, The Bar Kays, and The Commodores the jocks would get as much attention from the ladies as the headlining acts.

This leads me to the gentleman we’re spotlighting in this blog. I came to know this guy about three years ago. He would always support my internet broadcast as if he had a vested interest to see me win. Eventually I just bonded with his spirit. Shortly after, I was able to witness him in action doing an internet show on Jamz.com. But this is not just a story about one man’s journey in radio…this is a story about a man’s fight for his life, for his legacy to be remembered, and to let the world know that Kevin Flemister aka Kevin Townes cares about the City Of Columbus, it’s rich history, and the business of entertainment.

Kevin Townes grew up in the Lincoln Projects on the Southside of Columbus. He is a graduate of South High School Class of  1984. During his teenage years, he became heavily influenced by the live broadcasts hosted by hometown legend Kirk Bishop at the Eastside skating rink. Through methodical planning, Kevin and some of his friends decided they would host a replica skate parties in their community recreation center (Barack). The venture proved to be more successful than the gentlemen thought. People from all over the city were coming to the recreation center to attend the skate parties. That provided the push for Kevin to dream about becoming an on-air disc jockey.

Nothing short of a Howard Stern movie….Kevin went on to attend Ohio University. During his freshman year, Townes got a job on the South Green Campus at the college radio station called WSGR. Townes moniker at that time was Kool DJ Kev! The thrill for Kevin was short lived after he grew bored of his responsibilities at the WSGR. To Townes, he felt like he could do more and wanted to do more with his career. After a year and a half of frustration Kevin dropped out of college altogether.

Following his instinct, he returned to Columbus and an old friend by the name of Frank Kelly was starting up an independent community hip hop radio station called CTNT. But what gave the station it’s claim to fame was, while other stations would only play top 100 R&B and safe hip hop…. CTNT was playing rap records like LL Cool J Rock The Bells, UTFO Roxanne Roxanne, and Run DMC Rockbox. “And we weren’t just playing the singles…we were playing the album cuts too!” said Townes. Anybody from that era knows that you could only get that station through a cable receiver, however, tapes of the mix shows were in high circulation and duplication around the city.

In 1987, Townes went from CTNT to the Columbus Hip Hop infamous Z103 (Sunday Night At The Raps). Through diligence and loyalty, the program director took a liking to Flemister. Once a spot opened up, Kevin was asked to do live overnights. While Kevin was working, he noticed that the city looked to him to find out where all the cool places were to go, and all the events that ruled the night. The town was his, even if it was for that 4 hour brief air shift….thus the name was born…Kevin Townes. Kevin liked the freedom he had to develop himself and play the songs he wanted to play to set the tone for the city that evening. It’s so important to document that, because corporations will never allow that kind of freedom again. The reason for this, is that they don’t want the city getting too comfortable with a personality, less they get fired and don’t welcome the replacement with the same love & respect and above anything else….lose loyal listeners.

In 1990, Townes radio world came Full-circle when KC Jones asked him to come over to 1580AM WVKO to host Blue Monday. A radio tradition in Columbus established and popularized by the late great Kirk Bishop. Of course they were big shoes to fill, but Kevin did it his way and the city loved him for it.

In ’92 Kevin lands himself back at Jack Harris aka Papa Jack’s 106.3fm and the station is going through the transition because Power 106 is setting up to be ran by Bluechip Broadcasting with Frank Kelly and Warren Stevens signed on a program directors. Once Corporate got its hands on urban radio….everything changed and not for the good. The jocks were told what to play and what to say. It’s riding in a Dodge Charger with a 4 cylinder engine…what’s the point LOL? But that didn’t stop Kevin’s hustle drive. He also hosted a Hip-Hop television video show called Music Video Avenue from ’93-’96

In 1996, Kevin’s world crossed paths with a young man from Louisville Kentucky. The man from Louisville would change how Columbus Ohio would hear urban radio forever. Enter Paul Strong. On the drive to Columbus, Paul heard Kevin’s Sunday broadcast, and decided Townes had the chops he needed for his show. The deal was offered and from that point, he became the pioneer and original member to what is now known in radio history as The Power Morning Crew. After Townes stint with Power, he did other things, but that was the last time he did radio on that grand of a scale.

The Original Power Morning Crew

But the true story is where Kevin found redemption and where he really found out what he was made of as a man. In 2013, Townes was experiencing shortness of breath, dizziness, and fatigue. After a number of misdiagnosis, it was finally discovered that Kevin had a leaky heart valve and caused his health to decline tremendously. Kevin Townes could have chose to be private about his affairs, however he had the same epiphany I had when it came to social media…it was media…which meant he could use that platform to tell his story and be an encouragement to others.

Procedure after procedure Kevin would ask for the prayers of his followers right before a surgery and would always say encouraging words to his friends after overcoming each trial. As we acknowledged his fight to live, Kevin also inspired hope in other people though his videos of promoting heart health awareness and spirituality.

Kevin is no longer working in terrestrial radio. But for everything he’s been through, and continuing to go through, he remains in good spirits and when he can, whether it’s internet radio or a Facebook video, he lets you know that HE IS STILL KEVIN “YOUR MAN ABOUT” TOWNES! 

Follow him on Facebook

under: Kevin Flemister-Townes

@DJLAYNELUV

@StraightOfficialMag

@FleetDJs

@StateOfHip_Hop

@UptownWeekly

 

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Exclusive! DJ Layne Luv Chops it up with The Legendary Large Professor

When you become a journalist, you quickly come to realize that not all interviews are created equal. When I came to know the one they call Large Professor, I’m sure I stereotyped him along with the rest of the world. He didn’t look like Run DMC, Ice T or KRS-One. But he didn’t have to because before his release, The Native Tongues featuring A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, helped us to embrace difference in Hip Hop. So when we saw the intelligent hoodlum from Queens on our tv set, it made us pause to get past the Poindexter glasses to listen to what the rapper really had to say. Not to mention, with songs like “Looking At The Front Door” “Fakin The Funk” & “Live At The Bar B Que” you couldn’t deny his raw talent. Who knew that he would go on to be a fraction of the dynamic production squad that would produce THE hip-hop classic Nas’s Illmatic. Large Professor is the name you mention in certain hip hop circles when you want to impress high ranking hip-hop scholars.

While watching certain Hip Hop documentaries such as ATCQ’s Beats, Rhymes Life, Memories of Paul C McKasty & Nas’s Illmatic and a host of others, you’ll notice that they don’t get Large Professors inputs because of what he’s heard, they look to get his input because he was there. Right smack dab in the middle of The Golden Era. Right in the midst of New York’s comeback. Right in the midst of the beef between Jay and Nas. He’s always honored as being a dope lyricist and a phenomenal producer. To snag an interview with him is like a Jedi grabbing wisdom from Yoda.

Sidenote: As fate would have it, energy is real, and whether good or bad, it transfers. The day of our interview, I was not having a very good day, but I had already rescheduled the interview the day before, and there was no way I was going to stall The Legend a second day. So I set all of my recording equipment up the way I normally do and wait until Large Pro calls. As we’re going thru the interview, I’m hearing my mixer shorting. I’m sweating, and I almost break down because in all things, I love to present professionalism and I don’t want him to know something is wrong. After 6 minutes, my mixer shorts out completely and I had to go super old school and write everything out short hand. After 11 min we both agreed it was time to take what I had and make it work. Never the less it was a classic interview, and I would have even appreciated 2 minutes with The Legendary Large Professor.

OTT: First of all can I say, what a privilege it is to have an exclusive interview wit da hip hop god, but seriously I want to thank you for all you’ve done for this culture. I want to start off by talking about the love you get overseas vs. the love you get on your homeland. As I follow you on your page, I’m always seeing someone fly you out to do a show overseas. There are many stories of artists like yourself that are rockstars in the UK, Africa and especially China & Japan…why is that?

ExtraP: Well that’s simple. As with anything that is rare is treasured. Those countries didn’t get to see Hip Hop in it’s truest form on a regular basis. At home, you might see me and Mr. Cheeks hangin out on a corner at a bodega or in a club. You have people in America that actually watched us grown from nothing to somethings. Over there, all they have is what they see on tv. They know that Hip Hop started in America, so they pay homage to that. They collect and take care of the records we made that are classics to them. The US is just so used to seeing one artist after another; we can get a little spoiled. And furthermore, we don’t even carry ourselves like that at home. Cats over here might see us in the park and be like “Boom, yo there go Large Professor” and just leave it at that. As to over there, a cat may be in awe because it’s not every day you gonna see a cat like Raekwon just randomly walking down the street.

One more thing, they cherish their history over there. For example, overseas, they keep their historical buildings alive. Over here we can have a monumental building today, and it will be a parking lot tomorrow. But there they keep their traditions alive as the same with Hip Hop.

OTT: With your legendary status in the game, Large Pro…how do you stay so humble? I mean you still touch the people in a way like you never had hit records and like your name doesn’t ring bells in this culture.

ExtraP: Yeah, but see the whole thing about it, with you saying that, be clear, It’s About The Culture! It’s the culture that keeps me humble because this is what we do! Just like families have family traditions to it’s just certain things they do as a family. Nobody’s a star at the family table right? That’s what it is in Hip Hop. In fact, people look at you strangely when you on that. This is what we relay when we’re in a place like Australia. It’s like, I’m no different than you, I just have a story to tell.

OTT: We know you for being in the legendary group Main Source, but you are a legendary producer as well. When you’re are producing, do you get into all the latest gadgetry or do you like to keep it classic?

ExtraP: Akai MPC 1000 is my weapon of choice man. I mean don’t get me wrong, I can still nerd out on you if the conversation calls for that, but if you’re not a producer, then I’ll just keep it simple and say MPC. Hahahaha.

OTT: As I follow your page and Mr. Cheeks page, I see a lot of Queens rappers unifying lately, such as recording, doing shows together and just altogether hanging out. What sparked that?

ExtraP: Whoa! Be clear…Like there was never a time where that didn’t happen. Just yesterday It was me, Cheeks and Nas in the studio building. Through that building can come a session, through that session can come a song or a single. You just never know. We come together for the music man! It’s like wine tasting amongst brethren. It’s like sitting on stoop do0-wopping. We come from the same place, so we’re always going to have that connection.

OTT: Large, you were on the Beats Rhymes and Life documentary. Considering Tribe is from Queens, what are your thoughts on the memory of Phife Dawg.

ExtraP: Dang man….ummmm what can I say. Phife was……Damn man…..Phife was what I call The Perfect Trooper. He the type where you look at him like, you he knows where he’s headed and how he wants things to be. A level headed person. Real cool cat. Phife was my guy. Damn man…The Perfect Trooper that’s all I want to say about that.

OTT: Lastly Large….20, 30 years from now, what do you want your legacy to look like?

ExtraP: I can’t answer that B. I’m still adding to the culture. It would be a different story if I was done but I’m not. Right now I’m still creating; I’m still digging, still doing shows and still building my relationships like no one even knows my history. People can have their opinions about the culture, but if you’re not actively adding to the culture then what’s the point? People can say this and that about what I’ve done and what I haven’t done, but to the people that know me and love me…..I’m just Large P man.

@PLargePro

@DJLAYNELUV

@StraightOfficialMag

@UptownWeekly

@StateOfHipHop

 

 

 

 

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@DJLayneLuv Chops It up with Buddy Wike of 90’s R&B Group Intro Pt 1.

The early 90’s still brought about a plethora of R&B singing groups. The funny thing about the R&B groups of the 90’s, is that they started to separate themselves from the Jheri curl & sequin suits era. Out of the blue, you started noticing singers wearing baseball hats and jerseys. When they would show up to perform at shows, you thought groups like Jodeci were going to sing not rap. This new style brought about a coined term from Sean “Puffy” Combs called Hip Hop Soul. All of the sudden, the radio was filled with songs that had “The Funky Drummer” sample with singers that had church harmonies in the background.

In the summer of 1993, I was in Virginia. Boyz II Men and Jodeci were still preparing for their sophomore releases, and besides SWV blowing up the airwaves, this blaring tenor was coming from the jeeps screaming “I Want To Be The One…Leeeet Me Be!” Now R&B songs sounding like church songs were nothing new, but this voice sounded like no other. It was the legendary Kenny Greene pleading with the Hip Hop soul gods to be the next voice. And for the next year, he was. Songs like Come Inside and Don’t Leave Me were on a number of slow jam mixtapes.

This story has a common thread among singing groups as with any story on UnSung. The rise to power where you are riding high, to the tragedies of that same star power waining because of the gravity theory, what goes up must come down. From the lack of enthusiasm of the labels marketing to group members going in different directions, it’s just the natural progression of singing groups. However, the unsettling thing is, that 90’s lead singers were passing away around the turn of the century at an alarming rate like an omen or curse. Tony Thompson of Hi-Five, Dino of H-Town, Left Eye of TLC, Orish Grinstead of 702 and unfortunately the group Intro was not spared that fate. Kenny Green passed away in 2001 from complications of the disease known as AIDS. Since then, the group has gone through some lead singers, that didn’t prove successful until they came up with the lightbulb conclusion that Kenny simply could not be replaced and so Intro decided to take the music in another direction while still keeping the core sound and audience.

Buddy Wike the original and founding member of the group tells Part 1 of this Amazing story as On The Table takes a closer look at what happened to the group Intro.

OTT: Thank you so much for taking out your time to speak with us. How did the group intro come about?

BW: Thank you so much for sharing your platform with me. Well, we have to go back to Fort Bragg North Carolina when I was in the military.  I met Kenny Thomas, and he told me about this kid named Kenny Greene that could sing real good. He knew I played piano and figured there might be something we could come up with. So we ended up linking on a Sunday writing a bunch of songs. We started out recording rap and house songs for a small indie label. Ned Pdub Brown was our lead rapper in the group. I was doing the tracks, Kenny was doing the background and lead vocals and Nelson was doing backgrounds and rap parts. Soon after that, next thing you know… Desert Storm/ Gulf War broke out and I ended up being deployed. Long story short, while I was in the desert, someone sent me a tape of Lalah Hathaway, and it was all I played. What struck me was, that Lalah reminded me of Kenny a great deal. While I was there, I kept saying, “If I ever get back in touch with dude, we’re going to make something happen.” Once I got back in town, it took about six months, but we linked back up and started working. Through another friend that used to dance with Kwame, I linked up with Jeff Sanders that could dance real good. I couldn’t dance that well but Jeff brought me along. Through that particular chemistry and hangin out, we became a group. We all had the same vision. TO BECOME STARS!

OTT: So tell us how super producer Eddie F of Heavy D & The Boyz found you guys…

BW: Hahaha. What people don’t know is, Heavy (RIP) found us first and then sent us to see Eddie. This was way before Heavy started managing groups like Soul IV Real.

One night Jeff took us to this club called The Red Zone in New York, and on our way, we had been singing Peaceful Journey, (RIP T-Roy) one of Heavy’s songs. It just so happens Heavy D was there that night, so when we saw him we were just like “This is our chance, what better time than to just sing for him right now!” He really dug it. He took our number and told us to call Eddie F because he had a production company called The Untouchables. So when the next week came around, we thought we were gonna meet with these corporate heads and listen to demo tapes all day. Nah, Eddie was real chill. He told us to wait in the studio while he ran to Sam Ash. Once he got back, we sang for him; we were in the studio with Jeff Redd the very next day doing the remix to You Called and Told Me.

So the day after that, we went over to Eddie’s house, and when we walk in, there’s this girl sitting on Eddie’s couch. I’d never seen her before, but she was mad cool. We said “Wassup” …she said “Hey guys what’s up” and from there, we ended up writing and collabing on a lot of songs. From that point, Eddie puts us in the studio with her, and we pen and record 3 to 4 songs with her. That started the birth of what is known today as Hip Hip soul, and what became of those sessions was the album we all know. What’s The 411? and the lady I’m talking about is none other than Mary J. Blige…….

This concludes Part 1….Please check in next week for Part 2 of this Amazing story!!!

@DJLAYNELUV

@StraightOfficialMag

@BuddyWike

 

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