[OP-ED] State of the Hip-Hop Union: Indy 2019 via @TenthLetterMed

“Do I have everyone’s attention now?”-CM Punk

I had to quote the former WWE Superstar because of the relevancy of his inquiry. At the time he had dropped his legendary “pipe bomb” that shook up the wrestling world. Over the past year, TenthLetterMedia has worked with Straight Official Magazine to not only provide our readers with the lifestyle and culture of Hip-Hop, but to spotlight the developing Hip-Hop landscape of the Circle City. As the lead editor of TLM, I vested personal stock in our efforts and in 2018 I presented the State of the Hip-Hop Union address.

In the piece I spoke on several topics, from the pros and cons of the landscape of Hip-Hop in Nap to the undeniable talent that runs rampant here. In the year that would follow, while there were numerous artists that broke ground here, there were two that broke the glass ceiling that has encompassed the Circle City for decades.

Playbwoi tha Great and Trajik are revered as native legends in music and entertainment here in Indy. In my journey as a journalist I’ve worked with them both on separate occasions. Playbwoi would go on to sign with Lil’ Boosie’s Bad Azz Music label while Trajik would make his acting debut on the widely popular Fox series Empire. I viewed their respective wins as accomplishments for the city, but I also saw it as confirmation of what I’ve been saying for years.

Naptown as a collective and cohesive unit will become the next mecca for Hip-Hop and entertainment. The talent has always been here and the variety is in spades. We’re the only Midwest entity that hasn’t been crowned and I feel that those days are numbered. The entertainment realm is beginning to wake up to us as a region of both promise and prosperity. Granted, there are several underlying issues that have kept us back but at this point, we’ve already talked about them to death. It’s time to focus on becoming a standard in both Hip-Hop and the entertainment industry.

From top left: Circle City Hustle, Roj Mahal, Bart Litty, Dottie Staxx

Which brings me back to the Punk quote. I believe that every artist, DJ and producer from the Circle City should adopt this question as their mantra. Several artists have made it out of NAP to reach mainstream success, so why stop now? In 2018, TLM and SO Mag launched the #LetsWork campaign in the attempt to break out independent artists. Coupled with TLM’s other features such as #SaturdaySpotlight I have seen the impact that we can and will have on the industry. Plus I enjoy being right about things like this.

In the first year that TenthLetterMedia linked with Straight Official, Naptown made up maybe 3% of the content that was published in the magazine. Three years later, that percentage is closer to 70%…


I’m willing to bet we do. Stay tuned with us as we continue to bring you the lifestyle and culture of Hip-Hop! #DueSeason #GetSOM

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Its your girl NaeNae with #NaeNaeOnTheScene. Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend. You girl sure did. Actually, I had an amazing weekend cause on Friday my girl crush; SZA was here in Indianapolis at the Old National Centre for her sold out CTRL tour. A friend of mines put onto her music about a few years ago. When I heard the song, ‘Advil’ off her See Sza Run EP, I instantly became a fan. ‘Sobriety’, ‘Teen Spirit’, ‘Child’s Play’, ‘Babylon’ are just some of my other favorites from her earlier projects. But it wasn’t until her debut album, CTRL, when the rest of the world began to take notice of this amazing singer-songwriter.

SZA had taken CTRL over the world. Pun intended LOL. With this album, she had some old and new fans reminiscing over past loves, accepting personal truths about our own self, pretty much she taps into the emotions/struggles we deal with in love and life. It was gritty and real. I was so here for it.

So when the announcement of the tour was posted and I saw she was coming to Indianapolis you know your girl was going be up in there. I would have traveled to the surrounding states if my city weren’t on the list. I was going to make sure I saw her live in person.

The show started with the DJ getting the crowd warmed up before the two opening acts hit the stage. The first was an artist out of Chicago by the name, Ravyn Lenae. I wasn’t familiar with her but I did like her performance. I definitely will be checking out more of her music. The second performer was Smino from St. Louis. I took notice of him earlier this year with his hit song, ‘Anita’. Both Ravyn Lenae and Smino did they thing on the stage so I’m looking to seeing a lot more from them in the future.

Lights go out and the curtain opens with the letters CTRL lite up and we hear the voice of SZA’s grandmother saying; ‘That is my greatest fear…That if, if I lost control..Or did not have control, things would just, you know…I would be…fatal’. The crowd goes nuts as Ms. 5x Grammy Nominated correction Grammy Winner(yes, I said it) Solána aka SZA enters the stage singing ‘Supermodel’.

Even though, she mentioned being a little under the weather you couldn’t tell cause from the moment she hit the stage, her energy and spirit radiated through the entire show without missing a beat. She feed off our energy as we feed off hers. The city showed up filled with different races and age ranges singing along to every song. When she did ‘Love Galore‘ she hit us with a little remix had us turning up. But the crowd really erupted when she asked what today was. Cause we all knew what song she was about to perform next. What some people consider to be the ‘side chick anthem’, I beg to differ what the song is really about but I will break down my thoughts at another time. The crowd sang word for word with SZA to ‘The Weekend’. Side note: I’m patiently waiting for any day now for the video drop especially since I heard Solange directed it. Solána and Solange I know this video about to super lit. Maybe SZA would bless us with the video on Christmas. LOL. Wishful thinking.

Besides performing songs from the CTRL album, SZA blessed her old fans with a couple songs from her Z EP. That jump/kick she did during ‘HiiiJack’ had the crowd going wild. During this sold out concert, a few people fainted due to overheating cause it was hot in the venue. SZA’s kind soul would check to make sure the ones that have fainted were ok.

She ended the show with performing the song, ‘20 Something’. For a lot of the concertgoers, after that song it was the end of seeing SZA but for almost 200 of us our time wasn’t over. We got to briefly meet with her and get picture with her. I was nervous as hell meeting her. I couldn’t believe I was meeting what I consider to be my BFF in head(LOL) in person. What an amazing way to end 2017. I’m claiming this now, this won’t be the last time I will see SZA in person. Next time, it will be on grander scale.

Until next time, its your girl NaeNae as always bringing you #NaeNaeOnTheScene with Straight Official.

Follow NaeNae on all social media: @fieryscorpio81

Take a look at SZA performance from CTRL tour.



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