Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Michelle Williams, RhymFest, Twista Da Brat at Chicagos Bombay Inspiration Event

A select few were allowed to witness Bombay Sapphire host another exclusive event held at the prestigious River East Art Center. The venue was elegant while the crowd was among the sexiest and sophisticated elite within Chicago. The line up was diverse and intriguing boasting such names as Michelle Williams of Destinys Child, Twista, Margo, Rhymfest, and Da Brat. The crowd was excited and enjoyed every minute of the entertainment.

The purpose of the event was to give fellow Chicagoans the chance to mingle all in the name of love and inspiration. Bombay distributed booklets with their most popular drink recipes as well as gift bags full of music, literature, and sweets. Two of the co sponsors were Giant magazine and MGD owned by the phenomenal Mr. George Daniels.

Da Brat hosted the show and started things off with a performance showcasing classics such as “What Do You Like” and “Funkdafied.” When asked about the events purpose she states that, “Man I’m so glad to have been apart of this. I feel honored. Anything that brings the people together is a good thing. I think we need more positive joints like this all of the time. It was just a real cool vibe. I’m so feeling it.”

Margo blessed the stage second and proved why she’s been deemed Chicago’s secret weapon. The audience grooved to her original music as she sang with pure emotion and glee. Filled with excitement after exiting the stage she lets me know that “ I’m just being patient with my dreams. That’s the one thing you’ve gotta be in this industry. I’m blessed to even be here tonight and touch people. Bombay is really holding Chicago down tonight and I appreciate it, no we appreciate it!”

A few records played while people mingled and exchanged information. The atmosphere was open and inviting while the music was engulfing. The dj stopped everything only to start a colorful chant that got the crowd excited. Rhymfest appeared on the stage and released a performance like I’ve never seen before. “ I don’t want people to forget about my lyrics, I want people to have to stop and think. I’m not a performer but I try to give you a show. I’m not a rapper but I’m an artist that concentrates on his words.” Promoting his first album Blue Collar and sparking anticipation for his new release due out later this year he performs a song a cappella entitled “Have You Ever Been Close.” While on stage he professed that “ I had to make sure that people listened to the words because to many times artists have a phat beat and crazy hooks only and no content. They know that if you listen to the words you might not agree with what they’re saying let alone like it. I gotta give this to you raw because I’ve got something serious to say.” The Bombay executives stood entranced as well as the audience as this artist took the time to make his time on stage an educational experience that was needed and appreciated.

The evening had developed into an amazing night and the crowd eagerly awaited one of Chicagos finest as he prepared to show on-lookers why he has been certified one of the most original lyrical assassins within the hip hop genre and beyond. Twista was no disappointment as he maneuvered on stage like a seasoned vet letting the audience know “we all here to have a good time. Get some Bombay in you and let go.” Thriving off of the Speedknot Mobstaz, ,his on stage support system, together they performed the groups first single “Gangstas Don’t Dance” and gave those gathered a taste of what Chicago mixed with down south sounds like, the end result, nonstop dancing. Twista said with pure excitement that “the crowd was amazing and I was glad to be on stage. They really felt what we were doing and it just felt so damn real. I’d do this again any day.”

After all of the juking and footwork during a brief intermission Da Brat returned to the stage to announce the arrival of Ms. Michelle Williams. She walked in holding the hands of some of her close friends. “I love Chicago, this is my home and I’m glad that we are all here tonight. It just feels like family all around, ” Ms Williams said with an immeasurable smile. Her first song was a famous remake of the classic Let Stay Together. The crowd moved and some couples began to step in the middle of the floor.
“ I know that everyone that’s been up here had there own thing going and I’m proud to be apart of such a diverse line up but I have to sing one of my favorite songs that I’m sure you’re e familiar with, “I Heard A Word.”” The crowds swayed side to side watching Michelle conjure up every ounce of emotion and feeling she had within her tiny frame.

“ I cant help it Chicago, forgive me but I just got get this out,” she said as she continued to sing even after the track finished. “ I know its weird to see me at an event like this but you’ve gotta understand we’re here celebrating family, inspiration, and just that good old Chicago love.” Participants of the event took time to meet and greet the performers as they walked around freely. Thomas Jordan from the west side couldn’t stop expressing his disbelief “its crazy I’ve never seen so many stars around us common folk having a good time. Its like forget the fact that youre platinum selling artists, we just went up to the bar together and got a drink. I can’t believe this. It is amazing.” Michelle Williams continued to fan herself as she took a seat holding conversations with people that sewed seeds of inspiration. Bombay Sapphire isn’t satisfied with being one of the most popular liquor companies around, they want people to unite, build, and be encouraged, even if its all on them. “At the end of the day that’s what its all about said Diamond, a local volunteer.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Chaka Provides

Within an entertainment world fed sex, hood anthems, and materialism, a legend graces her hometown Chicago and brings a refreshing approach towards true stardom. Ms. Chaka Khan graced the Hilton hotel under the wings of yet another successful Music Experience hosted by Mr. Dedry Jones on May 1st, 2007. She was lively, grateful, and excited about being back home. "I am all about telling my story tonight" she said with a smile. With camera crews and make up assistants within inches she prepared for her moment to shine. She sat patiently as reporters questioned her one at a time "Honey, after all of these years don't worry I'm so used to this. It becomes second nature," she assured me as I looked on in amazement. I asked her what she hoped her audience will gain from such an intimate encounter with her tonight and she gleamed with excitement as she said, "I just want people to know that I'm a real girl. I'm approachable and I will be honest with you. I know all of the things that I have achieved but that doesn't design who I am as a person. I just want people to see me for me, Yvette." She was clear and I could tell that she meant what she said. Throughout all of her other interviews she was asked what keeps her strong and motivated to carry on in this industry and she replied that "it's what I love doing and it fits me. I'm a singer and I am not ashamed of that. I will make music as long as I can and God says I can." I see the passion in her eyes and hear her assistant telling her that she has to get ready for her performance. She thanks everyone individually and talks to another journalist on the side about her passion for youth. I chime in and ask her what actually headed her campaign for exposing Autism and she says painfully that her "nephew was diagnosed with it at a young age and his personality changed and he just wasn't the same lively little boy. It was as if someone took his soul, stole his joy, and left him there aimlessly. It is disheartening to see that happen to the purest people on earth, children. I knew that he wasn't alone. I wanted to find out how we could help him and others." I couldn't help but ask her how she goes about making a difference within the educational field and she said, "it is not easy. People look at you for your records and don't realize that you could be doing this for a reason. They think it is all about doing what you can for press. Sometimes it is not; sometimes you have to do whatever is passionate in your heart. That's how you make life valuable." I questioned why it's important for celebrities to expand beyond the music industry and she said in a sweet informative voice "in all aspects of life it is important for a person to grow and do new and different things. You cannot live your whole life in a box otherwise you wont accomplish anything. You can't get anything done if you just stick to one thing. Life is about change and if you aren't changing you need to be finding ways to make this world change. I try to do different things, those things are what allow you to gain wisdom and with wisdom you just might gain someone's respect. First you have to go through something though." Her eyes shinned as she rubbed me on the back with a motherly touch as I followed her to her chair where her makeup was retouched. I asked why Autism has become so common over the years and her face became solid, almost expressing a halo of fear and resentment. She later on expressed that she feels that "when doctors began giving children vaccines with a hint of Mercury that that affected their mental and physical growing process." She moved to the edge of her seat and gripped the arm rests with all her might as she tried to maintain a low voice but emotion overshadowed her attempt as she yelled, "Why in the hell would you do that?" She then asked for her language to be excused but everyone in the room understood her frustration. Her head hung low for a few seconds and she said "one out of every one hundred and sixty something children will be diagnosed with this disease. If you know anyone with Autism you know that they can be some of the most loving, obsessive, attentive, and affectionate people, but they need help. If parents would pay attention to the signs and stop living in denial then maybe we can save more of them. It has to be hard on the parents but you have to put all that aside, pray for strength and do what is best for the child." The music experience was magical, Mr. Jones asked Ms. Khan about all aspects of her life, and the audience laughed, cried, and sang their hearts out, however, in the end, Chaka wanted to make one thing clear. She looked the audience members in the eye as she said that she "enjoys doing music, I loves helping people, but in the end know that this life is all about how you try and make a difference, that goes beyond the gold and platinum albums, that is what caps your life's legacy."

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Bilals Pressence

Sunday, May 13th, 2007 Bilal blessed the Buddah lounge once again with a soulful performance that inspired the crowd in numerous ways. His presence is so sensitive and thoughtful that his passion and desire to love oozes amongst all that are within his presence. Before he displayed his gift, a local male vocalist by the name of Yaw ( graced the stage with jazzy, funk collective ballads that reminded me of Luther kissed with a hint of Jimmy Hendricks. I have heard of this young man before but wasn't blessed to see him live until this night. His background vocalists were pure perfection while he mesmerized all with his confidence and religious social justice lyrics. The night was full of enjoyable moments. Once Bilal graced the audience he performed songs from " 1st Born Second" and his unofficial second album, which was leaked a year and a half ago via the Internet. The audience recited every line vigorously as Bilal said playfully "damn, ya'll know this shit too." They cheered with excitement and Bilal gave a sentimental introduction to the song "Sometimes" that bared the melancholy but inspiration line "I Will Win" repeatedly. While performing this ballad, Bilal became overwhelmed with emotion and danced his heart out as if he was at the door of a spiritual breakthrough and landed in the audience. Audience members hugged, kissed, and adorned him with affection and guided him back towards the stage. The night was a pure spiritual journey full of moments reminiscing on past loves, desired love, and current love. The audience was full of poets, performers (the cast for the Chicago rendition of the play The Color Purple), activist, teachers, and more. I was able to sit down with Mr. Bilal Oliver to discuss the current status of his life.

JL: What do you hope the audience gains after they watch you perform?

B: My mom always tells me stories about when she used to go see shows and concerts and how good they were. I know Dreamgirls the movie just came out but mom says all the time that the movie is good but it doesn't compare to the play, the play was amazing. I won't people to walk away from one of my shows and talk about my performance like that. I want to be able to touch someone so deeply that years down the line that moment in time is fresh on his or her mind and they are speaking my name to their great grand kids. That's powerful and a blessing. That's why I give my all. I care about those people out there listening to me.

JL: Why do you feel that you are still able to sell out a concert despite the fact that you haven't released an official album since 2001?

B: I think it is the music. I really put a lot into my first album and I had to make sure that I told a valid story that represents my struggles in life. I guess that is what has allowed my album to defy time thus far. When I perform I see people singing along with their eyes closed and I can tell they fell whatever in the hell I am talking about. That's beyond music, that's a spiritual connection. I think that is why people still support me. I had a second album but it was leaked to the Internet so the label shelved it. I worked hard on that shit too.

JL: How do you feel about your music leaking as an artist knowing that you put so much into it and you don't get anything back?

B: It's a catch 22 you know. I was able to bless my fans with another collection of whatever I was going through so I was able to give them a piece of me. But I'm not getting paid for it. That part hurts my pockets because I have children I need to feed but hey some things are out of your control. To be honest with you the label was going back and forth with whether they wanted to put the album out or not so either way the audience got it. I don't know if the label would've stood behind me with that release or not.

JL: As an artist what are some of the things you go through with a label in terms of defining the theme you want to incorporate within your music?

B: Well I like to be free. I like to change up a lot. I know that when the label signed me I was doing music one way but now over the years I have grown and now I like to do things another way and there is the problem. I guess sometimes as an artist labels don't like change. You have to stay in a fucking box that they put you in or the one you made for yourself when you were presented to them. It's all a game full of a power struggle. I admire Prince and what he did to get out that shit.

JL: Why don't you start your own label?

B: Man just saying that requires money. I'm not ready for that move yet but I have seriously considered that. I want to but I'm stuck in a deal right now and this situation has me locked down so I can't expand right now.

JL: What is bothering you most within your surroundings?

B: Man when I look at Philly I see how everything is changing and I don't know if it is going on in Chicago but everyone is moving around. I see everything getting upgraded and all the black people have to move out to the suburbs. It hurts. You know not everybody can afford a car to do all of that traveling. My old neighborhood has changed. When I go see my mom things are different. I don't know where the city will be in 10 years. It's scary. I just wish I could get all my people out of the ghetto and just do well for them. We've gotta take care of each other.

We stand in the lobby of his hotel as he looks out along a busy Chicago street in deep thought about what he just said. He shakes his head, pulls up his pants, straightens his hat, and sighs. It's a sign of disbelief, disappointment, and sensitivity. I realize this man is just that, a man that is witnessing a world cry for more love and affection but go unheard. Within his music and his presence he resembles a drop of hope. We both look grateful and I walk away slightly more spiritually awake than what I was before.

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Rich Boy

Club D'Vine is packed to capacity as over 200 of Chicago's elite and sexy gather to meet one of hip hops rising starts by the name of Rich Boy. The crowd is excited and looking good. One of Chicago's hottest promoters by the name of DonSki navigates with ease through the crowd. He is the cool, calm, collected as he watches his event manifest. The climax of the night was a performance at none other than local rock star facility club Wet. I was able to watch from the sidelines as Rich Boy and his crew was escorted around the city. While he prepared to make his appearance he sat in the back seat of his van communicating vigorously with someone over his sidekick. He seemed at ease but excited about the occasion. The line of devoted hip-hop heads that graced the sidelines of club Wet amazed him as he looked on with a stare of anticipation. Sweat beads began to manifest on the corners of his brow as his manager insisted that he leave the vehicle now. He got out and stretched, popped his back and walked towards me with a look of curiosity. I asked him how Chicago treats him and he smiles and says, "the people here love me. I feel the love. I'm really liking the vibe here. It just feels right and the people are amped just like I like them to be. I wouldn't trade this moment for the world." With his single "Throw some D's on it" heating up the airwaves he appears to be confident and reserved when I asked him why people gravitated to his song so earnestly? "I think people just feel what I have to say. I aint got no deep shit in mind but I deal with what I know about and that's what I talk about. It's all about how people can relate to the same thangs. I'm sure the hustlers in Chicago want some D's on they rides just like my folks in the south." While concentrating on the fashion side of hip-hop that mirrors materialism, I happen to notice his affection towards his crew. I count help but ask what makes the people with him so special that they get to travel with him and he replied by saying that "real people always keep realness around them and these here folks are my backbone. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for them. I know Im in good hands when they are around." Loyalty has always been a strong resident within the hip-hop culture but I couldn't help but wonder why Rich Boy traveled with such a heavy crew. So its normal for you to travel with 10 or 15 guys? "yeah I want them to see what I'm blessed enough to see while we both can. I made it up out the ghetto and by all means that means that they have too. Its all about loyalty to your family. That's what I am all about." I guess there is nothing else to ask when an artist comes true like that. Now we see why he is more than just a Rich Boy but a Loyal man.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Lloyd Doing His Grown Man Thang

Lloyd A Man Revealed
By Jessica LaShawn in Stereo Ave

Lloyd grasped the title of sexy innovative r and b crooner with the release of his debut album Southside. Now at the age of 21 he has resurfaced with a more mature and thought provoking sound with his new album Street Love. Focused and determined to bring the love back to hip hop and r and b, this Atlanta native reaches out to his audience with a heart felt compilation of personal experiences that all ears can relate to. His sweet and savory voice is a constant on the airwaves currently with his undeniable power charged single featuring lil Wayne affectionately titled “You”. I had the privileged of interviewing Lloyd as he revealed the passionate side of man revealed.

JL: How did you pick which single best represents the structure of your new album?
L: I pretty much just sit in a room and blast my music over and over again to see if I still feel the same way as when I first heard it. I do that because once you release a single it is going to be played constantly and you want to make sure it has the right effect on people. You don't want people to constantly hear your song and say I'm tired of this song already. I want to make sure that it is something that you can get into and stay into.

JL: How if any has your subject manner changed and or matured during the development of this project?
L: Well I am 21 now so I'm not a little boy. I talk about real life situations that I go through.
JL: How do you determine which artist add the flavor you envision for a song for a collaborative effort?
L: I am a person that listens to music often because it is something that I love. So of my favorite artist I have a certain few that have a certain quality about them that just does something to me. Music is supposed to make you feel something so when it comes to picking the people I want to work with I tend to go with the individuals that I feel will bring a certain something to the table. I had to chose individuals that brought the same energy I try to exude. SO the people that are on my album are people I listen to a lot and respect in this industry game. They brought a particular element to my record by just being themselves. I am a real cat and I’m talking about real issues so I gotta work with real people to make my music touch the way I want it to. Its gotta be pure.

JL: What struggles or challenges did you face while working to complete this new compilation of music?
L: Making music is a struggle in general or within itself. A lot of people don’t realize that that being an artist isn’t simple. I have to constantly find ways to show how I am or have grown and my album has to have that evolved feel. Regular people just grow up and get wiser without people asking them hey how have you changed and what have you learned since “Southside” or whatever. I need to be comfortable talking about some of my private issues that I go through so that the people listening and I’m around can see. That is what music is all about. This album was pretty much about capturing all the stuff I’ve been going through or people I know, dealing with the situation, and moving on. I gotta write about that, sing about that, after I’ve lived it. That’s the challenge putting the experience into words over the right beat. You gotta find people that relate to you, respect your craft and their own and then you just gotta go full speed ahead.

JL: Describe just who "Lloyd" is on this new album and what message are you trying to get across to your audience?
L: Lloyd is a singer that goes through the same everyday shit that regular people go through. I’m real and normal just like you but I might be recognized a little more. I’m still Lloy don’t get it twisted. I work, I struggle, I have dreams, I get pissed, I’m real and the sooner people are able to understand that the better off things will be. I want people to respect me for my willingness to talk about what I’m going through. I think that I did a good job capturing reality and keeping it real. Love aint easy, no type of relationship is. You constantly gotta sacrifice and that is the thing that people stay away from doing. When you are involved with someone everything is about more than you as a matter of fact you lose you. It is like that when I have a girlfriend and its like that when I‘m working. I wanna sleep I cant because I have interviews. My girl wants to go get something to eat I cant because I have a photo shoot. Life is all about giving and taking. That’s what I’m singing about that is what I living.
JL: How do you plan to use your fame to give back to those in need?
L: It is not always about money. I go and I give myself and that is worth more than money. I am a living example that dreams come true. If ya wanna break into this business then my knowledge will help you out. That realness, rawness, one on one is priceless and that is what I am about. I visit schools, when I am out and about I stop and talk to the people. I don’t want people saying that Lloyd is stuck on himself I want them to say man meeting him was a good experience. You can encourage people like that. That is what I do When I do talk to people I try to emphasize the fact that humanity and respect for life are what we all need to strive for.
JL: This is an emotionally draining industry, have you ever developed a sense of doubt about your talent and or your music? If so how do you deal with it?
L: You can not doubt your self but your only human. It’s all about knowing that you broke into this business for a reason and bank on that. You don’t have room and time to doubt just thank God and take advantage while you can.
JL: What is the most personally challenging aspect of your profession?
L: Its all a personal challenge because its such a revealing industry. Everybody wants to know what is going on in your life. The trick is try and keep as much of your life your own as possible. For some reason people think that you lose your sense of being a person once your first single drops. They think you become a vocal superman.
JL: How do you feel that the education system can incorporate popular music and culture into its curriculum?
L: I think that you gotta do what you gotta do to keep folks interested and keep learning techniques fresh. I agree with it because when I was in school it benefited me. I was able to grow musically and socially based on people fusing the two elements together. Stuff like that is serious for kids today. I’m glad people finally noticed what a huge affect music has on the youth.
JL: So you do agree that such a movement is necessary?
L: Yes it is necessary and it will really help kids have an incentive to learn and come to school.
JL: If you could organize an event to motivate youth to vote in the upcoming election, what would it be?
L: I would do something like what David Banner did with Heal The Hood. That was a good idea. Its all about brining people together under the umbrella of some good old music. That right there can unite anyone. It takes us away from the things that segregate us and action outlines what bonds us which is the fact that we are all human, well I hope we are (laughing). You wonder about some people that have control over the way the government and society runs.
JL: What song on your album best resembles what is going on in society currently?
L: I gotta say Certified because I have grown and got my study on about how to be and embrace growing into a man. Now I did my homework and I’m officially certified. Its for the ladies but more so myself. I’m proud of growing older and wiser. I know I have no choice but to do that but it’s a difficult transition. I’m thankful though.

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Keith Robinsons Reality

Keith Robinson has refreshed his presence on the entertainment scene with his powerful performance within the critically acclaimed DreamGirls. Now with an immeasurable fan base of intrigued and faithful women, he has re-launched his career as a professional crooner with the release of his single “The One” which is followed by the flavorful “Stages” which talks about the struggle between life’s trials and decision making.

Facing many trials stemming from his quest to be seen as a serious performer after basking in the success of his musical big screen escapade, he concentrates on establishing himself as a “multifaceted entrepreneur undergoing a personal evolution.” Robinson states that he tries to “make music that people can relate to and hopefully reproduce to.” While suggesting that music is “the most powerful aphrodisiac known to mankind outside of the idea of being in love with the thought of being in love.”

Keith’s voice is powerful and packs a lot of feeling that invokes a listener to a more intimate level of emotional adventure. Within the smooth and sensual song “Thirsty” Keith explores the world of ultimate seduction over a jazz infused melody that abducts a listener and forces them to visualize themselves vicariously living through Keith’s lyrics. The air of the song incarcerates the beat and solidifies it as a potential classic while the lyrics exert an immense amount of energy to compete on the same level as the seductive music. The lyrics fail unfortunately and ultimately dilute the power of the song.

After spending time talking about the importance of family and how they serve as his major driving force in such an unpredictable field, Robinson states that his “family is truly supportive of his career because they have talent as well individually and encourages their children to use their talents.” Its all about family, love, and the quest to fulfill ones dreams when it comes down to this fellow as he expresses that “ones power and drive is what gives a person the passion they will need in order to start off trying, fight to stay in the game, and eventually accomplish something. You have got to just take advantage of life and live.”

Still within his bountiful twenties, this masterful gentleman hopes to replenish the presence of soul within the ever-changing structure of the R and B musical hemisphere. Actively involved with his community, he embraces his family values, talent, and fame by reaching out to his hometowns people and spreading words of encouragement as often as he can. Robinsons says that “its just my way of sewing seeds within every city that I frequent.” While on the road he keeps his “eyes open for real life situations that can inspire him to write and utilize some studio time.”

Sure the life of one of the hottest actors out right now is exhausting but he finds “rectitude in knowing that all of my hard work is paying off now and I just have to work a little harder to make sure that it doesn’t stop paying (laughing).” It seems like a trying fate to accept a hectic schedule but Keith comforts all that worry about him but simply reminding them that he “wakes up to do what I love which is the greatest blessing for me right now. I make music about the development or maturation of love, I sing about it, I write about it, and then I make movies about it. My life revolves around my passion.” When asked if he is living what he singing about he laughs and says “I’m optimistic.”
Its hard to avoid talking about dreams coming true after the overly used play on words for all cast members directly associated to one of the most successful Broadway plays to the big screen within the last 5 years. When ask how does it feel to be bombarded by the long living hype he says with a sense of zeal that “dreams are a reality but the quest is within the struggle to actually bring them into fruition. Yes people talk about the movie but hey if that is what helps me to get out there and familiar to more people then I say with a sincere heart keep talking about CeCe and those DreamGirls.” Yet, he is more than CeCe from the movie because he is even better in real life due to his captivating charm, respect, education, and debonair good looks.

Keith Robinson is constantly evolving to new heights from one of the cross cultural roles as a power ranger to appearing on mainstream TV shows such as ER, NYPD Blue, and Half and Half, and not to mention an unforgettable role within the movie Fat Albert. He is humble, passionate, and full of purpose. He is the one we have been waiting for beyond metaphysical mental authenticity with the sweet reward of his articulate tenor voice vigorously elevating us to his reality.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Erykah Badu at MGD Event (Review)

On March 22nd, 2007, Chicago witnessed a monumental moment within musical culture as EPMD and Erykah Badu visited the phenomenal north side establishment The Park West. It was a night of excitement, magic, and musical chemistry as local Chicago artists joined forces under the MGD Craft Program to form a sensational band built to display hometown talent and enrich a body of people willing to witness history. The crowd was rich and diverse and free spirited as MGD blessed everyone with tokens to share in the promotion of the acclaimed MGD Light Beer. The event started with local artist from the west side called Primal Fear, then the south side group infamously known as The Usual Suspects followed up with a riveting performance that set the atmosphere for non other than two legends within the hip hop canon EPMD. The crowd raved and sparked with excitement as they performed hits like “Rampage”, “So What Cha Sayin”, “Strictly Business”, and “Rap Is Outta Control” while Eric Sermon smoothed the crowd over with a few spontaneous freestyles ending with the Marvin Gay kissed classic song “Just Like Music” as the crowd swam with excitement. Erykah Badu then graced the stage with a sense of freedom with her head wrapped in a thick cloth and a space camp outfit that conventionally mimicked the ensemble created for the “Didn’t Cha Know” video. She opened up with a new track ironically entitled “Annie Don’t Wear No Panties” the crowd cheered and grooved to Erykah’s symbolic lyrics sprinkled with alliteration and sarcasm. The music paused as she stood still with a firm face to recite the line “ So Fellas if you can’t afford it, I think you need to video tape record it”. The crowd went wild and Erykah began to relax and get comfortable as she removed some of her many layers of clothing. She freestyled a groove entitled “Bigger Than Religion” which she stated is one of the elements she hopes to base her new album on due out in July of this year. On stage she rendered musical blessings on those familiar with her last album Digital Underground as she garnered a spiritual course while performing “I Want You”, “Danger”, and a verse of “On and On”. The crowd was entranced but Erykah’s passion for those that admired her work was immeasurable and she navigated through the crowd on the shoulders of her bodyguard to touch the hands of the people in the crowd that continuously chanted “Digital girl in an analog world.” Afterwards a jam session started with non other than EPMD, Erykah delivered a spellbinding performance of Bag Lady as the crowd went wild and the band showcased their individual talents. Some local artist were pulled up from the audience and joined in on this musical escapade and the audience loved it. Malik Yusef and Leon Roger hosted the event but encouraged everyone to pay attention to history in the making. MDG was thanked for creating such an event and making it possible to unite artist around the country in a similar fashion. After the show Ms. Badu rested for a few minutes and returned to the stage after the audience was cleared out. She took a seat on the piano bench with a Styrofoam container with what appeared to be Broccoli and steamed rice in her hand. She greeted the reporters with a warm smile and tried to avoid giving a look of exhaustion. She reiterated the fact that she loves to perform and she didn’t even know what type of show she was doing until she arrived at the venue. Overjoyed with the concept she felt energized to be apart of the event. She sat peacefully through numerous interviews and questions about her repeat hair do. She stated that she decided to go bald again because she felt like it and its just another hairstyle to her. A few people looked on in pure astonishment as she so elegantly sat and had an intimate moment with all that came into contact with her. She said that “she loved Chicago and she couldn’t perform and not give a shout out to her boy Common.” At the end of it all she went out to sit in the audience and talk to her band members about the show. She praised them for their hard work and began to eat. It was then that I was able to see the epitome of a successful black woman comfortable with herself as she lived out her dreams constantly. She was more than the pioneer of the Neo Soul Hip Hop Movement she was a woman that saw more to life than her fame but feed off of the art of living on a quest for happiness. MGD is known for being on of the leading competitors in the alcohol demographic but saw a chance to stem beyond that and work to unite different cultures under the umbrella of music. They succeeded and established this event, as an acclaimed happening that should never be missed. All in all it was phenomenal.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Consequence Opens Doors!

Don't Quit Your Day Job
GOOD Music / Columbia Records

It's finally here!!! Consequence's new video for the first single, "Callin' Me" is now available exclusively on

Director: Kai Crawford/Broadway/Consequence

Consequence's solo debut Don't Quit Your Day Job hits stores March 6.

Callin' Me [Clean Version]

Callin' Me [Explicit Album Version]

About Consequence

Consequence was born in Queens at the dawn of the hip-hop era, when all rap was East Coast rap and all of rap's influential early artists were based in the New York City area. Throughout his career, Consequence gained credibility not only on the streets with his peers but with the critics as well. A gifted storyteller, he has a keen and unwavering sense of what he is all about. His objective realism provides a clear alternative not only to gangsta rap but also to the watered-down and overly calculated pop-rap. “What I rhyme about is what I see around me, I’m a result of the hood, my rhymes are a reflection of what I see,” comments Consequence on his forthcoming release Don’t Quit Your Day Job on G.O.O.D. Music/Columbia on which Consequence has teamed with Kanye West. (Street Date: October 2005)

Consequence received his first big career boost from the chart topping trio A Tribe Called Quest. As a kid performing on the streets of his neighborhood he attracted the attention of A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip and began running with the Tribe while still in high school. Consequence appeared on A Tribe Called Quest’s Beats Rhymes and Life album which debuted at number 1 on the Billboard Album Charts in 1996. He co wrote and appeared on eight tracks; the track he co wrote and appeared on with Faith Evans, “Stressed Out”, garnered significant attention from fans and critics alike and placed him on the radar of the power players in the industry.

In the years to follow, Consequence worked diligently on his craft, establishing his identity as an emcee separate from A Tribe Called Quest. The prolific artist emerged with several mixtapes: “The Cons Vol. 1: All Sales Are Final” (which was featured on MTV’s Mixtape Mondays on December of 2002, and in April 2003 was #1 Show ‘&’ Prove in XXL and #1 Off The Radar in The Source), “The Cons Vol. 2: Make the Game Come to You” and “Take Em To The Cleaners” (voted in the top ten independent releases of 2004 by The latter mixtape's bonus track, "Turn Ya Self In," has already been released on twelve-inch featuring soul-inspired rhythms by Baby Paul on ABB Records along with joints “B*itch Rider” and “Yard 2 Yard”. Additionally, “The Cons Vol. 3: The Comeback Kid” and “A Tribe Called Quence” will soon be released. Take Em To The Cleaners is hosted by Kanye West who also appears on and/or produces nine tracks. The chemistry between West and Consequence is undeniable and Kanye’s involvement is no mystery as Consequence has always surrounded himself with and attracted the best in the business. On Take Em To The Cleaners, he also collaborates with Common, Talib Kweli, 88 Keys and John Legend among others.

In 2004 Consequence went on the road as a member of The Kon Man crew on the "School Spirit" tour in support of his appearance on the track "Spaceship," from Kanye West's Grammy winning and Platinum debut The College Dropout. On the track he raps ”I don't wanna ever go back there…So I won't be takin' no days off 'til my spaceship takes off” - a line reflective of his fierce determination to make it in the harsh reality of the music business. He maintains his unique style and approach to music and life despite all the twists and turns his career has taken, and that path has finally led him directly into the spotlight.

In 2005 his main focus remains on Don’t Quit Your Day Job, however; Consequence recently reunited with his cousin Q Tip (of A Tribe Called Quest) on the track “Sexy”, which also features Andre 3000 of Outkast, for Q Tip’s forthcoming 2005 Universal/Motown release. Consequence will appear on the track “Gone” with Cam’ron on Kanye West’s sophomore album Late Registration. Consequence will also be shooting the video for fellow G.O.O.D. Music artist Common’s single “They Say”. He will be appearing on other projects including Baby Paul’s album with Seleena Johnson and a project for The Last Poets with John Legend. Additionally Consequence has also recently collaborated with Keyshia Coles, Mike Jones, Lil’ Kim, Eve, Miri Ben-Ari, and P Diddy, among others. He will also be featured on the G.O.O.D. Music Mixtape hosted by Big Mike and is featured in the July 2005 issues of both Vibe and King Magazines. Additionally, he appeared in State Poverty 2 (Lions Gate Films) and will be appearing in an episode of Season Five of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam.

Interview Coming soon!

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Bow Wow Is Back

Bow Wow
The Price of Fame - In Stores Now!!!
Sony Urban

Bow Wow - "Outta My System"

Windows Media

Real Audio


About Bow Wow:

Just as diamonds are created from carbon through intense heat and pressure deep beneath the earth's surface, Bow Wow -- listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest solo rapper to ever hit #1 -- has matured from a multi-platinum teen rap star into a full-fledged musical force with his fifth studio album, The Price of Fame, a journey inside the mind of a man who's grown up in the public eye, felt the pleasures and pitfalls of acclaim, and learned valuable lessons from the wealth of his experience.

According to Bow Wow, who will be 20 in March 2007, this last year "was emotional and stressful. I felt like I was going crazy with things bothering me, and all this comes with being famous." Coming off of one of the busiest -- the SRO Scream IV Tour and top-grossing features films including "Roll Bounce" and "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" -- years of his career, Bow Wow wanted "to go in the studio and work because it's just natural. Every song is from experience. It's easy for me to do what I do because it is a reflection of my life."

As a youngster growing up in show business, Bow Wow felt that he couldn't freely express himself on a variety of issues because of his age. While his first four albums -- Beware of Dog (2000), Doggy Bag (2001), Unleashed (2003), and Wanted (2005) -- showed an artist progressively expanding the range of his style and the reach of his topics, The Price of Fame takes Bow Wow boldly into new areas of musical and lyrical exploration. "Now that I'm older, there are things that I can talk about. I feel free," says Bow Wow. "Finally I've gotten the green light to talk about what I've wanted to talk about for so many years. It's definitely a real rap album. I've stepped up lyrically. I want to become known as more of a lyricist, I want to prove I am more than a heart-throb.”

Bow Wow re-teamed with longtime mentor, friend, producer and current co-manager Jermaine Dupri to co-executive produce the new album. Always mindful of his fans, Bow Wow gives them heart-throb familiarity with his first single, "Shortie Like Mine," produced by JD and features R&B heartthrob Chris Brown and longtime songwriter and singing newcomer Johnta Austin. "Give It To You" is another high energy, Bow Wow-produced track destined to light up the dance floors of club land.

For The Price of Fame ,Bow Wow delved deep into his writing while trying his hand once again at production. On the intro to the title track, "Price of Fame," Bow is heard venting: "I'm letting people feel my pain, letting them know what I've been through in this year alone." Young Jinsu, a 13-year-old, Rhode Island rapper by way of New York, is heard throughout the track pumping Bow Wow up.

Bow Wow is both wordsmith and budding entrepreneur, having signed Jinsu to his own label, The LB Dub Gang. "I'm passing the Lil Bow Wow torch to Jinsu," Bow Wow offers. "This Bow Wow movement with teenagers, girls and kids goes back to Jermaine being a mentor, father figure and learning from him and watching him for the past seven years."

"This is my crew," Bow Wow announces and that includes Clee-O, an 18 year old actor/ rapper who co-starred with Bow Wow in "Roll Bounce" and The Rock in "Walking Tall." Bow Wow's vision for his new label reflects his growth and maturity. "Jermaine has blessed me with the ability to do what I do and he's given me my shot into the industry," acknowledges Bow Wow, "so now it's my turn to give blessings back to other people that also have the opportunity to do bigger and better things. It's only right to push your people forward."

As Bow Wow welcomes his fans into the truth of his world, it's apparent that The Price of Fame comes with a price tag. "People ask for this life but they don't really understand what comes with it," Bow Wow confesses. "People just see the outside and that looks good – big houses, cars, girls, but you never see how the person is feeling deep down inside. Me personally, being a man, I'm going to feel better displaying all of this and pouring my heart out on each record." As the rapper/actor/entrepreneur charts his course through the next phase of his career, Bow Wow is very clear. "There's a lot of pressure," he says. "I'm a real guy, and trying to hold all of this in one brain can make you go crazy sometimes. So that's really been the price of fame for me, just dealing with all the drama and the b.s."

With a new energy and spirit Bow Wow is playing the game to win. "I let life really guide me," he admits. "Just going through things that I've been through in my life has helped me to become a better person. Things have helped me grow and become who I am. Once you go through things, you'll see things differently, and that's basically my motto and what I've learned so far."

For Bow Wow, The Price of Fame is ultimately worth the cost. "I don't have a choice," says the born artist. "I'm ready to take on anything and this album is a way for me to release it all. I can take all the negative energy and turn it into a positive simply by purging my soul through music. That's how powerful music can be. When people hear this record, they will definitely know where I'm at as far as my life and me as an artist. This album is really a tell-all album."

An interview is coming soon!

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Stomp The Yard

Here is some info I was told to share in hopes of promoting you guys to go support this move.


Like Alex Haley’s “Roots”, Making of new film found Author Gregory Anderson reaching into his past

When Gregory Anderson first sat down to pen the script for the upcoming Sony / Screen Gems film “Stomp the Yard”, while a student at Florida A&M University, the film’s future was nothing more than a dream. Several years later as he prepared to do the rewrite, he found that the story and history of “Stomp the Yard” had a deeper connection to not only his family, but to all African Americans. “At the end of the day, what I discovered about myself and my people, was far more valuable than I could have ever imagined” – Gregory Anderson.

The movie, which opens nationwide January 12, is driven by the unique artform called “Stepping”. Stepping (or “Stomping”) is a rhythmic dance tradition created by African American Fraternities and Sororities. This territory was nothing new to Gregory, who is a member of Omega Psi Phi and whose classmates Will Packer and Rob Hardy (Rainforest Films, Producers of “Stomp the Yard”) are members of Alpha Phi Alpha. But, as Greg crafted the story, he soon realized he had to go deeper. “I had a teacher in High School named Mrs. Hendricks, and she taught us that in life, we have to look beyond the surface of things, the shape of things. No matter how painful or hard, we have to search for what lies beneath, because that is where the truth is”.

Greg always knew he had a long lineage of frat / soror members in his family, dating back to the early decades of the organizations and spanning all the way to today. The key was to uncover the roots of stepping and why it stayed relevant. What he found along the way, was a reconnection he would never forget.

For more of this release go to


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Sunday, January 7, 2007

Common and the Freedom Writers

Common Has a new video for the movie Freedom Writers and it is absolutely amazing. I saw the movie the day it came out and found myself to be a pool of inspiration immediately after. Below is some information I received in regards to promoting the movie. I hope that you enjoy it and find it useful. Please feel free to post your comments. I will return with an write up of the movie shortly.

'A Dream'

In honor of Paramount Pictures’ upcoming film, “Freedom Writers” a YouTube group has been created that allows users to view and create their own videos related to a number of subjects including, peer pressure, personal inspiration, motivation, ethics, oppression, morals, tolerance, racism, youth, anti-violence and more. There are also a number of discussions going on within this group around these topics.

'Be Heard' YouTube Link

Check out a few of Mario's 'Be Heard' entries below:

Be Heard: Mario on Getting Into His Character

Be Heard: Mario on Emotions During Filming

About Freedom Writers
Erin Gruwell's passion to become a teacher is soon challenged by a group of Black, Latino, and Asian gangbangers who hate her even more than each other. When Erin (Hillary Swank) begins to listen to them in a way no adult has ever done, she begins to understand that for these kids, getting through the day alive is enough; they are not delinquents but teenagers fighting a war of the streets that began long before they were born. Erin gives them something they never had from a teacher before: respect.

ERIN GRUWELL, the Freedom Writers, and her nonprofit organization, The Freedom Writers Foundation, have received many awards, including the prestigious Spirit of Anne Frank Award, and have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Primetime, Good Morning America, and The View, to name a few. All 150 Freedom Writers went on to graduate from high school. Erin Gruwell is also a charismatic motivational speaker who spreads her dynamic message to students, teachers, and business people around the world. She lives in southern California.

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J. Kwest Chicago Legend in the making!

: When is your birthday?

J.Kwest Its Real Hip Hop!

By: Jessica Lashawn

JL: May 14th, 1983

JL: How many siblings do you have?

JK: Siblings: 4 (1 older and 3 younger)

JL: How were you introduced to rap?

JK: Well, I was 10 and like all 10 year olds, I was stuck to the radio. First off, it was Kris Kross “Jump”, Da Brat, and Bone Thugs (n Harmony). My uncle was a [hip hop] head so he put me on to Ice Cube, Dre, and the whole West Coast vibe. I fell in love with the freedom of expression and the fact that they just WEREN'T SCARED. Then, I found Tribe, and that sealed the deal. Hip hop is my first love and we haven't broken up since.

JL: When did you decide to pursue it professionally?

JK: I was writing and performing since 15, but once I got into college, I got really nice and started discovering who I am as a man and musician. I never stopped working on it, and when I graduated I knew that this would be my life. I was 21.

JL: What aided you in your decision to be a gospel rap artist?

JK: Well I've always felt like hip hop should express what the artist truly believes. NWA hated the police and you knew that. Bone loved smoking. I love God and am truly appreciative of the second chances along the way and opportunities to grow out of my circumstances to become a better man. I want to give that same opportunity to young people, so I pay my experiences forward. Its only “gospel” because I talk about life from a spiritual perspective. We all have spirit, so it’s good to speak to that sometimes. My life and my music have one purpose: to inspire.

JL: What sets you apart from other artists?

JK: Well the message obviously sets me apart from secular artists. I'm talking about something real and the listener can feel that. I'm also different from typical gospel cats because I don't beat anybody over the head with the Bible or anything. I like to talk to people where they ARE, and then encourage them to BE better. I don't preach and I don't praise the streets. The only person who sounds like J.Kwest is J.Kwest.

JL: What are the specific messages you like to relay to your listening body?

JK: My music affirms the beauty in everyone; lets them know that they can do anything, and challenges us to follow our dreams. We have a higher power and we can use that to do anything, including become better people.

JL: What inspires you to write your lyrics?

JK: Life inspires me. Everything I experience finds it way into a song. I love hearing stories and finding a way to tell those stories to help others. I just pay attention to everything, and I'm always ready to write. Short answer: the spirit inspires me.

JL: Is there pressure to pursue a more secular approach for your music in order

to reach a larger fan base?

JK: If by “secular approach” you mean music that the streets listen to, then YES. We try to make our beats sick so you can ride to it, then after you get past the beat; you get hit with the message. I NEVER compromise lyrics, and you can hear that, but we've got to make it hot, too. Most gospel rap is NOT hot. Folks are scared to play it outside. Those days are over now. I’ll make u proud to claim J.Kwest, because it’s hot.

JL: What is your favorite thing to do in your past time?

JK: I play video games for therapy. I play Basketball, I love to work out, keep myself healthy. What else? Cards…a good game of Bid Whist never hurt anybody.

JL: How do you feel about the current state of hip hop?

JK: I want to say its wack, but there is a lot of good music submersed by mediocrity. It’s just not serious anymore. Rappers write for sales now, they want money. The expression has been lost. But we can bring it back. All is not lost.

JL: How would you define religion or spirituality?

JK: Religion is what people follow; the ritual of it: rosaries and crosses, ankhs and such. Spirituality is how you feel, and the rules we create for ourselves. It’s how we govern our lives outside the mosque or church. Our spirit is what makes us better. That's what I want to speak to, the spirit in us all.

JL: What type of family environment did you grow up in and how did that effect


JK: I was in a Single-mother home, and my mother gave me my drive. I know that. We had a lot of drama in our house, but none of it ruined me. I learned from it and grew from it.

JL: How would you define your musical style?

JK: I've been told I'm in the same musical family as Common or Nas, and it’s definitely Chicago represented in the music. At the end of the day, it’s “PureMusic”; music to live a better life to. At least try. Soul Music for the soul.

JL: What's your favorite number and why?

JK: My favorite # is 12 because that's the age I went through the most drama. That's also the age I fell in love with hip hop, and I hit my first homerun when I was 12. The number just stuck with me.

JL: What's your real name?

JK: Julian.

JL: Where do you plan on being in your career ten years from now?

JK: Like 5 albums deep, reputable in the streets and the church, standing next to the best in the game. I want to be known as one of the most influential, not just as “that gospel dude”. I think the music can be heard right along with Kanye and Jay-Z. Cube or Dre. J.Kwest. Sales are cool. Of course I want to support my family. But what I want most is a career that is known for changing lives through music.

JL: What are three things that you are grateful for and why?

JK: 1. My mother. She went through so much to raise me and put me in the right situation to grow. She was a DJ, too.

2. The 70's. The age of creation that destroyed the box. Stevie, MJ, Marvin, Donny. They all paved the way for hip hops glorious age. They kept me company when I was alone and still do to this day. Our generation owes it to the late 60s/70s for their creativity and willingness to put it all on the line for their kids. We're those kids.

3. College. I got alone, made some mistakes, and became a man. Shouts to Morehouse for making strong black men, and for challenging me to be a leader and creator for the people. College was priceless.

JL: Who are a few artists that inspired you to pursue this as a career?

JK: Tribe Called Quest, Ice Cube, Pac of course. This cat BreevEazie is my favorite and took me under his wings. He never let me quit and I'm inspired by him everyday.

JL: What motivates you daily to continue thriving after what you love?

JK: Just imagining what is possible keeps me going. Seeing the youth today and how their brains are wired definitely drives me to work harder. They need this music. Watching the news motivates me. That makes me say “God, we gotta do this”

JL: Did you go to college and if so what was your major and why?

JK: I went to Morehouse College (class of 2005). I majored in Sociology. I wanted to understand more about society and why people act the way they do. A lot of it has to do with our group interaction, and I learned that in my major.

JL: What's one of your favorite songs you've done and why?

JK: This song “Startin’ Something” was fun for me because the track was so challenging. I had to stretch my lyricism and that was the first step in becoming a monster (I'm on my way). Startin’ something was serious for me. That's why we put it first on the last album. Every song is special to me though. I can go through them all, but we don't have enough time.

JL: What's the best thing about being in the industry?

JK: Wait, the industry is good? Naw, for real, I love meeting other artists who have good hearts. We encourage each other. Also, the shows…I love the people I meet. Everything else is a grind.

JL: If you have another job, what do you do? Why did you choose to pursue a job

in that field?

JK: I'm also a youth minister at Covenant UCC in Chicago. I love kids and God definitely has given me a message and charisma that is for young people. I can't run from my call. They don't call me Rev. J or nothin’ though. It’s J.Kwest.

J Kwest is on a mission to save the life of Hip-Hop by bringing the original meaning of soul to the art form. Known as the gospel rapper of Chicago that is taking the industry by storm, he expands beyond such a barricading title. Born and raised in Chicago this Morehouse graduate has a lot more to offer the game than a keen sense of style. His bright personality, catchy lyrics, and genuine heart are easily felt through each and every ounce of his material. J. Kwest is a natural born star that is rising faster than heat to the top of this cold and semantic industry. After watching him perform, I knew an interview was in order. Be among the first to be introduced to the ultimate quest of Hip-Hop’s rebirth.

BG: Are there any websites you want to inform the viewers of?


J. Kwest is certainly the people’s champ by gaining familiarity across the country at an unheard of rate. His performance is full of energy; his message breathes that of life. His passion is almost overpowering but his lyrics aid in the sharing of many testimonies. If you are not afraid to see how hip hop can embody the positive side of an M.C. travel down the road less seen, allow J. Kwest to guide you!


By: Jessica Lashawn

Cherish is one of the newest gurl groups to the music scene. Their innovative sound and extra sexy look has everyone wondering about these young ladies. Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, they have been perfecting their harmonies and sisterhood in order to take this industry by storm. With common goals to be quality role models, advocates for higher education, and manifesting your own destiny, these four young ladies have more than their goals in mind, but all of their fans as well. It’s not hard to see that these girls are valuable and for that they are to be cherished.

JL: Hi ladies, you all look stunning today.

C: Thank you. We appreciate it.

JL: You have a performance in Chicago today. What’s so special about it that you had to become a part of it?

C: Well WGCI is hosting an event for all of the kids as a way to promote a safe and great summer. When we heard that it was to motivate kids to stay away from the negative elements out there, we knew that we had to be a part of that. It’s important that we, as artists try to make sure that we are setting the right example for our fans. So, whenever we have something good like this, we strive to be a part of it.

JL: How do you ladies feel about being role models now?

C: There is some pressure to it, but it comes along with the territory. We just have to try and be true to ourselves as much as possible, but yet take into consideration that our fans pay attention to all that we do.

JL: So who were your individual role models or the people you looked up to in the industry that inspired you thus far?

C: Well, definitely EnVouge, Aaliyah, TLC, and many others helped to pave the way for us to be right where we are. What made those artists special is the fact that they had their own style. They even developed over time as styles changed, but they were original.

JL: It’s very common to see a four member girl group in this industry, but what sets you guys apart from the rest?

C: Well, we are all sisters and we’re naturally close, so you don’t have to worry about us breaking up. We have been singing together since we were born and that shows within our harmony. We care about the lyrics we sing and that’s why it is important for us to write them ourselves. It is what helps us to be in charge of our own message that we are sending out to our fans. Plus, we’re young and we have a lot to offer.

JL: If you guys could be in any other profession outside of the music industry what would it be?

C: I hate to think about stuff like that because if I weren’t doing what I love which is this, then I would be working towards making it into the industry. But, you always need a plan. We’d all be in school. We’d go for medicine and become doctors, an artist, and music teacher. Education is important and we do plan on going back to school, but right now we are concentrating on our careers. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

JL: How did your hit single “Do It” come about?

C: Well, we were in our hotel room just playing around and the melody popped into my head. We took advantage of it and wrote it in 15 minutes right there in our room.

JL: Is it hard trying to conform to a certain image that your record label has in mind for you? Did you have any issues with that?

C: Well in this industry, that is kind of mandatory and we knew that, so we presented ourselves to our label and they just thought that we were fine. So our image was already there but the maintenance is the key. We have to look like stars all of the time. You never know when you have an appearance and you have to be prepared. We are happy with it and it wasn’t too much of a hassle. I guess we were already on the right track.

JL: What can we expect from the upcoming album?

C: Well people don’t expect to hear a lot of soul stirring music. We like ballads and good soul music. That’s what this album is about and we pride ourselves on our harmonies. So we’re proud of the overall album and can’t wait to share it with our fans. It’s something we worked hard on.

JL: What do you think this album will do for the R & B industry?

C: We hope that it brings real R & B music back to the industry. All of these different genres are merging and people are doing that to become more and more original but now we need to get back to the basics. This album is about life and it’s straight from the soul. It’s refreshing because of our harmonies, our lyrics, and our passion.

JL: Now you guys aren’t newbies to the scene. Didn’t you have an affiliation with Jermaine Dupri and Da Brat?

C: Yes we did and we thank them so much for believing in us from the start at an early age. We did a song with the Da Brat called “Love Wit You” and that was fun. We were in the video as well. That was a great experience and it helped us gain a larger fan base. We are grateful to them and we appreciate all that they did!

JL: Well ladies it has been a pleasure meeting you and I wish you the best of luck. Make sure you give it your all. BrownGurl believes in you!

C: Thank you so much for the opportunity

Check out their new video Unappreciated at the link below

Cherish – "Unappreciated" Video Streams
Windows Media

Cherish Official Site:
Cherish @ MySpace:

Here is my Album Review:



The group Cherish is on top of the charts and at

the forefront of all the ladies’ hearts with their hit

single “Do It To It” which has gained them a spot on the BET tour, traveling the country with such greats as Chris Brown, NeYo, and more. The album entitled “Unappreciated” was named after the second single and is gaining immeasurable amounts of airplay. The ladies seem to take the Jazze Pha dynasty to a whole new level delivering what seems to be a darn good sophomore album for Ciara, but full of rich vocal harmonies, song topics, and head banging beats. I was convinced that these ladies were able to relay their individual, yet group style throughout each record displaying their talent and essence of womanhood. To be young ladies, their topic choices are befitting and they talk about real life issues in a classy and elegant way. The relationship driven ballad “Unappreciated” tells the story of a woman in love that has reached the end of her rope with an ungrateful man. My favorite track happens to be “Fool 4 You” where the harmony, sharp rhythm, and engulfing hook command one’s attention. The ghetto classic, A-town anthem happens to be none other than the soon-to-be hit “Chevy” with its gangster appeal as an ode to men from around the way that know how to keep it hood. Overall, this album is a must have. I was impressed and I look forward to seeing the ladies perform since much of the album is bass driven with pop and southern crunk styling.

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Shareefa Exposed

By Jessica LaShawn

Shareefa has made a grand entrance into the world of R & B soul. Hailed for her charisma and undeniable realness, her music is reaching those in need of inspiration and a sense of pride. Being the first lady of soul from the street acclaimed DTP crew headed by the boisterous Ludacris, she has already been handed street and industry creditability. Although her talent is undeniable she still tries to keep herself humble and within this interview she shows her gratitude for life and the blessings that have lead her onto the path of fulfilling her dreams. While sitting backstage at a Lyfe Jennings concert I was able to see her his her rawest form talking to family members, mentally preparing herself for her performance. She sat still with her feet kicked in the air resting on a soft stool that supported her stylish Gucci boots. From head to toe she was dressed like a star but a natural sence off comfort lingered amist her pressence. She may be one of the Divas in line to enherit the Crown of Hip Hop Queen but she doesnt let that tarnish who she is as a person. We connected as she prepared to walk to the stage, a heart felt prayer was belted out and immediately following a stomp of praise. The crowd began to roar as the beat drop and she was whisked away to the front line to fulfill her ultimate life calling: to be on the stage.

JL: So how did this industry deal come into fruition for you?

S: Girl, I want you to know that it wasn't overnight. I had to work and hustle. Where I'm from that's what you learn to do at a young age. It's all about believing in yourself and not being afraid to approach people and let them know what you are about and why you deserve to be about that. Overall I have just been blessed enough to be at the right place at the right time with favor. People have really gravitated towards me

JL: Have you been able to go out on the road to promote your album that hit the shelves 10-24-06?

S: Yes, I was out on another tour for a while and that was my first time on the road. I gained a lot experience from that and it made me feel a little better about my performance skills. But this upcoming tour will be my first major tour and I am looking forward to it because I have gotten a lot of support thus far from my fans. They seem to feel where I'm coming from. That's why going out on the road is so important. There is a difference between being able to listen to your music and when you get to see someone perform and you can sense the emotion that they put into it.

JL: What are you talking about on this album because you have a pretty diverse background? What can your fans expect?

S: They can expect me to give it to them as it is. I don't have a set category for what type of music I've done on this album but realness. That is what they can expect. I'm talking about the main things that all people can relate to no matter what background they come from such as love, inner issues, family, and aspirations. Life is all about being able to juggle those things and the different elements that stem form them. That is what I talk about. So, if you want to know what to expect, expect a situation that you have gone through to be talked about in more than one or two songs.

JL: What took so long with the release of your album? You've been with DTP for a while now?

S: You know how the old saying goes about if its worth having, then its worth waiting for. That's why my album took so long. With releasing an album that is my form of expression it is all about me telling my story from my point of view from the best way possible. I need hot beats and lyrics that flow. I love my DTP family and they totally supported the fact that I'm serious about my craft. That is what we are about anyway, putting out good music that people can respect and listen to a long time down the line.

JL: How do you deal with the pressures of this industry and the burdens they put on family, you emotionally, and more?

S: That is real simple; I lean on God to help me through. Sure, I have my family but they aren't able to be with me every moment and when I am in need. This industry isn't a game and it can either make or break you. You have to know yourself and where you come from if you want to be successful and continuously live your dreams. As far as family problems I just try to reach out as much as I can and keep a constant remind of who I am and where I came from. I am pretty much secure with who I am and I don't get bent out of shape often dealing with self esteem and all that other stuff. I keep sit real with myself. I keep myself up for me first and then for those who see me. I try to make time for myself to keep my mind right and I am constantly reminded of the blessings I have every time I open my eyes to a new day. Everything is great.

Shareefa's ability to just talk about herself and her life which is full of her love for music is inspiring. If you can look past the glamorous image of her that you see plastered all over from your TV screen to your bus stop then you will be able to lay your eyes on a beautiful being. She is here in the industry to raise the bar and force others to be about more than making money and trying to make others jealous but give back. In the end, nothing really matters if you are the only one to benefit from your own life and God given talent.

AUDIO: 'Cry No More'

Check out my Album Review for Shareefa Below

Artist: Shareefa

Label: DTP/ Def Jam

Title: Point of No Return


Shareefa’s long awaited debut album from Disturbing The Peace record label solidifies her as the labels core of R & B and Soul. Her album, entitled “Point of No Return” highlights the ups and down of an unpredictable life full of hope, desired love, and self-sacrifice. She opens up with an upbeat anthem about moving on from a bad relationship and tragic experiences within “Cry No More” produced by the king of musical masterpieces, Mr. Darkchild. Then “U Told Me” takes you on an escapade that shows the struggle of loving someone so much that you are blinded completely and ignore their unrighteous actions. “Phony” tells a story about a friendship gone wrong that ended with Shareefa serving time in jail. The betrayal left her bitter and overly cautious about people she interacts with, but the song “Assumptions” eases that pain as she talks about the usual battle with self and being accepted by others. Overall this CD is worthy of listening to due to being reminiscent of Mary J. Blige’s first album. Shareefa is highly open and expresses a lot of things about life situations that many people would keep to themselves. If you’re ready to be shocked by spicy, but respectful lyrics, a soulful voice, and an abyss of truth and realness then welcome to “The Point Of No Return” with Shareefa as your tour guide.

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Ruben Studdard

Ruben Studdard

An Observation of His Struggle
By Jessica LaShawn

Being in the presence of an individual with pure talent, an inviting personality, and an overall good heart is one of the best experiences one could have on a rainy day. Ruben Studdard, known for being crowned an American Idol, the velvet teddy bear, and the man that took a stand for those dealing with weight issues mesmerizes people at first glance. Offering an overwhelming sense of gratitude to be able to perform at such a powerful venue, he paced back and forth while warming up his voice to perform for an audience at the DuSable Museum. The phenomenal event he prepared for was none other than the renowned Music Experience organized by the prestigious Dedry Jones.

Ruben’s band set up and encouraged each other to bring down the house as they played riffs to help Ruben with his vocal exercises. The time came near for the doors to open and Ruben adamantly raced towards the door to meet and great some of the people that were in line. He did an on the spot interview, drank a warm beverage and hit the stage with
power. Knowing that this show was to promote his new album appropriately titled “The Return”, he approached the stage with excitement. Belting out up-tempo melodies, heart felt ballads, and surprising club joints that were surely car worthy.

The audience showed interest in his new music as they stood frequently to sway back and forth in the midst of soul grabbing musical testimonies. Dedry allowed the crowd to feel closeness to the singing sensation while he performed on onstage interviewed that proved to be highly informative and inspirational. The night was full of magic as all events hosted by Mr. Jones are. The audience left feeling satisfied, grooved to the max, and ready to buy Mr. Studdard’s sophomore release. Ruben offers a sense of gratefulness for all of the love and support he has received, but would like people to know that he is more than the picture perfect lovable big guy the media portrays him to be. After the concert he expressed to another journalist and I that he wants people to know that he is a city boy that hasn’t lived his life so wholesomely. He has been through a lot and he isn’t afraid to show that on this CD. One audience member stated that “Ruben seems a little more hood this time around but he seems comfortable and natural.” I guess you never really know an artist until they decide to show you the true essence of their being throughout their music. “The Return” allows Ruben to take his message a different direction that resembles the whole fabric in which he calls home.

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LeToya London

LeToya London
Interview by Jessica-LaShawn

The Road Past American Idol

LaToya London was brought to the forefront of success after her liberating stint with the world famous show American Idol. She became one of America’s sweethearts by showing off her spunk, class and immeasurable talent week after week while belting out songs performed with such passion and soul that one felt inspired to reenact her routine right in the comfort of their very own home. Aside from being a superstar, LaToya is just your average girl from around the way with big dreams, high hopes and inspiration to make things possible. I was able to chat with her in-between a meeting with her girlfriends and found out what really makes her so inviting and appealing to audiences around the world.

JL: Do you feel that being on American Idol allowed you to grow and develop more as an artist?

LL: Yes I do. I think it allowed me to grow because it opened doors for me to grow. When we performed, we did it on a more professional level and that prepared us to do that after we left the show. It aided us on our journey to go wherever we were to go from there after the show.

JL: What particular things about you as an artist were personally analyzed as you progressed within that competition?

LL: It was really hard not to be nervous because being nervous can really affect your performance. That was the biggest task for me to work on in regards to trying to remain calm. I had to find a way that would allow me to be comfortable so that I could make sure that I tried to execute the song correctly. That is what I really had to figure out within myself in order to try and make things right before I went on stage each night. It paid off because I know how to prepare myself better now from that experience.

JL: What do you do to prepare yourself for a performance?

LL: I would drill the song to make sure that I knew all of the words. I’d practice how I planned to move with the song. I'd just work on different techniques if I was doing a song that was a little bit different. I would rehearse in order to make sure I was comfortable with everything. Once I got to that stage and they called my name everything became surreal and I had to just go out there and do it because there was no more practicing after that point. I just had to go out there, work that stage and just do it, you know.

JL: What do you think about while you’re on stage?

LL: While I was onstage I mainly thought about the words. I would try so hard to make sure that I didn’t forget the words and mess up on the song. I concentrate on how I’m moving, facial expressions, eye contact, gosh, just my whole presentation. Once you start thinking about that it is a little too hard to make room to concentrate on anything else. Then again, there are moments when you aren’t able to think of anything else. All that you know is that you are onstage and you naturally perform without the pain of worrying. It’s almost like spacing out, but those are the moments when it is all about what you are singing about and not how you are singing.

JL: What motivates you to stay driven in such a negative industry?

LL: This industry is a little difficult, but I rely on my relationship with God. I know that I can’t do anything without Him. He comforts me. That allows me to have a spiritual understanding of what is going on with me and my job. Yet, it is important to know that you have to accept that everybody isn’t going to like you. You have to stand up for yourself and express yourself accordingly. That is the only way that you can be true to yourself and your purpose. It is all about developing yourself and gaining that needed level of confidence.

JL: What are you doing to break away from being known as “the girl from American Idol”?

LL: I don’t see why being known that way is bad. I’m grateful for that opportunity and that experience. I am just happy that people know who I am and that show has done nothing wrong to me. It helped me get to new places. I’m grateful. I don’t care if people say that is the girl from American Idol. That is a part of my background and an important part of my career. That show allowed me to show what I can do and with my album I took it to a different place. People were able to see my growth and diversity quickly on that show. I’m just going to work on my next album and take that to a whole different level.

JL: What are some of your aspirations?

LL: Just the belief that I know I can do it. Everyone needs a principle to focus on in their life. It is all about survival. That is how I see this because when you grasp something that you love and you need it to survive then that is what keeps you focused. My drive is there because I love what I do and that is how I make it through. I want to do my part in trying to change the world for the better. I want to get involved with different organizations, put my money into different charities when I do start making money. I want to do my part physically because I do want to work with kids at some point in my life. I love kids and I think that we need to live our lives as examples and play our part. We will see how things go. I want to be a wife and have kids and do what I have to do in society.

JL: How do you deal with those moments when your self-esteem or confidence is a little low?

LL: I just pray, really, because that is where and how I gain my strength anyway. God already gives us the strength inside in order to equip us with what we need to gone ahead and do what we want to do. When we lose that within ourselves the only way we can get it back is to pray and regain that strength. You can go to that person that comforts you the most like momma, daddy or a friend and lean on them, [but] in the end we just have to reconnect ourselves again.

JL: What is the hardest thing about being in this industry?

LL: The fact that it is hard to stay true to who you are. So many people try to steer you in a certain direction that will benefit them. It is all about reminding yourself who you are and what you stand for. You can lose yourself in all of that.

JL: How would you describe yourself as a person outside of being a performer?

LL: Caring, giving, supportive and boastful about the good people in my life and their great achievements. I have my bad points, too, but don’t we all? I don’t want to disclose those. We all have bad points about us.

LaToya London has come a long way and yet, being humble, encouraging and respectful seem to be fruits that continuously sprout from her tree of being. She is focused on being a positive role model for women around the world. An aspiring singer, wife, mother and environmental activist, she is ready and willing but still waiting for her ultimate moment to shine. She fascinates us all with her wonderful personality, amazing drive to give back, and phenomenal rule of favor within the industry. She is said to be the next “Netty” within the play The Color Purple during its run in Chicago. We are excited about her accomplishments and wish her much success. LaToya London is truly the essence of a beautiful BrownGurl!

Want more LaToya London? Check out her official Web site

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