Rapper Cozzy: Who You Know Helps, but it Ultimately Comes Down to Talent & Hard Work

Posted by Billyjam, August 22, 2012 10:19am | Post a Comment
In the music business who you know helps but it isn't enough to get you ahead. You have to have substance to back it up. 20 year old Pensacola, Florida rapper Cozzy found this out when, first starting out recording hip-hop a few years ago, the burgeoning young rapper hit up his successful uncle in the rap biz - Tobin "TC" Coston who was Master P’s manager and VP & GM of his No Limit Records label - thinking his well connected relative would get him a record deal right away. But that was not the case initially.

"I have had many relatives hit me up for record deals," said TC who has turned them all down including Cozzy, at first. But he liked how consistent the young rapper was in both his work ethic and his "promising" vocal flow even though it still had a ways to go. "I told him to keep working because it was really raw. He continued to send me music and I heard something from him I liked." Then after several goes around TC heard his nephew freestyle over some popular tracks that Cozzy totally made his own. So impressed was his uncle he that he signed him to Me & Mine Entertainment; the label known for releasing (among many others) Lil’ Troy’s platinum Sitting Fat Down South. He also signed his rap crew F.B.N. (Fresh By Nature) to the label and is committed to sticking by both and developing them as artists over a long term - something you don't hear of much these days in the financially stressed & ever fickle music biz.

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Kreayshawn Unveils Video for Her New Major Label Single "Go Hard"

Posted by Billyjam, July 24, 2012 05:05pm | Post a Comment

Today (July 24th) Kreayshawn unveiled the colorful video above for her brand new single "Go Hard" which is taken from the Oakland rapper's upcoming album, Somethin 'Bout Kreay  which will drop on Columbia Records by the end of the year. The artist, whose meteoric rise to fame has been well documented including here on the Amoeblog, shot to fame via the viral success of the May 2011 video "Gucci Gucci." The ever-popular video, which to date has racked up almost 37 million YouTube hits, landed her a big dollar record deal with the major label which within a couple of months of its release.  Since then she's built on her fanbase as well as managed to continually piss off a segment of diehard hip-hop heads who feel that she rode on the coattails of Bay Area rap culture and slang just to get to where she is. She and her White Girl Mob crew dismiss these detractors as "jealous haters."

Fresh back in the US from a European tour that took her to festivals in Norway, Belgium, France, and the UK (where she launched her new collaborative t-shirt line with clothing brand A Bathing Ape) the artist says of the new single "Go Hard' with the "la,la,la" refrain that, "I wanted to inspire people to just do their own thing." The rapper/rapper / videographer came up with the video storyboard, which she describes as "a visual adventure," in collaboration with design based collective Syndrome, who have previously done videos for big name stars like Eminem, Ke$ha and the Black Eyed Peas.

Ice T Well Prepared For Critiques of his "Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap" Documentary at UK Premiere

Posted by Billyjam, July 24, 2012 07:07am | Post a Comment

Ice T
's critically acclaimed, independently produced, hip-hop history documentary Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap, which opened in the States last month, just opened here in Europe on Friday last. The evening before (July 19) there were a series of premiere screenings in London and other select European cities including Dublin, Ireland when I caught it at the IFI (Irish Film Institute) where the film was followed immediately by a Q+A & concert performance via live satellite from London's Hammersmith Apollo. There Ice T, along with Melle Mel, Chuck D, and Raekwon were all in town for the UK debut. During this Q+A from the audience (a tough crowd) Ice T fielded most of the questions in which he spent a fair amount of time in defense of his great film: something he was well able to handle.

But first the movie which I had heard and read all about and was most anxious to view. I thought it was really excellent; especially on the big screen with the film's ample use of panoramic aerial views of NYC, LA, and Detroit, all lovingly shot in breathtaking widescreen at various times of the day from helicopter, that nicely broke up the dialog segments of  the documentary.

Sure the film didn't have all my favorite rappers in it but it was not my film, it was Ice T's. And as the OG (original gangsta) turned rapper, turned actor, turned filmmaker - stated before the film was even screened at Sundance earlier this year; he was not trying to represent all things rap (especially the bling & swag elements) but rather simply focus on the art of the rapper / emcee, and from his own personal perspective. This he did in loving detail, casually catching up with old friends in the rap game, and having them spit a verse or two from their own or other rapper's favorite rhymes, and share a little insight on how they approach their craft. In all 47 artists made the final cut including such talents as Afrika Bambaataa, Rakim, Raekwon, Ice Cube, Chuck D, Snoop Dog, Kool Keith, KRS-One, Eminem, Q-Tip, Chino XL, Grandmaster Caz, and Melle Mel - the latter two getting perhaps the most shine and props in the film. 

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Two Years After his Death, GURU of Gang Starr's Legacy Lives On

Posted by Billyjam, April 19, 2012 10:39am | Post a Comment

Gang Starr "Code of The Streets" (from
Hard To Earn, 1994)

It was on this date exactly two years ago (April 19, 2010) that hip-hop icon, emcee GURU of hip-hop golden era legendary duo Gang Starr (with DJ Premier) died succumbing to a year long battle with cancer combined with a serious heart attack from a month earlier.  The name of the super-gifted and highly influential MC, born Keith Elam and who was only 43 when he passed in April 2010, appropriately stood for "Gifts Unlimited Rhymes Universal" which perfectly summed up the artist. GURU will always be remembered most for his Gang Starr recordings. Yes he did a lot of other work with artists over the years including the ambitious Jazzmatazz series with Branford Marsalis, Donald Byrd, Roy Ayers and Ronny Jordan but it is his Gang Starr recordings/catalog that will forever remain in the hearts & heads of music fans and the general hip-hop consciousness.

There have been, over the years, countless club nights whose names have been taken directly from GURU lyrics, and/or Gang Starr song/album titles. Dave Paul of BOMB Hip Hop once had a party called Step In The Arena. Additionally GURU's fondness for confrontational, battle style lyrics were tailor-made for DJs to utilize in battle scenarios. As UK DJ/producer Pete Sasqwax so accurately noted today on this sad anniversary, "So many quotables & without him, how different DJ battles would've been over the years. I believe there was a significant period of time whereby it was mandatory to use a Guru dis in your DMC [DJ battle] routine otherwise you would automatically fail to progress." Above and below are videos to some of my personal all time fave Gang Starr cuts. Rest in peace GURU - your music keeps you alive forever!

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Philly Hip-Hop Artist Lushlife Releases Powerful New Album; "Plateau Vision" on Western Vinyl

Posted by Billyjam, April 18, 2012 02:51pm | Post a Comment
Thanks to getting an advance copy of Philadelphia hip-hop artist Lushlife's brand new album Plateau Vision, which arrived in Amoeba yesterday in both CD and vinyl formats, I have had the opportunity to really listen repeatedly to it and can confidently predict, only a third of the way into the year, that it will be making my Top Five best-of 2012 list. It's that good! It's also something that the super-talented MC/producer has been working hard on for the past two years: meticulously assembling the richly layered production to deliver a unique hip-hop release that serves up some intelligent, thought-provoking rhymes over a refreshing production backdrop that is accurately described by his label Western Vinyl  (who normally do indie rock, not hip-hop) as such: "Plateau Vision expertly incubates ‘60s psych eccentricities, and gauzy low-fi production techniques with ’96-era hip-hop swagger." Indeed! That was what first grabbed me about the album: how it had this mid nineties NYC hip-hop feel to it but yet was uniquely new forward feeling too.

When I caught up with the self-described "bedroom composer" a few days ago, fresh back from doing shows in Massachusetts and Canada with the likes of Shabazz Palaces, he agreed that his production at times evokes that aforementioned mid-nineties hip-hop feel. "That's a fabric of what I do," he readily agreed but insisted that he shouldn't be pigeonholed as "one of those guys that just rehashes jazzy golden era beats. So when you listen to the record I like to think that it kind of emotes that feeling but that it still has something progressive and new about it. But that nineties stuff is the core of me." Born and raised in New Jersey the 30 year old artist, born Raj Haldar and making beats since high school,  settled in South Philly seven years ago after having, "spent time in London and New York." Compared to those two major (and notably more expensive) metropolitan centers Philly was the perfect fit for him as an artist. "I was able to live and breath there [Philapelphia] and not get caught up in just trying to pay the bills," he said echoing the sentiment of many other artists who've happily settled in the city 90 minutes south (with light traffic) of the Big Apple.
While Lushlife has been making music for several years ("I'd been dabbling in a lot of lo-fi and textural sounds in hip-hop," he said) it was only last year that he began to get really noticed. That was when he released straight-to-cassette mixtape No More Golden Days which, despite it's limited run ("I only pressed 200 copies," he laughed) got noticed by such credible tastemakers as Okayplayer, Stereogum, and the New York Times. That all lead to his record deal and the heralded release this week of his debut album. While Lush ably oversees mic & production duties throughout Plateau Vision, he also invited some other talents on board including Styles P, Shad, Heems of Das Racist, Cities Aviv, and Andrew Cedermark. Standout album tracks include "Magnolia," Gymnopedie 1.2 (ft. Shad)," "Anthem," and "Big Sur." I asked the artist if his song "Big Sur" was written about the beautiful California coastline area south of Monterey? Yes and no, he replied. "It's all like my imagined sense of Big Sur. But I have never been there," he said with a chuckle adding that, "A lot of the sub context of the stuff on Plateau Vision is kind of imagined America that I have never visited."

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