Column As I See ‘Em

FREE REALITY           FREE BRAVO                       RIP REGGIE                        RIP BUBBA

We are known as NoLove, because it’s not what we give, it’s what we get… So if you show No Love..You gets no Respect 

- NoLove, INC Motto-

So the first time I saw NoLove, INC, they were performing at Rack n’ Cue in Salem. The group of five or so RIPPED up the stage to where I was like DAAAYYMN!! (Seattle’s Most Wanted and Pele Won were probably two of the other times in the last four years for local artists).  NoLove had a great energy on stage and looked very organized and put together. Most of all, they had that underground vibe that is lacking even in the underground music scene.

Somehow, we also ran into them the next night, and I ended it up kickin’ it with them out the trunk outside the 501 – which ended up being a good thing because someone decided to pull a gun out that night inside. Anyway, as KonMan was falling back into the trunk because I just out-smoked his ass ;), I just couldn’t believe the stories they were telling me about their lives…being homeless, growing up on the streets, having to hustle, hit licks..or whatever…to keep a place to sleep, constantly running from the law, often not knowing where they’re next meal was coming from. I was stunned that they were all alive, standing there, in front of me. I mean, I was poor, but not living in the streets as a child. They just had a completely different, very  grimy, but intellectual, very “streets” vibe. Stood apart from any other hip-hop group I had encountered personally to date. They are an extremely authentic, intelligent, eloquent, talented and motivated set of individuals.

So of course, after meeting them and seeing them perform, listening to their music online, and seeing Davied’s KICK ASS video interview a few months back (Watch it here: http://nwxposure.wordpress.com/interviews/), I had to do a piece on them once I got this gig. They deserve a nice lil write-up for a press kit or what -not. I hit up ThaGhostCreepp (NoLove INC.’s mouthpiece) on Facebook to set up an interview. Here’s a little snippet of our convo:

Kristen: Let’s set up an interview, I wanna learn how the ghost creeps lol

Ghost: No you don’t lol thas a whole notha story on how I got my last name… thas tha difference between alotta people I’ve met too… Growin’ up you had to earn yo’ name now people jus’ throw a name on one morning an’ thas them lol. I earned both my names Ghost in 2nd grade an’ Creep when I was 13 in Chicago.

K: Yeah, I’d probably be on the receiving end of the creeping..nevermind..lol

G: Throw that down on ya note pad! Haha

(So I did)..Anyway, we B.S.’d a lil more, set a time to meet up, and I planned to go to a photo shoot with them as well.  I am EXCITED!!

So, the day of the interview comes. I’m slamming green tea the whole hour-ish there. Inevitably, 20 minutes before I reach my destination, my bladder feels like it’s going to explode.  Finally, I make it without getting lost, SWEET! I head straight to the door, pretending I’m  vibin’ to some music in my head, keepin’ it cool, waiting for someone to answer, don’t pee ma pants… ‘Course they send Bullet to the door, and he almost scares the piss all out of me. This big mu’fucka opens it all fast, and I didn’t hear anyone walking to it, so I didn’t know he was about to open it. Then he’s just standing there, looking at me. Doesn’t say anything. So I’m like “Wassup”. He says it back. He’s a good foot taller than me at 5’2”, but makes me  feel even smaller than that. He stands tall and straight, almost menacing, ever observant, in his black beanie and wool pea coat with shiny gold buttons. The bottom half of him is shiny black jeans and fresh black Nikes. He lights up a Newport and lets me in.

Fortunately, I’ve only had one kid, so I’m able to hold the pee from the initial startle.  I walk in to almost lose it again because Ghost Creepp’s hair is longer than mine..For real! I caught him just as he was putting in under the do-rag. I’m like, “Holy shit you have long hair…Yo, I gotta pee, like right now”; I handle that, and we’re good to go. One of the best pees ever. They pulled me right into the lil studio area and informed me I was about to hear a bunch of new stuff, tracks people outside NoLove haven’t heard. (HELL YEAH! Major bonus of this writing gig!). Ahhhh, it was all soo gooood! I can’t wait for their FREE mixtape to drop!

Some tracks to watch out for on WarMachine Mixtape: Max TrainsThe Conquest (Mad Aztec and Greek metaphors in this one. As the song plays, Ghost mentions, “I didn’t pass 8th grade, ya know, and so that’s who I really try to promote my music to, because I knows there’s a lot like me.” Yet the subject matter in this song, in particular, would put many so-called academics to shame.); This Is Real Life is full of Biblical metaphors, another one to catch you if you’re sleeping.

I heard Bullet Da Capo’s first written and recorded verse. I also heard KoNMaN spit hella quick, but he definitely ain’t just a chopper, so peep his versatility when the mixtape drops. I learn Temple of Thoughts aka Drunkn Mastah makes that party music to round out NoLove’s deep topics, but there’s still a message there. Bullet tells me they believe “Every song should be a story”, and Ghost tells stories of how different Portland used to be versus how it is now. These stories about their life experiences are the heart of the verses. Speaking about NoLove, as well as others with similar experiences, he says, “What do they call those on the nature channel? …Invasive species? Yeah, that’s us!”, with a laugh.

As each song plays, Ghost is rappin’ along with every verse so it’s givin’ me a little trouble figuring out which voice belongs to him, haha. He’s just bouncin’ around in his chair diggin’ the fuck out of every song. I did too, but it was cool to watch him enjoy his whole group’s music so much and know each verse so well. Bullet was right there too, hypin’..it was like a mini live performance! Another affiliate was there as well, kickin’ it and fillin’ in the blanks with random stories about..adventures…lol. This was a very entertaining interview…I had a blast. (P.S. – There’s even more in the Q&A below..keep reading, it will be so exciting!)

While there, the main members on the tracks I heard were KoN, Ghost, Scandito, and  Temple of Thoughts aka DrunknMastah. They told me about the different members, but all couldn’t make it to the interview. The group started off with around 15 members, but “bullshit and snitches”, left the group to about seven. They tell me Scandito used to not rap, he just made the beats on the bus and kicked it with the crew. Then one day he just annihilated someone in a freestyle apparently out of nowhere. Since then he’s just gotten “tighter and rawer every song,” says Ghost. “He’s a storyteller. All that shit he raps about really happened”.

Then KoN showed up part way through. Ghost actually said they joke he conned his way into the group by claimin’ he knew them from basketball. Ghost laughs when he tells it, “He just kept sayin’, I know y’all from basketball, I know y’all from basketball…I’m like, I don’t even play basketball! So, yeah we joke n say he conned his way in here but it don’t make no difference cuz he’s family now”. Word.

Bullet Da Capo was there the duration. He kinda wheezes sometimes when he breathes. He was smokin’ them Newpimp 100′s and I was thinking, “Man he needs to cut back on those, homeboy can’t breathe!”  I eventually learned, however, the reason he wheezes (and how he got his name) is he has a bullet lodged in him! He was shot in the chest, rushed to the ER where he spent several days and eventually learned the bullet would have to remain a permanent fixture in his anatomy, or he would die. So he wheezes when he breathes, but guarantees me he’s not in pain. Smoke away, homie, my bad.

So after a while of chillin’ and listening to music, we get ready to go to the photo shoot, but something feel through, so that didn’t happen. What was cool though is when they found out, they were just like, “Aight”. KonMan sat down started workin on a beat, Bullet and Ghost just kept showin’ me more music. These cats roll with the punches.  Oh, I also saw how they keep their stage game so clean! They have – tacked up on the wall – a few different “plays” of how to move on stage. Or that’s what it looks like, basketball plays, drawn out with X’s, O’s, and arrows. So, there you have it. You wanna look good up there? You gotta put some planning into what you’re going to do on stage, especially with a big ass group. Ohhh soooo many acts that I’ve seen  could take lessons from these cats. Overall, these guys are some of the rawest dudes I have met in my life so far. I can already tell I could write books about each one of these dude’s lives that would blow y’alls minds about the shit they done and seen. Details of which will be left out of this interview.. if you  wanna hear more of their stories, listen to their music!

INTERVIEW Q&A

~How did y’all meet and become NoLove?~

Ghost:  Honestly, Struggling lol We were all Hungry and the Streets brought us together. While we were tryina eat our paths crossed and when People click, they click. We all cyphered and spit together so much over time it just made sense to work together”.

Bullet: We meet on da grind

~Explain why you chose the name No Love~

Ghost: We all got the short end of the stick in life an NoLove is what we would always say when shit didn’t go our way an’ it just stuck. We couldnt think of a name for ourselves for the longest… then finally it just hit us an NoLove chose us. It’s just what best described what we got in the World. No Love was always Incorporated into us so we chose NoLove INC. as our handle.

~What is your favorite song to perform? Overall?~
Ghost- Honestly that depends but I just enjoy performing in general. If I have Verses I want to Share them. All of em lol

Bullet-Real Life

Temple of Thoughts:  I’m waiting to perform our new songs before I pick a favorite.

When I was there, I honestly couldn’t pick a favorite verse/song. These guys just ran through sneak peak after sneak peak of their new album and every verse is lyrical, comical, intelligent, and/or inspirational as hell. They straight up showed me like 10 songs no one outside their clique has heard. Y’all, I felt honored, for real. ..I appreciate you showin me..could it have been “love”? Maybe it was “like”… either way I definitely felt respected in y’alls presence and I hope you felt the same.

~Who are the official members that we should know about when we hear the name NoLove, and what are your roles?~
Ghost: Well Basically we run this as a Democracy… Everyone’s Word counts, an’ it takes all of us to really pass a decision… but when it comes down to it and if you want to put Labels on shit technically its:

Ghost Creep- CEO
Bullet Da Capo- Hype Man & Head Supervisor
Temple of Thoughts- Engineer and Production Manager
Scandito Homie- Street Team Manager & Distribution
KoNMaN- Marketing & Distribution
Emmoral- Promotions Manager

That’s wassup..I like the  group/team mentality.

~You guys seem to have a pretty sweet following locally. How did you grow your fan base?
Ghost: Actually I don’t even know lol Just over time people liked what they heard an rode with it. The message we represent helps a lot too. We want People to See it’s not what your holding, it’s who’s holding it. Past the illusion of the Cars, Clothes, Money and Hoes Who are they? Because I can’t remember the last time I heard a mainstream artist spit some shit where I actually learned about his life Story aside from who he’s met in the Game and what he’s got out of it (AMEN!). But people used to spit about how they got there and that’s the part of Hip-Hop we represent. What’s really goin’ on lol.

Bullet: We from da streets and muthafuckas know us.

Temple: Yeah, it helps being known around town and networking.

Yeah, y’all definitely do spit that real talkI love Bullet’s answers, hella concise lol. They also told me a story about how Scandito would make a beat with a pen and lighter on the bus and they would all start rappin’.  They would get mad love from the other bus riders that way, and often the bus driver would think it was the radio and tell them to turn it down!

~What have you guys been up to in 2012?~
Ghost: Trying to keep our heads above water and who we have left out of the Justice System. Besides that, we have been working on the “WarMachine Mixtape Presented by: Bullet Da Capo and NoLove INC.”, which will be out for distribution (For Free) before the end of the year. To let people get to know us as Artists a little better.

Bullet: Keepin’ it real an workin’ on da war machine.

Temple: Trying to stay free and fed and work on the warmachine.

~What are your upcoming shows and projects for next year?~

Ghost: Honestly we dont think that far ahead lol we are just living life. What happens, happens but we are planning on getting back in the Portland Underground Circuit soon and get back on stage. We have just been waiting to get this Mixtape done honestly so People have something to take home with them.

Bullet: Only time will tell, we take (life) one step at a time.

~Why did you choose hip-hop as your path?~
Ghost- Because to keep it Real when you have never even really been to High school you don’t have too many options. I am in the works of getting my GED and getting into PCC to learn more about the electronic side of the Music Game and working the equipment better. But I can barely get a job at a Fast Food Joint so if this Don’t cut it I’m back to Hustling again because I don’t know how to do much else lol but God I hope Not.

Thas wassup. Real talk again from Ghost. Man I hope not either. I hope y’all get hella successful, for real. You’re doin’ the world more good slangin’ CDs.

Bullet: Da life we live led us to it.

Temple: It chose me lol

~What kind of music do y’all listen to?~
Ghost: Rhythm and Poetry, Hip-Hop, Blues, Jazz, Reggae, some R&B.

Bullet: Gangsta Rap, Funk, Jazz, Blues

Temple: Everything, but no such country or heavy metal. Anything with a melody and a message and pretty much a good ass beat. RIP J. Dilla.

~Who/what inspires you when you want to throw in the towel?~
Ghost: The fact that so many people depend on what we are doing. We eat off this an’ some of us really have no hope besides this so when shit gets hard for me… I remember that I’m hungry and I’m not the only one and that keeps me going.

Bullet:  My son.

Temple: The people that have quit that had so much potential. I just can’t quit.

Word. Lotta people don’t actually have it like that.

~What do you want people to remember after they listen to NoLove or see y’all live?~
Ghost: That shit can always be worse so appreciate what you got and keep your head up and be positive even when things are as negative as they can get because you never know what tomorrow has for you. And to give Honor, Honesty and Loyalty to yourself and your people because those who live for nothing fall for anything.

Bullet- To really understand the message we talkin’ about: Trying to give the dos and don’ts to the youth.

Temple: There are probably 12 acts, but just remember us and me in the leopard robe wit my cup lol

Keep in mind, Temple aka DruknMastah is also the one who has the reputation for making the music to parlay to. And he says in one of his lines, “ I gotta do it stupid for the people that be brainless”.  Love it.

~Tell me what you think of hip-hop today?~

Ghost: I believe people lost the roots of what made R.A.P. and Hip-Hop great. It was a voice for those that didn’t have one. The broke/poor, the hungry, the homeless, the people that were not as blessed as others, the story tellers from below the poverty line that let the World know how people in the Slums were really living. Hip-Hop used to have direction for those lost. It used to give people struggles they can relate too and hopefully give you another way to look at it and most the time the way the artist got out of it an’ the mistakes he made along the way the listener can learn from. That’s what I miss. R.A.P. and Hip-Hop used to be life stories, biographies on the artists making them. Now it’s just a bunch of “who got more then who?” When it used to be, “This is what I did with Nothing.” That’s the message I’m trying to bring back. An artist I’ve came in contact with out here named MC Albet said it the best in my eyes. They say Hip-Hop is Dead… He said “Hip-Hop isn’t Dead it’s Just Buried Alive, that’s why it’s called Underground.” That’s’ where the Real Hip-Hop of today is. From those struggling to get heard. But what the mainstream has made it is a bunch of commercials to Sell Products (Right!? Snoop Lion “Pocket like it’s hot”!? DAFUK outta here with that shit!). And that’s’ Disgusting to me. They pimpin’ Hip-Hop now in the Media and Mainstream to make rich people richer. Shit’s Backwards. I believe Hip-Hop is alive and well, people are just looking in the wrong places, and if people took the time to do their research… They would have a lot of new favorite artists. But that’s just my opinion.

Temple:  Slowly but surely its making a comeback. I support the people I think have the talent and the message I can follow and relate to.

~So, what’s good hip-hop?~

Ghost: Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolBoy Q, Ab-Soul, Hopsin, SwizZz, Dizzy Wright, Big K.R.I.T. & J. Cole’s shit be goin’ pretty hard. Favorite Artists- R.I.P. Mac Dre, THIZZ Nation, R.I.P. Tupac, R.I.P. Notorious BIG, R.I.P. Big Pun, R.I.P. Big L, Keak Da Sneak, Ice Cube, E-40, Suga Free, T-Nutty, X-Raided, Cassidy, Scarface, Zero, Devin the Dude, Outkast & not to sound cocky at all, but My Camp.

Temple:  I bump Sinful, MF Doom & Quasimodo, Zion & I Crew, Freestyle Fellowship, Count Bass D., Black Star, Big L, Murs, Mic Crenshaw, Mac Dre, Andre Nickatina, Smooth E, Dirt Nasty, Cool Keith, E40, Reek Daddy, Afroman & Blu… New Artists- Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Hopsin, SwizZz

~ What makes NoLove, INC unique?~

Ghost: Honestly, nothing makes us unique; we are just like everybody else. That’s what sets us apart. We just wanna live an enjoy life like anybody else does. We don’t wanna be yacht owners or live in a mansion… Just live comfortably & not be hungry. If anything makes us unique compared to what everyone else is doing with their music, it’s that.

Temple: We are all versatile, and can adapt and come from different backgrounds to form this war machine.

I like how temple consistently mentions Warmachine. He really seems to vibe with that metaphor. I can’t wait for that to come out!

Once again, these cats deserve recognition. They are putting in work and have real stories to tell that we can all learn from. I wish y’all the best of luck in your future. Maybe I’ll do an album review of the mixtape when it drops if I have time. Make sure to give me like 100 to  hand out in Salem! PEACE OUT

Places to find their music online:

Ghost Creepp”Soundcloud.com/ghost_creep” and “Reverbnation.com/ghostcreep

Temple of Thoughts: “Soundcloud.com/drunkn-mastah” and “Reverbnation.com/templeofthoughts

Gittin’ Reel with HD


HD, “you’re so 1080p”

Yeah, haha, that pretty much sums it up. I’ve seen HD around the Salem music scene for the last four years or so. He initially caught my eye/ear with his freestyles and the fact that he could rap and sing (he has a nice R&B voice). He is one of the few legit freestylers and multi-faceted rappers I have a heard in this area. Additionally, he has a marketable persona, he’s easy on the eyes, and on stage, he definitely gets the crowd’s attention. I was able to catch him live at a lil open mic last night here in Salem, and his stuff is just getting better and better. Great energy on stage, dope lyrics and hooks for days…I enjoyed every song.

I see him frequenting local events to show support for his community and other artists. I mean, we all got lives, kids, jobs, etc at this point, so sometimes it is an effort and an expense to go out when you’re not performing. I can appreciate when artists do that. He also had two videos come out recently that are legit, as well as a mixtape available. HD has always come across as a very laid-back person. He seems very content to chill in his own space, do his own thing, and I can totally respect that. He admittedly roles solo and likes it that way.

So, four years later, HD is still making music and I’m still loving music. But, I’m  also blogging for the tightest online magazine in the NW. So, I figured it was time to catch up with another local cat still doin’ his thing out here. He came over and we were just posted up, porchside chillin’ in the hood for a few hours while we talked about music. Here’s what HD had to say for himself.  And this dude don’t try to talk too much. So, even though I’ve been knowin’ of HD, I don’t really know HD. So let’s see how this goes…

Kristen: How/why did you choose the stage name that you have?

HD: Man, Mr. Nate from Bad Seeds used to call me Young Hollywood. I wanted to shorten it up, and then I just decided to use the HD ..so just kinda happened then everyone started callin me that. Tried to change it again and people just wouldn’t let me so…

K: Cool, so tell me about what got you into hip-hop?

HD: I started off singing R&B songs  at hip-hop shows at Rack n Cue. People were feeling it and so I kept doin’ it, and somehow I just started rapping. (Haha..I learned HD apparently has a way of just “somehow” doing things). I always was writing poetry and stuff though. And I always liked music, and I still love R&B. Old stuff more than new, the new stuff is garbage. Everything’s techno. I just think people should be the best that you can be , no ones the best in Salem. People  startin’ to work with each other more, though.

K: So garbage must be happening in every genre(fart noise). So who is good?

HD:  Ne-yo songs are always good, Chris Brown’s first album…Bobby Brown is the first rapper and singer (We agreed My Prerogative is the best album. “Somehow” my country ass grew up listening to that.)

K: What’s the song-making process  like for you?

HD: I pick a beat, get the mood and go from there. It’s just whatever pops into my head. Then I put it with life experience, try to make it relate to others, listen to it like 200 times sometimes to come up with shit to add to it. But when I go to the studio, I always have that stuff ready. I like to get in and out and get as many songs can done at once as I possibly can.

K:  Do you think your music can make it in the NW?

HD: Well, yeah…If you make good music, people will eventually notice. You gotta’ get your hustle on though, or your just doin’ it as a hobby.  You can’t just jump in and out the studio and say you’re makin’ music and expect to blow up.

K:  For real. How have you grown as an artist since you started doing music?

HD: (Laughs). My first rap was the weakest shit ever! I thought it was hot..then I listened to it again way later and realized…naw (shakes his head and laughs again). You just learn as you go through more shit, so I just try to put it in ways people can relate to.

K: Haha..Hey you gotta start somewhere. So, what makes you stand out now?

HD: I’m really diverse (as an artist).  Like I said, I started out singing, and then switched to rapping, so I do it all. Plus, I still talk to everybody, go to anyone’s shows, events, etc and show love. Not everybody does that, but it does seem like people are doin’ it more.

K: I see that too. So what goals do you have for yourself as an artist?

HD: Mixtape follow up to Git Reel, Git Reel Part II…hopefully before the end of the year, then my album. And I made all the beats for my album, mixtapes is oldschool beats or random.

K: Oh, what!? I didn’t know you make beats?

HD: Yeah. 3-4 months ago. I use a keyboard and reason. I make random, pop, R&B, rap, all different styles, west coast . I like experimenting with all the sounds that sound tight and add shit…If you can rap to it, it’s a beat, make it sound tight, even better.

K: Well good for you muthafucka..it’s not that easy..hahaha. So, what artist(s) have influenced you? Tupac first heard in 4th grade , a lot of that. Old R&B.

K: What do you listen to now?

HD: Wiz Khalifa is the shit…Kid Cudi got sober and is weird now..I had the old Wiz, the new Wiz is tight too. “Big Sean’s” dope..I like good music.

K:What do you think about the current state of hip-hop?

HD: Everyone’s still following fads and doing the same things. But what I like about Salem is in Salem everyone’s different. Sidewayz, Deshaun, Leek, Mob, Pele, HD, we all do our own thang.

K: That is true never thought about it like that…tight..So what are you doing to make it even better?

HD: Bringing subject matter and music back to music, and diversity.

K: If you were to “make it”, how would you give back your community?

HD: Make some shit to do here, more jobs..hell yeah and long as we’re stable and we can do what we wanna do it’d be a cool place to be. Sick of eatin’ at the same places all the time..I want an In-N-Out burger, Dave n Busters…the list goes on..

K: Um, yes please! Go ahead and do alla that! Of your own songs, which is your favorite?

HD: Bob Marley..probably by far one of the dopest songs I’ve ever done. (I agree, it’s tight! See the link at the bottom of the page).

K: Who’s your people, who do you collab with?

HD: Relly, Zito from PDX, Pele, Capz from NY but lives in Salem, Deshaun, Rizz, Bentley..

K:You got Bent to come out the woodworks?! You lie!

HD: (Smiles and laughs). Yeah, it’s already recorded.

K: Awww, I can’t wait! That’s tight!

K: So last, what else are you passionate about besides music?

HD:  Work and bein’ a dad.

K: Sounds good to me. PEACE.

Finally…

WHERE DO PEOPLE FIND HD MUSIC??

Bob Marley Video http://youtu.be/QQLeZxkZfeE

Get Paid Video http://youtu.be/qx2FSVQSAco

Git Reel Volume I Mixtape http://www.datpiff.com/Yung-H-D-Git-Reel-Pt-1-The-Beginning-mixtape.366938.html

Mob Royalle: A Beautiful Beast

ARTIST REVIEW

Mob Royalle is an artist I have known personally since early 2009. And yes, we make the beast with two backs, we have for about four years now. Okay,  just had to get that out of the way. But, if you listen for yourself, you will see that has no bearing on my high opinion of his music.  It simply gives me a unique perspective on the Mob Royalle and his musical endeavors over the last few years. Let me tell you how it began for me…

I met Mob Royalle when he was 20. I didn’t even know he did music until our third conversation. Even then, he was very humble about it, just mentioned he was a musician. Over time, I learned he made his own beats, played instruments, knew music theory, wrote screenplays, lyrics and was just an overall huge media production nerd. I also realized at this point in his life, he was just beginning to shed the remnants of his somewhat controlled adolescent musical style, and move into his own. For example, the first Mob Royalle song I ever listened to was “How I Do It”. I still enjoy it, the beat is just sick. The lyrics are clean and PG; it could likely be a solid radio hit for a time. That’s cool and all, but I generally want more content from an artist than what I hear on mainstream radio. I came to realize there was more to Mob; he wasn’t like many other local rappers I had seen or met/dated. (Yes, I have a thing for black men and musicians…I know this).

The more I got to know him and his music, the more I realized “How I Do It”, “Grapevine”, and other clean, sometimes gospel-inspired songs weren’t an actual portrayal of what was currently going on in his head. Continuing to make solely those types of songs would be denying part of his true self, or at least only giving fans the cocky, partying, and easily accepted side. Fortunately, Mob Royalle acknowledged and began to explore that darker side that he would say exists in us all; that darkness ignited a fiery wellspring of creativity.  Mob unleashed the beast. And from this angry, hellish beast,  sprung forth a plethora of epic, movie-score-worthy beats, mixed with meaningful lyrics. Songs like “Tick” or “The Dilemma”, are potential sensory overload for the virgin listener. For those who have been waiting for the next (insert your favorite legitimate rapper here), Mob is the real deal.

He is truly unique, but for the sake of trying to give the reader an idea of what his music is currently like, I will compare him to some well-known artists. Mob Royalle is reminiscent of 2Pac in some of his subject matter, can be socio-politically conscious, and has become quite “power to the people”. His flow at times also shows a Pac influence. Mob also has that darker side mentioned earlier. Those lyrics come at the listener in more of a Strange Music (Tech N9ne) fashion;  he would fit well with the production style, fan base, etc. He can rhyme chopper-style, but that definitely doesn’t define him. That’s another thing I appreciate about Mob, he switches up his style. I am easily bored. Three tracks in a row that sounds the same, and the artist usually gets “NEXT”ed.  He has epic beats, harmonies, (he does all those himself too), and just ridiculously raw, sinister lyrics. Enough to make you wonder…is this really what he thinks about? (Yes, it is. Think Hulk: “I’m always angry”).

When you meet him, it’s hard to believe. He is humble as far as rappers go, works two part-time slaves with no days off, and works on music the rest of the time basically. All this while he’s booking his own shows, promoting, making his own beats and writing his own lyrics. No bling, no masks, no fangs, no skulls. Not even a tattoo! (He did say he wants a tattoo but it needs to be thought about more). I have never personally met more of a one-man show…he’s like the music savant. Not in a remedial, pushover way, like if the music savant could totally kick your ass. Besides music, Mob also takes his aggressions out through sparring and martial arts. Whether he is training with local UFC fighters, or solo in a park, Rocky style, Mob keeps active. He has a punching bag that gets good use as well as a “strictly decorative” knife collection. Just in case he needs to “grab that knife, stab that guy, hack and slice…” , I guess.  (Lyric from “Tick”).

Another huge aspect of Mob Royalle I cannot leave out is his stage presence..mind blowing!!  The energy he brings to the room is usually on a completely different level from the other performers. He is way ahead of most other local rapper in the game when it comes to stage presence, but he’s worked for it too. He obviously takes his time with his beats, lyrics, and performance.  He leaves it all on the stage, using the entire floor as his canvas, constantly involving and energizing the crowd. Strategically crafted works of art; his performances are a journey through his mind if you’re open to the ride. I don’t even think he needs the mic his voice is so loud, and as long as the sound system is decent enough (the ever-vexing issue of local rappers) you can understand what he is saying, which is rare in my experience.

Again, Mob is capable of producing many genres of music, and playing many instruments. For now, he is choosing to focus on Hip-Hop performing and production.  I don’t want to pigeon-hole him as a musician, as I foresee his style evolving and expanding across genres over the years. But hopefully you now have a clearer picture of Mob Royalle. These are the types of artists I intend to bring into awareness; those that are ahead of the rest in content, ability, and overall heart. The New Age, the next wave of kick ass hip-hoppers is here, in the Northwest and around the country and world. I just haven’t discovered them all… yet. My aim is to bring attention to these artists and hope that their stories, lives, and music serve as an inspiration to readers to follow their dreams and never give up!

PEACE! –Kristen-

ARTIST INTERVIEW Q&A SECTION

The following questions from my interview with Mob Royalle are adapted from his Facebook fan page.  He asked listeners what they wanted to know, and this is what they said. Then I added a few of my own.

Kristen: Give an example of some of your favorite lyrics. Do you write your own?

Mob: Yes I do. My favorite..hmm..(thinks for about 30 seconds)..It’s part of “I Hope”. It’s all one verse sooo..haha…it’s in there somewhere..it goes, “ This is for the broke mothers of dope runners who smoke brothas, lay ‘em out in lone guttas. Here’s to starving kids when rent’s due, the only rapper who remembers the shit you’ve been through. It’s the MOB and I’m standin right here with you, M-O-B isn’t me, it really is you.”

K:  That’s cool..I know that part..very deep, that whole 80+bars is. Ok, If you could collaborate with any signed musician, who would it be?

M: Um..any?..(long pause in Thinker pose)..I’d like to collab with Royce (Da 5’9”) or Kendrick Lamar.

K: If you could choose your record label, who would you choose?

M: Oh! Wow..umm..I honestly don’t know. Whichever one offers the most without taking the most. (Brief pause, then continues) Honestly I don’t think much about getting signed because I think a lot about doing my own thing. (Another brief pause) If I had to choose, Strange (Music) seems like it would be a good fit.
K: If you could punch one artist in the mouth with no repercussions, who would you punch?

M: Van Gogh. Why would you cut off your ear!? That’s not romantic!

K: Hahaha..I think your fan meant a living artist, a fellow musician perhaps..

M: Okay then..Nicki Minaj. She’s not an artist nor a fellow musician..but you know..That bitch fuckin annoys me.

K: And that’s it?

M: Yeah.

K: Haha. Okay, next question: Would you say more songs reflect childhood experiences or adult experiences?

M: Hmm..probably a blend of both, but more grown up experiences. More the way I am now, or the way I want to be now. But every once in a while going back, and exploring how I got to be this way is helpful.

K: Could you give an example?

M: Tick is a great example, I’d say. Talks about the struggles I have now, then goes back and tells experiences I had as a child that feed into them. Another song, “Message to the world”, where I’m talking about how we need to change the way we’re living, but I also empathize with the way things are, how people can struggle. I mention a suicide attempt at 14 and how I found hope through it, hopefully other people can too, ya know, by me sharing that.
K: For sure…Alright so have you ever regretted a song you wrote or performed live? Do you remember a time where you thought you had a bad show?

M: I’ve never had my own song that I performed that I didn’t like. There’s been a couple collabs that in hindsight, I might have picked other artists..but I won’t mention any names. As far as bad shows..(laughs) I mean I’ve been performing for three years now pretty solid (turning 21 made it much easier)..there’s just gonna be shows sometimes where things don’t work out perfectly, sound system’s wack, everyone’s outside and three people inside, whatever. And I just melt their fuckin’ brains every time. And I love performing..So naw, no such thing as a bad show. I just make the best of every chance I get to perform.

K: Haha. You’re still young though, but I like your passion.

Next question: If you were trapped on an island, which artists would you ask to live with you?

M: Immortal Technique and Wyclef. Mainly because both have heavy ties to community and have pursued ways to give back to their community. That’s the type of person you want if you’re abandoned on an island to build some sort of society with.

K: Okay, my turn. Tell me about a time you felt so criticized, down on your luck, etc about music, maybe to the point you questioned if you wanted to do this? How do you “Rise Above”?

M: I cannot think of a point where criticism itself made me want to quit. I mean I’ve gotten it a lot but I’ve got a pretty thick hide as far as words go. “Sticks and stones” sort of thing, ya know? I have had challenges though – events gone wrong, difficulty getting booked, competing with mainstream, you know what most underground acts have to deal with. When you start out you just gotta know that shit is in store for you. Brace yourself for it, power through it, and when you’re at your lowest you gotta remind yourself of why you started doin’ this music thing in the first place. That’s what gives me strength.

K: Why did you start doing it in the first place?

M: Because I love music and the ability to express myself in ways I normally can’t through it.

K:  Cool. Okay, So why the name Mob Royalle? Where did that come from?

M: The name Mob Royalle has a split meaning. Mob is a reference to the Mafia, the streets, the grimy down and dirty ride or die side of this persona. Royalle is a reference to royalty, nobility, sophistication, intelligence, style, and an overall high caliber of quality. A lot of times, people think the two are opposites, and can never coexist. Mob Royalle is an example of the two opposites existing in the same individual. And the existence is not one of dissonance, but of harmony.

K: What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a rapper?

M: Favorite: Rap is more than the music. There is a certain attitude that goes along with it that’s hard to describe. Competitive yet cooperative, arrogant yet introspective. There is an approach of not giving fuck what anyone thinks because you want to do you, while at the same time knowing that if people don’t follow your music you ain’t goin’ nowhere with it. It’s a tight rope walk that is similar to what we deal with in all areas of life. Another reason I like it is because it gives me the platform to bring out the more authentic parts of me that aren’t necessarily accepted in everyday society. The shit talkin, big dick swingin’, bad-to-the-bone animalistic motherfucker that’s inside all of us, and never gets the chance to get out and breathe and flex – that’s what rap music helps to bring out. Most of our education these days discourages this side of us from even existing, or ignores it altogether – and people wonder why so many motherfuckers are dysfunctional. Rap music can speak to this part of you and teach it to no longer be a dumb brutish animal, but rather an intelligent beast.

Least: Rapper’s are pigeon-holed into a narrow range of lifestyles, personas, attitudes, musical taste, and expression. This is not necessarily because this is what being a rapper is all about, but because those who have raped and controlled the music industry thus far have promoted the image of what a rapper is supposed to be. And frankly I don’t like having to fit into any mold, even if it’s one I’ve grown to admire.

K:  Understandable. So speaking of not fitting into a mold, what do you feel you bring to hip-hop that sets you apart?

M: I’m not gonna be one of the niggas who says he’s doin something completely new. Everyone knows that’s bullshit – ain’t nothing new under the sun. Every act of creation simply draws from things that have already happened. Take battle for example. Long ago, people knew how to ride horses, they knew how fight with spears and swords and bows and arrows, and they knew about the wheel. All of these things were great advancements individually. But it wasn’t until they combined these elements to create the chariot, that they completely revolutionized the game of war. It wasn’t by inventing something new; it was by combining what they already had in a way they hadn’t done it before, to create a more perfect product. And that’s one of the many things that I bring to the rap game. My goal is simple; I want to master every flow, touch on every topic, flawlessly create every image, and play with every musical subgenre that I feel is worth my time. I mean a lot of people catch the pac influence and the tech influence in my basic style, but they hear something else too. The lyrical content and delivery, the songwriting, the musical composition of the instrumentals, they all draw from a myriad of influences from all over the musical and lyrical spectrum. It’s my “chariot” so to speak. It’s the next great evolution of hip hop and music in general. I think of hip hop as a species; every species comes to a point where it faces the very likely possibility of extinction. Hip hop is at that point – music is at that point. We’ve driven it to that point by either raping it or pimping it out. And when a species is at that point, the only two choices are evolve or die. And I’ll be damned if Ima let music die. So we gotta make it evolve.

K: Cool, I like the chariot and evolution metaphors, I’m feelin that. What do you think you need to work on to achieve your goals, “areas of opportunity” as they say?

M: Right now we’re working on the business and paperwork side of things. It’s boring, painstaking, time consuming, and at times makes music seem less enjoyable and more like a job. I’ll be honest and say that side of the game doesn’t naturally vibe with who I am as a person. So right now what I’m working on is adaptation, learning to move and think in this business realm.

The other thing I’m working on is building an effective team. I’ve worked with a lot of people in the NW, but not everyone is someone to bring into the fold. Soon my label Evil Genius Creations will be in full swing, complete with its roster of ridiculously talented artists, a fully functional street team spanning the entire Pacific North West, managers, promoters, booking agents, the works. It is in the process of being built right now. It’s a slow process, because there are people you work with on a project by project basis, and then there are people you want to be a more permanent part of your team. The latter of the two is few and far between.

Lastly, and this has never changed, I’m working on diversity. Finding new sounds, new metaphors, new musical styles, new topics and lyrical content that I haven’t messed with before, but that people will vibe with.

K: What is the point of Mob music, is there one? Is there anything you hope people feel or think after listening to your mixtape, online, or seeing you perform live?

M: Haha..I just want them to THINK! But, honestly, the first point of the music is the music itself.  It seems like popular hits of the day have lost the love for making real music and we need to bring it back. So that’s the first thing I try to accomplish with my music is to make it the best music I can make, every single time.

Next, I want to take people’s minds and begin to free them. It starts with giving them what they want – a hip hop jam to vibe to. But the sound is a little different than most on the radio; not so different where they like “what the fuck is this shit?” but different enough to encourage them to break out of the mold that this industry has encouraged them to be trapped inside. I want people to respond to good music again. Seems like right now, the only thing they respond to is what the big names say is hot – regardless of if it is or not. I want them to start judging music for themselves and not having their opinions given to them by a system that tries to fuck their minds. Then I want that direction to influence the rest of their lives, not just their music tastes. Their entertainment, their jobs, their schools, their governments, every choice they make – I want them to make it, not just sit there and be told what they should do. It’s your damn life why would you settle for someone else running it?

K: That’s wassup. Okay I gotta quite bein’ so serious..Name a few favorite drinks and what music you listen to when you’re chillin..

M: My favorite drinks are Hercules – half glass of Tarantula Tequila, ¼ glass of mango orange passionfruit Rockstar, ¼ glass of lemonade Rockstar. KriStyle invented this drink when we were kickin it with KrossBreed and ThomAhawK. We call it Hercules because all of a sudden you start feeling invincible. This could be a good or bad thing, but it feels amazing. And, at the risk of sounding cliché – Hennessey is up there near the top. I’ve figured out the reason it’s a stereotypical black man drink; because it’s fucking delicious.

K: It is delicious. Next question: joints or blunts?

M: Both. Just stick with Swishers and Zig Zags, the old faithfuls …solid for rolling and smoking every single time. Spark it up!

K: Okay. Thanks Mob. That’s all for now.

M: Stay mobbin

Find Mob Royalle’s music and connect with him online at: reverbnation.com/mobroyalle; Facebook.com/MobRoyalle; soundcloud.com/mobroyalle; youtube.com, search “mobroyalle”. Look for his track of the summer, “Summertime”, with video already covered by NWxposure!

Most of his music is available for free download, but you know local artists don’t really get paid, so the support is always appreciated if you are able to purchase a track or CD!

**Here’s a few extra comments since I originally wrote this whole huge ass piece as a 5000 word magazine article that I don’t know was ever published, so I may as well use them! Read! It’s good for your brain! So, I asked for the comments from others via his facebook page, but didn’t get too many responses. I checked his fb fan page for any other comments, as well as youtube and included some of those. I was gonna post whatever I found, staying true to “Column as I see ‘em”,  but honestly there were no negative comments except for a couple regarding some of the people in one of his videos..which is irrelevant to his talent as an artist, so I didn’t include that. SO, for the record, this shit ain’t swayed by me…I really couldn’t find someone with something negative to say about Mob Royalle.

OTHER IMPRESSIONS OF MOB ROYALLE

Disclaimer: This first quote is longer than I would usually include, but he took the time to write it and it was all so thoughtful, I included most of what he contributed.

“I first heard Mob when I was just a feature in a metal band, and was amazed by his talent! I’ve only purchased a handful of CDs from strangers, and his was one of ‘em! Mob is one of the most humble men I’ve ever met, and he’s humble with a talent… which is rare. He is a singer, rapper, song writer, producer, promoter, manager, and beat maker! In my book, that’s a hell of a lot of talent. He booked me on my first solo show and will make time for me on any show he’s in charge of!  People compare him to Pac because of his sound, which is somewhat true, but the main comparison I see, is his passion for people and music… he’s a visionary who appreciates the gift God has given him, and I know that it will serve him well in his music. If he wasn’t born before Pac’s death, I would swear he’s Tupac Reincarnated.
Mob makes few enemies, partly because “who could hate Mob?” And partly because “who would fuck with Mob?” I’ve been a fan of his music, I’ve been on shows with him, and I’ve been on songs with him… he’s  more than a fellow musician and someone I look up to (in life and in music) but a friend as well…
His lyrics in “Heresey”, “Broke Nigga Blues”, “The Dilemma”,  and “Rise Above” are some of the most truthful and inspirational lyrics I’ve ever heard from an unsigned (or signed) artist. He deserves to have the chance to be at the top of the charts, putting out multi platinum albums, and playing stadiums… not only because he’s talented, but because I know he will do more for the people of this earth than any celebrity has EVER done!!! If you believe in the American Dream, Underground Hip Hop, or even the simple idea that good people deserve good things…. you’ll believe in Mark “Mob Royalle” Jones!!!”.

–Big Tony, Salem, OR

“Mob performs with a powerful, confident presence on stage, his music is raw and passionate with a diverse style. I can relate with his topics and life, (and) can’t help but to sing along and dance” – Susie,  Salem, OR

“Mob Royalle stood out for me because of his amazing style and deep lyricism. You can really tell he loves what he’s doing and when you love what you do it shines through. This man is a genius and should be noticed”. – Malina, Salem, OR

I really like what you got to say man, it’s the truth and inspirational. Keep it up all of your fans are loving it!” –Justin, Salem, OR

“Dude got skill thumbs up sounds like Spice 1 X Pac”-WILLUSUBSCRIBE 1 year ago

“Your guys shit is sick…idk if these guy took your shit and put it on a burnable cd but i bought you guys mixtape in salem oregon and bumb that shit everday” -TheRallycrossKing (LOL. No worries, that probably  was Mob or I who made it ourselves, and he doesn’t give a shit how you got it long as you listen up and share it, homie!)

“You guys are HUGE in Uruguay! There hasn’t been this much buzz here since Gabriel Terra became president in March 1931.” - bdon2 10 months ago (LOL..Okay!!)

“’Ive been through almost all the songs on this channel , I haven’t found one I dislike .

This track is golden shit, my brothers !” - TheNameLess2323 2 months ago in playlist More videos from ThaRealHipHopTV (<<<<<This channel, btw, just randomly found his Rise Above video/slideshow on youtube and decided to post it on their channel! THEN they emailed Mob to let him know – forgiveness, not permission, totally how I operate – and asked him for more videos. That’s cool!)

P.S. – Stay tuned!  As this is the first attempt at having this interview be a group effort, please keep in mind, my access for fan and artist quotes is only as large as my current circle of people that actually participate. I hope for this to be a recurring feature, and with reader participation, would include fan quotes or artist quotes from readers. So get at me if you have an artist you want me to cover, or a comment on an artist I have covered!

Once again, Find Mob Royalle’s music and connect with him online at: reverbnation.com/mobroyalle; Facebook.com/MobRoyalle; soundcloud.com/mobroyalle; youtube.com, search “mobroyalle”. Look for his track of the summer, “Summertime”, with video already covered by NWxposure!

Ironfist “The Appetizer” album review

by Kristen Nebeker

First blog of the month coming in a little late, apologies. With school starting for my kiddo and work starting for me, things have been a little hectic. Regardless, there is always time to listen to some new music. Last month NWxposure offered to do album reviews (in addition to the artist interviews, video interviews, etc). The first artist to submit an album was IronFist, a local rapper out of Portland, OR. I had never heard of IronFist before this; I decided to listen to the album before knowing anything about him.

As a reminder, my blog is named “Column as I See ‘Em” for a reason, so my opinion will not be sugar-coated. I actually have started crafting some sort of point system in my mind, so I can just mathematically calculate a “grade” for each album I review. I genuinely want to provide helpful feedback for the artist. This is one potential fan’s honest opinion. This fan also has high standards and wants good music. I listen to mostly underground hip-hop and hate repetition in beats and lyrics. Creative presentation of flow, voice inflection, metaphors, word usage, song theme, and beat choice are all things that are pleasing to my ear. Okay, so with that said…open the Dropbox folder…
Initial reaction: Well I get why this is called the Appetizer Tape…because it’s only eight tracks! Not nearly enough numbers for my eyes when my ears heard “album”. My next thought is, these songs better be legit, like super-polished and I can tell he took his time to make these 8 songs the shit.

Track 1: starts with Rain organ-y sounding piano playing hauntingly, and the lyrics start almost right away. Very fitting for the NW, I dig it. This is a lyrical bragging song about coming up against personal odds. Decent metaphors and not a boring or annoying voice, but a little higher than I expected (which is fine, just sayin). I liked the chorus and the change in the vocals to huskier on the chorus..And maybe it was just me but I swear there was some voices whispering shit underneath on the chorus too and that sounded cool.

Track 2: Very nice production…interesting sounds in the beats…Cocky bragging song again..talking about starting a mosh pit on a slow chorus is kinda weird to me.
Flow gets faster than on track 1..impressive and clean sounding, some nice metaphors. One question: If you can freestyle for five minutes, why are all of your tracks more like three or less?

Track3: “You want that west coast hip hop we got it locked”..Most “West Coast” thing so far is the dude he’s collabing with (Hostile I think I figured out his name is) sounds kinda like Mussolini..THEN THE GOOD stuff! He talks about being worked on by Illuminati scientists and when he says they tossed him down the drain, you can tell he loses his breath. I like hearing that on albums because it means he probably spit it in one take without editing in the studio. I respect that, plus it provides a raw-er feel and is more emotive. Sounds more west coast as it rides out at the end..Do that more often instead of cutting the tracks off suddenly if you can, it will sound a little better I think.
**FOR FUN: Listen to Mussolini (my second favorite voice of the Outlawz) in one of my favorite songs, “When We Ride”, he starts rapping at 2:26 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqchC2JkjSA**

Track 4: Shout out to NWxposure?! Thas wassup! I like the flow in this! Nice shit talking track to someone who did him wrong or a couple people but sounds pretty specific. Surprisingly cuts off at the end (Freestylers!: Songs and freestyles are different. Freestyle you just drop bars and stop when you’re done or someone else jumps in. Songs it is generally better if there is at least two verses and two choruses..maybe a bridge..an intro and an outro to the beat, some sort of transition between songs would be nice…ya feel me?)

Track 5: Niiiiice guitar..can tell it’s gonna be chill like a fuck it song….herrrre we go…yup starts off “woke up on the wrong side of the bed..baby mama” blah blah blah. I like how he talks to himself back n forth in the second verse. The hook on this song should be waaay better…Seemed a little weird though, the topic didn’t seem to match the beat. If you need someone to sing your choruses for you, I’ll do it.

Track 6: “I ain’t goin Nowhere” The ice metaphor when talking about anxiety is tight on this one! Eminem-esque. Again, and like Eminem, someone else would probably sound better singing the hook. But one of the best verses. Sick flow.

Track 7: Best track so far..like his flow, his voice, he sounds raw as fuck on this track!!..Hostile makes an appearance again …Keep collabing with him! (Also the longest song @ 4:42). I VERY MUCH ENJOYED THIS ONE!
I like this line: “I’ll throw you in a dumpster ‘fore I snap your legs, to send to a message like vinyl records when backwards played” . (Personally, I’d probably snap the legs, then throw someone in a dumpster, but it’s still a cool threat and metaphor in one nice line).

Track 8: Silence for 9 seconds at the beginning of the track was a little weird. Then some Disney sounding strings come in…I’m cool with that… “I’ve been rappin since sixth grade..I wanna be famous”. Okay..if that’s why you started rapping…that’s what can create shitty rap. You have talent though, thank God, I know because I just loved track seven.
Overall, I would have dropped this as a mixtape. I wished the songs were longer and more “finished”. I see a lot of lyricism and potential, but wished there was more interesting topics besides the typical haters, babymamadrama, and how lyrical you are. I understand the need to get that out, but I hope he continues to evolve in his subject matter. I feel like he could be really creative with metaphors if he keeps expanding his horizons.

As a follow up to the review, I tried to find IronFist online. Can’t find him on youtube till I type in ironfist rapper portland, too many other things name IronFist. That’s not good for an underground artist. Did finally find him under 503IronFist, with only two videos ☹. Then I found him on reverbnation, and was impressed with the collab “Ricky Retardo” with one of my personal favorite rappers of all time that also happens to live right here in the NW ..the one and only Pele Won. (Listen here: http://www.reverbnation.com/artist/artist_songs/688610). IronFist, that was a good move, my man. Also, the song Rose City Blues was very nice.
Man, I don’t know him personally, his work ethic, or any of the other things that make a successful person, so I can’t speak to that, but from what I can see, IronFist seems to be a dedicated rapper that really wants to succeed as an artist. The beats are DELICIOUS..absolutely loved every single one. Mad props for that! Very original. I like this dude, he definitely has potential to make great songs alone, and makes good choices with beats, and the artist he collabed with complimented his style well. I hope he stays on his grind and keeps experimenting with subject matter and refining his style. . Keep doing your thang, you got me interested. I want to see how good IronFist can get!

To purchase “The Appetizer”
Hit Ironfist up at <a href=”http://ironfistmusic@gmail.com&#8221; title=”Ironfist Music” target=”_blank”>ironfistmusic@gmail.com</a>

Urban Art Fair: An Outstanding Salem Showcase

WOW! What a HUGE success for Salem’s local hip-hop scene. That was the best all-ages hip-hop event I have been to in Salem in the last five years. It was an awesome balance – fun for adults and kids. I’d give it an overall PG-13 rating as far as “illicit material”, and five stars for content, heart, and artistry.

This was put on by L.U.S. and hosted at Moonlight Events on Portland Rd. I was not anticipating blogging about this, so don’t have as many names as I should (apologies). Once I got there, I knew I had to write a blog on it, however. There was so much talent, so much energy, such a good positive vibe in the room, I have to share it so it doesn’t die. I want to make sure these happen again and again.

The event took place on a day that started off cloudy, then turned warm but not too hot… so it was the perfect day for some indoor/outdoor variety action. We pulled up and the parking lot was full, and there were tables full of food covered by tents available for donation. Just inside the door, there were another couple people just smiling, welcoming people. The event was free of charge, but we walked into a goldmine!

The break-dancing competition was going and a circle had already gathered. The walk toward the b-boys was show-casing amazing local graffiti artists (more on that later). The room was sectioned off nicely to enjoy the music and art in two separate areas. In the back, along a wall, were some couches which was nice for the few people that had teeeeeeny tiny babies there! (The babies loved it too, by the way. Or they must have. I did not hear a single baby cry the entire time. So that proves it.)

Anyway, we caught the top eight or so of the break dancing competitors. The winner was to be awarded a cool wooden (I think) trophy made of the letters “U A F” graffiti-style, donated by a local artist. It was cool looking; a very legit trophy for a local talent competition. Everyone was unbelievably talented…I was shocked. I’m no break dancer, but I watch that shit on the internet like A LOT, and I’m tellin you, all the dudes I saw were very legit! They made me say “OH!”, “DAMN!”, “SHIT!”, and “WOOOH!” involuntarily more than I have since the Blazers had Clyde Drexler n shit! Break dancing competitions, good ones, are like a highlight reel, so you’re constantly just blown away. It was awesome. I loved the attitude of the dancers; some you could tell are well seasoned in the competitive aspect. They clown each other and make fun of their moves. I’m sure there’s more to it that I haven’t picked up on and yes, all you city people, maybe some of you already know this..but I didn’t and I’m white and from a small country town so it’s not my fault, okay?

ANYway, I didn’t get most of their names but Fligh, (who I saw on the hip-hop portion of Cherry City Music Festival earlier this year with Salem Cypher Connection and who is very awesome) ended up as the winner. It was not for lack of competition, he won via a tie breaker against Little Ricky in the final. They were saying, “It’s Big Rick against Little Rick!”. Fligh killed it with some sort of Spanish Michael Jackson influenced looking moves. And I thought it was fitting the final song for the tie breaker was RATM’s “Renegade of Funk”. AB was another talented b boy who’s name I got. He definitely had the competitive aspect down. Congrats Fligh and all other b boys..you guys kick serious ass. Wish I could have seen a female out there though, that’s one thing I have yet to see.  (FYI I’ll post links/fb/whatever of the people I can find at the bottom of my blog so y’all can check ‘em out in detail for yourself.)

Then it was a small beat boxing showcase by Robotic and someone who I was gonna call Nameless because he said he didn’t have one.  But he got up there and did his thing for a solid five minutes too. (I found out between then and now he has decided on RxB). They were the only two there and were both very talented. Robotic especially impressed me because he is only 16, I believe, but obviously has been doing this for a while.

Then it was on to live music. Rich McCloud started it off with some delicious acoustic-ness , then Kid Script, Mob Royalle, Drittla, DeShaun Jordan, and March 4th also gave great performances. There were other artists there, but I was with my kid(s), so sorry if I left your name off or missed your performance. All the artists brought their unique style and talent to the event. The rap was chock-full of content, no materialistic poppy shit here, these were heartfelt thoughts from very talented people. There was  a lot of passion behind the mic for things like daily struggles, peace, freedom, and equality; it was representative of true hip-hop.

At some point, I wandered to the visual arts area. It was cool because they had scrap paper there as well as a bunch of markers, for the kids to practice like the grown up artists. One artist was there working on a piece, and appeared happy to answer the kids’ questions, so that was very cool. The art was amazing, my two favorite artists were pieces by CrazyStilo Arte, and Roberto Oran had some very nice paintings as well.

Outside the venue, in a gated area, there were several large pieces of wood for graffiti artists to utilize. I had to leave around 6pm, so unfortunately missed the completed projects, but they were just getting started out there, and were drawing quite a crowd I noticed as I was leaving. It was awesome that they had that set up out there for public utilization. All in all, it was a great event. I am so thankful to the performers and the people that set it up. Hope to keep seeing things like this around Salem! To connect with any of the affiliated parties, check for Facebook info below. Sorry if it looks ghetto, but get over it and just go check out their pages. I’m the writer, not the artist ; ) I will add links and more pics as I get them, but wanted to publish this now. PEACE!

This was the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/488208924527558/

LUS: https://www.facebook.com/latinos.u.siempre

Dave Luna https://www.facebook.com/dave.luna.77 (Owner and Manager of Moolight Events)

Robotic Torres: https://www.facebook.com/robotict; and his performance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hR81hM4wprs&feature=plcp

Rich McCloud: https://www.facebook.com/richard.mccloud.12;

DeShaun Chief Jordan https://www.facebook.com/deshaun.jordan1

Mob Royalle: https://www.facebook.com/MobRoyalle1?ref=ts

Kid Script: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kid-Script/111735125583608

March 4thhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/March-4th/51387860597

Drittla: https://www.facebook.com/Drittla

CrazyStilo Arte:

Roberto Oran: https://www.facebook.com/roberto.oran

Bernard Powell: Prolific Industry Professional

This being my first official interview as a blogger for NWxposure, I was quite anxious. I had never interacted with Bernard Powell before, besides brief emails to set up the interview, so I had no idea what to expect. First impression? Well, he was there before me, and I was almost ten minutes early…so I definitely appreciated that. He doesn’t even know me, yet he showed me he valued my time. Also, I dug his style: Nike hat and kicks – not super-matchy like “I stopped by here after my photo shoot”, just normal shit. Jeans – not skinny or ripped, just regular man-jeans; and my favorite part was his worn, comfortable T-shirt. It had a restaurant on it (they ain’t payin me, so I ain’t name droppin’), and was advertising a charity event about coloring for kids. I frequently wear my “stop human trafficking..I am not for profit” bracelets. Frankly, I don’t see many other hip-hoppers or affiliates around here that take the time to get a message across besides their own persona these days, so it struck a personal chord with me. His community orientation was obvious from the get-go. If that is part of his “image”, I’m ‘bout it; he cares about the kids, and displays it proudly across his chest. More respect points and we hadn’t even started talking.

Once we did, the conversation flowed effortlessly. He is a plethora of stories and information, just waiting for utilization. Before I met him, I read a little mini-autobiography. In a nutshell, it described him as Leek’s (aka Charlie French’s) manager, being from the East Coast with experience in the music industry, and involved in radio, CCTV, and was interested in starting a hip-hop camp at the Boys and Girls Club of Salem. We started talking about his involvement in music. Powell acknowledged he could produce music if he wanted to, but he found his strength back East in the business side of it and that is where he decided to focus his talent.

Powell has been involved in music for 23 years now. In his hometown of Bridgeport, CT, he established himself as Entrepreneur, not Entertainer. He said he doesn’t like the cameras or attention, so he tried to help talented artists in his hometown with his business savvy (He really doesn’t; he declined me to record the interview, even though it was just to help me take notes!). Unfortunately, studio time was $42/hr back then, no matter where you went. People just didn’t “have” studio equipment to let friends use for free. You had to find it first, and always pay.

So he was doing what could do to help his artist friends makes moves in Bridgeport. Statistically, most of the moves in Bridgeport for a black male 18-21 at that time were to move from the ghetto to a coffin or prison. Some of the stories he told me….for real people, it’s no joke out there.  Fortunately for the NW, Powell made his way out here. “Why here?”  I asked.  “Everybody back East thinks Oregon is just a bunch of trees. I had a family to think about, and yeah, it just seemed like a good place to raise a family.”  ‘Nuff said.

Focused on his family and new start in Oregon, Powell took a music hiatus from about 2005-2010. During that time, Powell opened some other businesses, and made some local connections. He also published a book that explores the religious symbolism of the bible. (Mind you, this is like less than 30 minutes into our conversation. I’m already like, WTF!? I couldn’t hide how impressed I was. So this dude is really telling me he lived in this hella gangsta shit city, stayed alive, got away, and now he’s out here writing books, helping families, and taking on a leadership role in the music industry in Salem…and we really haven’t even gotten to details yet..Homeboy is like…magical!).

So moving on… Early 2010, Powell met Leek “Charlie French” through a mutual friend. He said he was more like a big brother to Leek, and they just clicked and worked well together. Powell gave him business advice at first, and then officially started to manage him, helping him hone his image and career.  Eventually he took on five artists, and Leek is the one still hangin’ in there. He didn’t mention names and just said it wasn’t mutually beneficial for them to continue a business relationship. As can happen when business arrangements don’t work out, Leek received a little haterism, people calling him Powell’s “Golden Child”, etc – the whole “Teacher’s Pet” thing (Very mature, guys, by the way. I remember people doin’ that type of shit in gradeschool. It’s called insecurity, and it’s not Leek’s problem; it’s yours. Man if everybody quite hatin’ so much maybe we could get something done out here. We need to refocus our energy, people). However, Powell was quick to say that the reason Leek gets that label is really because he puts in work. “He’s always on it, so he’s workin’ hard and it shows. Some people can’t handle that.”

He has essentially built a framework for success for any artist with goals and work ethic; it’s just a matter of utilizing the resources. Check out what he’s done in the short time he’s been here people, he’s makin’ moves. He’s a Pro.  He has his own Artist Development, Management and Publishing Company called Cypher Music Group. He’s also connected with indie label Concrete Office on the East Coast. Peep Game: Powell flew over and recorded four videos and five songs in six days. Yes, you read that right.

He’s connected with CCTV, and started the show “In The 503”, which was designed to interview and showcase local artists to get them exposure, as well as give them something they could use for a press kit. Not so many artists have seemed ready/willing to do that for the aforementioned reasons..they don’t wanna take the time to get their shit together and/or they’re too busy pea cocking. “In the 503” is actually “Put on hold for now because busy and I was doin’ it myself – filming, editing, converting films to different formats, etc. It’s still alive with artists that want to do it. I hope to join forces with Davied Kelley’s videographer skills, and the name of NWxposure, to expand the coverage base.”  You can watch it on Comcast 22 or 23 in Salem, check your local listings for other areas.

Additionally, Powell hooked up with Salem’s new local radio station 88.5 KMUZ and produces a show called The Grind. It originally was started to rep the northwest, but he may change the name to cover a more regional area. He shakes his head, saying, “When I started the show, all people had to do was send me a good, edited cut and I would play it. I got a few, but some people wouldn’t edit it, and then would get upset if I didn’t do it for them. I don’t have time for all that.” As a result, he was essentially forced to play more mainstream music than he wants to.  (Sad, sad words to the underground music lover’s ear. I think I heard the Funeral March in my head after he said that).

Growing tired of creating outlets for artists, only to do most of the work, Powell proposed on Facebook the idea of a “Round Table” for local artists. A meeting where any interested party could get together and formulate a plan to get NW hip-hop noticed. But, he noted, “There’s so many egos in hip hop. And, you know,  I understand branding and hip-hop and wanting to hold your own but the only way I think we can do it here is if we work together and ride that wave. If one person was to pop then people would notice the NW.” So the follow up question is of course, “Who would you invite?” Bernard says, “Honestly, Kristen…I don’t even know.” Sad again. I know there has to be at least 10 like-minded muthafuckas that could join forces and make something happen around here. So let’s DO IT!

In addition, to what he has started, I also want to highlight Powell’s projects in the works. On his blog, Powell mentions he is involved with “Boys and Girls Club of America in the development of an Urban Culture awareness (or early Hip Hop Culture) Camp for kids.” The idea is to use a studio donated by Dean Castronovo from Journey for recording, as well as bring in local talent to teach the kids about different urban art forms. He still airs The Grind every Saturday on 88.5 KMUZ at 4pm, to try to help local artist get exposure. Also CoActive Connections, an agency that, according to their website,  facil­i­tates “Poverty Aware­ness Train­ing for orga­ni­za­tions, edu­ca­tors, vol­un­teers, and pol­i­cy­mak­ers” has asked in affiliation with Habitat for Humanity, that Powell assist in the video production of one of their training modules. Powell is doing this project pro-bono. (Props again!). Last ,but not least, he is currently enrolled at Full Sail University, studying Music Production and Business Management.

Throughout our conversation, I discovered another bonus Powell brings to the industry and NW movement; he is able to compare the East and West Coast culturally and musically. The problem he sees in the West (specifically Salem) is that hip-hop is competitive, as it should be, but in the wrong way: everyone’s fighting to be the big fish in the little tank and no one wants to work with each other.  On the East Coast, hip-hop grew as an alternative to gang culture. Hip-hop was named and eventually pioneered globally as a culture by Afrika Bambaataa. Afrika is a former gang member who, after a trip to Africa, realized hip-hop could and should unite, not divide people.  “I wanted to bring this (vibe) here and educate the kids and to influence the next generation of artists..they’re not saying anything.”  Hip-hop is comprised of art, storytelling, music, and dancing…what artist couldn’t find a way to fit in, find a way to express themselves via one of those avenues? (Well I think we also need to add hip-hop food..BBQ is my proposal..but anyway…). That is the vibe Powell is trying to get to resonate in the NW, and it hella resonates with me.

Some summarized advice to artists from the Pro:

Don’t spend money foolishly. Understand the value of marketing, and how to do it. There’s so many ways for people to make money off their music in this digital age that people don’t even know about.

Labels will not even sign artists unless they have their whole image down, 1000+ fans on your Facebook Fan page and other social media (twitter etc.), all your paperwork in order, your whole image set. They’re not worried about artist development at all, they just don’t do that anymore. So if you want to go that route, recognize  that “the music industry is: 90% business,  10% talent”. If you want to be mainstream, you’re going to have to come to terms with that. So…

Get your shit together, get stuff copyrighted, get your paperwork in order, bottom line. If the legalese scares you, that’s what a manager is for. There are myths out there. Like some artist believe in a “poor man’s copyright”, that the post date on the envelope of lyrics/music/etc mailed to self means it’s considered copyrighted.  NOT TRUE, Powell says, so don’t do that!

We talked about how the music game changes so fast. I asked him specifically if he thought live shows were dead/dying. Because as a music (especially hip-hop) lover, I REFUSE to buy that idea. I see way too many people that perceive live shows as a spiritual experience and a way to connect with the artist. He agreed, and he pointed out how the game started off as live music, right? Then the phonograph came out and they said “it’s gonna kill live music”. Then the record player..”they can play at home, they won’t come to shows”..but people still did. Then the radio, then cassettes, then so on and so forth to Napster and all the digital download. But there’s still live music. After all that, it’s all proven that people WILL pay for music that they love. It’s that important to people. It’s an important part of our lives. Artists just need to go about things in the right way, to get it heard and appreciated!

My conclusion:

The music industry is a modern day battlefield folks, and this is Sun Tzu. He is writing the book with his life on how to navigate this shit. He also has the arsenal of tools ready and waiting for the right artists to come together as a team to promote the entire NW hip-hop movement. And a few of us believe the NW is ripe for the picking. Powell is one of the roses that pushed its way through, and against all odds, bloomed through the crack in the concrete. And he ain’t trying to be the only one, he knows there more people like him out there . So hit him up! If you’re an artist, submit music (PROPERLY) to his radio show, ask him to profile you for CCTV, or offer your services to stay connected with the array of projects he’s working on in music and the community.

Some closing words from Powell and Leek “Charlie French”:

“Let me put it this way…When you only think of yourself, everyone fails. If you’re gonna think of only yourself, you’re like a giant parasite. You’ll be someone who jumps on the scene and just consumes and consumes. I tell my kids, ‘When you die, what will you leave behind? What are people really gonna say about you, when it’s over? Do something! Leave something behind! Help people!’ ”.  – B. Powell

“Ever since Pro and I linked up and started discussing music and my career it has been nothing but positive things all around me, He looks out for me like a big uncle would and I have respect for him like he is my Big uncle. He keeps me motivated and always on my job making sure I’m always working and becoming a better artist, man, and father. He is a very intelligent person and being around him pushes me to become smarter and learn the ends and outs of everything I do when it comes to this music business and life”. –Leek “Charlie French”

This is just that start of Bernard Powell’s…What will your legacy be???

Check out a new Leek “Charlie French” video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fuv92gSizc

download link

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ybqfm9u1hq6ii3x/Bernard%20Powell.pdf

4 Responses to Column As I See ‘Em

  1. Ghost Creep says:

    Good Analytical Skills

    • AHHH.Ghost, you’re so sweet…….LMAO! Hey I would like to do a one on one with you..The brains of the operation…Your thought process is deep and your truth needs to be heard!

  2. Thank you! And thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Ryan Fortin says:

    Hey lady :) How come I had to find this on accident? Your column is great. Very well executed.

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