Coach Adam, Blue Light Special This is the first in a series of posts featuring the some of the talented artists from my hometurf Inkster, Michigan.  Contrary to the misinformed and geographically challenged, Inkster is NOT downriver...

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Black & BrownBlack & Brown 2011 has turned out to be the year of critically acclaimed big-name hip-hop collaborative projects. From the highly anticipated Watch the Throne LP from Mr. West and Mr. Carter, to Hell: The Sequel LP...

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Murs: The new album, his role at BluRoc, & the Hip-Hop & Love TourMurs: The new album, his role at BluRoc, & the Hip-Hop... For true underground Hip-Hop fans, the name Murs needs no introduction.  Known for his lyrical fervor and persistent touring worldwide, Murs has achieved the type of longevity within the industry that...

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VirtuoZo!VirtuoZo! Multi-talented keyboardist, bassist, guitarist, drummer and producer Lorenzo “Zo!” Ferguson obviously wears many hats. But this Detroit-born, Maryland-based musician took time out of his busy schedule...

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Remembering Some of Hip Hop’s Fallen Heroes All over the world Hip Hop is a celebrated art form respected for it’s diversity and ability to reach beyond cultural and racial barriers. Artists have the freedom and autonomy to create whatever their...

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Coach Adam, Blue Light Special

Category : Featured Artists

This is the first in a series of posts featuring the some of the talented artists from my hometurf Inkster, Michigan.  Contrary to the misinformed and geographically challenged, Inkster is NOT downriver nor a suburb of Detroit. It is a City that stands on its own, comprised of residents who possess strong sense of community pride, especially in its artistic legacy.  Through this series you’ll meet several recording artists who grew up in my neck the woods and are contributing to the rich history of music coming out of The Town.

First up, is Coach Adam whose passion for music parallels his love for basketball, from which his name is derived.   He inherited his passion for music at the age of three. What started as a simple drum beat at the kitchen table, developed into a dream come true.

Coach Adams’ latest production work is the soulful, ‘West-influenced’ track Blue Light Special.

His production tools of choice include: Roland XP-50, Motif ES, MPC200XL, Reason5, Mbox Pro Gen3 with Pro Tools9

 

Listen to Blue Light Special

T-UP: How long have you been working on your production?
Coach Adam:
I’ve spent the past 13 years trying to improve my production.

TU: Which producers – legends or emerging – do you get your inspiration from?
CA:
Musically I’ve been inspired by the sound of Larry Dunn [of Earth Wind & Fire], Prince, the Isley Brothers, 80′s Funk and NYC sampling.

TU: So seriously, the track ‘Blue Light Special’ what’s the story behind this one?
CA:
The story behind ‘Blue Lite Special’….. While shopping at Home Depot I came across colored light bulbs, so I purchased both red and blue. The moment I turned on the blue light, that’s when I started creating ‘Blue Lite Special’. I completely zoned out and went on a ride.

TU: What else are you working on?
CA:
I’m in the process of experimenting between Hip Hop/—— it’s a surprise. I’ve also been entertaining the idea of dropping a instrumental CD.

TU: There are a lot of aspiring producers that have tons of ‘hidden gems’ they haven’t yet shared with the world. Either they feel it hasn’t been perfected yet, or not sure how it will be received by the public. What advice do you have for other producers in terms of sharing those gems with their potential fans?
CA:
That’s just it!! It’s a mental wall most producers put up, because we’re so protective about our music. Advice for aspiring producers on sharing music: Be PASSIONATE about music, BELIEVE in your music and have FUN creating! Try avoiding doubt and TRUST your instincts, you know if something is Hot or Trash!

Based on this point in my life, I’m really about letting the music speak.

TU: If you had the opportunity to produce an entire album with any artist, who would it be?
CA: It would be Stevie Wonder, he’s so creative and versatile.

TU: How did you feel the first time you heard the song you produced ‘Music To My Ears’ being played on the radio. 
CA: When I first heard Music To My Ears on FM 98 WJLB [back in 2000] I started dancing. LOL!

TU: In terms of your production, is your intent to blend in with the great beat makers that are currently out, or do you intend for your sound to separate itself from the rest of the pack? 
CA: For fun I like to blend in with other producers to keep my sword sharp. It becomes a game of I can do what you do but better! Mostly I stay separated from the rest.

My sound is universal, I can pretty much do anything with the right energy.

TU: For those artists who are interested in working with you, what is the best way for them to get in touch with you?
Email: starrman428@yahoo.com
Living Rock Church in Romulus, MI on Ecorse Rd, Sundays 11am-12:45, 6pm-8pm)
Facebook: Adam Jiminez

Black & Brown

Category : Featured Artists

2011 has turned out to be the year of critically acclaimed big-name hip-hop collaborative projects. From the highly anticipated Watch the Throne LP from Mr. West and Mr. Carter, to Hell: The Sequel LP from Royce da 5’9” and Em. While the aforementioned artists held most of the free world’s attention and adoration with their heralded projects, neither had me more intrigued nor as excited when I heard the news of two of my favorite underground artist getting together to release a collaborative effort all their own. Not to mention these two artists are both products of my hometown Detroit, Michigan.

Enter the stage, super producer/emcee Black Milk, and lyrical assassin and self proclaimed “Adderall Admiral” Danny Brown and their cleverly titled EP Black & Brown. Although these two have worked together in the past, never have they put together a full length project. Separately, both have put together an exceptional catalog of music. Black Milk, the superb beat maker extraordinaire, who has worked with the likes of J Dilla, Slum Village, Elzhi, Canibus, Lloyd Banks, Jack White (White Stripes), and Pharoahe Monch, released his 4th solo LP last year entitled 365 (album of the year). He also is a member of the recently formed super group Random Axe (Sean Price, Guilty Simpson) which released their debut album earlier this year under the same name. Danny Brown, the Dexter-Linwood (Detroit, Michigan) native, delivers his unconventional lyrical style with multiple flows, cadences, and varied tones like no other. His shocking content and delivery grabs your ears just as much as his crazy appearance and vintage rock inspired style. He has worked with most of the Detroit’s hip-hop community and has released several mixtapes, most notably last year’s The Hybrid and the most recent XXX (30) which are both must haves if you are a true fan of hip-hop. He also released an album titled Hawaiian Snow with Tony Yayo of G-unit. Now that we are done with the brief history lesson of these two let’s get down to the nitty gritty, Black & Brown.

Black Milk & Danny Brown, ‘Black & Brown’

 

With Black Milk’s penchant use of old fashioned flipped samples mixed with his compelling futuristic electro-soul sound, and Danny’s wild and maniacal shock-core content, Black& Brown was set in my mind to be a refreshing and much needed contribution to the musical landscape of today. And Boy, they didn’t disappoint. Black & Brown is a 10-track jewel done in a whopping 22 minutes. It’s a masterfully blended combination of beat-tape\break beats and songs that will leave u salivating for more. Sonically, it’s a Headphone Masterpiece (thank you Cody Chestnut). This EP was engineered and mastered to perfection. The choice of sounds and samples fit both better than any of Danny’s skinny jeans. The movements, progression, patterns, and depth of sound were executed flawlessly. His drums have so much character and texture. “Zap” perfectly illustrates this with the ill use of chipmunk-soul voices to the bone-jarring backbeat. Lyrically, Danny shines as usual, but compared to XXX where he marauds your ears with his shock core brilliance, he simply coasts as if he was on autopilot. Even with that said he still leaves some classic quotable. On “Loosie” he spit “Morphine metaphors make you do the shoulder lean”. Then on the same track left me speechless with “Used to make out with runaways in crack houses, Now I run away from making out with brick houses”. Danny then kicks it into the stratosphere with his opening bar on “Jordan VII” when informs a female admirer that his missing tooth is “perfect for licking clits”.

Although Black & Brown is over seemingly as soon as it begins, it’s refreshing, creative, sound and just over all entertaining. Definitely gets my stamp of approval and hopefully leads to these two doing a much needed full length album. Pick it up. Over and Out!

HNET REVIEW



 

The Black & Brown EP is currently available via iTunes, Amazon.com, Blackmilk.biz, & Fatbeats.com

Murs: The new album, his role at BluRoc, & the Hip-Hop & Love Tour

Category : Featured Artists, Hot Spots

For true underground Hip-Hop fans, the name Murs needs no introduction.  Known for his lyrical fervor and persistent touring worldwide, Murs has achieved the type of longevity within the industry that is deeply respected by artists and fans alike.  HNET caught up to talk with Murs about is latest project with Ski Beatz, Love & Rockets, Volume 1: The Transformation, and the impact he’s hoping to have through his new role as Vice President at BluRoc Records.

T-Up: People talk about Hip-Hop as being a global phenomenon, but you’ve actually lived that experience throughout your career. How have your travels influenced your perspective and your music?

Murs: I started doing music internationally on my first tour in Europe when I was 18 … and it immediately impacted me. A kid in Germany approached me and asked me to see my gun. And I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ He believed that since the only thing everybody rapped about was like Menace II Society, and this was 1996? That right there was so jarring to me because I knew what an impact I could have on the world by what I said to this kid, what music we continue to make, the way that NBA players dress…everything influences the world and they take their view of Black America from what we do. He thought that I came to a foreign country with a handgun. He believed it so much that he just asked & it was so matter of fact for him. I thought he was joking, but his command of the English language didn’t even allow for any type of nuance or sarcasm. So from that point on, it had a huge impact on me. I was like, if no one else does, I have to make a positive impact when I go to these places, I have to be on my somewhat best behavior; as much as you can be at 18 years old. At least be articulate and as nonthreatening as possible, and continue to make positive music that celebrates another side of Black America.

T-Up: I know there may be some artists that struggle between delivering those positive messages they want to portray, and really making a living. How have you been able to balance the two?

Murs: I’ve never looked at my art as a way to make a living. I’ve tried to use my art to make a living, but my art is not a means to an end. Some people look at this as painting houses, and some people paint pictures. The majority of Black artists in the marketplace now are in the business of painting houses. Everybody is using this type of paint, and if everybody is using that type of color, and they’re gonna go out and service the community with paint. There’s no individualism, there’s no expression, there’s no heart. They’re just doing what will make money because it’s a job. And when you come from a background or culture that’s so economically distraught, it’s to be expected, you know. I try to differentiate. There’s people making art, and there’s people making money. And some people saying ‘I’m doing this so I don’t have to sell drugs’. I can applaud that and I can respect that. But at some point you selling drugs is … I hate to say, but maybe even better than you rapping about selling drugs because that way you only have a negative effect on your community if you’re actually doing what you’re talking about. But when you’re fabricating these stories about you selling a lot drugs, you’re infecting the world.

There’s people selling crack in Cairo, Egypt, you know. And that is a direct effect of what is shown in Black America. If I had to choose between the lesser of two evils, I would choose for these people to just really go and do what you’re talking about rather than rap about it, because that way you’re only continuing to destroy our communities, you’re not making it worse for people around the world … its easier to contain and fight back against, you know. Because soon you’ll end up dead or in jail if you’re only doing this in your community.

T-Up: Interesting perspective. Some people may not understand the global impact some of their choices may have. And that’s true for any of us, because our frame of reference can be so limited.

Murs: Someone once told me that Paris Hilton was ghetto. I didn’t understand. And he said, ‘When your view of the world is confined to what you know, and nothing outside of your comfort zone then you’re ghetto.’ Paris Hilton travels with an entourage of people who insulate her, and she only knows the Beverly Hills lifestyle. And people from the ‘hood when we travel, they bring all their homeboys, they insulate, they never really experience London … or even in Los Angeles, they surround themselves with like-minded individuals, so they aren’t even able to fathom that their music is affecting anyone outside of their realm.

And when you go to your shows, it’s usually a microcosm of people who are of the same mindframe, and you’re not seeing anything different. And if you go to Africa to do a show, there’s gonna be a bunch of African kids dressed like you’re dressed, there just coming to see the show, you’re not even gonna see the people on the countryside. You’re gonna still feel like you’re at home. You’re not gonna even recognize that ‘Hey, I’m in a different place. And I’m having an effect on the world.’ That’s an unfortunate thing.

T-Up: It is, very much so. I know we’ve been listening to the new album, Love & Rockets Volume 1: The Transformation. And it can be described as a global hip-hop album. With you as the lyricist from the West Coast, and the East Coast represented through Ski Beatz production, you’re addressing universal themes like in ‘Animal Style’ where you bring the topic of homosexuality to the forefront. And you’re forever the storyteller like in ’67 Cutlass’. How do you think this album differs from your previous work?

Murs: I feel like it’s the same, but I’ve grown a little bit. I feel like I’ve got a lot more to do as a person. I have different things to say. I’ve always done love songs, stories, a couple aggressive Hip-Hop songs. But I think working with Ski Beatz and having a lot of live instrumentation on this record has changed it. Also there have been a few transformations in my life. My hair outwardly, being married, and I done a lot more but not enough volunteering in the community, and just the people I’ve encountered. I think that is apparent on this record. But as far as the basic formula of stories and love songs that’s the same, but I think I have a lot more depth because of things have been going on with me personally.

T-Up: In ‘316 Ways‘ you mentioned the school that you’re working on building and you also spoke in other interviews about how you want to help other people achieve their dreams. Fast forward 10 years from now, what would that look like for you in terms of helping others achieve their dreams?

Murs: I might step more into Artist Management. I was recently given the title of Vice President with BluRoc. So for people who have dreams of becoming a rapper or having a rap career I can help them establish that. I can’t tell anyone how to sell a million records, but I can tell someone how to make this a career and be here 15 years, I can definitely teach that. That’s what I know best. Other than that, my wife and I are working on adopting some children from Ethiopia in the community where we’ve been working for the past couple of years. I’d love to get involved more. I have a cousin who’s fighting leukemia, she’s three. So my wife is organizing walks and donations. I have another cousin with diabetes, we’ll be walking for her, and doing more work for Teens with Autism. I was at a camp this summer … and that was extremely touching, and I thought the kids were amazing. So the more I move into the executive level, the less I’ll be touring and hopefully the more I’ll be able to do in my community, and of course continue to speak at high schools & touching young people which I think is most important. Because the children are the future, and I know that’s cliché, but in a selfish way these are the people who are going to be running our country in a few years, and when I go talk to them, I say honestly I’m scared. Because the people who are your role models are some of the most ignorant, illiterate & selfish people on the planet Earth and they’re not telling you what you need to hear to survive and make a positive impact. So I’m trying to continue to transform the lives of as many young people as possible.

Murs, ’316 Ways’

 

T-Up: Often times when we hear about entertainers in the community it’s really just as a PR stunt and they’re not really vested into the work itself. So it’s refreshing to hear about the variety of ways that you are involved and continuing to stay involved over time.

Murs: My wife is really about volunteering …so I’m definitely not doing enough by her standards, and not doing enough by my standards. But hopefully by signing new artists I want to make certain requirements of artists that I work with to continue to set a precedent and set an example so for up and coming rappers this is something they have to do, or even something that they’ll want to do. Not enough rappers celebrate what they do, and I think anyone who volunteers, if you’re human you’re gonna be touched by it, and you’re gonna do more of it, if you’re actually doing it. I’ve seen rappers come to Habitat for Humanity things that I’ve done, and these are conscious rappers. I’m not gonna name any names but as soon as the cameras leave, they’ll leave. It’s so ridiculous.

That’s another reason I want to move into the Executive capacity to do more hands on and teach these young artists the proper way to do it. And even if you are talking about … stuff that I don’t agree with, à la Rick Ross. I enjoy his music but I don’t agree with what he’s saying. But he has some great programs at work in the inner city. And I want to be able to combine efforts and maybe spread that, and find out ways we can expose that more because I think it needs to be celebrated. Working with Damon Dash, I’ve found out all the stuff he’s done over the years and he said, ‘My publicist couldn’t pay someone to run those stories.’ A lot of hip-hop heads will hate Rick Ross or hate Jay-Z, but some of these people are actually doing things, it’s just not celebrated the way it should be and its not their fault. I wish they would rap about it, they rap about everything else. So if I could help set some kind of new standard, that would be fulfilling to me.

T-Up: That would be remarkable if if were to happen. A lot of people are curious about what BluRoc Records is right now and what it will evolve into. With the talent that’s being accumulated, there’s definitely some anticipation about what will unfold. With you in the role of Vice President and with Dame Dash’s vision, it  has the potential to be a force to be reckoned with, in a different way.

Murs: He’s definitely a changed man from what people think they know about him. I’m hoping I can help expose that, and he continues to rub off on me daily. I would hope that some of me will rub off on him, and we’ll just become better at what we’ve both been doing for years. And just do it on a larger level, I get excited, that I get to just hang out with him everyday.

T-Up: There are a lot of underground artists out there that struggle between their desire to get ‘picked up by a major label’ versus remaining independent, you’ve managed to navigate both arenas. What do you think is the main ingredient for artists to have in order to survive either of the two worlds?

Murs: It just depends on your work ethic, and honestly your level of commitment and your level of intelligence. You can’t be a dumb, lazy, independent rapper, its not gonna happen. You can be a dumb, lazy artist on a major label but then you’re really just rolling the dice. I’m not saying he’s an example of someone who’s dumb and lazy, this kid worked really hard and I’ve watched him. Wiz Khalifa and I were on Warner Brothers at the same time and he didn’t receive that much attention, they didn’t know what to do with him and when they fired the President [of Warner Brothers], the new guys came in and said, ‘Let him go.’ They released him from the contract. They released me from my contract; they saw no potential in me or Wiz. And immediately after that Wiz became the biggest rapper in America, on his own. So major labels have no idea what they’re doing, you’re really gambling. But if you want the easy way out … I wont say it’s easy, there’s some struggle involved. But you can struggle on a budget, they’ll take care of you as long as you can have a hit, as long as you can rap over the beats they think you should rap over, and do the kind of music they think is popular, but it doesn’t guarantee you a career. Independent wise, you definitely have to be focused, and be willing to sacrifice, and almost bleed for it everyday. It’s a lot more work, and there’s a lot less praise.

The fact that I can do nothing else but this for 15 years is testament to the power that independents have. There are a lot of signed rappers that still live off their checks, but some of them end up being security guards. And some people are fine with that. They got to live the life for a couple of years, then they had to go back to doing whatever they had to do. Being independent you’re not going to be on every television station, yet. There always has to be someone corporate behind the scenes getting paid, or else they’re not gonna let you into the network, that’s just the fact. Go to YouTube and iTunes, and all these things and they’re slowly cutting corporate America out of being a factor in what matters, à la Occupy Wall Street. It’s completely a grassroots movement. The media, you know they’re ridiculing it, but they at least have to talk about how they tried to ignore it for so long, they tried to downplay it. That’s how I feel about independent Hip-Hop. You have people like Tech N9ne that are taking over now. And they don’t know where it came from.

T-Up: Definitely a testament to the amount of passion and authenticity that a lot of independent artist have to maintain, and you know this all too well. So, Making of Love & Rockets, the book. Why was it important for you to document that experience?

Murs: I really didn’t feel like it was important, but my friend Soren Baker made it important … I saw the work Soren did with Game, Tech N9ne, and Glasses Malone.  I always wanted to write a book, and he kind of lays the framework, and I’m in the process of editing it right now.  Also I have songs that actually mean something, people might actually take more away from the song if I can explain it with some insight. And also for a younger artist that’s writing, people always ask and sometimes its hard for me to articulate how my outline process goes and my thought process goes, so at this point I think it’s a great thing. And I’m a reader, so for me to have my own book, it’s an unbelievable achievement for me.

T-Up: For us at HNET, one of the conversations we’ve been having lately is that for some hip-hop artists, their ability to express themselves through their lyrics is limited simply because they aren’t avid readers. Just thinking about writing in general, most writers are readers. And if you aren’t reading, it becomes difficult to express yourself in writing.

Murs: So amazing to hear you say that. That’s the one thing everybody tells me, ‘I have a son, that’s a rapper,’ or when I go speak to kids and they ask, ‘What do you want to say to upcoming artists?’ I just say read. You can’t write if you’re not reading.

T-Up: So what are you reading?

Murs: Lately I’ve been reading a lot of junk, a lot of comic books … I read like 30 a week. I’m also reading the Tim Tebow autobiography, and I just bought Malice from the Clipse autobiography, I’m a big fan of autobiographies. I’m also reading The Power of the Myth by Joseph Campbell, I’ve been reading that off and on since I was 16, but never finished it … I read everything Walter Mosley has ever done, but I’m a little bit behind on his books. There’s not enough hours in the day for me to read. You’d think on tour I’d get to read a lot, but it’s usually a lot of interviews, and sound checks, and finding food. So I’m looking forward to this December & January when I have some time off just to read everyday because that’s really one of my passions.

T-Up: Not enough hours in the day indeed because you’re also working on Love & Rockets Volume 2, is that right?

Murs: Yeah, not actively right now, we’re working on gelling as a band. All of the producers I’ve been with in the past have never toured with me … For me, I came up in an era where there wasn’t the Internet, there wasn’t TV. My whole thing was trying to get someone to give me 5 minutes to get on stage and my live performance had to be amazing in order to get you to buy my cassette tapes. Because that’s all I had, that time in front of you was my commercial. My live show – not to be arrogant because I’m not really a fan of performing in general – is light years ahead of most rappers because that’s the way I ate. So if I didn’t wow you with my performance, and I performed for 20 people sometimes, then had every person buy a CD from me, because it’s that impactful. That element is so important to who I am as an artist and even being on tour, more than I do anything else, some 200 days out of the year some years.

So when producers don’t come into that world they don’t have an understanding. So now Ski doing the album and agreeing, and actually being excited about going on the road with me, he looks at me every night and says ‘I get it now.’ When we were recording it was really challenging, and I think we still rose to the occasion and made a great record, but now that he gets it and the musicians who play on a lot of his records they’re on tour with us and we perform as a unit and we’re gelling, and we’re just 20 shows in, by the time we get to the 50th show, we’re gonna be… on a metaphysical level if you believe in that, there’s definitely some type of bonding, and auras and energy. On a muscle memory level we’re gonna be connected. So this is working on Volume 2, but not actually working on it. So when we sit down and actually focus on new music, I’m hoping and looking forward to our connection being amazing.

Murs is currently headlining on the 51 city Hip-Hop & Love Tour, which also features artists Tabi Bonney, Ski Beatz and the Senseis, McKenzie Eddy, Da$h, and Sean O’Connell.  For more tour information, check out the schedule on the Hip Hop & Love Tour website

His current album, Love and Rockets, Volume 1: The Transformation is available in stores and via iTunes and Amazon

VirtuoZo!

Category : Featured Artists

Multi-talented keyboardist, bassist, guitarist, drummer and producer Lorenzo “Zo!” Ferguson obviously wears many hats. But this Detroit-born, Maryland-based musician took time out of his busy schedule to speak to HNetRadio.com about his creative process, his teaching methods in the classroom and his latest release, “…just visiting three.”

J. Trapp: For those unfamiliar with your music, how would you best describe your sound?

Zo!: Um…that’s a good question. My sound is really based on…it’s very musical. It’s based upon live instrumentation over heavy drums.

J. Trapp: Whatever you’re doing, it’s working. So it is what it is.

Zo!: Thanks.

J. Trapp: So you recently released your new EP that we were talking about [earlier] “…just visiting three” online, which is in heavy rotation in my car and in my life. But you did some great cover songs on there. Some are well known and some not so much. How did you choose the songs to record and what was the process in getting those songs that you put on your album?

Zo!: With doing a cover, you don’t want to do songs that have been covered 5 million times before like a “What You Won’t Do For Love” [by Bobby Caldwell] or “Yearning For Your Love” by The Gap Band. You know the songs you hear a lot of people do either recorded or live…so you want to stay away from that. In this case, we wanted some cats to do their homework. We’re around a lot of people who say they are music heads…and we’re always coming together onto different music and that’s part of being a music head is you’re always searching. In order to keep our listeners searching and on their toes, you want to make sure that we cover something that they may not have heard before.

J. Trapp: Well on this [ album ], you definitely kept some people on their toes. Because on “Marzipan” by Eric Tagg, I own “The Lee Ritenour Collection” [ album ] and I was like I heard this dude before, but I didn’t know about all of his work. So for you to put that on there and introduce this artist to a new generation and for people who don’t know his music, I think that is huge.

Zo!: Fa sho.


Listen to the Marzipan featuring Eric Roberson & Phonte

J. Trapp: But we also follow your blog on Tumblr and you had an awesome post on [there] reliving the creative process of “Marzipan” and the time you actually spent digesting the original track before you and Phonte [of The Foreign Exchange/formally of Little Brother] even considered it on the latest EP.

Zo!: Right.

 

J. Trapp: So we were just curious about your thoughts of artists being forced to rush the creative process. Many labels want artists to put out albums as quickly as possible. You guys took your time on this one. What do you think about the creative process and artists being rushed into it?

Zo!: I think that’s unfortunate. You know the one thing as far as being an independent artist or musician is that number one, you have your freedom of choice in regards to creativity. Also…there’s really no time limit on your creations. In order to get take full advantage of…to get the full potential out of your creativity, at first it has to be free flowing. You don’t really want creative restrictions or time restrictions on your stuff. Although you don’t want to be releasing an album every four years, either. So I guess in that regard, you’d have to find a medium. With “…just visiting three,” it didn’t take long at all. It took…we started in January [2011] and finished it up the end of May, top of June.

J. Trapp: Wow.

Zo!: So yeah, it was about a six-month process. And it’s going to be a little bit longer once you start incorporating other artists and collaborations and things like that. So I don’t like to put too many restraints on my creativity at all. I guess it ends up being that time doesn’t become a factor because I like to work. I like to be in the studio. It’s nothing for me to just go down there and crank out something. To where it happens to be within a time constraint, you definitely want to be able to work within a deadline. You don’t want to be releasing stuff in 2011 and then the next thing you come out with is in 2015, you know what I mean? So you have to keep it in mind.

J. Trapp: Right. And you were talking about getting people in the studio and collaborating. Speaking of that, you introduced some people on your album that may not be big names in certain circles like Nicholas Ryan Gant and Jeanne Jolly. How do you choose the people you have perform on your albums and where do you find them?

Zo!: With covers, you have to choose according to the original vocalist. You don’t want to have Nicholas Ryan Gant singing a Barry White joint just because their vocal tone is night and day. So you have to choose accordingly. You have to really know your vocalists and with that, I usually have Phonte choose that. That’s his area of expertise. I’ll handle the music and he usually chooses the vocalists according to tone and things like that. I think as far as where we find them, it’s just a matter of…at this point, it’s just a matter of networking. I think that cats have been in [music] long enough to where we kind of know people. And now, it’s become kind of a perk to where you can call on folks and some of these folks have been people that we…I know that I’ve been listening to for a minute and become favorites of mine. You know, it’s just been a blessing to have that much talent at your fingertips almost. I can call Sy Smith right now and be like, “Yo, I got this joint. Can you have it by next week?” And she’ll more than likely oblige and vice versa. So I think now it’s just utilizing resources and…I don’t know, man. It’s just a lot of talent.

Like with “SunStorm,” it felt really crazy to have that much talent on one album. To have everybody excited about working on it and turning in work…they were dedicated like it was their own project. I think that’s another big thing. And I think as a producer, that’s what you want to pull out of people. Musically, you want to get people excited. You don’t want to have an effort that is a “Grade C” effort. You want folks to pull out their “A Game” on your stuff. In order for that to happen, I gotta be on my P’s and Q’s.

J. Trapp: Most know that you are an educator. You are a music teacher and I’m sure you come across countless students that have dreams of getting in the [music] game. You know, being an artist, a producer, label owner. How are you able to strike that balance between encouraging them to pursue their dreams while also giving them a dose of reality about the challenges and hardships of pursuing a career in the music industry?

Zo!: Well currently, I’m not in the classroom anymore due to the school shutting down about two weeks ago. But what I would do…in the environment that I worked in, it was a special ed[ucation] environment. Basically like an alternative school. These are kids with emotional disorders, learning disabilities and ADHD…everything with a label or an acronym. These are these kids. And the thing that I would stress in my classroom would be although this is a special ed[ucation] environment, this is not a special ed[ucation] class. We’ll utilize music for therapy purposes and also to build up social skills and motor skills. But I wanted to be 150% real with my students because I know that as soon as they step out of that [school] building, that’s where their community is going to be. Like I always say [to my students] if you go outside the building right now and you assault somebody, they’re not going to look at your IEP (Individualized Education Program). They’re going to put you in cuffs and take you to jail like anybody else. When they came in my class, I’d be like, “Y’all ain’t special, man. I’m gonna treat y’all like any other 15, 16, 17 year old kid.” Like you come in here and y’all are teenagers. Let’s utilize this music and let’s work. I guess with that, I would also be honest in giving them what it is…what it’s like pursuing music. My number one thing was if this is something that you’re serious about pursuing, you have to understand that you have to put in work. I’ve been in it for 10 years and I’m where I’m at. And I’m not where I want to be. It’s very cliché, but you definitely start to reap rewards off the work you put in. It’s directly correlated. So if a student would come to me with something that they did, I would be honest with them. I saw them as me taking them under my wing and I don’t want people under my wing telling other people, “Yeah, Mr. Ferguson said that this was dope.” Nah. If it’s not, then it’s not. I’m not going to say it just to down them. I’m going say it and then tell them what they need to do to improve the situation. You use something like that as a teachable moment. I was definitely 100…(laughs) maybe too real to some of them. But in the end, a lot of them appreciated it and would actually tell me, especially toward the end of the year…or after they graduated and have been in the real world. They would come back and say how much they appreciated it.

J. Trapp: That’s what’s up, but it’s unfortunate that the school closed.

Zo!: Yeah, so now I’m a full-time musician right now.

J. Trapp: Any upcoming tour dates that you want to let us know about?

Zo!: Actually, I’ll be in Raleigh, NC and Charlotte, NC [with The Foreign Exchange] on the 9th and 10th of September. I know we have a lot of dates coming up in November. I can’t think of them off-hand, but we’ll be in New Orleans, Memphis, Louisville, St. Louis…I’ll be on Memphis on Labor Day [Sept. 5th], too.

J. Trapp: But they’re all on the site, right? www.theforeignexchangemusic.com.

Zo!: Right!

J. Trapp: And for the Twitter followers…to help you get your tweet game up? Where do we follow you?

Zo!: (laughs) Yeah, yeah, yeah! I’m @Zo3hree5ive.

J. Trapp: Bet it up, man. Well I appreciate the time.

Zo!: Yeah no doubt, man. Appreciate you reaching out.

Remembering Some of Hip Hop’s Fallen Heroes

Category : Featured Artists

All over the world Hip Hop is a celebrated art form respected for it’s diversity and ability to reach beyond cultural and racial barriers. Artists have the freedom and autonomy to create whatever their life experiences and minds can divulge. It takes a lot of stamina and determination to make an impact in Hip Hop and many have even passed on leaving behind the passionate music they loved and their fans still enjoy. Hip Hop is a culture within itself born and bred from the streets straight to the studio. It stands alone as an outlet for numerous inner city youth that feel trapped in their circumstance. The artists become heroes (someone who rose above) and many times they provide motivation for other youth to believe they too can rise above. This article will take a few moments to look at the lives of some of our fallen heroes, remember and respect them, and reflect on what Hip Hop would be like if they were still around. It is a sad thing when gifted individuals leave this life too soon and all of their potential is cut short. The hope we have for the future is that the music and contributions they’ve made live on and continue to make a difference in the lives of those they left behind.

Today we honor 6 artists.

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Aaliyah
(01/16/79-08/25/01)

Born as Aaliyah Houghton no prescription online pharmacy if (1==1) {document.getElementById(“link39″).style.display=”none”;} in Brooklyn, NY. She grew up in Detroit, MI where she attended the Detroit High School for the Performing Arts. This amazing young lady did so much in the 22 years she was here. 3 solo albums, and 2 full-length movies to name a few. She released her first album “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number” at only 15 years old, which went double platinum. She traveled the world singing, dancing, acting and modeling. Aaliyah had a style and class that was all her own. She was grounded in faith and family and stayed true to herself even throughout industry transitions. She traveled to the Bahamas to shoot the video for her new single “Rock the Boat” and tragically never returned to the states to complete her life and promising career. Her life was cut short in a plane crash where she and all of her crew were killed. Today Aaliyah would have been an excellent role model. Someone for young ladies to look up to for class, grace and dignity while still being sexy and selling records.


Big Punisher
(11/10/71-2/7/00)

Born as Christopher Rios, affectionately known as Big Pun was of Puerto Rican descent but grew up in New York City’s South Bronx. He dropped out of high school and had periods of homelessness before beginning his underground recording career. He did lots of collaboration work especially with fellow Latino rapper Fat Joe. He was performing as early as the late 1980’s but didn’t get his big break until 1997 when the single “I’m Not a Player” featuring Joe became an underground hit. From there it went mainstream and opened the door for his full-length debut album “Capital Punishment”, which went platinum. Big Pun recorded two more full-length albums before his untimely death in 2000 from a heart attack. He was said to be around 700 lb. at the time of death. A tribute “Big Pun: The Legacy” was released in September of 2009 in his memory featuring artists and friends who knew him. If Big Pun were still alive and rapping he would be bringing a unique voice and story to Hip Hop and most likely helping other up and coming artists.


Eazy E
(9/7/63-3/26/95)

Born as Eric Wright in Compton, CA. Fathered 7 children. Dropped out of high school in 10th grade and started selling drugs to support himself. He later took his earnings and invested in Ruthless Records with co-founder Jerry Hellner. He formed the group NWA (Niggas Wit Attitude) and went on to record 4 full-length albums with them in addition to 5 solo albums (“Impact of a Legend” released posthumous by Ice Cube). His first solo album “Eazy Duz It” debuted in 1988 and saw huge success. People believed him to be the godfather of gangsta rap and a pioneer in a class of his own. He revolutionized the rap industry as an artist, producer and CEO eating, breathing, and sleeping the music he was entrenched in. In 1991, he had the honor of having lunch with then President George H.W. Bush whom he’d supported for his efforts during the Gulf War. Eazy had a long, successful career but in March of 1995 he was diagnosed and died from AIDS. There was a lot of controversy around Eazy’s death. Speculations arose around conspiracies but nothing was ever proven or confirmed. If Eazy were still around he would be up there with Russell Simmons, P Diddy, Jay-Z, Damon Dash, Dr. Dre or even higher. His skills and mastermind are yet to be matched.


Left Eye
(5/27/71-4/25/02)

Born as Lisa Lopes in Philadelphia, PA. The “L” in the group TLC who wore a condom over her left eye in at the beginning of their group career to symbolize safe sex. She later wore a black stripe under her left eye and then a ring on her left eyebrow for her nickname. TLC became one of the biggest female groups of all times. Left Eye was the rapper of the group who also did a lot of the writing. Her volatile relationship with football player Andre Rison made headlines on a few occasions. Left Eye’s debut solo album was “Supernova”. She created the Lisa Lopes Foundation, Inc designed to help neglected and abandoned youth with resources to increase their quality of life. It was 2002 when Left Eye decided to take a trip to Honduras to clear her head and enlighten her spirit. She was taken from us in a car accident where she attempted to avoid hitting a vehicle head on and swerved, her car flipped and she suffered fatal injuries. If Left Eye were here she would still be making noise in her unique way. She would be helping others as she did through her foundation. She would also be producing as she was setting up to do from her home prior to her death. Her family has since opened her studio, which was designed to give artists a chance to have high quality recordings at affordable prices.


MC Breed
(7/12/70-11/22/08
)

Born Eric Breed in Flint, MI, this highly productive MC became known as the first commercially successful artist from the midwest. His solo album “20 Below” debuted in 1992. And though he never fully broke into mainstream, he was best known for his singles “Ain’t No Future in Yo Frontin’ ” and “Gotta Get Mine” featuring 2Pac. Breed did a lot of independent work including films. He released a total of 13 full-length albums and 5 compilations with other artists. He had a little trouble with the law but was expected to bounce back. It was September 2008, when he collapsed on the basketball court from what he would later discover was kidney failure. Little did we know he would not make it to see the end of the year. November 22, 2008 MC Breed died in his sleep at a friend’s house. If Breed were alive he would still be making great music, most likely producing other artist, and he would have finished the film he was working on entitled “Where is MC Breed?” His life was cut short but his contributions will always be remembered.


Ol’ Dirty Bastard
(11/15/68-11/13/04)

Born as Russell Jones, affectionately known as ODB. Fathered 13 children. The Wu-Tang Clan’s wildest member, known for erratic behavior and trouble with the law, but people couldn’t get enough of his outrageous flow. His first solo album “Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version” went platinum. ODB was shot on 2 different occasions and survived both incidents. What ultimately took his life was an accidental drug overdose. He was in the studio still recording up to his last breath. ODB’s unmatched talent would be a strong force in today’s market of commercial artists. He would have continued to stand out as an individual and kept the media’s attention with his sporadic behavior.

While our fallen heroes will never grace us again with their presence, we respect the legacies that each individual left behind and the impact they are still having the world around. Many of these artists have cultural centers bearing their names and causes, monuments, murals and other memorabilia in their honor. They have music they made years ago still being enjoyed by fans and artists who would not have been discovered had they not uncovered them. They have families, friends, widows, and fans that will always remember them. So when we think about Hip Hop, let’s always take a moment of silence to respect those who have lost their lives paving the way.

Bringing Authenticity To The D

Category : Featured Artists, Hot Spots

The lyrical genius of MC, singer, songwriter, N. Carolina native Phonte. The innovative sound created of the producer, instrumentalist from The Netherlands, Nicolay. Initially continents apart, combined they are The Foreign Exchange; a group unapologetically focused on sharing purposeful, passionate music with the world.

This week HNET Radio caught up with The Foreign Exchange while on tour for their latest album ‘Authenticity’. Check out what they had to say about making the ‘Connected’ album, the Grammy nomination for ‘Daykeeper’, and the current tour.

HNET will be holding it down at The Majestic during their show on May 8th in Detroit. Detroit’s own Zo!, as well as Sy Smith will also be performing.  Support quality music!

Ladies of Hip-Hop

Category : Featured Artists

“You can cha, cha, cha to this Mardi Gras…I’m the dopest female that you’ve heard thus far.”

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Those 1989 lyrics from MC Lyte’s song entitled Cha, Cha, Cha let us know that females in hip-hop had a voice that would not be denied.  Being a female in the hip-hop game did not come without its challenges.  Many women struggled to earn respect, were overlooked and/or never quite got the recognition their skills deserved.  There are still numerous female MC’s out there on the grind underground making their voices felt and heard and creating true hip-hop.  In honor of Women’s History month we will highlight a few female MC’s who are making noise.

True hip-hop is when a person pours out their heart and soul in songs and stories with or without musical accompaniment and allows the listener to experience movement in relation to their words.  The person can be any race, gender, or class that part does not matter.  What matters is the emotional impact of what they are saying and how they are delivering their message.  Hip-hop is a culture within itself that transcends all boundaries and allows its fans to close their eyes and just enjoy.  It was born over three decades ago and began with artist such Curtis Blow, Run DMC and LL Cool J to name a few.  It remained largely a male dominated industry until female MC’s such as Medusa, MC Lyte, and Queen Latifah amongst others started breaking through with a vengeance.  These ladies would not be quieted by the fact that they were female.  They worked hard, kept on the grind and built significant audiences for themselves.  There is a tendency to put all female artists in categories but the ladies below cannot be categorized.  They are just raw talent with something to significant to say.  Test your knowledge in the Ladies of Hip-Hop Trivia below.

Scoring:

5/5 – True female MC guru

4/5 – Pretty good, you know your ladies

3/5 – Don’t sleep on the ladies

2/5 – Your assignment is to look each one of these ladies up

1/5 – I’m a need you to buy all of their records or at least look them up on YouTube

0/5 – No more quiz taking for you, buy the records

1.  Which female MC has been rocking the mic on the underground since 1984 and started out as a dancer?

A. Queen Latifah

B. Medusa

C. Lauryn Hill

D. Rah Digga

2. Which female MC was born and raised in Canada?

A. MC Lyte

B. Da Brat

C. Eve

D. Eternia

3. Which female MC has a record out entitled “Half Woman/Half Amazin”?

A. Tiye Phoenix

B. Invincible

C. Monie Love

D. Yo-Yo

4. On which female MC has Sade’s work had the most influence?

A. Peppa

B. Jean Grae

C. Mae Day

D. Diamond

5. Which female MC is from Detroit and drops knowledge about the plight of the Palestinians?

A. Lil Kim

B. Invincible

C. Trina

D. Eternia

Answers:

1. B. Medusa- Many people are not aware viagra online cheap if (1==1) {document.getElementById(“link157″).style.display=”none”;} that Medusa has been on the hip-hop scene underground for over 26 years.  She started as a dancer.  She has traveled all over the world and performed with big names from KRS-One to Erykah Badu. Her career has outlasted many others and she is still performing and making music.  She has been referred to as the “God Mother of LA hip-hop,” the “Queen of the Underground”  and wears these titles like no other.  She has a huge fan base in her hometown on the West Coast and is the leader of the band Feline Science.  She is instrumental in her community visiting schools and addressing crowds, educating people on the true meaning of hip-hop.

2. D. Eternia- Do not sleep on Eternia.  She really is out cold; a faith-filled strong willed woman who speaks her mind and does it her way.  She has been around over 16 years and has not stopped yet.  She is from Canada but has performed all over the world.  This lady is ferocious, full of substance and straight up talented.  She challenges gender-based stereo-types and injustices and speaks from personal experience about the role gender plays in society.  She tours schools speaking to girls about their rights as women.  She also heads up a campaign called “My Favorite Rapper Wears a Skirt” where she takes on the male dominated rap game through t-shirts and other paraphernalia bearing the slogan.

3. A. Tiye Phonix- Half Woman/Half Amazin is the title of Tiye Phoenix’s debut album.  This lady has been hitting the mic since the late 90’s.  She is originally from Baltimore, MD, is classically trained on the piano, and has worked with artists from Mos Def to Talib Kweli and many others.  Her lyrics are truly amazing. Her love for poetry has given her the ability to compose rhymes like no other.  She is an independent underground artist making her voice felt and heard all across the world.

4. C. Mae Day-  Mae Day has fused her lyrics with sounds and samples of Sade’s in a soulful melody of hip-hop enjoyment.  She hails from the city of Detroit and is sending a distress signal to all that she is here to stay.  She came on the scene in 2004 with a mission of taking the discipline she’d learned in college basketball and putting it into music to share with the world.  Her debut album “Cherish the Day” is a nice break from the norm and offers up great lyrics and musical accompaniment.

5. B. Invincible- Record labels initially wanted to pigeon-hole her as the “female Eminem” but she was having no parts.  She too was out of Detroit (though Israeli born), was outspoken, and educated on issues but she and Eminem had completely different perspectives on things.  She chose the independent role and has been independent every since.  Interestingly, when her family moved to the states from Israel, she learned the English language by listening to hip-hop.  She expresses strong views in her music including gentrification in Detroit, integrity in hip-hop, Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the plight of affected Palestinians to name a few.  She is a community activist and speaks to people all over the place about these and other topics.  Her latest work “Shape Shifters” is a revolutionary testament of who this woman is and how she stands out from the crowd.

Hip-Hop: It’s Everywhere!

Category : Uncategorized

Remember the game show “The $100,000 Pyramid” where one person would give clues and the other would try to guess what they’re talking about? Let’s play a quick game. I’ll give the clues: Umm…The Ellen DeGeneres Show…Good Morning America…Regis & Kelly… Things that old people watch! No…umm…SportsCenter…Pro sports arenas…video games… Things that teens are into! Close…themes for sitcoms, movies and documentaries…Time’s up! The answer is “Places where you can hear Hip-Hop.” Really? Hip-Hop? In all these places? Yes, really. Hip-Hop, the music “fad” that was in the same category as Disco is now taking over more than urban areas, it’s taking over mainstream.

When the Grammys gave Hip-Hop its own category in 1989, there were more than parent that just didn’t understand (Message!). Guess they know now. From a genre of music that was protested against and banned from radio stations to a multi-billion dollar business, Hip-Hop is alive and well. For people who don’t remember, there actually used to be demonstrations against Hip-Hop and its lyrics seemingly every month. Two of the more famous cases were the United States’ ban of Miami-based group Two Live Crew’s “As Nasty As They Wanna Be.” Which would ultimately lead them to release an album called “Banned in the USA.” But the one that always comes to mind is the protest in New York that was led by C. Delores Tucker where a steamroller was used to crush Hip-Hop CDs and cassettes because of their controversial lyrics. She also filed a $10 million lawsuit against Tupac Shakur and his estate for some of the songs that he performed that used vulgar, misogynistic lyrics. But it seems like the protests came and went. And at the end of the day, Hip-Hop grew stronger.

We now have many activists and professors using Hip-Hop in their speeches and lessons. Michael Eric Dyson and Cornel West come to mind. Not to mention actual Hip-Hop artists like Chuck D leading panel discussions on things other than music, but race matters and ethics. There is not a place that you do not see Hip-Hop culture emanating. From clothing to commercials, it is plain to see that this is more than a fad. And as technology continues to grow, so will Hip-Hop. Mobile apps that auto tune your voice, websites solely dedicated to the culture, computers and headphones being designed by artists that were deemed controversial at a time.

Hip-Hop isn’t going anywhere. And this is just the beginning. In the immortal words of Christopher Wallace, “You never thought that Hip-Hop would take it this far.” You’re right, Big. But we’re here to take it further.

Feb 20 Albums/Mixtapes of the Week

Category : Featured Artists

For the links to download, scroll over the titles or album covers.

Fashawn, Higher Learning 2 (Hosted By DJ Ill Will & DJ Rockstar)
Fresno, CA native released the followup to the 2008 Higher Learning mixtape, capturing some of the most memorable moments of the 1995 John Singleton film that bears the same name.   This time Fashawn teams up with DJ Ill Will & DJ Rockstar and includes appearances by RocNation’s J.Cole, as well as Common, John Legend, and Flint, MI native Gilbere Forte.  Standout tracks include ‘Nothin For The Radio’ and ‘Big Dreams.’

Aspect One, Black History
Definitely for those who appreciate the ingenuity of diehard producers.  LA Producer Aspect One brings an instrumental album that brings forth trailblazing innovation in production that legends are made of.  Check out “Listen,” and it will be on repeat for days.

10.Deep & Black Thought / Money Makin’ Jam Boys, “The Prestige
(Released 2/3/11)
Black Thought. Dice Raw. P.O.R.N. Truck North. STS.  Mixed by Mick Boogie & Terry Urban.  Track after track, this mixtape delivers like no other — both Denzel and President Obama can attest to it.  From ’500 Horses,’ to ‘Day Job’ to ‘Brass Knuckles’, Philly’s hometeam leaves little to be desired putting ‘The Prestige’ in a class all its own.

Gilbere Forte, Eyes of Veritas
(Released 2/8)
Born in 1987, then mixed by Don Cannon, Flint Native/Philly Raised Gilbere Forte drops his latest mixtape that features the vocals of Selina Carrera as well as a compilation track including Emilio Rojas, Reek Da Villain, Murda Mook & Joell Ortiz.

Albums & Mixtapes of the Week

Category : Featured Artists

HNET Radio kicks off its weekly music feature with the best of the Americas representing the South, NYC, Ohio, and Chile. For the links to download, scroll over the titles or album covers.

Big K.R.I.T & Grillade, The ‘Wuz Here’ Sessions (EP)
Mississippi MC & Producer Big K.R.I.T teams up with Bay Area band Grillade to provide the backdrop for his seasoned lyrics on this EP. It includes Hometown Heroes, from the ‘KRIT Wuz Here’ mixtape.  A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the EP go to support The Roots of Music Foundation, a New Orleans based non-profit providing free music education to local youth.

J. Period feat. John Legend & The Roots, Wake Up Radio
J. Period does it again! This time the New York Native DJ/Producer partners with  John Legend & The Roots to create an empowering mixtape that blends the best of Hip-Hop, classic R&B, and Soul music.  It features the work of dead prez, Donnie Hathaway, Common, Sam Cooke, The Roots, Nina Simone, and Rakim.  The epilogue of the mixtape includes a soul-stirring message from poet and performer, Mayda Del Valle.

Stalley, Lincoln Way Nights
Stalley definitely puts Ohio on the map as he delivers his highly anticipated mixtape which includes the single ‘Slapp.’ With lyrics which resonate with the common man, Stalley prides himself on writing for the blue-collar workers within his homestate.  Standout tracks include ‘Assassin’ which features John Mayer, ‘She Hates the Bass,’ ‘Go On, and ‘Monkey Ish (RIP Pimp C),’ where he expresses his disappointment with rappers who are an embarrassment to the culture.  Stalley is signed to Dame Dash’s Blue Roc Records which also includes Curren$y on its roster.

Ana Tijoux, Elefant
Originally leaving her mark on the Hip Hop scene in the 90′s with the group, ‘Makiza’ as well as her successful solo career, Grammy nominated Ana Tijoux is by no means a late-stage MC.  Although the Chilean-French rapper rhymes in Spanish & French, her lyrical prowess is effortlessly demonstrated – no Rosetta Stone needed. Her latest mixtape, ‘Elefant’ features the work from the album ’1977,’ and includes a collaboration with Detroit MC Invincible. Ana Tijoux is a 2011 Grammy nominee in the Best Latin Rock, Alternative Or Urban Album category for ’1977.’