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#ThoughtfulThursday - 3 Tips on "Making It" in the Music Game

by Khari Gzifa
hip hop image pictureI thought today I would give a few tips. Consider this an advice column of sorts for unsolicited (nonetheless, very needed) career guidance. This particularly goes out to the artists that don’t have the marquee names and the big budgets, indeed the ones who YouTube intends to evict from their space. As I see it, most of the "underground" artists of today are essentially carbon copies of the "mainstream" rappers. I mean they rap about the same things. So much so, that based on hearing many of their songs I wonder why any of them would ever want a major label deal at all, seeing as how they already have the identical lifestyle AND no 360 deal draining away profits that they could keep for themselves. Unless of course, the lyrics are not "keeping it real," but instead are "keeping it fraudulent". A lesson that many artists seem to have missed is that NOBODY likes to be lied to. Whether it’s in business, personal life, or even in the art they purchase, respect, trade, etc. The underlying statement in any lie after all is, "...and you're too dumb to know any better". Not exactly a great message to send to someone you are courting as a potential fan or investor. I’m going to just take a few minutes to offer my 3 tips on how an artist can avoid being one amongst a million, and instead be one of a kind, which is what they were always meant to be.

First tip, you (Mr. and Ms. underground artist, from here on referred to as simply you) can’t say what they say. They, being the anointed few who seem to have unfettered access to the airwaves, TV coverage, award show nominations, etc. You know the usual suspects, your Kanye’s, Jays, Ross', Wayne’s, Drakes, etc. Their lives are not yours. It comes off as dishonest and insulting to the audience when you keep presenting a fantasy as if its reality.  I mean beyond that, some of it is just ridiculous anyway. Come on son, bragging about all this dealing and shooting people, and on and on. If you were ever even slightly involved in any of that, you would be an absolute idiot to be recording and releasing those potentially incriminating statements on CD. Everyone knows this, and it prevents you from being taken seriously. I know many, emcees especially, will say that "they are not speaking about themselves personally and these are stories from the artist’s experience". I don’t deny that, but that is not the way they market and promote themselves. They are truly selling an image that is in direct opposition to the lives they actually live and the very real lessons they have learned in that life. I believe that is a big reason many artists are not able to amass a following. You need to have trust from both sides of the equation, both the artist and the audience, and when you blatantly lie and exaggerate in your "conversations" with your listeners, then that trust just isn’t there.

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Vitamin THC (True.Human.Connection.) – iMallbot

Fatz Sinatra – Fatz Da Big Fella

Repressed Thougths – Physcoactive

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Only One Squad – Bless Squad


#EverydayStyle - Accessories and Tees

Summer’s heating up now, and #EverydayStyle in DC has reached the sizzling point as well. Check out all the shots in our new photoset “Accessories and Tees.” Remember, style is attitude. When you’re comfortable with yourself you’ll never be uncomfortable with what you wear…

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Review - Fly Rebel Society "reFRSH"

by Khari Gzifa

picture of Fly Rebel SocietyIn today’s musical landscape when access to new music is ubiquitous and largely free, Hip Hop fans need a compelling reason to focus their attention, not least their dollars, on emerging artists outside the terrestrial-dome of commercial radio where anything that doesn’t sound dumbed-down and duplicative rarely gets heard. Hip Hop collective Fly Rebel Society released their sophomore album “reFRSH”  in late May and we’re happy to report that anyone wondering whether it’s worth spending $9.95 to buy and bump throughout the summer won’t regret their decision by fall. “reFRSH” is a dope successor to their debut “The Fresh Effect” with notable tracks featuring infectious beats and admirable flows. It’s a meaty and fairly comprehensive tour through the group’s artistic reach back-dropped by top flight production values.

Hailing from the DC/Maryland area, The Fly Rebel Society (@FlyRebelSociety) members are Lega-c, Ryda Blak, Cooley, TeeJay, and godlymC; an amalgamation of different personalities and musical philosophies all underlying a common theme of being Fly and Rebellious in everything they do. And what they do with this project is meet the challenge many collectives face of stringing together a cohesive lyrical narrative on each track. On nearly every offering they deftly manage to keep a thematic unanimity in their songs that too often eludes even so-called super groups.  That dexterity is on full display beginning with “The Procedure” and with other standouts like “Rearview” and our personal favorite, “Grind”.

Read more: Review - Fly Rebel Society "reFRSH"

10 Questions 4.... Melisa Kim


picture of M. Kim1. Your Twitter handle, Meluminati, is great. What’s the inspiration behind that and how is it a reflection of your personality?

“Meluminati” is a play on words of my name and Illuminati, but it just means I’m responsible for my own success, whether you believe it or not. I call myself a “conspiracy analyst” as opposed to a “conspiracy theorist,” so it’s not that I don’t buy into the idea, but I question everything to include the idea of questioning everything, lol. I think pop culture feeds off of people’s belief in the Illuminati, which adds to the mystique and controversy (i.e. free publicity), but it’s hurtful because instead of inspiring people to work hard, be consistent, and build lasting relationships (factors for success), it encourages people to believe that certain heights of success aren’t reachable unless you sell your soul. That’s crippling to the psyche. I don’t believe that, so I’m working to prove it’s not true. Guess we’ll find out.

2. Culture doesn’t really have any boundaries; social status, age, ethnicity. But there’s always going to be folks who don’t get that. Do you get questions about your ethnicity as it relates to hip hop?

I’m Asian, thirty-something, a woman, and a mom who works with hip hop artists...there’s a few questions about my entire existence lol. I experience racism and stereotyping more from the general population than I do within hip hop, which is probably why I originally gravitated to it. I think that as hip hop grew into a cultural force and global medium (and Wu Tang made all things Asian cool lol), those who grew up within it are more open-minded. I still get questions asking if I eat dogs and cats, which martial arts I know, do I do nails, how do I speak English so well, etc. and I probably always will as long as America exists. The real questions and issues within hip hop are about me being a woman. That’s a book.

3. No doubt you are a recognizable force in the DMV hip hop scene. How did you get started, what’s your background?

I got started by loving hip hop. I’ve always kept bumping into or becoming friends with people in some aspect of the music and entertainment industry, unintentionally, accidentally, and coincidentally. I guess that happens when you surround yourself by what you love. I never set out to be involved, I literally just wanted to help out some friends by providing my professional skills as a business consultant which seemed to be needed. The more I became involved, the more I saw the fundamental issues in the DMV that were deeper than an absence of business acumen, professional standards, or an industry infrastructure. I wanted to support those who were interested in changing the culture and setting the standards, not just talking or complaining about it. That’s the big picture story. The actual story goes like this: I met Jay Mills on Twitter who invited me to the Anti Club (which was everything the name implies), where I met Pro’Verb. I began working with Pro’Verb and helped to start Will Rap 4 Food. Through Will Rap 4 Food, I met Visto who launched Hippie Life Krew and Dirt2Gold. All of these brands are grassroots and promote inclusivity, positivity, teamwork, and other great concepts that shouldn’t be so rare...all things I believe in.

Read more: 10 Questions 4.... Melisa Kim

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