Answers to a few of the questions people ask about OnStage Global Entertainment…..
Q. Your “About Us” section describes OnStage as a platform for streaming live music concerts but it doesn’t seem as if that’s what you’re doing now. When are you going to begin streaming shows?
A. Our business model is built around streaming concerts as premium content, essentially pay-per-view shows. We can do that now but we prefer to continue working to attract the partners and investments that will ensure the product we put out is closer to perfect than anything else out there. Meanwhile we probably will go ahead with some free shows just as demos.
Q. Aren’t you concerned that some other company will take your ideas about live streaming shows and run with them?
A. Not really. We don’t own the idea. We weren’t the first to come up with it and aren’t the first to act on it. It’s been around for years. On the scale we’re talking about the question isn’t who else is doing it but have they also figured out a compelling approach to marketing and viewer engagement.
Q. Why are you convinced folks in DC will pay to see a concert or show they aren’t actually attending?
A. DC is our home and we know the love of good music in this town is off the charts but DC represents a fraction of the market we want to sell to. OnStage DC has site visitors from around the world, like Eastern Europe which is strong, and China, Japan, Canada. They love this music. And we showcase videos from artists from New York and California and Pittsburg and Atlanta because we want to build brand recognition in those markets as well.
Q. What about those videos in your OnStage Video Showcase; how did you get permission to put them on your website?
A. These are all YouTube videos that link back to YouTube channels, many of which were sent to us by the artists themselves. We did a couple of them. Others we see out there and when we add them we hit the artist up to say we put the video OnStage. There aren’t many working artists who don’t want their work as widely disseminated as possible, so we get a lot of good feedback. Obviously, anybody who doesn’t think their work is good enough to be featured in the showcase can let us know and we’ll take it down right away.
Q. Do the OnStage partners have music backgrounds?
A. We’ve all been involved in music or the business of music, yes. Our webmaster also plays guitar, Khari, our co-founder is lead singer for the band Bombaye (formerly The Insurrection) and is a great music critic, Diggs started putting together shows when he was still a junior in high school and has been involved in club promotions, and James has had a fairly long hiatus before these past two years but also produced and promoted shows and briefly managed one of DC’s most popular R&B groups at the time.
Q. Are there artists or companies involved in music that you want to work with eventually?
A. Absolutely, pretty much everybody that follows us on Twitter we could see ourselves working with.
Hipco music is Hip Hop with a Liberian flavor, a combination of Hip Hop beats and raps delivered in Colloqua, a mixture of English and native Liberian tongues. Right now it’s the hottest sound on the African continent and in keeping with the OnStage pledge to bring you the hottest music it’s a sound we’ll be sharing more of in the weeks to come. We started with the best, Takun J, pictured on the right, who is kind of the Jay Z of Hipco, and posted one of his videos “You Meaning Me” in the OnStage Video Showcase a few weeks ago. Then we followed up with “Ghetto Inspiration” by Nasty, a video with a theme that connects Hip Hop storytelling and “My Hood” scene setting. In Ghetto Inspiration it’s the streets of Monrovia but we see a lot of that same theme in DMV videos from Erie Ave to Boog Wonderland to Young Sir and Yung Richie P.
Check out our most recent Hipco entry “Talk It Like Me” by TruStorry. It’s not coincidental at all to us that Hipco should have so much in common with the music coming out of the urban streets of the US. After all, out of the many nations in Africa, Liberia is the one with which we share a preponderance of DNA. Family ties that stretch across the Atlantic may have been lost over the years but a lot of black folk in America have cousins they never knew existed in Liberia. How cool is it when you meet a cousin you’ve never known and discover you have the same outlook, like the same kind of weather, have the same style, and bang the same music? We want to use Hipco to start the reunion. Youtube is full of Hipco videos if you check for them. Guaranteed you’ll find something you like, and also check out a nice mixtape from US based Liberian DJ and producer Chief Boima.
After you’ve gotten the full flavor of Hipco, imagine with us what it would be like if a group of DMV rappers and DJs and producers and Blog writers and videographers took a trip to Monrovia to meet our cousins. What you’d get is a great documentary and an even greater soundtrack! It would be difficult to make it happen, but not impossible. We’ve got a lot of assets and a ton of creative thinking in our town. Might just be a matter of folks contributing ideas, suggesting sources, and keeping the conversation alive. Like they say in radio, "The lines are open..."
That’s the DMV DIVA Jenee in the first picture and the great band The Rising Suns in the second, a contestant from one of our EveryDay Style photo contests in the third, and the hot DMV band Nu-Era in the fourth thumbnail. We say this everyday… DC may not be the fashion capital of the world, but no doubt it’s the Capital of Style!
GV – Live Performance of “Full Time Grind”
For a website like OnStage which is actually focused on live performances it’s always nice to feature a live performance video and even better when the video is from our favorite rappers, Gangsta Villains. This was shot at Ras Lounge which is fast becoming the sound stage for emerging artists in the DMV. As with smaller venues, there is a challenge for video shooters of tightness, lighting, and sound quality. But typically for GV they just get onstage and go. “Full Time Grind” displays the stage presence and gritty high energy they are known for and that we think will keep them lighting up venues for quite a while. You can check out more videos from the group in the OnStage Video Showcase, and at GV’s YouTube channel. Follow them on Twitter @Real_GV for info on upcoming shows.
HOP DA Great – “Life of the Music”
Somebody on Twitter said that posting links to videos would never help an artist get a recording contract. Maybe so, but if you are an artist posting links to really good videos you definitely aren’t harming your chances of getting noticed. We checked out a link to a video by HOP DA GREAT and if he doesn’t have, or doesn’t end up with, a recording contract then good luck to the thousands of hopeful hip hop artists who are nowhere near as good as he is. “Life of the Music" is a solid song and video that preceded another really good “themed” video “Motivation PT 2”. Both showcase his musical dexterity and are extremely well produced. We’re looking forward to see what the future brings for HOP DA GREAT. You can look forward to seeing more of his videos in the OnStage Video Showcase.
Lefty Gunna – “I’m Still Here”
The best Rap lyrics paint story lines that listeners can relate to, and old school narratives still do this a lot better than most of what we hear from so many younger MC’s these days. Hard times, grinding, 40’s, and disappointing our mothers are part of the reality of the urban landscape. Lamborghinis, $40,000 chains, moving “tons” of cocaine and dropping bodies, all while never going to prison or having ever traveled more than 50 miles from the neighborhood you grew up in, is that BMF wannabe fantasy BS we keep hearing though. That’s why “Block Boss” Lefty Gunna and his old school video “I’m Still Here” is so poignant and impressive for us. It skips the pretentiousness and keeps the beats even, the flow raw, and the visual backdrop recognizable. DC is the home of swagger so yes there’s bravado, and even more in his newer video “Money on My Mind” but it rings truer coming from the Block Boss.
Young Roach – “Girls Wanna Party”
A basic prerequisite for a Hip Hop video is that it should either make you think, or make you dance. When it does neither it’s a waste of time. In “Girls Wanna Party” Pittsburg MC Young Roach strikes gold with the “… make you dance” rule, delivering up a bouncy tune full of catchy phrases. The story line is hilarious. Add to that the video is well shot with subtle transitions and effortlessly slides in product placement for Clique Vodka, and you’ve got a winner. We’re lining up an interview with Young Roach so won’t say much more here except check out “Girls Wanna Party” and take a look at his other videos on YouTube. He’s having fun and why not? There’s a lot of artistry and potential there. And oh yeah, Shout Out to the Honey Badgers!
Nu-Era – “I Speak”
R&B aficionados checking out this very well done video staring Nu-Era are probably comparing them to names they recollect from a storied list of great DC bands. One name that came to mind the first time we saw “I Speak” was the legendary DC group, the Unifics. If you know that Nu-Era and sibling group Trilogy III are the musical progeny of the great Osiris Marsh, the comparison is not a stretch by any means. With a career trajectory skillfully stewarded by manager Holly Howse, Nu-Era has deftly transitioned from cover songs of many of the great acts of the 60’s and 70’s to leveraging their collaboration with Trilogy III on songs like “Wassup” and “From BMore 2 DC”. It was just a matter of time before we were treated to a full blown original classic. Straight up traditional singing is a rare commodity in music today. Nu-Era is carving out a place beside the great DC groups that have gone before them.
I am going to start this review by stating my conclusion upfront: I believe that RAtheMC will one day be mentioned amongst the pantheon of elite female MC’s that includes the likes of MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Lauryn Hill, Salt-N-Pepa, Bahamadiah and, Da Brat. Now let me get into the review of her latest offering, The Grace Jones Experiment, which will detail some of the reasons I have come to that conclusion.
The album/mixtape is bookended by an intro and outro track titled “Jesse Boykins III” which features Ra giving the listener insight into why she chose the title of the project and what to expect, and then telling them her hopes for what they get out of it at the end. Both of those tracks also feature airy vocals that provide their own narrative to the project sung masterfully by, I’m sure you have guessed by now…Jesse Boykins III. That type of almost academic approach to beginning and ending the album give the listener a cue as to what is in store: something that the artist obviously took her time to actually THINK about. So much Hip-Hop music today is just a stream of throw away cliché-brand name-trending topic-latest gadget mentions strung together in a semi-entertaining fashion over a beat that sounds good on club speaker systems. That’s fine, if all you want to do is dance, but for those of us that actually grew up on Hip-Hop and revel in hearing it when it’s done well, we are often left wanting. RAtheMC definitely does not fall into that category.
Specifically speaking about this project though, there are some really good beats on here - from producers like P. Murph (Million Miles Away, Brand New), Lil Dope Boy Fresh (Believe), Slash Water Boy (Write It Down) and others, along with a some neo classics including The Rain produced by Timbaland and Dead Wrong which was originally done by Easy Mo Bee but the version here is the Hitmen produced remix. So let it be known that RA knows how to pick a beat. She also knows a thing or two about marrying good beats with great vocal performance as well. I said it that way because RA doesn’t just rap. Another thing that makes her stand out from the pack is that she can effortlessly weave back and forth between rapping and singing. In the current market where Estelle does this with great aplomb but firmly plants her feet in the R&B world and Nikki Minaj does it but plants her flag in the pop arena…it seems there is definitely space for this to be done well in Hip-Hop (since Lauryn appears to be gone for good). The line that once existed between R&B and Hip-Hop has been slowly eroding since Jody Watley collaborated with another great MC nicknamed RA (the track was called Friends for those of you who don’t know or didn’t remember) and has now officially vanished. While others are doing it too, not everybody makes it work. On the song Million Miles Away, RA successfully manages to essentially make a modern R&B record where her poignant rap at the beginning of the track sounds like a feature on her own song! Then she reverses that aesthetic on the uptempo “Believe” where she gets her man on the raps (with some well placed beat drops to highlight her witty wordplay) and RAtheSinger comes off as a featured R&B siren.
Throughout the project RA sprinkles samples of the real Grace Jones in interviews and even one from Boomerang where her character is being introduced and it comes off like she got Grace to agree to be the narrator. The clips speak to themes that RA mentions in her lyrics and the image which she has carved out for herself (an image that is diametrically opposed to the current trend of female MCs). The samples do one other thing for me, and that is they identify RA as an artist who painstakingly works at putting together a cohesive project that gives the listener more than just music and says she is not afraid to get her manicure dusty by digging through the crates to pull that off. This is Hip-Hop artistry at a very high level!
For fear of being too verbose Im going to quickly run through some other highlights. For those who are from DC , NE especially, “Where Brookland At” is a real treat as Ra navigates her way through familiar streets (and for those not from DC, No that is not a typo). Though Ra keeps features at a minimum here, Phil Ade really brings a lot to “Fall Back” with great lyricism (how many listeners even know what an estuary is) and energy and Javier Starks comes through with terrific flow bouncing between double time and standard with ease. Hopefully no one is offended by her use of “OJ Simpson” in her metaphorical murderfest, it’s another standout cut. On “The Pain” RA flips the familiar beat to a more meaningful statement on her journey and her abilities. Finally “Brand New” is definitely one of my favorites because of both the autobiographical storytelling elements and because of the inspirational tone that is worthy of a Willie Jolley or Zig Ziglar. There are many other highlights as well both musically and lyrically but to sum it up, these have been the main reasons I came to my conclusion: The Grace Jones Experiment places RAtheMC head and shoulders above much of her competition and really leaves the listener anxiously anticipating her next offering, which will hopefully be some big splashy major label debut!