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Why we should stop referring to Hip-Hop as “Old- School”

Written by: Jermaine A. Shoulders

Jaswriter122@gmail.com

I decided to speak my peace after I had recently read a Twitter post by Kevin Powell, a writer from Brooklyn, NY. He and I are both a part of the Hip Hop generation, the musical phenomenon that has taken over the world, and has  been such an influence on so many cultures. Watching the world embrace an art form that I saw blossom right in front of my eyes, literally, like outside my window, is simply amazing. To watch the millennials and this newest generation totally live in this culture is something we never thought about. Especially, when all we knew was the turntable and the microphone.

I am Hip-Hop through and through, and so is Kevin Powell. My kids tease me all the time about it, not even realizing it was my generation that gave them their style and language. Are we that disconnected? Is the generational gap that wide? No, I don’t think so. But, what we are as a generation in this day and age is not “old school” but “classic.”

Classic is defined as: serving as a standard of excellence: of recognized value. Traditional, enduring”. (Webster’s Dictionary).  When you think of Hip-Hop as a culture, not just the music, you cannot deny its influence. Hip-Hop is full of creators, innovators and game changers. From the way DJ’s scratch records and create mood and rock a party, to the way emcee’s use words to evoke every emotion imaginable to the listener, to the style of dress and speech that is imitated the world over.

I think the term: “classic,” is the perfect way to describe Hip – Hop music. Much like other genres of music (rock, R&B/Soul, jazz, classical), Hip Hop has more than solidified itself in the fabric of American music culture, but also a seminal offering to the rest of  the world. Kevin’s premise in his tweet was that the term “old school hip-hop” is outside the realm of what the music truly is.  And I would have to agree.

There are classic Hip-Hop songs, lyrics, sounds, vernacular, dress styles and movies. Not to mention dance styles, that vary from region to region. That element of Hip-Hop is still alive and well. Our overall “get down” indeed serves as a standard of excellence and is recognized for its value. When you use the term “old-school” there tends to be a negative connotation that creates an idea that it is out-dated or old.  The culture itself is so fluid and it’s always evolving. Therefore, it can never get old. In today’s day and time, lack of respect for the art form and lack of overall creativity from some in the culture only slightly threatens Hip-Hop’s constant evolutionary existence.

We have created other terms that could be synonymous with classic like “foundation” or “essence” or even “roots”, but none of those terms holds the weight of classic as it is undeniable in its influence. When something is considered classic, people tend to listen. People tend to give that thing, whatever it is, a little more respect.

It takes a lot to be considered a classic and think Hip-Hop has earned that right, especially, with many of our classic artists, namely, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, NWA and Beastie Boys, Run DMC and Public Enemy, now sitting and honoring Hip-Hop in the Rock in Roll Hall of Fame.

So let’s do away with that term “old-school” and embrace the term “classic”. Once again the fluidity of the culture demands things change and embrace a new view, a view worthy if it’s name.

 

Check-out the The Art of Hip Hop Trailer, which is a documentary spearheaded by rapper “Ice T” to paint a better picture of my passion for the culture.

 

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Five reasons why Nelly should be a first ballot Hip-Hop Hall of Famer

This probably isn’t what you expected to be reading and that’s perfectly fine. And, I’m pretty sure by now many of you have ditched the band-aids, Air-force one’s, and have packed his CD’s in a corner in the basement. So, I bet you’re probably wondering why out of all of the artists I could’ve chosen, I decided to roll with Nelly. Let me be very clear; I’m in no way, shape, or form, saying Nelly was the Greatest Rapper of All Time. So, I don’t want to hear any Biggie vs. Tupac articles or anybody yelling, “What about Nas?!”. I can admit he wasn’t the best lyricist and I’m sure he won’t make the cut for most people’s “All Time Great” list, but in terms of doing it #ForTheCulture, Nelly truly was an icon ahead of his time.

  1. For beginners, he put his city on his byke (back, in layman’s terms), and brought us “Country Grammar” at the turn of the century. Not that St. Louis wasn’t an already well known and well established city, but this was a different tune. And, it was a different strand of southern reality than what we had been served up by Outkast and Goodie Mob. Andre and Big Boi brought us deep, layered, intellectual rap sprinkled with comedic relief and quick jabs of wit. Goodie Mob gave us detailed, vivid portraits of the struggles of Black life in the South. “Country Grammar” was neither of these. It was a prideful anthem of everything that makes  St. Louis so great. It’s geographic location nearly in a no man’s land allowed him to give us a taste of Chicago, Houston, and Atlanta all in one and that’s exactly what it did. Nelly said it best himself, “I’m from the LOU and I’m proud!” and he made it known all the way from the first track to the last. The accompanying visuals only amplified Nelly’s pride. Instead of using a gimmick or going along with the trends of the time, he decided to use what he knew the best to propel himself and the St. Lunatics to the frontlines of the mainstream media, and let the rest of the world know that the Midwest had something to offer to Hip-Hop, too.
  2. Nelly is single-handedly responsible for the beginning, middle, and end of the BET Uncut/After Dark era. Tip Drill, anyone?

For anyone who is unfamiliar, BET Uncut was a late night segment that made its debut in 2001, airing Wednesday through Friday at 3am. Considering the showing times and a rating of TV-MA, you can probably imagine what appeared in these videos. In a way, this was simply an introduction to what we would consider normal for music videos today.  

  1.  In 2002 Nelly really began to chisel his face into the Mount Rushmore of Hip Hop. Before J-Kwon announced that ERRRRbody in the club was getting tipsy, Nelly let us know it was getting “Hot in Herre. Even though this was the second official single on “Nellyville”, it was a massive success. Nelly received a Grammy for Best Male Rap Solo Performance, which was a brand new category at the time. “Hot in Herre” is certified platinum in Australia and New Zealand and went 2x platinum in the US. In 2008, VH1 listed the track at #36 on it’s list of the 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop.

He decided to dig a little deeper and provide us with a love song. It was a love song like no other. For a moment we’re going to forget about the fact Kelly was using Excel on her phone and wondering why she wasn’t receiving any texts. This wasn’t the typical love song with a rapper talking about this one woman he was chasing or the one that got away. This was a love ballad duet in which all the young lovers could enjoy simultaneously in the same space. Yes, there’s was the 03 Bonnie and Clyde. Yes, LL Cool J told us all he needed love. Yes, Ja Rule reminded us that every thug needs a lady, but “Dilemma” offered us something different. Not quite Usher and Alicia, but a perfect blend of light rap without the edge and smooth R&B.

As for the icing on that year’s cake, he convinced us all we needed two paaaaaairssss when he gifted us one more cultural gem with “Air Force Ones.  

  1. Just when we thought he couldn’t push the boundaries of the genre any further, he takes another leap creating a collaboration with his country cousin, Tim McGraw.  This Country-Rap mashup was one of the earliest of its kind. It was a detour from what we had become used to hearing from Nelly, but we shouldn’t have been surprised considering the country undertones of his music thus far.  It’s important because it wasn’t just an attempt at something new. It was actually a success. “Over And Over” peaked at #3 in the US and reached the #1 spot in Australia. Not only was this song a success, but it led to a future collaboration between Nelly and Florida Georgia Line, “Cruise (Remix)”, which was certified 2x platinum in Canada and Diamond in the US.

In 2005 Nelly continued to further the legacy and culture of southern rap by bringing “Grillz to the mainstream. Keep in mind, this wasn’t a new phenomenon that he discovered or made by accident. He wasn’t the first to mention grills or even have them, but there was something special about listing all the ways in which one could light up a room with a diamond-encrusted grill.  

  1. This many contributions in such a short time span should be enough to solidify any artist among the greats. Nelly had more to contribute outside of his music. Like many other artists, he ventured into clothing. This venture is different than that of other artists because he actually had two lines and not just one. The first was a lesser known line, was called VOKAL (http://www.vokal.com/2003/). VOKAL was a line made for men featuring sweatsuits, tank tops, t-shirts, and jerseys. The other line which is most remembered is Apple Bottoms. Most of us know this line later became part of a hook we still sing along to now.

Honorable Mentions: 2003 brought us  “Shake Ya Tailfeather,” the unofficial Bad Boys II theme song and perfect instrumental to hit the chickenhead real quick.   In addition to that, Nelly introduced us to his the one touch sunroof in “Pimp Juice.”

One more thing: He also managed to make it socially acceptable to wear an accessory for an imaginary permanent injury by wearing a bandaid on his face which was likely to match his durag.

I’m not entirely sure if there is a Hip-Hop Hall of Fame, but if there is, I’d like to make a motion to put St. Louis’s finest, Nelly, on the first ballot.

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Listen to Solange’s new album “A Seat At The Table”

Today is the digital release date of Solange’s fourth studio album “A Seat At The Table.” I can’t say who’s worse, her or Frank Ocean for making fans wait four years  to hear some new music. But, I think that it may be well worth it, as Solange says that this is her “…most proud body of work.”

On this new album, you will hear features from: Tweet, Kelela, Kelly Rowland, BJ The Chicago Kid, The Dream, Lil Wayne, Q-Tip and more

Check out her digital book HERE , and tell me what y’all think about it!

Me ….being a bootleg choreographer….coming up w moves for da video 🎥

A post shared by Solange (@saintrecords) on

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7 Pandora stations you should listen to if you want to increase your focus

Are you able to listen to music while you are working on an assignment, or studying for an exam? I know many of you probably can, but for some reason I can’t! Every time I press play on my iTunes list, or plug-in to my favorite station on Pandora, I always find that I am more into the music than my work. (This GIPH is exactly what I used to look like in the library, but much more animated and louder LOL)

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And, I try so hard to balance the two actions (working and listening) in my mind, but most of the time I just turn off the music, so that I can be more productive.

So, I know you are thinking, “well why in the hell did you write this post then !”

Well, I think I’ve found a solution for all of my people out there who experience the same issue.

I’ve been experimenting with listening to Pandora stations that are all instrumental based. But, get this, I’ve found that I am much more focused when I listen to classical, smooth jazz, and praise stations.

Now, I know that you’re probably thinking that these stations seem like they would be corny, but it actually works.

Next time you’re studying or working on an assignment, try it out and see if it works for you. If not, maybe it’s just best for you to work in silence, and that is okay!

Here is my list of  “Grind Stations” to help me get my work done:

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What are some of your favorite stations to listen to when you’re trying to focus?

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Chrisette Michele Interview Recap

Chrisette Michele is such an amazing artist, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing her perform live and needless to say she blew me away. Lets be honest, most artists now a days sound completely different live than they do on their albums, but not Chrisette, shes one of the few artist that puts on an awesome live show! With that being said, a few weeks ago I was given a press pass to attend the Pose ‘N Post Symposium presented by Chrisette Michele & Rich Hipster, in my hometown of Richmond, VA. Of course I was super excited and ready to go, but unfortunately due to the venue flooding the event was cancelled. Well, a few days ago I got an email from her PR people letting me know that I would have an opportunity to interview Chrisette via telephone. I was already a fan, but being that this woman actually took time out of her busy day to call me and allow me to interview her, really says a lot! She is truly an amazing human being, super down to earth, and a woman of her word. So, check out my interview recap below with the lovely Chrisette Michele!

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What Inspired you to start the Pose ‘N Post Symposium?

Chrisette explained that the the Pose ‘N Post Symposium was started because she was so inspired by the platforms and businesses created by some of her favorite YouTube vloggers, bloggers, and social media mavens. She went on to stress the importance of social media in today’s world and how it can really help individuals create a business for themselves by doing what they love.

What is the mission of the Pose ‘N Post Symposium, what will attendees take away after attending?

Chrisette stated that her mission is to “create an environment where like minded individuals can celebrate each other”. Attendees will be able to share tips, and success stories about their journey’s with one another, all while gaining some great insight into branding and building their social media presence.

Will you be adding anymore dates, what future plans do you have for the Pose’N Post Symposium?

Due to the overwhelming response she’s had to all of the show dates, a 2nd leg of the tour will be added with additional dates and locations, so make sure to check out richhipster.myshopify.com/collections/pose-n-post-symposium for more details on upcoming dates. All the dates on the current leg of the tour have been sold-out; Chrisette is really excited with the response she has gotten thus far from vloggers and bloggers!

How did the Rich Hipster label come about, and what can we expect to see from Rich Hipster in the future? 

The Rich Hipster label was inspired by everyday people, ( thats typically where she finds most of her inspiration) through meeting and conversing with people on a daily basis. Chrisette Michele went on to explain that Rich Hipster is “more than a label, but a lifestyle”. We can expect lots of dope things from the Rich Hipster brand in the future including new artist like her brother Lem Payne, the label will also be hosting lots of charity events, summer BBQ’s, music showcases, etc.

Are you currently working on new music, if so what can we expect from this album?

A new album is in the works, so fans get ready! Chrisette stated that while she has no name yet for this new album, “it is highly inspired from old soul- singers” and you’ll definitely be able to hear that influence throughout the record!

Where do you find inspiration when writing new material, and where do you like to record?

Chrisette finds inspiration in everything from friends & family, to nature, and the world we live in. She loves to record new material with just herself, a piano, and without the use of studio engineering.

It was such a pleasure speaking with the beautiful Chrisette Michele, ladies be on the look out for the Pose ‘N Post Symposium, it could be making its way to your city next!

 

 

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New Artist Tink Redefines Feminism in Rap

Tink has spunk. The petite hip-hop artist openly identifies as a feminist and has renounced the “bitch” title: an easy go-to image for female rappers. This is bold and refreshing territory for an up-and-coming artist competing with the likes of Nicki Minaj.

Tink’s February cover story with Fader chronicles her path from Chicagoan recording tracks in her basement, to signing with Timbaland’s label Mosley Music Group. Fader even compares her fierce attitude to Daenerys Targaryen, and rightly so. Tink is undoubtedly breaking boundaries within hip-hop culture, in true Daenerys fashion.

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“I’m definitely a feminist. The industry made me that way. I had to grind so hard to be taken seriously, had to work twice as hard to get here,” Tink said in her interview with Fader. “I’m in my own little lane, doing just me. I don’t have to fit in.”

A compelling feminist voice is desperately needed in rap music today. While popular artists like Missy Elliot and M.I.A. are recognizable feminists, they are easily drowned out by chart-toppers like Minaj.

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Nicki Minaj has addressed the importance of female empowerment and strength before.

“I love my females. I give them confidence to say I am me, take it or leave it, I love it and I don’t care what you think about it,” Minaj said in an interview.

 But that message is clouded by her lyrics and emphasis on physical traits. She is the highest-selling female rapper, but her song lyrics generally lack substance. Such as the song “Anaconda” with lyrics that read:

“Fuck those skinny bitches in the club. I wanna see all the big fat ass bitches in the motherfucking club, fuck you if you skinny bitches. What? Yeah! Yeah. I got a big fat ass. Come on!”

Tink’s strong feminist presence, and dedication to following her own path, is the perfect antidote to the degradation of women in the industry.

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“I had to cut off calling myself a ‘bitch.’ And I cut out some of the songs where I was degrading myself. When people do that, of course it’s seen in a fun way, but at the same time it’s sending the message to everybody else to look at you as a bitch,” she told Fader. “I want to dig deep into bad relationships, molestation, racism, and not feeling pretty. I want to get under people’s skin.”

And we want you to, Tink. Combining societal issues with catchy music will help empower women who feel oppressed and discriminated against. Tink, who is only 19, can also help send the message to young women that there are more important things than having a pretty face and Minaj-esque booty. And she has the musical talent to make it big. With songs like “Tell the Children” and “Try Me” Tink has the momentum to become the next It Girl.

Read the full cover story here.

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Fifty Shades of Grey: The Weeknd “Earned It” | Cover

Hello beautiful souls,

Since the much-anticipated movie “Fifty Shades of Grey” came out today, I wanted to share with you all my cover of The Weeknd’s song “Earned It” from the soundtrack for the movie. When I heard this song about three weeks ago, I immediately fell in love. After that day, I am not sure if it was fate, or my own paranoia, but I felt like the song was following me around. I couldn’t turn on Pandora, my car radio, or get on YouTube without hearing this song…so I decided to sing it.

Like the video, share the video, and subscribe!

 

XOXO

-Kiana

 

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Natura Inspiration: 16 – year old Ebony Oshunrinde Produced Jay Z ‘s “Crown” Off Of “MCHG”!!!

I always love reading about young entrepreneurs and visionaries, who are taking risks and making the impossible possible.  This past weekend, Jay Z released to the world his new album Magna Carta Holy Grail, in conjunction with Samsung.  Working with hit makers such as Pharrell, Swizz Beatz, The Dream, and Timbaland, Jay- Z lined up an all-star team to create a masterpiece of an album. If you know Jay Z, then you know that he is very selective when it comes to the people that he decides to work with and incorporate in his projects.  Always trying to re-invent himself and looking for some fresh talent for the album, Jay Z stumbled upon a 16- year old mastermind in the making.

Check out the story below…

16- year old Ebony ” Wondagurl” Oshunrinde had a dream to be like super producer Timbaland, and she’s making it a reality.  Originally from Toronto, Canada, Ebony, at the tender age of 9 began making beats after watching a video with Jay Z and Timbaland in the studio.  Using the most accessible resource that she had at the time, which was her computer, Ebony taught herself how to make beats by watching videos on Youtube.  At the age of 14, Ebony entered Toronto’s Battle of the Beatmakers, and she made it all the way to the quarterfinals before being eliminated.  Not letting defeat stop her from her dream, Ebony tried out for the competition again the following year, and won the whole thing!!!  After winning, she got signed to Black Box, and the rest is history.

Ebony was granted the opportunity of a lifetime, but this isn’t it for her. She says that her main goal is to win a Grammy, and she wants women especially young girls to know ” You can do anything you want.  Not even in music, in anything that is male dominated, you can do it. Just try.”

Check out her interview with CBC below..

Check out the song she produced below…

Ebony’s story inspires me to continue doing what I’m doing with Natura, and I hope she inspired you to go after your dreams as well.

Xoxo
Naturalia