Friday, September 28, 2007

In The Zoo

This past Tuesday I got assigned to interview Gorilla Zoe and Yung Joc for this kinda big assignment that I've been alluding to for the past couple weeks. Over the past couple years I've grown to be very familiar with the Block Entertainment camp. And no, not familiar to the point where my journalistic integrity goes flying out the window when I have to write about them (I see you Dre). Sure, I don't like each and every song that they come out with, but being around these cats at least helps me to look at their music with a more open mind.

Anyways, since I was gonna be around them, I figured I'd chronicle some of the day's events. It just so happened to be the same day that Gorilla Zoe's album Welcome to the Zoo came out. I had to review the CD recently and I was impressed. When dude sticks to his script he's on some 'Face shit, for real. I didn't care for some of the formulaic "gangster" or "club" or "ladies" songs he had on the album. Come to find out, he didn't either. But at least they were few and far between and didn't take away from the whole scope of the CD. Check it out if you haven't already. Keep an ear out for the songs "Last Time I Checked," "Battlefield" and "I Know."

Here are some pics I took and wanted to share with you all:

Greg Street, Yung Joc, Zoe and Block at the album signing at FYE at North Dekalb Mall (yeah, I know, wack location...more on that later)

Zoe and producer Chris Flame

Crazy. I used to intern at Hot 107.9 with Chris. I knew he was out in the streets doing his thing and I'd always see him around the area Zoe's studio used to be at, but I never knew that they was working together. We'd say whats up and honk horns when we saw each other but that was about it. It had been a minute since I saw dude and I ran into him on this night outside Block studios, so we was chopping it up. Then someone came up and was like "whats up Flame." I put two and two together and realized I knew the dude everybody been in the street hollering about for the last year or so. I've been name dropping this dude in my articles not even realizing I know dude. I'm slow.

Zoe outside the studio, telling everyone he loves them and to "take yo' ass to the store and buy the CD in the morning."

Youngblood (and Redan Raider) J-Bo and DAMN!, I forgot buddy name.

Baby D, Joc and Diamond of Crime Mob

I don't know what it is, but whenever I'm out and about, every teenage girl I see has Diamond's mixtape blasting out of their earphones. Don't be surprised if ya'll see and hear more of her in the near future. Granted, I don't ride around bumping her stuff, but ya'll know how I feel about female rappers so I can't be mad at what she's doing.

Comedian Nard, Baby D, and AK of the P$C

Early crowd shots of ESSO

If you haven't been inside the new ESSO yet, its kinda like a mini-Club Visions. Except here, the attitudes are much better. Perhaps because its sitting right in the middle of Kirkwood. To me, Visions was hugely responsible for the fake-ass Black Hollywood attitude that's running rampant throughout the city. The only thing the new ESSO is missing that the old ESSO downtown had was the three-floors of music and dancing. The old ESSO had the reggae floor, the east coast Hip Hop/Top 40 floor and the Southern Hip Hop/Crunk doing down on the bottom floor. Its still a cool lil' spot though.

Block Ent. selling CD's at the show

Like I said earlier, for some reason the powers that be decided to have the instore at wack ass North Dekalb Mall which nobody I knows even goes to anymore. Only reason to go to that lame ass mall is to get neckties and furniture for the low low. Knowing that they might have fucked up in doing that, Block Ent. decided to have an unofficial instore in the club and started selling CDs during the show.

Big Duke and 107.9 radio personality Mizz Shyneka

Alot of folks be trying to hate on Duke and just look at him as a faceless member of Boyz N Da Hood. Dude has put his work in. He was one of the first solo cats out of Decatur to get a solo major deal, him and KB who used to be on Rap-A-Lot. He was on Suave House in the late 90's and was featured twice on Ball & G's In My Lifetime album. Then he went on to do some writing for So So Def. Oh yeah, I used to intern at Hot 107.9 (back then 97.5) with Mizz Shyneeka too. Something has got to give...Ludacris, DJ Sense, Flame, Shyneeka...all these interns blowing up, I need to start making beats or something.

Rick Ross came through and performed too

Zoe hopping down in the crowd to shake hands and hug folks after the show

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


"Ya album garbage, i bought ya shit man/I listened to it, now its in the trash can."--Young Jeezy

Yeah, I know Marc Ecko ain't a rapper who drops albums, but fugg it, he became a millionaire off of Hip Hop's back, so that quote is still applicable to him. He also made millions of the backs of Black folk, which is probably one of the reasons why I find his latest display of "democracy" so despicable.

Of course, the great thing about living in this country is that we can all express our opinions, sometimes. But sometimes people do too much. Its one thing to show up to Giants game rocking t-shirts with asterisk but its another to throw syringes on the field. Just like its one thing to boo Barry Bonds, but its another to buy a historic piece of memorabilia, only to "democracize" the ball and brand it with an asterisk before giving it to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Just like how the New England Patriots are truly America's Team, baseball is truly America's Favorite Pastime.

Baseball takes no responsibility of the messes they make and they love to make Black faces the monster. For instance, when someone like Curt Schilling or David Wells makes a comment, they are simply called "opinionated" or "outspoken." But if Barry Bonds or Gary Sheffield says something, they are labeled "controversial," "selfish" or some other fancy word for asshole.

Another American pastime is shitting on the accomplishments of Black folks. Barry ain't the first brotha to get thrown under the bus by the MLB. Hell, they was treating their now beloved Hank Aaron like a second-rate citizen for the last 3 decades. Am I the only one who found it both convenient and ironic that the MLB all of sudden embraced Hank Aaron, right when they saw that the "controverisal" Bonds was about to break the homerun record?

But, by far, America's Favorite pastime is altering history. Whether its lying about Christoper Columbus in elementary school books or banning photographers from taking pictures of Iraq War troop coffins when they come home, its the American thing to do. So now we have Marc Ecko about to brand perhaps the most important piece of baseball history, based off the opinions of himself and a few others who bothered to his website and vote.

Why didn't or isn't the MLB stepping in to say anything about this? Do you think they would allow someone to purchase a Babe Ruth jersey and write "ALCOHOLIC BIGOT!" and just give it to the Hall of Fame. Do think they would allow someone to purchase a Ty Cobb hat and scribble "RACIST" and give it to the Hall of Fame? Would they even let it get to that point? Why isn't there an asterisk on Mark McGuire's 70th Home Run bat?

Its bullshit man. Who does this dude Ecko think he is. The media loves to call Barry arrogant, but Ecko's behavior trumps that on all counts. That's why I'm throwing away every Marc Ecko piece of clothing I own. I stopped rocking Ecko years ago, but I still used those flip flops in the picture as houseshoes. Ironically, just today I was about to go to Plato's Closet and give them a bunch of clothes, some of which happen to be some Ecko designs. Fugg that, they are going in the trash now too.

Monday, September 24, 2007

In The 'Yo: DJ Toomp & Company

If Atlanta Hip Hop is a tree, DJ Toomp is the seed. The man has had a hand in every Atlanta artists' career from Success-N-Effect to Stat Quo, counting names like T.I., Ludacris and Young Jeezy in between.

I have interviewed him numerous times over the last few years and I have to say that he is one my favorite people to talk to. He keeps it honest, almost too honest sometimes. He has got to be one of the humblest cats that I talk to, plus, I know that everytime I interview him, I will hear something new. He's like a Hip Hop historian. Not just a Southern Hip Hop historian, but a HIP HOP historian, period. I have a feature on him in the second-to-last SCRATCH issue with T.I. and Wyclef on the cover. At the time of that interview he was riding the high of having produced Kanye's lead single "Can't Tell Me Nothing," telling me the story behind the beat and and his relationship with Kanye. He made mention that he did two other songs on the album named "Good Life" and "Been Through It All"...which was renamed to this. When he mentioned those songs, of course I knew they would come out dope, but GIAT DAYUM! I wasn't expecting what they wound up being.

Anyways, I was assigned to interview Toomp again for a internet video project I'm producing for this website [when it drops, I will let you know, It's kind of big deal]. Once again the interview was dope. After we were done he started playing around on the beat machine. He started by showing off and recreating beats other people beats to show just how easy this shit is to him. Then he started playing beats for songs that were about to come out. Right now, the only ones I can remember is one he said is gonna be on Slim Thug's new album, possibly the lead single...the shit is FIE! Then he played the single he did for Glasses Malone.

Later on producer Kenoe fell through.
If that name sounds familiar, he used to produce for No Limit here and there. He wasn't in Beats By The Pound, but if you check the credits of some of your No Limit CDs around the 1999 end of thier run, you'll see his name in the credits. He also did alot of work for Turk, B.G., Lil Flip's Underground Legend album and Soulja Slim's last three releases. He is a producer in Toomp's NZone unit now.

Everybody started getting hungry so me and the video crew went to Merkerson's to get the fie fie seafood.

By the time we came back, my homie Nick Love and his producer Arnaz The Nazty One came through for something they were working on.

Toomp and Nick


Grim, Nick and Arnaz

Then, Lil Jon came through and he was crunk as usual.

He walked in the door yelling and cracking jokes. I was scheduled to interview him too, but we weren't all the way sure that he was gonna show up, or on time for that matter. The interview was supposed to be at 8pm. He showed up at 9:15pm talking about "8:30! This was perfect timing for an interview, I'm drunk and ready to talk!"

His interview was dope as hell too. I've only interviewed Jon one other time and that was back when I was in school on the campus radio station, trying to get quotes backstage at the Homecoming concert. But, I've always known that Jon ain't a character 24/7 because I used to intern at the radio station he used to work at. Anyways, it was cool seeing the love in the room. That's pretty much what the internet video thing I'm producing is about. Jon was giving Toomp props on the Kanye singles and saying how its crazy that everybody in the country has to come to Southern producers for that heat, "even the Hip Hop shit." I hope the video guys caught all of this, I know I did.

Toomp and Jon

Jon, Toomp and Arnaz

Toomp Trying on Jon's custom made Oakleys

Toomp and Jon comparing Gold chains [kidding]

Jon and Kenoe

Toomp and Arnaz vibing...I think I might have pissed Toomp off for a sec at this point. I told him that I already heard one of the beats he was playing. Of course he asked from where, and I told him it had leaked to the internet last week and it had B.O.B. rapping on it. He seem bothered at first, but I think he cool now.

Peep the rust! AKAI is up to the MPC4000Plus, and Toomp still has the MPC60II. This thing probably has plenty of stories to tell...And yes, he still uses it. I didn't see a newer model anywhere in the building.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

30,000+ people decending on Jena! Thats some powerful shit, good to see. But don't forget, as we protest for the Jena 6 to get treated fairly in court, remember that [good] laywers cost money. We can help the Jena 6 by donating money to their defense fund. You can donate through PayPal, in denominations of $50.

Also, continue to stay abreast of whats going on in this case because it probably will not be ending anytime soon. Mychal Bell is still sitting in jail. One, because his family didn't have the money to post the 90,000 bail, eventhough his 22-year sentencing was overturned a couple of weeks ago. The court system is also keeping him because he has 4 juvenile offenses, eventhough his is now an adult and being tried as such. Its similar to how they are treating Genarlow Wilson, so stay tuned.

The other 5, Robert Bailey Jr., Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis, Theo Shaw and Jesse Ray Beard were able to post their bonds. All of their charges have been demoted from attempted murder, however they are still awaiting to be sentenced. The sentencing dates keep getting changed, so please stay aware, we may have some more marching and donating to do. Last I heard, they are supposed to be getting sentenced in November, DONT QUOTE ME ON THAT...find out for yourself. And stay aware of how Purvis gets treated too. His file is sealed because his is still a juvenile.

I will try my best to stay informed on this case and cases like it. I urge you to do the same. Marching is great, but INFORMATION is the best weapon we have.

Speaking of info, UHURU SASA is FREEDOM NOW in Swahili. Shout out to Mr. Soul.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

In The 'Yo: E-40 & Drumma Boy

I know I've never been good in keeping up my "installments" and "series" with the blogs but here is another one I'm gonna try to start. Its called In The 'Yo. [as in Studio]

Every once in a while I get to kick it in the studio with different musicians and be a fly on the wall. Sometimes its because of work, sometimes its just from kicking it. This past Saturday E-40 was in town recording at Stankonia for his new album the Ball Street Journal.

40 is my dude. I met him a couple years ago at Stankonia through my boy DK. Us, 40's wife and a couple other folks sat in the studio all night drinking Carlos Rossi by the jug talking about stuff like basketball, our favorite UGK songs and why in the hell he signed with Lil Jon's BME label (I forget the reason he gave, but it made sense after he explained it). That same night, he happened to be recording "She Say She Loves Me" for his My Ghetto Report Card album which samples a mutually favorite UGK track, "Diamonds & Wood." Hearing the stuff he was making got me excited about the album.

A couple months later 40 was in Stankonia again recording for the album. Me and DK fell through to holla at him. This time he was actually in the studio with Jon, writing to a beat he was making [Side note: Lil Jon looks crazy as hell without his shades on]. Al Kapone was in there too. Of course, jugs of Rossi were on deck. The early sketches of the beat Jon was making sounded crazy as hell. He was just kinda pounding on the keyboard and shuffling through the sound module. It was hard to try and nod your head to what he was doing, because it didn't sound like he knew what he was looking for yet, but 40 was still sitting there writing.

After a while, Jon finally got a groove going and they started bouncing ideas off each other. 40 told Jon he felt he needed a singer to be on the hook. Jon was like "FUCK THAT SHIAT!, WE DONT NEED NO GOT DAMN SINGER! WHHHUUUAAATT?!?!" [okay, he didn't really say WHHHHUUAAAAT?!?!" at the end]. But 40 said he wanted to get Nate Dogg on the hook. Everybody in the room was pretty much like "uh, Nate is kinda played out right now." You have to remember, this was around mid to late '05, so it was kinda true. Then Al Kapone suggested Akon. At the time Akon was on at least 3 other people's hook, so some of us was just like, eh, whatever. From that T-Pain's name popped up. Now, this was when T-Pain was new as hell, "I'm Sprung" was just starting to blow up. No one had a way of getting in contact with him, but I did. I had just wrote T-Pain's bio so I was pretty familiar with him and his camp. I called his manager and told him 40 wanted to holla at T-Pain and that he should come through. T-Pain had just happened to move to Atlanta around that time, so he was in town and they said they was on their way. By this time it was already 1:30 in the morning. Me and DK both had real jobs that we had to wake up and go to work early the next day, plus T-Pain wasn't exactly clear on what time he was planning on coming, so...I told them T-Pain was on his way, we gave everybody dap and left.

I don't know what happened, but I ended up not even going straight home, I think I went and got something to eat and fugged around and went to the club and started drinking and socializing, completly forgetting about work. Yeah, trippin. But around 3:30 that morning 40 emailed DK talking about "MAN! Thank the homie Reese! T-Pain came through and put it down! I think we got one of those ones!"

We started to go back to Stankonia to hear what they made, but fugg that, gotta go to work in the morning. A couple of months later after "Tell Me When To Go" had came out and became a hit the world was anxious for 40's new album. Like I said, I had heard some of the stuff he was doing and it was dope. But I hadn't heard the T-Pain song yet. No, I take that back. 40 played for DK over the phone but the sound quality was crappy so I didn't bother listening to hard. All I heard were those bells and shit Jon was pounding out in the studio that night and T-Pain saying what I thought was "BOOOOOOOOOOOOTY, BOOTY!". But, I finally heard the song in its entirity with Kandi from Xscape on it on the radio a couple weeks later and was just like "wow, I helped make this."

Now, I ain't gonna lie, I liked the song, kinda, but it wasn't my favorite joint from 40, let alone on the album, and I think most loyal 40 fans feel the same. But sheid, that don't matter. "U And Dat" went on to become 40's biggest hit to date. I mean, hell, they got a Boost Mobile commerical with a Chinese dude reciting 40's lyrics in bathroom mirror, straight acting a fool! And shood, that E-40/T-Pain hook up led to everybody and their mama following suit and hiring that boy to sing hooks on their songs. Once again proving that E-40 is still the most underappeciated rapper/trendsetter in the game.

In case you are wondering, no, I ain't get paid. I ain't tripping though, I'm just glad to help. But I tell you this though, that ain't happening again! When I was in the studio with MacBoney a couple weeks ago some dude was in there talking about how he about to try and get paid off Gucci Mane's "Freaky Girl" based off the fact that he told the producer of the track that he was watching XXX on DVD and heard a dope ass beat in the background. So he feels that since he told the producer that he should replay this already made beat and that he helped plug in the keyboard for him to play it, that he should get Executive Producer credits. I mean, yeah, go and get your money little duffle bag boy, but giat dayum, are you serious??? If he can get bread for just doing that, I am in the wrong profession. But like I said, 40 gave me a shout out on 106 & Park, we keep in contact and its all love whenever I see dude.

But yeah, I wanted to share that backstory with you, as well as these pics from this past Saturday. 40 was in the studio with Drumma Boy and they was cooking up some dope shit. Drumma is responsible for Plies' "Shawty" featuring T-Pain, USDA's "White Girl," that new Scarface song "Never" as well as some dope shit on that newest Pastor Troy album. I did a piece on him for SCRATCH a couple months ago. Drumma is already a dope ass producer, but he brought in live guitar and bass players to add some funk to the beat. 40 said its gonna be some shit to play dominoes too, and I agree. I think they are naming the song something like "Getting Paper" or "Coming Back Tonight." I only say that because thats what I heard in the hook.

40 On that Rossi...

Engineer Extrordinare: NICO

Al Kapone

Bass Player: Eric, he's played on few cats tracks including the Young Jeezy and USDA albums. He got down on this day...

Big Omeezy, 40 and Al Kapone talking about the Bible. Don't trip, Jesus drank wine too...

Guitar Player: Foxx, he was jammin'. He's played for Parliament and a few other bands.