Tag Archives: hip hop

I love “Myself”

I’m a little late on this, but I’m ok with that…

A couple weeks ago, my favorite female rapper (and friend), Snow Tha Product , released a new music video for her song Myself (featuring DRAM).  The song is all about working hard, reaching your goals and making your dreams come true.  It’s about celebrating your personal accolades and being proud of how far your efforts have taken you.   To quote Snow:

“For them days that I stayed up late all by Myself.

Ain’t no help.

Make that cake and I whip that, bake that by Myself.  

Went through hell.  

So prayed up, waited, look how God done helped.  

Trials I faced, but I got my credit with no cosign and no loan…”

The filming of the music video was literally a dream come true for me.  Snow invited me out to a mansion in LA to play poolside, with piñatas, birthday cake, tacos, turtles, fireworks, and a giraffe.  I got to pop confetti canons and drink shots of patron… and some of this made it in the video. It was an incredible experience! (Thank you, Snow)!!!

When the video was released, Claudia Feliciano – Snow Tha Product –  had (what I would imagine to be) another dream come true.  The young, proud Mexican-American, daughter of immigrants, had her face all up in New York’s City’s Time Square via the music video!  She shared it joyfully on her instagram account.  Felicidades, amiga. You deserve it.

***ps. That means that my face was also up in Time Square. Talk about dreams coming true!

Now, here are some photos from that magical day.

Posing with Little Miss Jae, who plays young Snow in the video.

Myself is the perfect song to wake up to, get ready to, cruise to, and to play at your Memorial Day BBQ this weekend.  Buy it, download it, request it, watch (and share) the video here!

*Also, if you love Snow and the whole Vibe Higher crew’s energy, catch them on tour this summer.  They hit the road next week! Get show info and tickets here.

***Special Thanks to Snow Tha Product for making one of my dreams come true & allowing me to be a part of a music video.

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Rhymesayers 20 Year Anniversary 

Last month I got to celebrate with my Rhymesayers friends for their 20th Anniversary at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  I’ll admit, in 1995 – when RSE was getting started on building what would one day become my favorite independent hip hop record label – the only hip hop I was listening to was from the West Coast, and my 12 year old self was more concerned with singing Selena songs more than anything. But, just because I was late to the party, doesn’t mean that I haven’t been having a good time… 

I was honored to be invited to this celebration. My only experiences in the city of Minneapolis all involve Rhymesayers moments… & I feel so lucky for that! 

I get to the venue a little early to pick up my ticket. I hang around and say hi to some familiar faces before doors open. When I make it inside, I’m so excited! I want to enjoy every minute of this seven-hour joyous occasion.  

 

Photo by Beth Saravo

  
I join some of my favorite Rhymesayers family members stage-side to watch the show. I’m pretty excited when Los Nativos are on. With their Spanish lyrics and Aztec dancers, I feel my culture being proudly represented. 

  

 
  
 

Photos by Cory Dewald

 
 
The show is moving on swiftly and I’m standing amongst some of the upcoming acts. I make my rounds to thank everyone for allowing me to be a part of this. It feels so good to be welcomed by the creators of the legendary label. 
I walk around the arena to watch the show from different angles. From side stage, to my assigned seat, to the engineer booth, it’s all amazing. I like to watch the entire production come together; it fascinates me to catch people (all people) in their element.  
Of course, my immediate attention goes to the performers, but watching Siddiq, J Bird & Slug enjoy the fruits of their labor is just as exciting. It’s beautiful to catch the look on the faces of some of the Rhymesayers artists, while they enjoy their label mates’ sets. I’m greatly entertained by Randy controlling & perfecting the sound. I’m in awe when I spot some of my favorite photographers capturing glorious moments that they’ll share on their websites & Instagram posts. For me, Sarah Dope, Cory Dewald, Van Styles & Beth Saravo are just as big as the stars on the mic.

 

Sarah Dope. Photo by Cory Dewald

  

Van Styles. Photo by Cory Dewald

 
I turn into a total geek when I catch these behind the scenes moments. When I make my way to the friends & family room, I notice that my dear friends have provided us with delicious snacks & plenty of libations. That’s not the best part, though. There’s a door connecting to the media room. It’s buzzing with all the social network stars, afore mentioned, who are working hard to capture moments of the big day. This is where the magic happens. These are the people documenting the night for all the world to see! With laptops, cameras, chargers, and electrical wiring all around, it’s thrilling to see these geniuses at work.   

 

A shot I got at Beth Saravo’s work station.


Around the corner, there’s an interview room. Artists are escorted to & from the exclusive area, while passing by friends & family who are taking a break from the bustling crowd. I dream of being the one behind those doors, asking all the in-depth questions on camera…someday! 

  
I spend my day bouncing around, taking in as much as I possibly can. When I make my way stageside again, I notice headliner, Slug, of Atmosphere.  I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with him casually on a few occasions. Feeling nostalgic, due to the whole “anniversary” thing, I want to share my first Atmosphere memory with Sean. When I go to greet him, he smiles, gives me a hug & for some reason, I chicken out.  
Even though he’s standing alone, and  I have his attention, something inside tells me not to bother him with my story.   I’m sure he hears stuff like this all the time... 

So, I keep the story of how 19 year-old me used to roam the streets of Modesto, CA at night, with loaded spray cans, good friends, and graffiti dreams to myself. “Star,” would be hit up on walls for all to see & I’d be bumping Atmosphere, “And this goes to those who tag and paint walls with aerosol…” 
I’ve never quite remembered what the name of the song was, but who better to ask, than Slug himself? Of course, he’d give me the answer that so many of my fellow Atmosphere fans have failed to provide. But, like I said, my self-doubt got in the way, and all I did was use my reoccurring dialogue. 

“Hi. How are you? So good to see you again!” 

Then, I walked away, hoping not bother him.  
The night goes on, acts continue to grace the stage & move the crowd. Dem Atlas blows me away.  

 

Photos by Cory Dewald

 
  Grieves has me enthralled. 

Photo by Cory Dewald


 
  Prof makes me jump to my feet & party hard with his energetic stage presence.  

 

Photos by Cory Dewald

  
 I’m amazed by DJ Abilities & touched by his tribute to Eyedea.   

Photo by Cory Dewald


 
As always, Aesop astounds me.  

Photo by Cory Dewald

   
Dilated makes me proud to be from California. 

Photo by Cory Dewald

 
I’m wrapped up in every minute. 
I enjoy the show with some of my favorite Rhymesayers (associated) ladies – the Glam Dolls, friends, family & significant others.  

  

We step outside for fresh air, after Brother Ali’s set and hurry back in for some water & to catch Atmosphere as they close the show.   

Photo by Cory Dewald

 
I’m walking through the crowd, floor level when I spot special guest, Spawn, reunited on stage with Slug, performing the song that introduced me to Atmosphere & Rhymesayers as a whole. 

Photo by Cory Dewald

I could kick myself for not telling Slug about it when I had the chance… Oh how different that interaction & the entire night could have gone…

I could picture it already.  Slug would go all Betty Wright (Tonight is the Night) & say something along the lines of

“Ladies & gentlemen, I know a lot of you have been rockin’ with us for a long time. I know you may have seen us live before, but tonight’s set will be a little different. We want to bring back some memories. Everybody, think back to your very first time… When did you first fall in love with Atmosphere? What about Rhymesayers? Well, there’s a lady here tonight that clearly recollects her first time, and she shared it with me earlier…  

And it goes a little something like this…!” 

 

Photo by Cory Dewald

 
Haha! I know, I know… I have a wild imagination. But who knows? Maybe it would’ve happened… 

   

  

    

Photos by Cory Dewald

  
After the confetti fell, gratitude was deeply expressed, and the lights went on, people made their way back to their cars, trains & other forms of transportation to take home with them the warm memories & great feelings about what took place at Target Center that night.  
I headed backstage to check in with friends. When I shared my Slug story with Van Styles, he compared it to the feeling he gets after missing a shot & he encouraged me to always go for it & never hold back… “Because you just never know.” Then, he graciously invited me to Atmosphere’s green room, to tell the story to Sean, myself. I got there in time to watch Slug make his way out, & like my moment, he had escaped. 
On my way to party the night away with some of my favorite people, I ran into Ant & shared the short version of my story with him. It was then that I was finally told the name of that song: Multiples. Boom! Life was good. 
The rest of night was a collection of stories & celebrations with my RSE friends. We partied until we could party no more. Those are the kind of nights I live for!   

 

*Special Thanks to Ashanti for always taking care of me. To Siddiq, J Bird, and the entire Rhymesayers family & extended family for always making “Minnesota Nice” such a real thing in my life. I can’t even begin to express my gratitude in words. To Skye, Jeff, Sarah, Grieves, DJ Fundo, Van Styles, Tanya, Teresa, Jasmine & friends for making my night a fun-filled experience to remember. And, of course, to Beth Saravo and Cory Dewald for collaborating with me & sharing their masterpieces to bring this post to life! 

 

Photo by Beth Saravo

 
Thank you all so much. I’ll see you at SoundSet 2016! 

Good Grieves 

I first met Benjamin “Grieves” Laub, at the SoundSet 2014 after party. We talked about music & life. I told him that I’m a flight attendant & blogger, and he expressed how much he’d like to share some stories with me. He gave me his contact information & asked me to follow up. I sent an email almost immediately, but never received a response. So, when I noticed him standing next to me at the Rhymesayers 20 celebration, I had to seize the moment. 

He greeted me very politely, after speaking with Photographer, Beth Saravo, who was standing beside me. I was also very polite with my greeting, & after introductions, I reminded him that we’d met before and I wanted to hear his in-flight experiences. 

I thought he was as going to ask me to email him again, but he didn’t. He took a deep breath and went into storytelling mode – something we all know this West Coast MC is very good at. 

  

Photo by Beth Saravo

  
He started with a flight to Denver, CO, a city I’ve come to love. He didn’t disclose which airline he was flying on, but he did disclose the shameless details. A female flight attendant wanted to go above and beyond customer service standards, when she offered (or insisted that he let her give him) a ride home… a little “extra” was definitely insinuated. I can only imagine… 

Another incident he recalls was a recent flight. The destination wasn’t disclosed, but his neighboring passenger was someone he’d never forget. 

“Throughout the flight this guy was complaining about how impatient everyone was. He kept saying how everyone was in such a rush. I just let it slide & didn’t say anything. Then, after landing,  (when the seatbelt sign is turned off), you know how everyone stands up?  People behind him were already in the aisle and he got all mad and yelled, ‘Oh yeah, like it’d kill ya to wait, huh?’

I didn’t say it, but I was like, “Um, You’re the only impatient one here.” ” 

I was impressed by his ability to spot someone who was clearly deflecting. Not everyone can do that & put their frustration aside, in those kind of situations. But, that wasn’t even the most impressive story. 

One time, upon landing, Grieves was sitting next to a young woman who wasn’t feeling well. She seemed very nervous & looked like she was about to be sick. His suspicions came to fruition when the lady began vomitting… In his direction!  He was sitting in the window seat, the woman in the middle, with someone to her left, in the aisle seat. Grieves was the unlucky victim of her aim.  

My first, and instant reaction, was ‘Oh f%^*#!’ But, when I looked at her, she said, “I’m so sorry. I’m pregnant. This happens.”

It was I one of those total human moments and I couldn’t be mad. I looked at her, wearing a thin top, covered in vomit & I took off my button down shirt,  to let her use it to cover herself and get off the plane. She was already so embarrassed, I didn’t want her to feel worse.”

I was so moved by how cool Grieves was in such an uncomfortable position. I see and work with passengers all the time. Not everyone is this calm & collected. Bravo, Ben! 

 

Photo by Beth Saravo

 
Grieves also admitted to me that he only uses social media to talk about good airline experiences. He likes to keep his rants private. We discussed the “power of the corporate letter,” and he promised to write something about the next flight attendant he encounters who goes above and beyond. Maybe my colleagues will catch him on their flights! 

As we approach a busy week with holiday flyers, I hope everyone keeps this post in mind.  Be like Ben, ya’ll! 

 

Photo by Beth Saravo

 
I’d like to thank Benjamin Laub, for sharing these stories with me and for making my night so special. You’re a good guy, Grieves. I hope to catch you in the friendly skies soon. Cheers!  

For up-to-date information, head to GrievesMusic.com and Rhymesayers.com/Grieves 

Photo by Beth Saravo

 
*Special thanks to the amazing Beth Saravo, for collaborating with me on this post & providing her masterpieces.  I look forward to working with you again! 
Check out more of Beth’s photos on BethSaravo.com

PERI Duo Case

Last month I was invited on set for the filming of the PERI Duo Case launch ad. This is THE case that iPhone users (myself included) have been waiting for! It’s the world’s first charging case with Bluetooth & wifi enabled speakers… & it’s a must-have accessory.
I’m driving around East Los Angeles on a Sunday morning, looking for the address. Siri isn’t helping too much and I’m left to go against her (incorrect) driving directions to figure it out on my own. I stumble upon the warehouse when she lets me know that I “have arrived at my destination.” I’m pretty excited… I mean (other than my very cool experience filming for LA Ink a few years ago) I’ve never been “casted” for anything….sure, I’m an extra, but it’s still pretty cool.
When I walk in, I’m greeted by new friend, Clint Schaff, who I met through my friends at Rhymesayers, at the Camp Flog Naw Carnival. Clint is the star of the commercial, and the one who invited me. We’re going to be filming a party scene & I get to be one of the party-goers. I think I can handle that. 😉
The set is newly built and it’s really cool. There are multiple “rooms” that Clint will walk through, as he shows the speakers in action.

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They’ve been filming since morning & it’s just about time to shoot our scene.

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I head to a room where I meet other extras. Some of them are actual actors, sent here from an agency and others are some of the genius minds behind this product’s development. Pretty cool stuff!

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We mingle & make small talk with one another. It’s good practice for our camera time. Soon, they call us to the set & we’re ready for our close ups…
After placing us around the room and testing camera range, they yell, “Action!” Cameras are rolling & all we have to do is smile and have a good time. It’s pretty easy to do.

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After a few runs, it’s a wrap – for our scene, anyway. Party’s over. We head back to the room where we all originally met & enjoy our lunch (provided by the PERI Team).
After my meal, and some great conversations with some really cool people, I’m off to enjoy my Sunday and the beautiful Southern California weather.
You can watch the full commercial, support the PERI project & pre-order your case (at a discounted, early bird rate) by clicking here.

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I’m also super excited to announce that Rhymesayers has decided to partner with PERI to offer their fans a Limited Edition PERI Duo case! You can pre-order yours here.
*Be sure to check out the Rhymesayers VIP Soundset Experience opportunity!

Thanks so much for reading along, everyone. Hope you enjoyed this post & I hope you enjoy your PERI Duo Case!

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Special Thanks to Clint Schaff, The team at PERI & of course, the guys at Rhymesayers for letting me be a part of this!

On a side note:
As I post this blog entry, my roomies coincidentally start talking about their first ever personal music players… Did you ever have a Walkman? What was the first cassette you listened to on it…? This (single) was mine…

A Picture Perfect Day in LA

Last month, my friends at Rhymesayers Entertainment invited me out to the Camp Flog Naw Carnival at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Growing up a Raiders fan, I’ve always wanted to see the legendary arena. Sure, it wasn’t an actual game & sure we’d be out in the parking lot area, but hey, it was going to be fun either way.
Camp Flog Naw has hosted this Hip Hop Carnival for the past three years. This year’s line-up was insane. With artists ranging in styles, ages & hometowns from from coast-to-coast, the event had acts for any and all hip hop heads in attendance.
I arrived in time to catch some of my favorites on stage…Step Brothers.

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After their set, I met up with Ashanti to thank him for the generous invite.

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He told me to head backstage where he’d meet me in a bit. That’s where all the magic happened..!
I walk around, greeting some of my favorite familiar faces. Some of the guys from Rhymesayers (who I met at Soundset) and, of course, some artists fall into that category. I love seeing them all behind the scenes, when they’re just “hanging out” with their peers. It’s beautiful to watch the interactions.
My heart is thrilled when I spot my friend, Evidence… Because he’s seated at a table that’s hosting pure Instagram Royalty. Sure, I want to play it cool and not show too much of my giddiness… But I can’t help but be excited when I notice WatchxWitness (13th Witness & Jason Goldwatch), Madchild, and others…
I carry on a casual conversation with Ev & Madchild. When Madchild asks me to snap a group photo of the guys…

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I see my opportunity, so, before the moment escapes me, I give in and ask for pictures, too! I start by asking Ev to pose with me. I know him, so, it’s not weird… But here’s the kicker… I ask the legendary photographer & Instagram King, Tim McGurr aka 13th Witness to take the photo. It’s seriously an honor. I love every picture that he (and his girlfriend, Monica Alcarez) posts.
Ev turns to me and asks if I know who that is… I respond with “Yes, that’s the reason I asked him to take the picture.” Ha! He laughs & trades places with Tim. Now I have another Instagram legend (and amazing “Director of Photography“) taking my picture with King Witness himself. I’m stoked!

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I decide to keep it going at this point… I’m asking one genius after another to snap my picture & to use their talent to capture my moment with each of them:
So, after 13th Witness took my picture with Ev, & Ev took my picture with 13th Witness, Ev snapped me with Madchild, Jason Goldwatch caught me with Murs, and Misha Louy shot a few fun frames of me with Jason Goldwatch!

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I got to chat with Jason for a bit and gush over how much I love his work. He captures human beings from all over the world in the most beautiful, authentic way. He captures exactly what I see when I’m traveling the world… unique, wonderful people, all different, yet all the same… He captures a true sense of unity. His work is moving.
I asked him if he ever felt weird taking candid shots of strangers… His response, “I got over that a long time ago.”
*Check out one of my all time favorite Jason Goldwatch videos here.

After my personal photo-shoot, I took some time to walk around the festival to catch some of the live musical acts.

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Locals, Grouch and Eligh made me feel right at home.

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Mac Miller gave me a chance to celebrate my (part-time) PA residency.

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Rick Ross had me & the guys dancing to his hits. Tyler, The Creator (the mastermind & founder of the carnival) made us all feel like kids when he took the stage. His set was a huge bedroom with a ginormous bed. There was definitely lots of jumping around and it felt like play time when beach balls were being tossed around in the crowd.
We stuck around to watch a huge chunk of headliner, Pharell Williams, set. He hit us with a real show. His amazing dancers and the N.E.R.D. reunion kept the crowd thoroughly entertained. It was a great festival, overall. I had a blast.

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After the festival, I made my way to Santa Monica with Ashanti, Dem Atlas & his DJ, Justin. I had great time chatting with the guys. They’re all hip hop geniuses & I love their energy.
One of my favorite moments of the night was when I was talking to Josh (Dem Atlas, 22 years old) about his success & how he deals with the guilt of being away from his family. This is something I’ve been experiencing lately… Fulfilling my dreams, and missing precious time with those you love dearly. The answer that this young man gave me was mind-blowing:
What keeps me going is that I know I’m doing all this for them. I’m not doing this for me. You know, I’m doing this for my mom, for my family, for the youth… When I realized that I could actually have whatever I want, that the power is within me, all I could think was, “Ok, what’s next?” Today, I saw so many artists that I admire & I got to talk to them & let them know that I love & appreciate their work…then, I turned around & some kid would be saying the the same thing to me. Like I’m that to them. It’s beautiful!
Well put, young sir. Well put!
We shared a moment discussing The Doors, Jim Morrison, Southern California, music, love & the power within… It was the perfect way to end a perfect day… Well, that & tacos! 😉 Thanks, Ashanti.

Thank you for taking the time to read my about my adventures. If you’re reading this, know that I appreciate you. Now, what are your dreams? What’s your story? What’s next for you?

Special thanks to my friends at Rhymesayers, Ashanti, Siddiq, and Skye, for feeding my obsession of hip hop & amazing human beings and for introducing me to people that I connect with and adore like Dem Atlas, Clint Schaff, and so many others linked to the RSE family. It’s an honor to feel so welcomed. Thank you!

The “Atmosphere” in San Diego

After over a month of being away from home, I finally got the chance to return to America’s Finest City. San Diego will always be my favorite place on Earth. It’s where my friends & family are, it’s where my roots run deep. It’s home & there’s no place like home.
It was a short visit, and I wanted to squeeze in as much as I possibly could.
It started with dinner with my family. Then, I spent the night with a good friend at her beautiful home. I woke up to a gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean and a delicious breakfast. I had lunch with a pal, dinner with friends & family & (thanks to the amazing guys at Rhymesayers Entertainment) I spent the evening at House of Blues San Diego for the North of Hell Tour, featuring Dem Atlas, Prof, and Atmosphere!
I brought Val along (who you met in my Amsterdam post). She loves any live music & she’s always good company. I knew we were in for a good night.

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When we get inside, Prof is rocking the stage. Looks like we missed Dem Atlas, darn it! It’s Val’s first time at HOB, so, we make our way around & check the view from different angles. We choose a spot near the merch booth, off to the side of the stage. That’s when I see Josh. He’s Prof’s tour manager. I met Josh at the G&E show in Boston and I’ve seen him at a few other shows since.

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Prof is charismatic & comedic. He definitely has the crowd’s attention. It’s apparent that his music is well-known in San Diego. Everyone is cheering him on & singing along. He announces that he’ll be signing merchandise & posing for photos after the show. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know that I love & respect artists who take the time to do that!
Now it’s time for the main event… when Ant, Bill & Slug take their places in the spotlight, the crowd goes insane. Atmosphere has sold out every California show…and San Diego is proud to be the first in their Golden State run! We give the guys a welcome as warm as our (perfect) year-round weather. They reciprocate with a flawless performance!
Hitting us with classics & new favorites from their rather extensive catalogue, Atmosphere is metaphorically telling us, “Thanks for stopping by San Diego!” And like the legendary Ron Burgundy, these guys are “kind of a big deal!”

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The energy is on point & the message behind the music is fitting for a crowd that loves diversity. In SD, we have it all within our reach… beautiful beaches, mountains, snow, dessert, amusement parks…& even Mexico. The guys are a perfect fit with their wide range. They can make you scream, bob your head, pump your first, laugh, contemplate life, and connect with one another.

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Thank you, Atmosphere for your dedication throughout the years. San Diego knows you & loves you. We’ve been rockin’ with you since way back. Come see us more often!

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Towards the end of the show, Slug announces that he knows “where the f*ck he’s at,” and how “he knows he can’t leave without a freestyle.” Dem Atlas & Prof return to the stage & the guys go at it! San Diego goes nuts!
With references to our city, the guys grasp our attention. They got us roaring with Anchorman references and with personalized lines. It cracks me up when Slug ends the cipher with “I just hope the Vikings beat the Chargers!” The crowd doesn’t know whether to laugh, to cheer, or to boo. Haha. It’s great. His response, “I told you mother f*ers I’d keep it real with you. Don’t hate me for being a good friend.” Boom! Love him!

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I realized that there’s nothing like catching a show in your home town… Every time the performer mentions your city’s name, you can’t help but scream. When they flip their lyrics to personalize them to their current location, you are elated & you rep your residence!
To me, there’s nothing like hip hop, nothing like live music, and there’s nothing like catching your favorite artists in the city you call home!

You stay classy, San Diego!

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* Special Thanks to Ashanti Abdullah and the staff at Rhymesayers Entertainment for allowing me access to this amazing show!

Get your tickets for a show near you and purchase Atmosphere’s latest release, Southsiders here!

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Dilated Peoples -Directors of Photography

It’s no secret that I love music. I’ve always dreamed of being in the studio with my favorite artists, witnessing and celebrating those magical moments of genius. Well, my friends…that’s another dream that has finally come true for me!
I first met Evidence in November 2011, after one of his solo shows in San Diego. He’s such a cool, humble guy & anyone who’s ever been in his presence can tell you that he instantly makes you feel like you’re life-long friends. Over the years, I’ve seen him perform in different cities (& countries) as a solo artist, as one half of Step Brothers, & of course, as one third of the legendary Dilated Peoples.
I found myself in Los Angeles earlier this year… & was in communication with Ev. He was in the studio working on some finishing touches for the highly anticipated Directors of Photography with DJ Babu. I was elated when he extended an invitation to let me watch the masters at work.
Babu is on his way out when I arrive, so, I only get to chat with him briefly. Ev is sitting in his chair, at the controls, going over some mixes. I’m so excited to hear the tiny previews of the tracks! People have been waiting a long time for this album, and here I am, experiencing it behind the scenes, with one of the creators!
Ev turns to me & welcomes me warmly…then, he asks if I’d be willing to get on the mic to say a few things… Um, Yes, please! I’d be honored.
I step into the booth, put the headphones on, pick up the mic & take direction. He has me play around with accents & I say some stuff (faintly) in the background. I take on my latest character, a South Philly girl. He laughs. I’m having fun with it… and even though you really won’t hear it when you play the introduction, I know it’s there.
Next, Ev plays a snippet for me and he directs me to “just talk,” the whole time. Since I’m a professional at making onboard announcements, and I know that the guys always reference flying, I say what comes to mind…
“Ladies and gentleman, welcome to Los Angeles, where the local time is 10:25 (*side note: my birthday is October 25th). For your safety, please remain seated with your seat belt fastened and keep the aisle clear until we are parked at the gate. The captain will turn off the fasten seat belt sign when it is safe to stand…”
I think Ev is amused. He looks up at me through the glass & says, “That’s perfect. You killed it!”
This is definitely a moment in time I’ll never forget… I’m in the studio, with one of my favorite artists, hearing that he likes what I just did in the mic. *Insert fireworks.* 😉
You can hear the finished product for yourself at the end of number 14, “Trouble.” It’s a perfect segway into “L.A. River Drive,” a song produced by Alchemist, featuring another Los Angeles native, Sick Jacken (who I wrote about here). There is a reoccurring line on the track. “From the time I ride out, ’til the time I’m home… I pray for a safe travel, God, while I’m gone.” This is something I can totally relate to.
In my effort to fully support the album, I caught a couple shows while the guys were on tour recently. First, when I had the opportunity to work “Paris, first class international.” (Who caught that movie reference)? Lol. Anyway, I caught the guys Live on Stage at La Plage de Glazart‘s pop-up beach during my Layover.
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The venue was set up for a total Sunday Funday… sand, lawn chairs & open air. I mingled with the fans and got hear about how much the guys are loved & respected in France. I felt so at home with my fellow hip hop heads. We laughed, we drank, we discussed our love for Dilated Peoples, we enjoyed the music together… And, of course, we took pictures…
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The crowd was live & the guys put on a great show. They started with some of their new work, went through some classics, & even took turns doing some solo stuff. It was supposed to be a rainy day in Paris, but when Ev performed his happy hit, “Chase the Clouds Away,” the climate adhered the commands of The Weatherman & the drizzle stopped. It ended up being a sunny day, after all.
I had the opportunity to chat with both, Ev & Rakaa, individually, for a bit after the show. I remember Rakaa telling me to keep doing what I’m doing & to always go for things outside of my comfort zone. It meant a lot, coming from him. He’s definitely someone who knows something about chasing your dreams & creating a life you love.
We talked travel, we talked family, we talked music. We even talked about some young, up & coming female rappers that we both respect… (I mentioned the ladies in previous posts here & here).
My interaction with Ev definitely kept the same themes. Travel, music… Oh, & of course, photography.
His outlook on music & the industry is refreshing, because he never really has anything negative to say. He respects that artists do what they do & that fans like what they like. Of course, he has his opinions, but he’s great about not bad-mouthing anybody. As for his personal style, when it comes to his music, and even his photos, it’s quite obvious that he’s meticulous about everything he puts out.
Later, I caught the guys in Philadelphia for their Word of Mouth tour with Jurassic 5 at Penn’s Landing. I was lucky enough to chat with guys for a bit after catching a dope show with a great view, on a beautiful day in the city I now call home.

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The guys (and the team at Rhymesayers Entertainment) teamed up with Pandora and did their fans a huge favor by letting everyone preview the entire album a week before it dropped. I listened to it over and over as I anxiously awaited my pre-ordered (autographed) physical copy to arrive from Fifth Element.
Directors of Photography is a masterpiece, in my opinion. The creative packaging amazed me.

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Rather than finding the traditional booklet inside the album, you open an envelope that includes individual Polaroid-like photos. The first one is a group photo – Dilated Peoples (Directors of Photography).

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You’ll find a recap of the project, including credits when you flip it over. Next, are a few photos of each of the guys where they share stories about each other on the back, along with their “Thank Yous.” (I gotta draw special attention to Ev’s… don’t forget about the rest of crew next time). 😉

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Each song also has it’s own photo with full lyrics and credits on the reverse side. Nice touch, guys.
The album definitely takes you on a journey. I’d compare it to catching a flight…
The Intro is similar to the boarding process. You’re excited as you enter the aircraft. You’re greeted by the crew. You’re not sure what to expect, but you know something great is up ahead. Ladies and gentleman, welcome aboard flight 812, with service to Los Angeles.
Once you’ve settled into your seat and you’re ready for departure, the crew gives their demonstration and sets the tone with Directors. The opening line is actually about taking flight. The track is perfect for wheels up, as you begin your ascent. You’re on your way now, starting this adventure with the Dilated Crew.
As you reach the sky during your climb, Cut My Teeth (produced by The Alchemist), and the Defari Interlude (featuring Defari) give you endless snapshots and vivid images of the guys’ lives & the city they’re from, from their individual points of view. The Dark Room (featuring Vince Staples, with production by Twiz The Beat Pro) has metaphors and lyrical content that will keep you guessing, like looking out the window, down to little squares & shapes on the land below.
Once you’ve leveled off with Good As Gone (produced by DJ Premier), the onboard service is about to begin. Choose your favorite beverage & be prepared to select your meal as the guys serve up stories of their journey. “The more that I roam, the more that I’m free.” (Ev) “Sat in coach and studied business before my first class.” (Rakaa)
Now you’re approaching cruising altitude, where it should be a smooth ride, but, for your safety, the captain keeps the seat belt sign on…and it’s a good thing he does, because songs like Show Me the Way (featuring Aloe Blacc, produced by Jake One) & Figure It Out will hit you like unexpected turbulence and may knock you out of your seat!
Things smooth out with Let Your Thoughts Fly Away (produced by Diamond D.), but you’ll notice that you can’t keep your head from bobbing due to the light chop of Century of the Self (featuring Catero, produced by Oh No).
The captain makes an announcement that makes you laugh a little with the @MrEvidence Interlude. You are now free to move about the cabin. Enjoy The Reversal like you enjoy a nice stretch.
It’s been a great flight thus far & the crew presents you with & Opinions May Vary (featuring Gangrene) & Trouble to keep you satisfied, just like the arrival service when you begin your initial descent. (*Here’s where you get to hear me in action).
You’re landing now, but “you must remain seated until we are parked at the gate.” The crew welcomes you with L.A. River Drive and when the aircraft doors open, you catch a breath of fresh air with The Bigger Picture, the final track on the album (featuring Krondon, produced by 9th Wonder).
You have arrived. Thank you for joining along on this journey… I hope you enjoy your stay here, or wherever your final destination may be. 😉

I’ll be catching the guys this weekend in Munich for the Streetlife Blockparty. You can catch them in a city near you (or you can catch a flight and catch them in a city far away), by checking tour dates here.

Purchase your copy of Directors of Photography here, on Google Play, through Fifth Element, on Amazon, or purchase it on iTunes to download bonus tracks Times Squared and Hallelujah (featuring Fashawn, Rapsody, Domo Genesis, Vinnie Paz & Action Bronson).

*Special Thanks to Dilated Peoples, Evidence, Rakaa, and DJ Babu for all the love they showed me at their shows and in the studio. Also, thank you to the team at Rhymesayers Entertainment. Shout out to Eddie Sancho, Federico “C Sik” Lopez, and everyone else I’ve met through this project. Great work, everyone. I’m truly honored to be a part of this!