Tag Archives: music

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.

Chasing Nicky Jam 

Last week was my second attempt at seeing Nicky Jam, live, and (unlike my first attempt in Guadalajara) it was an utter success! It all started on February 13, in Mexico. I ventured out to the town that raised my father for amazing (economically priced) tickets for the Fénix Tour’s last stop in Mexico. For the price of the front-and-center seats, a (discounted) flight, hotel, food & drinks, I could experience Nicky Jam up close & personal for less than I could at any of his U.S. stops.  

Little did I know that my once declared statement of, “This man will only break my heart,” would come true so soon. Due to “lack of security & technical support,” the Fénix Tour had to “postpone” its Guadalajara show until further notice. I, of course, wasn’t made aware of this until I showed up for the concert, only to find a dark, lonely stadium. Talk about heartbreak! 

Lucky for me, my amazing career allows me to travel. I just had to request a refund, and cough up the extra cash to see Nicky in a different city. It just so happened that I had the day off when Nicky would be performing at Madison Square Garden. I’ve always wanted to see a show there, and since I was more determined than ever to get to see Nicky jam, I was in! 

My ticket for the Garden was more than double what I paid for at el Auditorio Benito Juarez, and my seat wasn’t nearly as good, but I was excited to dance the night away with great music & mi gente Latina de Nueva York! 

Zion Y Lennox got everyone on their feet as the opening act. They have so many huge hits. The crowd was singing along, letra por letra & the dancing was contagious. 

photo courtesy of areaNewYork.com

 Valentino did a great job at keeping people on their feet before Nicky took the stage.  

A large clock indicated the countdown to the main event & when it struck 0:00, the phone rang & el Cangri’s voice serenaded the crowd with the opening lyrics from Travesuras… “Hola bebe!” 

 

photo courtesy of areaNewYork.com

 
From that first song, until the last note was sung, the entire audience was on their feet. It was a night of dancing, singing, laughing, & screaming. Nicky Jam has a sexy voice, great dance moves, and a smile that could melt you like a Popsicle on the Fourth of July

  
  
  
 

photos courtesy of areaNewYork.com

 
His flirtatious lyrics, catchy beats & charismamatic stage presence make women swoon & men feel smooth. It’s the classic “every girl wants him & every guy wants to be him,” scenario. Nicky’s definitely got something special. 

The night included a lot of lights & fireworks. Nicky took breaks from singing to joke with the crowd, to host “this side vs that side,” (or “ladies vs fellas”) crowd participation competitions and to take Latino roll call. He greeted Colombians, Puerto Ricans, Venezuelans, Dominicans, & so on & so on… But, I never heard a shout out the recently cancelled-on Mexican fans, something I later brought to the attention of the NJ entourage. 

The night ended with an extended version of Nicky’s huge hit, El Perdon (featuring Enrique Iglesias), during which, Nicky had one of his colleagues select a lucky girl from the audience to join him on stage. It couldn’t have gone on long enough. I was loving every minute of it. I’m sure Angelica (the serenadee) felt the same way. 

Nicky made it a point to express his gratitude to the everyone in attendance. He kept saying that we were making his dreams come true, by allowing my him to say that he not only played Madison Square Garden, but that he played a sold out show there on March 3, 2016, a day I doubt any of us will ever forget.  

Bravo, Nicky. Bravo! 

   

  
Get your tickets to the Fénix Tour and all the latest news on Nicky Jam at NickyJampr.com

*Special thanks to Carlos Plaza at areaNewYork.com for collaborating with me & providing photos from concert. 

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! 

Glam Doll Donuts – A Sweet Story About Starting At 30 

I first met Teresa Fox last year, at SoundSet.  We linked up at the annual  Memorial Day BBQ that takes place on Monday after the big show.  Our conversation started casual and friendly, and then, I discovered how amazing this woman is. 

Tired of the ho-hum corporate life, Teresa wanted to build a life that she loved.  She was tired of the monotony of a “9-5,” and wanted to do something she was passionate about.  Sound familiar? 😉 

At 30 something, she decided that she’d give up her reliable salary and take a risk.  She and her business partner (& friend), Arwyn Birch, were going to open their very own donut shop. And that’s when Glam Doll Donuts hit the Minneapolis scene.  

Expanding on (& perfecting) family recipes, handed down by her grandmother, Teresa created the oh-so-delicious menu.  But, after a while, she knew donuts weren’t her only passion.  She wanted to tap into the music industry… And then, she & Arwyn made up their minds to make custom donuts for music artists.  

This idea was a great venture, because, 

  1. No one else was doing it 
  2. Minneapolis is the home of First Avenue – the house that Prince built – a legendary concert venue.

The ladies merged their love of baking with their love of music in such a sweet way.  They are now the official bakers of every performer to hit the First Avenue stage, and (you guessed it) the official bakers of SoundSet.  Talk about sweet dreams! 

I finally had the chance to visit the shop earlier this year, during my extended stay in Minneaplois, after a Snow Tha Product show (during The Rest Comes Later Tour… More on that to come).  I enjoyed a delicious tres leches donut, some green tea, and a nice chat with Teresa on the back porch, where she talked about plans to open a second location.  How exciting!

  

   

   
  
   
  The moment I met the Glam Doll ladies, I fell in love with their story & their spirit.  It just comes to show you that following your passion can have a beautiful outcome.

I hope this story inspired you to follow your heart.  Thanks for reading along. 

#30postsin30days 

Gorgon City (San Diego & Philadelphia) 

When my ears first heard Imaginiation by Gorgon City, it was love at first sound.  My friend, Miguel (who has now become like my personal DJ, sending me tracks & mixes on a regular basis), first introduced me to the song one wild night in Philadelphia.  I instantly became a fan.  

I played the song and the album, Sirens, on repeat more than my roommates could probably stand.  Sorry guys! I was in love…

 
I’ve played the track for just about everyone in my life, and I’ve made new Gorgon City fans in different parts of the world.  You’re welcome, guys. 😉 

Some of those fans, and some of those lands, include my sisters in San Diego, CA.  Luckily, the fine city that I call home would be the group’s second stop for their North American Headline Tour.  I had to go!

My amazing sisters were kind enough to purchase my ticket & call it an early birthday present.  For those of you wondering, I’m a Scorpio. October 25th is the day I celebrate life (along with some of my favorite musical influences).  

Anyway, October was a super busy month for me.  Although I’m famous for always celebrating my “Birthday Month,” this year, I had the chance to work my tushie off, and I took full advantage of that… More on that later. 

The night before the show, after working a long flight from Madrid to Philadelphia, I hopped on a flight from Philly to San Diego.  I wanted to get a good night’s sleep and have lots of energy for the show. 

The excitement was killing me.  I met up with my sisters and we headed to the House of Blues.  We didn’t arrive too early, so, we didn’t have much time with Amtrac before the guys took the stage.  

I wasn’t sure if Kye & Matt (“Foamo” & “RackNRuin”) would be bringing their festival-worthy live singers along on the tour.  So, when I heard Lulu James open the show with her rendition of Real (originally performed by Yasmin on  Sirens), I was elated… & I knew Josh Barry would be hitting the stage soon, too.  

  
As the show progressed, the guys took us on a wonderful musical journey, while Lulu and Josh flexed their vocal abilities, covering lyrics from a wide range of artists who have recorded with Gorgon City.  One stand out moment for me, was when I heard Lulu do 6am.  On Sirens, the track was recorded by Tish Hyman, who has a killer unique voice.  Lulu’s cover was raved about weeks later in Philadelphia, by my flight attendant friends.  We were also quite moved by Josh’s rendition of Unmissable, especially when he went a cappella & had the crowd clapping in unison. 

I was extremely impressed by how much all four artists grew over the course of the tour.  Their movements seemed more fluid & their chemistry was undeniable.  In such a short time, their stage presence had really matured. It was awesome to witness. 

  
The best part of all, is that I got to meet Josh & Lulu after the San Diego show & we chatted after the Philadelphia show as well.  I stayed in touch with them & had the pleasure of catching up with them during a recent trip to London, where I got to witness Lulu’s original music with her all-girl-band.  Keep an eye out for them! 

  
As for now, the Gorgon City guys will be hitting the road again with these two  talented singers tomorrow, as they start their South American Tour.  For dates, ticket sales, and of course, more music, check out GorgonCity.com

Thanks for reading along, everyone.  I hope you enjoyed this post.  

*Special Thanks to Josh Barry for keeping in touch & taking care of me at the shows… You and Lulu really made me feel at home while I was visiting your home (the lovely UK). I’ll catch you on the road again soon! 

 


***A note to the reader: I realize that we are already in December,  yet, I haven’t shared much of my year with you guys.  So, I’m challenging myself to #30postsin30days.  During this last month of 2015, you’ll hear fun stories about what I’ve been up to.  I hope you follow along! 

Instagram, Twitter and Periscope: @StartingAt30 

For more up-to-date stories, follow me on Snapchat: CcTheStar 

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!

Soundset

Where do I even start…?
Have you ever had those moments in life where everything is just perfect? Well, I just had a whole long weekend of that exact perfectness. Great weather, delicious food, awesome people & all-access to the most amazing music…
I woke up Saturday morning and rushed to the airport to catch a flight to Minneapolis. I was going to spend Memorial Day Weekend out in Minnesota to catch Soundset, the annual hip hop festival held by Rhymesayers Entertainment at Canterbury Park. I’ve wanted to go to Soundset for a few years, now. This year, it finally happened… on Sunday, May 25, 2014, I spent the day with 30,000 other music lovers at the sold out event…
During my flight, I met a few people who were headed to the festival for the Bboy Competition. I didn’t have any set plans during the day, so, they invited me along. We stopped at The Mall of America and rode a crazy roller coaster. Then headed to the 5-8 club for a famous Juicy Lucy burger.
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After lunch, I met up with the famous, Eddie Sancho, for some drinks before the Soundet Pre-Party . (I’ll share more about Eddie someday soon. Chances are, if you’re a fan of hip hop, you’ve heard his work).
We’re having drinks at the hotel when Eddie asks if I’d like to check out the venue for tonight’s show… It’s at the legendary First AvenueThe house that Prince built – which has been around since 1970 and was featured in the film, Purple Rain. It’s stage has been graced by countless amazing musical acts. Of course I want to see it!

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When we get there, they’re setting up for the #BeforeSoundset show. It’s cool seeing the empty space & witnessing the calm before the storm.

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From there, we head over to the Rhymesayers offices. I’m so excited! This is where a lot of the (behind the scenes) magic happens… We get a private tour of the facilities, have some delicious local beers and grab some gear from the Fifth Element Store. Not to mention, I got to meet some super cool people!
We have dinner near the venue, and get ready for the show. Thanks to Eddie & the amazing team at Rhymesayers, Here’s a little glimpse at how the night went…

20140603-012118-4878694.jpgSlug (Atmosphere) made an appearance to introduce Step Brothers

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Rhymesayers Entertainment

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Slug, Atmosphere

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Dem Atlas

The pre-party definitely set the tone for Sunday… aka Soundset Day. I woke up so excited!
Let me start with the line up…

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from Veterans, to fresh new artists, to some of today’s heavy hitters, the wide range of acts consisted of both, men & women, representing various ethnical backgrounds. With DJ’s, B boys & MC’s on three different stages, a car show, graffiti wall, and skate ramp, there was something there for everyone.
I’ve attended a lot of hip hop festivals before this & I gotta say, this was, by far, my favorite one ever. (Ok, maybe the accommodations and all access pass had a little something to do with that). But, nonetheless, the guys at Rhymesayers really know how to throw a party. I’ll let my pictures do (most of) the talking…

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20140608-005046-3046926.jpgAfter a fun shuttle ride with a great group, we got there just in time to catch Snow Tha Product rockin’ the stage. I learned about her when I saw her on the line up a few weeks before. She’s a young Latina from San Diego and I love what she stands for. Don’t let the pretty face fool you, either, this girl can spit rapid fire!

20140608-011344-4424904.jpgEddie and I enjoying Snow’s set. In the background, (from our fun shuttle ride) is the talented G Koop, the man behind the live instruments on Atmoshpere’s Southsiders.

20140608-012236-4956522.jpgEddie introduced me to Maria Isa, another proud Latina, sharing her message through her music.

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It wasn’t long before I caught up with my favorite Instagram Photographer… Mr. Evidence was hard at work, running the Soundset ig account .

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And of course, these guys weren’t too far behind… Alchemist and DJ Mishaps

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Golf Carts were the preferred mode of transportation… Check out our driver! 😉

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This girl, Alicia, made me feel like the ultimate VIP and took good care of me. She has a great heart & we became friends instantly.

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20140608-014328-6208230.jpgEven though we got there too late to catch their set, I had a chance to meet up with two of my favorite California kids, The Grouch and Eligh

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Monica, another find from the fun shuttle, introduced me to the sounds of (& the man himself) DJ Q Bert

20140608-015806-7086438.jpg I also had the chance to catch Rapsody move the crowd.

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Sky made sure we got to see the view from the side stage…it was amazing!

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I gotta admit, there were moments when I pretended the crowd was cheering for me… I felt like Selena! 😉

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We caught the legendary Cypress Hill from the side stage…

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took a few pics…

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& made some new friends.

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This girl, Taylor, got lost from her group…she was all alone & one of the members of security allowed her access to the side stage so that she could try to spot them. How cool is that?

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I was 2 excited to see 2 Chainz! (See what I did there)? 😉

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Cool shirt, bro

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20140608-021448-8088355.jpgCypress Hill!

20140608-021515-8115242.jpgMy fellow San Diegan & world traveler, Cros One was judging the Bboy battle.

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20140608-021711-8231349.jpgRan into my ladies from the plane…

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20140608-022447-8687342.jpgWiz Khalifa didn’t let being arrested in Texas earlier in the day keep him from performing for his fans. The crowd went absolutely wild when he took his place on stage!

20140608-023105-9065055.jpgEddie and I caught Nas‘s set from the Monster Tower…

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along with this unbelievable view of the festival!

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*Eddie actually worked on Illmatic. The classic album celebrated it’s 20th anniversary this year. Pretty cool stuff, right?

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Maggie, my doll for the day, was another one from the fun group on the shuttle. I had a blast with her.
*Shout out to DJ Abilities

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Soon, it was time for the main event… the hometown heroes from Minneapolis, Atmosphere, closed the show like only they could.

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20140610-181146-65506387.jpgPosing with the host of the event, Sway Calloway, before heading back to First Avenue for the official Soundset After Party…

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I’ve seriously always dreamed of experiencing a music festival in the capacity in which I experienced Soundset. Just hanging out with the artists, behind the scenes, in their element, among friends, family & comrades. I am so glad it finally came to be!
From this (once) small town girl, with big dreams, I encourage each & every one of you to follow your heart & seek out your passion in life. Chase it, hunt it, run after it with all your might. Your heart will never lead you astray… Once you know what it is that you really want in life, the universe will conspire to give it to you. Go after it!

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Shout out to the girls at Glam Doll Donuts for following their love & passion for music (and baking) & turning it into a successful business in such a sweet way!

Thanks for reading along, everyone. What is it that you really want in life? What’s your dream? Or has it already come true…?

*Special thanks to Eddie Sancho, Ashanti Abdullah, Siddiq, & the entire staff & crew at Rhymesayers Entertainment for an unbelievable, unforgettable weekend. Much love. Let’s do it all again next year!

Check out the Soundset 2014 Wrap Up here…
*at 1:39 in…don’t blink! 😉

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Lady Gaga’s artRAVE: The Art Pop Ball

I recently had the pleasure of seeing one of my all-time favorite artists live in concert, in Philadelphia. This is the fourth time I’ve seen Lady Gaga, but what made it really special is that it was the first time I got to have my sister with me out on the East Coast (more on that, later). My sister, Monica, and I are huge music fans. She’s always been a great concert-going partner and I’m excited to continue our ritual all across the country.
After a day of delicious food, amazing coffee and one of the best conversations we’ve had in a long time, we’re ready for the show.
We arrive early enough to explore Wells Fargo Center. It’s nice taking public transportation & not worrying about traffic or having to look for parking.
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Every time I see Lady Gaga live, she just gets better and better and so do her fans. Walking around the venue, you see so many decorated people in different iconic Gaga looks. You can tell so much work & effort has gone into crafting the pieces. It’s hard not to stop and take pictures…

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20140529-132714-48434887.jpgThese ladies were adorable. When I told them about #StartingAt30, they let me know that they’re all my age & on the same page. I met quite a few thirty (something) year olds while mingling. There’s plenty of us out there…

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We make it to our seats in time to see the show start. artRAVE: The Art Pop Ball has begun. The Queen takes her place on stage & everyone in on their feet, dancing and singing along to G.U.Y. , Gaga’s latest single.

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I’m on my feet all night. I can’t sit through all the excitement! As Gaga takes us through a wonderful journey with songs from her latest album and classics from her albums before…from her amazing voice, to her flawless choreography, to her eccentric costumes & exquisite lighting, #artRAVE is a real party!

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There’s a point in the show where Lady G asks everyone to “Put away their f*cking cell phones and just be in the moment.” It’s such an amazing feeling of unity when you’re lost in a sea of people who are feeling the exact same thing as you are & love is flowing…
*The below photo was not taken during that moment. My phone was tucked away in my purse, as per the Goddess’s request. 🙂

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Gaga continues to move the crowd with beautiful words, both sung & spoken. She even takes the time to read letters & share gifts that have been tossed on stage from the crowd. Inspiring stories of overcoming & healing win a few lucky fans backstage access to meet their idol.

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After raving with us all night, it seems it’s time for Lady Gaga to say goodnight. She thanks us for joining her and heads off stage…but, there’s one thing my professional concert-going sister has taught me over the years… the show is never really over until all the lights go on. So, while the crowd starts to make their way out, I know that there’s one more song to be sung…
The crowd erupts when Gaga makes her way back on stage. I’m extra excited, because I just know she’s going to perform Gypsy, my favorite song to date…it’s practically my life’s theme song with lyrics like “So I just packed my baggage and said goodbye to family and friends and took the road to nowhere on my own.” She ends the song (and the show) naming regions of the world, saying how different countries & cities can “Be (her) home just for the day.” Because, after all, she’s a Gypsy, hey!

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The night was full of messages of love, inspiration, empowerment & unity. Thank you, Lady Gaga, for a wonderful show, for your music, and your message!

*Find tour dates, ticket information, music, merchandise & links to fan photos from the tour all on LadyGaga.com

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*Special Thanks to my personal Wonder Woman, my biggest supporter, my big sister, Monica Salcedo, for traveling all the way across the country to take me to this amazing show…and for all you continue to do!

Thanks for reading along, friends &
family. Who are some of your favorite artists? Have you been to any great shows lately..?

420 with Devin the Dude

I started last week absolutely exhausted. I returned to Philadelphia on (Easter) Sunday, April 20, from back-to-back international trips. I worked Barcelona, followed by Madrid (blog posts soon to come) and my love for music wouldn’t allow me to stay in Philly to rest.
As soon as I landed and went through customs, I headed back through security to board a flight to Austin, Texas to catch Devin the Dude at The Historical Scoot Inn . I had the next day off & I had already reached out to Devin about attending the show. I was under the impression that 11pm was his set time. It was perfect, because my flight landed at 9pm…then, I got the update that he’d hit the stage at 8:30. It was too late at that point. I was already on the airplane, ready for take off. I was hopeful that I’d at least catch one song.
The flight was great. I had a wonderful crew…I actually kinda knew one of the girls. We have a few mutual friends. She offered to let me stay in her hotel room, which was awesome, because I hadn’t planned that far ahead yet.
When we landed, I rushed upstairs and changed for the show. I called a cab, while I had a drink with my new friend in “our” room. 😉
I hopped in the cab, took the 3 minute ride to the venue, paid the man & jumped out. I was greeted by Rico, Devin’s manager, only to find out that the show had just wrapped up. (Womp Womp)!
Rico was nice enough to escort me into the Scoot Inn, as he guided me up on stage, where I encountered Devin signing autographs, taking pictures & connecting with his fans. I’m always overcome by joy when I see artists take the time to show love to their supporters. This is why I’m a loyal fan of the Dude!
I waited patiently for my turn & when he had a moment, Devin greeted me with a warm smile & a hug. I got a few words in with him & of course, we snapped a quick pic. After the crowd cleared, I stayed behind, making friends with some of the other performers.
My night out in Austin ended up being a lot of fun. I went out with some of the guys, partied with locals, and talked music all night. It was a blast.
I plan on catching another one of Devin’s upcoming shows soon (and getting there in time for the show)… You can too, by clicking here.

Thanks for stopping by, everyone!

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LA Layover

Ok, I’m a California girl through and through…so, getting paid to go home, is one of my favorite things in the world. Today I had the chance to hang out with my best friend, in one of my favorite cities, and it was for work!
I arrived in Los Angeles last night around 9:00pm. Our flight was, of course, star-studded. We had actors, athletes…& even one of my favorite singers on board.
My dear friend agreed to pick me up from the airport. It’s nice to not always have to stay in a hotel when I’m away on a layover. I was really excited to see Samantha. It was her birthday weekend and I missed her official celebration, because I was scheduled to be on duty with the airline.
When I arrive at LAX, we’re in communication & timing is perfect. She pulls up as I’m walking from my gate. As soon as I see her car, I run up to greet her. I startle her and she nearly jumps out of her seat…it’s hilarious…that’s the sort of thing she usually does! Haha. I got her!
The car ride to her house is full of laughter and warm conversation. Samantha and I have been friends for over ten years. We’ve always had a special bond. Over a year ago, she introduced me to the Landmark Forum. I completed the three day seminar, which empowers you to live life powerfully & to live a life you love, in January 2013 and since then, my life has completely transformed. I remind her of the impact she has made in my world (with my self-awareness, my career and even my family) & I thank her. There’s so much love flowing in the car. I’m enjoying every minute of it.
Samantha has a “do whatever makes you happy” kind of attitude. On our way to her house, I know we have to pass Circus Liqour – a recognizable store in North Hollywood that’s been featured in several films. So, I tell her that snapping a quick picture there would definitely make me smile…she pulls over & I get my picture. Simple things in life, you know…? 🙂

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When we get to her place, we take her pup, Puff, out for a walk and we make a stop at Vallarta, a Mexican supermarket. It’s a beautiful night and I’m excited to pick up some of my favorite things….fresh corn chips, ceviche, avocados, salsa, queso fresco, and cucumbers. These make the perfect munchies for our movie night. In honor of our stop at Circus Liqour, Samantha chooses Clueless (the famous neon clown is featured in the scene where Cher is held at gunpoint after being stranded by Elton when leaving the Valley Party…you girls all know what I’m talking about). We both fall asleep before the movie is over. Party animals.
In the morning, we have breakfast & Samantha gets a call for a video shoot. I’m happy to tag along for a behind-the-scenes experience. I’ve gone to work with her before, it’s always fun…& hey, when in LA…
The drive is beautiful, palm trees lining the streets, the sun shining….what more could I want? We drive through the heart of Hollywood & I’m so grateful for such a beautiful Monday. I love Mondays (now) because I love my job & I love my life. I remember there was a time I didn’t feel that way…I’m so glad I’ve gotten to this point. We pass all the beautiful mansions in Beverly Hills & we pick our favorites as we soak in each of the gorgeous structures. (I wish I had taken more pictures).

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The video shoot is for the song Waffle House, by Nezzo. Samantha’s role is to eat waffles in a bikini & to be exaggerated and comedic – these are things she’s mastered. I’m having fun watching her exceed their expectations. She’s funny and playful, and she is very comfortable being silly in front of the camera.

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When the shoot wraps, the crew thanks her for a job well done. They laugh and tell her they’re very pleased with the footage they’ve captured. It’s been an awesome afternoon.
We spend the evening at Samantha’s house. I take a nap, since I have to work the red-eye back to Philadelphia tonight. We watch another movie, Girl in Progress, get in a quick Zumba workout, and I shower & prepare for my flight, while Samantha prepares a delicious dinner of chicken tacos, all the (fresh) fixings imaginable, and steamed veggies. Yum!
After dinner, Samantha drives me to the airport. On our way there, we have yet another amazing conversation. We’re constantly in inquiry when we’re together & we love to discover new things about ourselves. This time is no different. We each got something for ourselves, just by sharing with each other about what’s going on in our lives & what’s not working as well as we’d like. We find it so beautiful, what unfolds, when you just own who you are, and show up for your life! It was the perfect way to end my visit with her & it has me in good spirits for the late night flight.
The trip back to Philadelphia is super easy. Almost every passenger is sleeping. One passenger, however, keeps visiting the galley…he wants to stretch, and he is very talkative…I gotta admit, he’s definitely made this the most interesting flight in the world

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😉

Until next time. Stay thirsty, my friends!

Special Thanks to Samantha Padilla follow her on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. Also to Nezzo , James Davis II and the rest of the production crew…and of course, to Jonathan Goldsmith,The most interesting man in the world.