Return Of The Mack

2013 was truly an incredible year in music, especially in hip-hop. We got albums from Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Eminem, Kanye West, and Jay Z; Mike Will, Young Chop, and DJ Mustard made every beat, and twerking went from Atlanta strip clubs to mainstream America. Although there were many great moments this year, 2013 was the year of the ‘Mack,’ and if the momentum continues in to 2014, Mark Morrison better start planning his comeback. Mac Miller, Macklemore, and Mack Wilds all created individual lanes, dominant fan bases, and earned a total of 8 (7 for Macklemore, 1 for Mack Wilds) Grammy nominations.

“Shut your pie-hole, I’m dope and I know
/ My voice sound like it was a sample off a vinyl / I don’t mind those hating on my style /
I tend to take the high road, get stoned and fly low”

– Mac Miller (“S.D.S.”)

Me interviewing Mac Miller in Ithaca, NY - March 2011

Me interviewing Mac Miller in Ithaca, NY – March 2011

Although artists like Mac Miller and Macklemore get criticized for both the color of their skin and crossover in to the pop world, both artists have stuck to their hip-hop roots and have truly stuck with the culture. Not only has Mac Miller formed close ties and working relationships with artists including Odd Future, TDE, and Jay Electronica, but his sophomore album Watching Movies With The Sound Off was one of the years best. A complete 360 from his debut album, Blue Slide Park, “Watching Movies With The Sound Off falls somewhere between Pharrell and Madlib, deeply rooted in the sounds of Stones Throw that manages to bridge the gap to contemporary mainstream hip-hop” according to XXL Magazine. Ultimately, this can be attributed to Mac’s choice of sequencing throughout the album, as well as his production (under the Larry Fisherman). WMWTSO may have slipped under many people’s radar this year, but that doesn’t slow Mac down. In 2013, Mac had another sell out tour (The Space Migration Tour) and released a live album in December (Live From Space). While most people would generally take a break after a tour and 2 albums, Mac has no plans on stopping in 2014. Last week he told MTV News he has 4 albums ready to be released this year, along with his Pharrell-assisted Pink Slime. Whether you like Mac Miller’s music or not, there’s two things you should take in to account and respect. First, Mac Miller is still an independent artist and making the music he chooses to, and hasn’t been conformed to industry standards. Second, he’s been on the Forbes Hip-Hop Cash Kings list two years in a row!

See: Rap Radar ’13 Underrated Albums #1: Mac Miller Watching Movies With The Sound Off

See: Al Lindstrom’s 2013 Most Improved Artist Of The Year 

“Return of the Mack
/ Get ’em, what it is, what it does, what it is, what it isn’t”

–       Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (“Can’t Hold Us”)

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Despite what people on Twitter or some of the hip-hop community may say, Macklemore deserves everything he’s getting and he is not leaving his hip-hop roots behind him either. Before he made a name for himself, the most popular rapper to come out of Seattle, WA as Sir Mix-A-Lot; yes the guy most notable for his song “Baby Got Back.” Of course Macklemore will always have to live with the title “The “Thrift Shop” rapper, but instead of hating the song, hip-hop should embrace it for the sole fact that it has lead the genre in to corporate America; something usually lead by Jay Z and Diddy. If people gave Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ album The Heist a complete listen, they would see beyond the stigmas and understand why they are up for 7 Grammy’s and have gained the attention of the entire world. Macklemore has proved that he can speak about things most rappers do, Jordan sneakers (“Wing$“), cars (“White Walls”), and record labels (“Jimmy Iovine”), but also on social and political content (“Same Love”). My comments on Macklemore are only brief because I believe his actions and work have spoken for themselves thus far and we will only see bigger things from him in 2014, both in pop music and hip-hop. Additionally, although Macklemore is doing this all independently, he has hired Warner Music to distribute his music. Big machine + Chart topping singles = Success. Let’s not forget, Macklemore effortlessly threw a pair of the prestigious Nike Yeezy 2s in the middle of Times Square, now that’s hip-hop! Oh yeah, with a platinum album, multiplatinum single’s, and a spot on the Forbes Hip-Hop Cash Kings list, don’t be surprised when Macklemore knocks out Kendrick Lamar for the top spot at the Grammy’s!

See: The Source Magazine Names Macklemore ‘Man of the Year’

“Said I don’t mean to brag /
But I live a life that most can only dream about”

–       Mack Wilds (“Own It”)

Me interviewing Mack Wilds in NYC - December 2013

Me interviewing Mack Wilds in NYC – December 2013

The transition between singing and acting has always been exciting, and generally much better than any athlete trying to rap! LL Cool J, Tyreese, Jamie Foxx, and a host of others have all succeeded and now there’s a new actor to add to the list – Tristan ‘Mack’ Wilds. Most people know Tristan from his role as Michael Lee from The Wire or Dixon Wilson on 90210, but Mack is a confident and talented R&B singer from Staten Island, New York. Teaming up with producer Salaam Remi (credits: Nas, Amy Winehouse, Miguel) and label Sony Red, Mack Wilds released a conceptual R&B album titled New York: A Love Story in September fueled by 90’s hip-hop beats and Mack’s interest in both women and his beloved Staten Island. What’s most exciting is that not only is the album highly underrated, but for an album that only sold 2,000 copies in its first week, it is currently nominated for Best Urban Contemporary Album at this years Grammy’s. With his Ne-Yo written debut single “Own It” quickly gaining speed, and his follow up “Henny” getting some attention on local New York City radio, Mack Wilds has successfully earned a position in the new class of New York City hip-hop and R&B. At his recent show at New York City’s SOBs, Mack brought out rappers A$AP Ferg, Bodega Bamz, 360, and Skyzoo, ultimately showcasing what the city has been missing.

With the right push, and a win at the Grammy’s, I see big things in Mack Wilds future. I believe that that factors are simple: continuing to push “Own It” – possibly even to Top 40 radio, TV appearances, and ship more physical copies of the album! Personally, I don’t see why he can’t be in the same position as Ne-Yo, and other great young singer-songwriters who are at the forefront of the genre and in the mainstream media. I rarely enjoy listening to an album all the way through multiple times, but New York: A Love Story is a special project that I highly encourage everyone to listen to.

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Thinking Outside of the Box: An Interview with Billy Mann

Billy_Mann

Billy Mann

Resume:

Singer/Songwriter/Producer

 Founder/CEO of Green & Bloom/Top1ine & Chairman of management firm Manncom

GBTopline Logo

Former President of New Music A&R International and President of Global Artist Management at EMI Music

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Billy Mann is an executive you want to know. While many of the industries power players are in front of the camera promoting their labels and brands, Billy is quietly doing that same. Prior to the formation of his companies Green & Bloom/Top1ine & Manncom, Billy Mann was writing and producing for P!nk (“God Is a DJ,” “Stupid Girls,” “I’m Not Dead” and “Nobody Knows”), Robyn (“My Only Reason”), Backstreet Boys (“Poster Girl,” Panic,” “Love Will Keep You Up All Night,” and “Unexpected Sunday Afternoon”) Celine Dion (“Treat Her Like A Lady” and “Amar Haciendo el Amor”), and more. Additionally, during his time at EMI Music, Billy Mann was responsible for helping to launch David Guetta‘s worldwide career. With so much accomplished and experience behind him, having the ability to talk with him was an honor. The information being shared is something that I believe will benefit aspiring artists of all genres. I hope you enjoy this interview and acquire the same amount of knowledge as I did. Please let me know what you think! Leave a comment or send me an email.

Interview Breakdown:

Explanation of Green & Bloom/Topl1ne and Manncom  (0:08 – 3:00)

Talking about his artist Alex Aiono & the struggles aspiring artists are facing (3:01 – 5:34)

What to look for in an aspiring artist (5:35 – 7:38)

How important is it for executives to think globally (7:39 – 10:33)

The importance of publishing and other business aspects of the music industry (10:34 – 15:48)

How Billy learned the music business and his thoughts on music business programs in schools (15:49 – 18:29)

Conclusion (18:30 – 19:50)

A River of Nickels

“In business it’s about who wants you the most” 

– T.I. (Interview with Larry King for OraTV)

Record Dea;

In recent years, the phrase, “How did [insert rapper here] get a record deal when my flow and lyrics are so much better” has been said one too many times. The truth of the matter is that maybe you are better, but you are failing to make the necessary connections in order to enhance your career. Those who have generated organic, viral fans bases rather than spamming people on Twitter and Facebook have seen the greatest reward. One of the beauties of seeing your music reach maximum attention gives you the ability to understand your fan base and value your worth as a musician. 1 million followers do not translate into $1 million dollars.

“We’re a team, 360 degrees, we will reach your goals!

We’ll get a third of the merch that you sell out on the road

Along with a third of the money you make when you’re out doing your shows

Manager gets 20, booking agent gets 10

So shit, after taxes you and Ryan have 7% to split”

– Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (“Jimmy Iovine”)

Record deals come in two forms these days: 360 deals or joint venture label deals. Recently, we have see Drake form his own label through Warner Bros. Records, in 2011, A$AP Rocky’s deal with Sony/RCA Records/Polo Grounds gave him $3 million and the ability to form his own label A$AP Worldwide, and most recently Trinidad Jame$’ $2 million and Chief Keef’s $6 million deals, respectively.

Bottom line is that you get what you negotiate and despite the hate Chief Keef frequently receives, he got exactly what he wanted. In a recent article by DNAInfo.com Chicago, Keef’s lucrative deal was broken down in ways most people outside the industry rarely see.

chiefkeeffinallyrich

Below, I have simplified and broken down the deal so that aspiring artists/record label owners know what to look for and negotiate when the time comes.

  • Number of albums: 3
  • Must sell 250,000 copies of debut “Finally Rich” by Dec. 31, 2013 in order for Interscope to continue to release Keef’s music

         Note: “Finally Rich” has sold 192,137 copies as of August 1, 2013

  • Advance: Upfront money that is paid directly to a recording artist: $440,000
  • Album Budget: Money used to pay for studio time, producers, and other expenses during the creating of album: $300,000
  • Creation of imprint “Glory Boyz Entertainment (GBE)”
    • Separate 3-year deal
    • GBE Advance: $440,000; additional $180,000 + 40% ownership internship for Chief Keef & manager; additional $10,000 + 10% ownership interest to GBE rapper Fredo Santana
    • GBE Overhead Expenses: Expenses of operating a business: $200,000
    • If Interscope suffers $4.5 million in loses, contract is terminated

“You ask for slack and wanna get cut loose from the label

Not able ’cause you signed at the table

For a pretty cash advance, now they got a song and dance

That you didn’t recoup, more soup wit’ ya meal?

‘Cause this is the real when you get a record deal”

–       A Tribe Called Quest (“Show Business”)

Although Chief Keef may have had the luck of the draw, others have to earn their multi-million dollar deals by way of seniority and longevity. After the December 2012 release of his album, Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head, Atlanta rapper T.I. became a free agent. After being signed to Atlantic Records for almost 11 years, rumor has it that the self-proclaimed “King of the South” is negotiating a highly structured deal that could earn him an estimated $75 million. If Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Sony, or Universal, all whom T.I. has met with, want him, they’re going to have to make some big promises.

TI-Dre

T.I. with Dr. Dre

  • 3 albums
  • 10-20% of publishing, touring, merchandise, film and TV rights
  • Endorsement deals with major corporations
  • Exclusive signing of all Grand Hustle artists

Ultimately, it’s your decision; you can be swimming in millions or you can be swimming in pennies and nickels. It’s simple; but you must recognize the difference of perception and reality first. You might be the best lyricist in the world, but can you make a hit record? You might have over 1,000,000 YouTube views, but do you have a local/regional foundation? Have you made your mark and created an impact? You also must take into consideration how times have changed. When T.I. went to L.A. Reid’s office at Arista Records in 2001, following his debut album, I’m Serious, and asked for a $2 million budget for his second album, he was dropped from the label immediately. Today, Trinidad Jame$ has one major song under his belt and limited rap experience, but earned himself his $2 million deal from Def Jam.

Remember, the same about of time you spend hating on an artist for the accomplishment, you could be spending advancing yourself; Talib Kweli taught me that!

T.I. with L.A. Reid

T.I. with L.A. Reid

Trinidad James

Trinidad Jame$

Missed my interview with T.I.? Check it out here!

Update: May 10, 2013 – T.I. Talks ‘$200 Million’ Major Label Deal & ‘G.D.O.D.’ Mixtape (via Billboard)

How An All-American Baseball Player Became A Successful Rapper: An Interview With Mike Stud

On October 4th, Mike Stud brought the Stud Nation Tour to Ithaca, NY. I had a chance to sit down with the All-American baseball player turned rapper after the show to talk about The Stud Nation tour, his musical journey, education, and more.  

First, I want to congratulate you. Last month you sold out the Highline Ballroom in NYC. As a relatively new, independent artist, what was your reaction to the show?

It’s crazy. Like I said on stage, I really appreciate it. I don’t take anything for granted. My agents thought we could do it, but I didn’t know we sold it out 10 days ahead of time, which is nuts. A huge thank you to everyone who came, it’s dope.

You’re currently on the Stud Nation Tour. What’s the concept of the tour and what are you hoping to accomplish out on the road?

The concept is something my manager came up with. The Stud Nation thing is kind of a play on the presidential theme; you see the portrait, it looks like a president portrait. They’re just trying to play off my background. I went to some very uppity schools [Duke University & Georgetown University] and that I’m more for the Middle American kids. I make music for the people who relate to me and that’s Middle America, so we thought Stud Nation would be a cool theme.

You, along with your good friend Huey Mack, and a few others, are ultimately the ambassadors of the “college hip-hop” movement; I think a lot of kids out there tonight saw a little bit of themselves in you. With that being said, how do plan to grow and remain at the forefront?

I’m not exactly sure what the whole “college music” thing is. I just think kids in college like my music. If you listen, most of my records, especially the newest ones, are not about partying or college. Sure, the one that popped off was “College Humor” and that’s fine, but I think people that really take a listen and write off the superstitions behind it will see a real artist. You’re going to start to hear more singing in my new songs and more of an artist feel, and not just a “frat boy.” I was never a frat boy; I’m a white kid that played baseball.

Mike Stud pitching for Duke University

Something I notice about you is that you aren’t afraid to collaborate with other aspiring artists. What’s your rationale behind that? Do you think it will lead to any criticism?

I don’t think that’s a real argument, because I just collaborate with people that I like. I don’t collaborate with people I don’t know, and I don’t collaborate with people whose music I don’t like. The people that I’ve worked with, I stand behind them, and I support them; we all have the same markets and fan bases.

Huey and I are splitting images. A lot of time we’re in the same city and we just meet up, we made the mixtape [Click] on a limb.

My favorite one is “You Don’t Know Me” with Tarik…

He’s the homie. He’s dope. I did that shit because he deserves more fans. Everyone on my business side said that it didn’t make sense to do that collaboration with him because he has a much smaller fan base, but he’s dope and very humble.

One of the things about you that I want to understand a little better is your social media presence. As we know, your baseball injury led you to music, but anybody can do that. Like you said on stage, it’s only been 14 months since you released your first mixtape. How did you know who to target and make the Mike Stud brand an Internet sensation?  

Honestly, I have no idea. I made “College Humor” for baseball parties at Georgetown. My teammates kept saying, “Yo! I like your music, keep making songs.” I made the song on Garageband; I had no engineer. I just recorded it in my dorm room, drunk. The fact that everywhere I go that’s the song everybody knows, it’s crazy.

So it was just word of mouth?

Yeah.

Photo by Nick DeJohn

Mike Stud at The Haunt in Ithaca
Photo by Nick DeJohn

Now you have Jon Kilmer on tour with you. Every kid wants him to direct their video, you have your sponsorship with Freshletes, and your music steadily brings traffic to all the blog sites.

It came out of nowhere; I can’t thank the people enough.

I read that you went to Georgetown University graduate school to study sports management and finance. How has your educated helped you in the music industry so far?

I’m just way more involved than people understand. Most artists don’t even care about the business side. I’m in on every meeting, the behind the scenes stuff at this point is pretty crazy, and so I’m very involved. That’s how I like it. 

With booking powerhouse Peter Schwartz and The Agency Group behind you, I’m sure many opportunities that are starting to present themselves. What’s next for you and what are you hoping to accomplish in the near future? 

As much as Peter and those guys are going to take their expertise and grow my brand, it’s still about the music. I’m not big enough to just go do tours. I’m one mixtape in; I haven’t done shit. I know that, and I don’t think I’ve made it at all. We’re working everyday; there are no days off. At this point, I’m just working harder because my foot is in the door.

Peter is great, and I’m blessed to have a lot of great industry people behind me right now, most who we haven’t mentioned to the public yet. I’m going to use those tools, but right now it’s all driven by the music.

Interviewing Mike Stud

For more on Mike Stud and to see if the Stud Nation Tour is coming to a city near you, visit Mike’s website, Twitter, FaceBook, and YouTube!

Interview: Rec This City Management

Over the last few months I have been giving readers my point of view on the music industry and how up and coming artists should approach certain situations and develop as artists. Today, I bring you something new. Instead of giving you my perspective; I’m bringing you someone else’s.

Jared Glassman has been a friend of mine since we were about 10 years old. As you’ll see in the interview, both of us ultimately laid the foundation for each of our achievements today. I got Jared interested in the business, and Jared is the one who gave me the name Breezy (I added the ‘On The Beat’ part). It all comes full circle! Since then, he’s gone on to manage a few artists who are starting to see success. Below is an interview I did with Jared recently that I think will help up and coming artists.

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Jared & I – Summer 2006

Currently one of Jared’s artists, Jitta On The Track, is the opening act on Drake’s Club Paradise tour along with J. Cole, Waka Flocka Flame, 2 Chainz, Meek Mill & French Montana.

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Jared Glassman – Rec This City Management

Name: Jared Glassman

Age: 22

Title: Founder of Rec This City Management

Artists:

Jitta On The Track

Jitta On The Track

Ethan Jaymes

Ethan Jaymes

D!RTY AUD!O

D!RTY AUD!O

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How you get into the music business and what attracted you to it?

Actually, if you want to know the real truth, I first became interested in the music industry when you first showed me GarageBand when we were about 14. I started producing from that day and the fire grew inside me to eventually become a manager. I had been producing for 4 years and realized that was not the part of the industry I was built for.

What are your daily roles as a manager?

My daily roles fluctuate. Sometimes I’m doing a ton of emailing and phone calls, some days I have to make sure my artists are all in the right mindset and make sure they are doing what they need to get done to push their careers to their full potential.

What are some of the challenges you face everyday as a manager?

Not being big enough in the industry yet. People like persistence but don’t like being pestered. One challenge is getting your foot in the door. But once you do people start to respect you more… At least for now.

When it comes to your artists, do you prefer to have them develop on their own musically and then you promote/handle the business elements or are you involved throughout the entire process?

I like to be a part of the whole thing. One main reasons I got into management is because I really feel that I have a good sense of what the world wants to hear and in my opinion, two heads are better than one so me or someone else might bring something to Jitta that he likes and incorporates in the music. I also help choose which beats. For the most part it’s Jitta and his own creativity though.

All of the artists you manage have a strong presence on the Internet. What are some of the ways Rec This City has been able to help their artists expand online?

Network as much as possible through emails, meetings, events, make your face and name known to everyone possible and keep a personal relationship. If you’re constantly asking for things and have nothing to deliver back, people will get tired of working with you.

You’re artist Jitta On The Track, just won a competition to open up for Drake on the remaining 20 dates of the Club Paradise Tour. What has the experience been like so far on the road and have any of the artists/managers given you any advice?

This experience is life changing and monumental. We have learned so much just from watching performances and seeing how a major tour runs. We have been blessed with many amazing opportunities so far that have helped boost Jitta’s career at an incredibly fast rate.

Watch: Waka Flocka hanging out with Jitta On The Track (Video 1) – (Video 2)

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As Jitta begins to gain a strong momentum, what are your upcoming plans for him and how will Rec This City bring him to the next level?

We just signed a co-management deal with DAS communications, a major management company that launched the careers of The Black Eyed Peas, The Fugees, John Legend, Ke$ha and more. This will be huge for Jitta and RecThisCity.

What are some of your long-term goals for Rec This City?

My long-term goals for RecThisCity would be to just expand into as many forms of management as possible. Maybe expand to be a tour management company or partner up with a major company and be a superpower. All future plans though.

I’m sure a lot of people ask you to listen to their music or look to you as a resource, what is the best advice you can give to an up and coming artist trying to further their career?

Don’t send emails without music! If you send an email and I take the time to read it please include the music because I won’t respond if there is none! Too many emails!

How can people get in contact with Rec This City?

Recthiscity@gmail.com or email my partner paul@recthiscity.com

We are not just hip-hop anymore; Paul runs the electronic music section so any DJs are free to submit to electri.city.mgmt@gmail.com

A Thousand You’s

I’M BACK!!! Quick update – since my last post, which was on March 3, 2012, I’ve:

  • Interviewed Maino, Raekwon, and Cash Out
  • Redid the Breezy On The Beat Facebook page (Facebook.com/breezyonthebeat)
  • Starting working on the Breezy On The Beat/T-Royalz mixtape (Coming out Jan. 8, 2013) – something we’ve been planning for three years and Jan. 8 is both of our birthdays
  • Won the award for Best On-Air Talent on 92 WICB (Check me out Fri. 8-10pm ET)
  • … And most importantly I GRAUDATED COLLEGE (as of May 20)!!!

“There’s a thousand you’s, there’s only one of me”

– Kanye West (“Stronger”)

Anyway, back to what we’re here for. I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again: NOT EVERYONE IS MEANT TO BE A RAPPER OR A PART OF THE MUSIC BUSINESS!

It doesn’t matter if your friends think you’re hot or you have the best programs or the best resources, if you don’t understand the business, all of this is irrelevant. This brings me to my topic of conversation. For those who aren’t fully aware of the latest trends in hip-hop, there is a HUGE movement happening right now in Chicago.

Lead by the L.E.P. Bogus Boys, YP, Katie Got Bandz, King Louie, Rockie Fresh (I highly recommend Rockie’s Driving 88 mixtape), Fredo Santana, Lil’ Reese, Lil’ Durk, Young Chop and the most important one right now – Chief Keef – all of these Chicago natives and more are signing deals left and right with the biggest labels in the game.

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Chief Keef

Note: In the last two months, Lil’ Reese and Lil’ Durk have signed with Def Jam, Fredo Santana is rumored to be signing with Bad Boy, YP signed with Universal Republic, Young Chop signed with Warner Publishing, and Rockie Fresh has received a co-sign from Rick Ross & MMG

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Lil’ Reese & Lil’ Durk with legendary producer No ID at the Def Jam office in LA

Of course it is great to see everybody from the city getting recognized, but the two that I think are a great example of endless grind and hustle are Lil’ Durk and Chief Keef. How is it that Lil’ Durk just went back to prison to complete a two month sentence and Chief Keef is currently on house arrest at his grandmothers house, and they are the hottest names in the game? The answer is simple: THEY STAND OUT.

At only 16 years old, Chief Keef is doing things that most rappers dream of, and he’s doing it all with the supervision of his grandma and a Chicago judge!! Incredible. Within the last few months, Keef has had the streets buzzing, the Internet flooded with visuals, and he just put out a Kanye West/G.O.O.D. Music assisted remix to his hit single “I Don’t Like.” Honestly, Chief Keef isn’t the greatest, but he makes catchy music and he has a whole movement (G.B.E. Entertainment) and city behind him. In addition, his work ethic is undeniable and he knows what his sound and image are.

Note: Keef wrote his verse for the “I Don’t Like (Remix)” in three minutes

I think most people who want to be rappers or singers, etc., fail to understand the basic fundaments of what this game entails:

  • Create and develop your sound
  • Practice, Practice, Practice – remember, its quality over quantity
  • Patience
  • If you don’t believe in what you’re rapping about, neither will your audience
  • DO NOT SPAM PEOPLE – Make connections and network
  • Know who you’re dealing with – who’s important and who’s not
  • Establish a fan base (although this is the least important element when you’re just starting)
  • Think of Plan B – most of you aren’t cut out for this life
  • REMEMBER: There are millions of people with the same aspirations as you, what makes YOU different from them?

You can call Chief Keef and friend’s lucky or overnight sensations, but they hustled their way to the top, made the right connections, and now everybody in their team is being recognized.

Do what makes you happy and do what’s best for you, but if you don’t have the talent, don’t force it. Oh yeah, and if you haven’t listened to “I Don’t Like” or “3Hunna” you’re missing out!

For more info on the Chicago hip-hop movement, check out Fake Shore Drive