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The 25 Funniest Celebrity Twitter Hacks (COMPLEX)

22 Jun

My second piece for COMPLEX was one of the most fun, and most challenging pieces I’ve had to write. In another article for their TECH section, I made a list of the 25 funniest celebrity Twitter hacks. The hacks aren’t just hip-hop artists, either: rappers, singers, professional athletes, and even politicians get got in this list. I’m just now realizing that the site doesn’t allow copy and paste, so I won’t use any text, ha – just check the article.

CLICK HERE to read.

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HipHopDX Producer’s Corner: Jerry “Wonda” Duplessis

22 Jun

 For the latest segment of HipHopDX Producer’s Corner, I interviewed Jerry “Wonda” Duplessis. He isn’t a celebrity name, but plenty of music lovers will recognize his work with Wyclef Jean. The Haitian-born musician has co-produced or played on nearly all of Clef’s classics – The Fugees’ seminal The Score, to Carlos Santana’s “Maria Maria,” and many more. Check out an excerpt below:

DX: Don’t mean to only focus on Fugees, but how would you describe a studio session with them? If I were to randomly walk into one of your sessions, what would I see?

Jerry Wonda: It would be like going to a family dinner. You see everybody hanging, chilling, eating, drinking and laughing. Nothing that crazy, just everybody chilling. We used to have everything, with the equipment. Nobody knew we were doing a classic album. I just remember I used to play the Top 40 singles and hustle, because I was buying equipment. I’d go play with Top 40 bands then come back to the studio and do what I was doing with Wyclef and Ms. Hill. At the time, that’s what we had. If you walked in there, it was just chillin!

CLICK HERE to read the rest of the interview.

Big Sean and Random Axe Album Reviews

22 Jun

As the managing editor of MichiganHipHop, it only makes sense that I’d review two of the state’s biggest releases for HipHopDX. After getting a preview of Random Axe a couple months ago, I finally got my press copy for review a few days before it dropped. I received my review link of Big Sean’s oft-delayed debut Finally Famous last Tuesday. I’ve covered Big Sean and two thirds of Random Axe (Black Milk and Guilty Simpson) extensively throughout my career for several publications, so it’s always great to get an opportunity for that to continue.

Let me know what you think about the albums, and how accurate my reviews portray them.

CLICK HERE to read Random Axe Album Review (HipHopDX)

CLICK HERE to read Big Sean Finally Famous Album Review (HipHopDX)

VIBE Apr/May 2011 – NEXT (Travis Porter, Bria Murphy)

13 Jun

VIBE Apr/May 2011 - NEXT (Bria Murphy, Travis Porter)

A few months ago, I interviewed model Bria Murphy and Atlanta rap trio Travis Porter for my first contributions to VIBE magazine. Click to enlarge. This issue, with 50 Cent on the cover, may be tough to find now that the latest issue has already hit newsstands, but it was incredible from cover to cover. The world music spread was amazing, and the 50 interview was solid. Shouts to Clover Hope for the assignments and the help, Bria and Travis Porter for being good sports, and to everyone who showed love as a result of the article. Hopefully, you’ll see more of my byline in VIBE sooner than later.

If you’d like to read more of my print and web features, click the FEATURES tab in the navigational bar above.

Memorial Day: Rappers Remember Fallen Friends Through Lyrics

31 May

I know I’m a day late on posting this; I worked as long as I could yesterday before hosting a BBQ at my house for the holiday. In my first piece in a while for XXL, I used a Memorial Day theme to find lyrics that different emcees such as Kanye West (pictured above with his mother, R.I.P.) used to pay homage to deceased loved ones. Read below for the intro.

CLICK HERE to read the entire article.

WEKetchum Review of eLZhi’s “eLmatic”

25 May

A clear sign of how long ago the photo above was taken: me still feeling the need to mean mug the camera. But I was all smiles after hearing eLmatic, eLZhi’s new tribute mixtape to Nas’ classic debut. It’s been years in the making, but the consensus is that the project is worth the wait despite other emcees dropping their own remakes since he had initially announced the idea back in 2008. Here’s an excerpt from my review:

Detroit emcee eLZhi has been heralded as one of hip-hop’s most talented for years now, but to some, there was something missing. Despite the witty punchlines, multi-syllabic rhyme patterns and conceptual genius shown on songs like “Guessing Game” and “Rules of Rap,” harsher critics said he couldn’t evoke emotion—one of musician’s most important tasks. Well, the years since his official debut album The Preface have been wrought with painful situations: his former manager HexMurda had a nearly fatal stroke, and his group Slum Village was dramatically torn apart through label politics and what he saw as betrayal from his partners. With eLmatic, eLZhi seems to have drawn from those experiences and read between the lines of Nas’ classic debut Illmatic, to capture the intangibles that make his technical skills truly undeniable.

To read the full review on HipHopSite.com, CLICK HERE.

COMPLEX: 9 Reasons I’m Sticking with Blackberry

12 Apr

The timing for this article is perfect. I’ve been trying for years to land an article in COMPLEX; it’s my favorite magazine after GQ, because of how engaging both their online and print content is, and how well they convey their brand and serve their audience. Coincidentally, the day that COMPLEX published this, I switched over to Sprint and gave my soul to Research In Motion for another two years. The article I’m linking to here is a list I made of both realistic and comical, irreverent reasons why I’m sticking with my Blackberry for even longer.

BTW, readers, let me know: is the comedy here clear to you all? Or does it seem like I actually enjoy having to reset my phone all the time, and that I really think Brickbreaker (which I don’t play at all, lmao) would be a better game than Angry Birds?

Anyway, CLICK HERE to read “Mobile Manifesto: 9 Reasons I’m Sticking With Blackberry.”

Big Sean x Ketchums x HipHopDX: Detroit State of Mind

12 Apr

I’ve interviewed Big Sean various times for Metro Times, Cultural Vibe (where we were photographed above), and others. Sadly, his interviews have almost always consisted of the same questions ever since then, and that was years ago. “What do you think of Drake stealing your style?” “What is it like to work with Kanye West?” “Talk about hip-hop’s affect on fashion.” I hope that every Big Sean interview is a big difference, and I walk away disappointed every time.

So when I got another chance to interview Sean for HipHopDX, one of the top hip-hop publications, I decided to speak to him about something he really knows: Detroit. Based on his hometown allegiance, our rapport and him being an open book in general, I’m really happy with how this interview turned out. Hopefully, new readers feel the same way.

CLICK HERE to read “Big Sean: Detroit State of Mind.”

How NOT To Get Coverage On A Blog or Web Site Part 2: Twitter/Facebook Spamming

6 Jan

Finally! Something I can spam rappers with!

It’s amazing a post like this is even necessary in 2011, but apparently, it’s still a problem.

If I had a dollar for every time I got a tweet or Facebook notification from an artist with no explanation, I’d be counting Oprah stacks. Many artists dig around Twitter to hit the go-to journalists, bloggers, DJs or tastemakers with links to their music, a vague “Check it out!” and nothing else. On Facebook, there are even more options: they’ll tag you in a flyer photo, sign your wall, leave an irrelevant comment on a status you have. All promotion is good promotion, right?

Well here’s a hint: IT DOESN’T WORK!

Most writers/bloggers decide what to cover or listen to based on this list: buzz/popularity, recommendation from people they trust, a big name feature, or a novel/unique story idea.

When you have none of those things, as far as I’m concerned, the best thing you can do is show professionalism. Introduce yourself, network and build a relationship with the person you want help from. Social networking sites, especially Twitter, make this incredibly easy. Chime in on topics they’re talking about, leave comments on their blogs, and make a real connection. Show that you understand and respect what they do, and maybe they’ll do the same for you.

That way, you’re more likely to get not only a post at the time, but posts in the future as well. Think about how you’d feel if someone you’ve never met asked for help in something you do for a living, compared to how you’d react if a friend of yours asked for help.

Otherwise, nothing separates you from the millions of other artists sending us links every day. And if you don’t stick out, there’s no reason I should care about you.

So from now on, every time a rapper sends me a link with no explanation? I’m going to reply with this link, with no explanation at all.

How NOT To Get Coverage On A Blog Or Web Site Part 1: Laziness & Unfamiliarity

20 May

I get the same question several times a day: “How do I get my music featured on web sites?” Unfortunately, there’s no set formula for success. Sure, there are things you can do to help your chances. Use social networking sites, conventions and panels to build relationships with bloggers and writers beyond your music;  send personal messages instead of generic mass emails; and other tips from the homie Hubert Sawyers’ ongoing “Music Industry Secrets To Success” series on FryngInVein.com. But as a journalist who’s been in the game for seven years, take my word for it: nothing guarantees press. You just do all you can, and hope/pray for the best.

That being said, there are definitely surefire ways to NOT get coverage for yourself or your artists. Writers and bloggers’ inboxes get flooded with hundreds of emails a day, and if you come across as disrespectful or misinformed, we won’t waste our time; we’ll keep it moving to someone else who handles his/her business the right way.

That is, until now. I’m starting a new series entitled, “How NOT To Get Coverage On A Blog Or Web Site.” This series will showcase emails and tweets I’ve received from artists and managers—with the names redacted or changed, for sake of privacy and embarrassment—and explain how they screwed up, so you won’t do the same.

For installment number one, check under the cut.

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