Category Archives: Inner Views

Reel Talk

Tracey Lee On Music, The Notorious B.I.G. & His New ‘ESQ. The Revelation’ Album

ESQ_The_RevelationWe caught up with rapper, attorney and Howard University grad, Tracey Lee. Recognize the name? If not, the sounds of 1997’s “The Theme (It’s Party Time)” probably will ring a bell.  We got Tracey’s thoughts on the trials and tribulations of learning the ever-changing music business, a vintage Notorious B.I.G. story and his long-awaited new album. Peep the story.

words by Will Loiseau

How did you make the transition from an emcee who was active in the game to your current career in entertainment law?
It was a natural progression…it was the business itself.  I went into the game just being an artist that wanted his music heard.  I didn’t really think about the business aspect…that was the furthest thing from my mind which in hindsight should’ve ever happened. After the first album [Many Facez] I experienced things I never imagined.  I thought everything would be all roses but I
started to learn the game.  I started to understand publishing and the politics of the game.  I began to see things that I really didn’t like.  My natural feeling was anger but then I got wise and said let me learn the jargon of the contract I’m about to sign. I did some soul-searching for a couple of years and moved down to Atlanta.  It hit me that I had to go to law school to give me a foundation of what the contractual aspect was all about.  I graduated and passed the Bar exam and kept going from there. My motivation was about wanting to understand what I had gotten myself into and also to be able to be the eyes and ears for cats coming in the game behind me.  I knew my mentality as an artist was pretty much the same as everybody else…I just wanted to get on.

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INNER VIEW: Keeping It Raw with Dr. Graham

DrGrahamRDBesides opening this year’s Grammys, Beyoncé and Jay Z recently made efforts at adopting a more plant-based lifestyle as a “spiritual and physical cleanse.”  Russell Simmons, André 3000, Common, stic. man and others have been successful for years eating this way.  No matter how much celebrity you may have the state of good health has never been for sale.  Obesity, cancer, diabetes, stroke, erectile dysfunction and other preventable diseases are at an all-time high.  Proper dietary awareness has never been more important. 

Dr. Doug Graham is a lifelong athlete and author of The 80/10/10 Diet, Nutrition and Athletic Performance, Grain Damage and other books.  He has coached elite athletes worldwide and continues to educate people on how to live healthier and happier lives.  I talked with him recently about his journey and things we all can do to improve our quality of life.    Read the rest of this entry

Talib Kweli – Gravitas (Album Stream & INNER VIEW)

TalibKweliGravitasRD

Talib links up with Raekwon, Black Thought, RES and more for his 6th studio album and follow-up to Prisoner of Conscious.  Gravitas also features production from Statik Selektah and the late J. Dilla.  Keep reading for a link to the new album as well as our conversation with the Brooklyn emcee.

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INNER VIEW – Talib Kweli

Talib 6

Since ’95, Brooklyn, New York’s Talib Kweli has been developing a musical vehicle to launch social awareness into the minds of the masses.  He recently said a few words about music past and the recent release of his fifth studio album, Prisoner of ConsciousRead the rest of this entry

INNER VIEW – Luck Is Preparation Meets Opportunity

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Good fortune can strike at any moment.  Whether we hit the jackpot, get a big break or bump into the people who can help change our lives, stunning reversals of our lives paths are never as far away as we may think.  A new clothing line inspired by the thrill of achieved success is planning to hit the scene with a new look. We spoke with Ken Francis, managing director from Lipmo Threads and got the scoop on what fashions and ideas they have in store for this year.

RD: Tell us about the vision behind your company.

Ken: The vision behind Lipmo Threads is simple mathematics. Prepare yourself for all opportunities that may come your way. Sometimes you only get one shot….sometimes you get multiple shots but preparation is key. Preparation + Opportunity= Luck; or what most would call luck. People do sometimes just fall into situations, but it’s either sink or swim when the situation arises. That is our whole mantra and with it comes the attempts to inspire others to embody it. There are numerous deficits this world is externally facing. However, one of the most painful ones is an internal one–which is never realizing your dreams. Not to sound cliche but the whole sugary “reach for the stars” notion is a good one. Dreams can be achieved, the majority just let roadblocks deter them too easily. We aim to start at the root with the youth. Fashion is a very influential medium and if used correctly can guide people’s lifestyles and attitudes.  Read the rest of this entry

INNER VIEW: Perfectly Made Kicks

DesignLab

An exclusive pair of footwear not only makes one standout, it can also help to polish an outfit and put a stamp on an image.  Did you notice those wicked kicks that Jay-Z wore during the Brooklyn Nets’ historic first home game at the Barclays Center?  All RD Massive recognized those as the Brooklyn Zoo “Bespoke Air Jordan 1’s” that we debuted on this site.  The dudes over at Perfectly Made Kicks Customs haven’t stopped there.  We got a chance to chop it up with CEO Andre Scott.  He let us in on what we should look for in 2013.

Words by Will Loiseau

Will: It’s rare to see a collaborative union with a tech company and a movement like yours.  Tell us about your new venture with Internet Explorer.

Andre: We did 27 custom shoes with them back in May.  After that Bryan Saftler asked us what he can do to help us move the brand forward.  I wasn’t sure at the time.  He suggested that he could build us a “html 5” design site.  I’m like cool, let’s go with it.  They wanted it to be better than Nike ID and include more features.  We’re at the beginning right now with the site but our goal is to have Nike, Adidas, Puma, Reebok and more so people can choose from a variety of silhouettes.  Every other week we’ll be adding more and more options.  Read the rest of this entry

INNER VIEW: Brian “Raydar” Ellis

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Rap music continues to surpass what were once limits in pop culture. Although the artists who perform the music have increased their mainstream exposure the fact remains that the art form began as underground medium.  Jazz has lent the art of improvisation, swing notes and other style gems to Hip Hop and continues to evolve with advanced concepts and a young generation of musicians.  Brian “Raydar” Ellis has produced records for Grammy Award winning jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding and performed with the likes of Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) and Black Moon.  He teaches Hip-Hop Ensemble and Turntable Technique at Berklee College of Music.  He’s also the creative director at The Revivalist and Revive Da Live.  We spoke to him about his ideas on creative expression and his involvement in these two thriving musical languages.

 Words by Will Loiseau

Will: How did you become introduced to Jazz?  Is there a particular instrument or song that stands out as the one that first captured your attention?

Brian: My parents had a large collection of vinyl.  One day when I was a little kid rolling my G.I. Joe figures across the top of the records I said “I wonder what this needle does and what music sounds like.”  I started messing around with the stereo and figuring how things were plugged in.  After school I started hanging around the crib messing with electronics.  When I finally ran into Hip Hop it was on the T.V. with Yo! MTV Raps.  I started listening and watching the videos and noticed that they sounded a lot like what my dad had.  Oh!  It’s a sample.   Read the rest of this entry

INNER VIEW – stic.man (dead prez)

Eight years ago, stic.man and his partner in rhyme M-1 released their hood approved and universally appreciated second studio album RGB: Revolutionary But Gangsta.  The political and cultural awareness embedded in sharp lyricism has allowed the music to stand out on its own and give fans food to grow on.  Much has changed since ’04 and a lot of rapper’s have come and gone.  We got a chance to find out how stic.man has used lifestyle changes to improve his mind, body and message behind the new music.

When did you decide to make fitness and nutritional lifestyle changes and who/what influenced you to make that decision?  Read the rest of this entry

INNER VIEW: Block McCloud

Some of your favorite hooks may have been sung by someone you may have never heard of.  Maybe you’re more familiar with The Brooklyn Academy or Army of the Pharaohs.  After more than twenty years of engineering, producing other artists and emceeing, Block McCloud is back with a new label, The Adrenaline Tour and an album Four Walls with DJ Waxwork.  It’s sure to have more of those melodies we like.  Some may know him as “Captain Hook” but you can now refer to him as an artist reborn.

Words by Will Loiseau

What’s the best way for today’s independent artist to get paid?  Read the rest of this entry

INNER VIEW – Erick Sermon

Higher Calling

We all have a purpose for being here.  Those of us whose talents are discovered much earlier than others are often referred to as prodigies.  For others, the true nature of our calling can come from over-looked sources at the most unexpected of times.  Brentwood, Long Island’s Erick Sermon, one half of the pioneer group EPMD, had plenty going well for him.  With a successful group and solo recording career, a long list of accolades and a steady schedule of music projects to complete, the future appeared to be headed right where anyone would expect.  It all changed one day in November of 2011.  Erick had suffered a heart attack that caught many of his family, friends and fans by surprise.  We recently caught up with The Green-Eyed Bandit at his home studio and talked about his new view on life, his medical scare and the need for variety in the culture we all know and love called Hip Hop.  Read the rest of this entry