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Taylor Bee, Hip Hop Queen, Raising Awareness Through the Lost Element of Knowledge @BeeTV

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Taylor Bee is a woman, CEO, Entrepreneur, and Activist who lives her life dedicated to Hip Hop and paying tribute to the culture via education and elevation.  In a world sometimes consumed with negativity and fears, it is refreshing to celebrate an empowering leader! 

MJ:  First and foremost let me begin by quoting a simple motto of yours that invites women everywhere to shine, “Queenz Up!”  How did this simple yet profound motto evolve?

TB: Well first and foremost thank you for having me on MJ, and let me commend you on the great work that you do. You are a true warrior for artists and Hip Hop as a whole, so Queenz Up to you! We know Hip Hop is male dominated like so many other things, and often times we as women in the industry are pitted as competitors against one another. I wanted the women in the industry to have a stronger bond in sisterhood rather than always feeling like we have to compete with each other. Most people know that I am affiliated with Hell Razah, Queen The Prophet, and GGO.  Razah’s coined phrase is Wingz Up, so I started saying Queenz Up, naturally as a way to salute the ladies and build camaraderie with one another. Everyone loved the idea and “Queenz Up” has been spreading ever since!

MJ: You are an amazing woman who supports so many other empowered women in both personal and professional journeys, hence “Queenz Up”.  Do you feel you are embraced by other women, young women, and teenagers?

TB: In most of my experiences yes, I am embraced by most of the young women I meet. I have encountered a great deal of young women who are so smart and have so many ideas and potential and some who are already bringing those ideas to fruition becoming young Entrepreneurs. As far as peers in the industry there have been some not so pleasant energies but that’s okay too that’s why I stay positive and continue to push “Queenz Up”. I feel everyone brings something different to the table and there is room for us all, I want us all to win.

MJ: Take it back for us. When did you first fall in love with Hip Hop? At what point in your life did that love transform into a mission for you?

TB: Well I am a true Hip Hop head! I can remember first listening to Hip Hop, the real emcees were on the scene like KRS One (who is my birthday twin), Rakim, and BDK.  So that is the era I remember starting out and peace to all the real ones! But I would be amiss if I don’t mention the Wu-Tang Clan which is my favorite group of all time.  I feel in love with Hip Hop for real when I heard Method Man spitting M.E.T.H.O.D. MAN! It was a wrap after that, and I’ve been die hard Wu fan ever since. In 2014 is when I really started engaging within the industry and met Hell Razah and everything I’ve done since sparked from that.

MJ: I want to talk about BEE TV, which is an incredible platform for so many people of all walks of life! Give us the who, what, when, where, how, and why of BEE TV.

TB: So Bee TV is my second child! I have always been the one to dig deeper and want to find the truth about real black history and overall truth about the world. I was promoting for Hell Razah at the time and on my page all you would see is my promotion and things about world history and injustices and different things like that. Something was brewing in me and I felt I needed a bigger platform to let it all out. So I came up with Bee TV: A Platform for the Truth, this was in June of 2016. Our Mission is to fuse conscious Hip Hop with the truth in order to raise awareness in the community. My first interview was with The Mighty Hebrew, and we did the interview in a park in North Philly and it was amazing and was so well received. The rest is history from there!

MJ:  Being a woman who absorbs each element of Hip Hop as a way of life, I’m very curios to learn your thoughts on the stance of Hip Hop in 2018, from the music to the culture.

TB: Well I believe the music and the culture go hand in hand, and that is what worries me about Hip Hop in 2018. I believe the content that is being force fed to the masses is not real Hip Hop, rather a genre of rap that I classify as Trap/Pop Rap. I would not disrespect real emcees and the creativity that they all branded by calling this mainstream trap/pop genre Hip Hop. I’m old school and biased and I don’t have a problem stating that. I also feel as though these artists don’t even really pay homage or respect the older Gods of Hip Hop. So I have a strict policy of NO Trap/Pop genre music on my show, period! It is okay to have fun in Hip Hop and have a balance but their music in my opinion is straight poison, everything from the frequency of the beats to the not so lyrical content. I would be a hypocrite to have a platform promoting teaching and elevation and then play some of what’s being pushed out now by the majority of artists today.

MJ: What is underway for Taylor Bee? What are some upcoming projects or business endeavors we can look forward to?

TB: Bee TV has a lot in store this year! The Mini Series Bee Cause starts in March (official date TBD). The other Mini Series are open for Artists and Entrepreneurs as well. I am collaborating on a project with Uneeke Kenetic, an artist from Trenton, NJ. “Hidden Knowledge” volume 3 (dropping this summer), will feature myself on the entire album, and I have a few solo joints on there including the theme music that I wrote for Bee Cause. I am very excited about writing music again. That is something I thought I would not do again, and I have to say I owe that to Hip Hop class of 2018 (lol).  it is so horrible now that it sparked me to come out of hibernation, and I wanted theme music for my show so who better to write it than me?! Also the God Uneeke Kenetic sparked me and my creativity has been flowing ever since.

MJ: “3 game”, play along …3 artists in your personal playlist? 3 influences, personal or musically? 3 places you would like to bring BEE TV to?

TB: 3 Artist in my personal playlist are Hell Razah, Wu-Tang Clan, and Nas. 3 influences both professionally and musically have to be Hell Razah, Rza, and Freedom Fighting Ancestors.  3 places you will find Bee TV is running programs that teach the youth the true and proper history, as well as giving them life lessons to help survive in this world.  Bee TV will also grow to be a known pillar in the community for bringing empowerment and unity to all people! Finally, I’d like to see the Mini Series syndicated and being listened to by the masses, we all need more positivity in our lives!

MJ: As we wrap up is there anything else you want the world to know about Taylor Bee?

TB: I just want to let everyone know that anything you put your mind to is possible. Don’t let negativity and naysayers make you bury your dreams and aspirations! I do this from the heart and for the people, my word is my bond, and I want us all to win. Let’s learn how to support one another and genuinely build a better tomorrow for the babies! Thank you MJ for the opportunity to get my message out there! #WingzUp #QueenzUp

MJ: Thank you for taking the time out for this interview, Queenz Up!

https://www.facebook.com/TaylorBeeTV/

https://www.instagram.com/taylorbeetv/

http://www.taylorbeetv.com

Follow MJ @MJsHipHopConnex

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Interview

NEW YORK’S HUGO TALKS NEW MUSIC OFF FORTHCOMING EP

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Hugo who is known in New York as the next rising star, announces the release of his new hit single “8 or 9”, which is off his forthcoming EP. I had the opportunity to chop it up with the young artist about his new single, the inside scoop on his new EP, and his plan to become a chart topper!

MJ: Before we get to what fans have been anticipating, let’s take it back a bit. As a teenager you were quite the local celebrity winning talent contests and even creating music in the studios. How did music first enter your life? At what point did the epiphany hit that this was not just a hobby to pass time?

Hugo: It’s always been a part of my life. I remember as far back as 5 years old singing along to the radio and getting positive feedback from adults saying that I sounded good. In High School I realized I could possibly do this as a career.

MJ: You have quite the unique style of singing and your voice crosses over into many genres of music. Although that’s an incredible talent, do you find it more challenging to be accepted into the world of Hip Hop and R&B?

Hugo: I think real fans of music across all genres will accept my style overall. I’m from New York City where there are so many styles, cultures, and types of music. All of that contributes and reflects my own style.

MJ: Ideally in the music scene the main goal is to become a household name, worldwide! What steps are you taking to achieve that? Do you think that ties in at all with being receptive to artist development and guidance from past music veterans?

Hugo: My main goal is to make great music, everything else is secondary to me.

MJ: Ok let’s talk music! You have a hit single titled “8 or 9” which is off your forthcoming EP. Can you share some inside scoop about the EP, without giving too much away?

Hugo: Without giving too much away, it’s a sea of melody and eclecticism.

MJ: Now tell us about “8 or 9”, from the idea to the evolvement, to the final product.

Hugo: “8 or 9” pays homage to the late 90’s and early 2000’s of R&B. Originally that was my only idea but it evolved into a feel good summer anthem.

MJ: Although still very early in your career, you have already worked with quite a few industry mixers. What major artists would you like to collaborate with or share the stage with?

Hugo: I like the guys I work with now and I would enjoy to share the stage with them.

MJ: Take us on stage with Hugo…Give us three words to describe your stage presence.

Hugo: electrifying, hypnotizing, and Oreos! (ha-ha)

MJ: What is it about your style and flow that separates you from other artists?

Hugo: I’m approachable, humble, and honest. Everyone can relate to my music.

MJ: As we wrap up let’s give the fans a peak into your personal side. Where would you like to tour? Who’s in your personal playlist? Who inspires Hugo?

Hugo: I would like to tour globally on cruise ships as well as on airplanes… big ones like 747’s! But seriously I’m open to touring all over the world one day, I haven’t seen most of it yet! My personal playlist varies but a little sample would be Ryan Leslie, System of a Down, The Carpenters, and MJ’s “Off the Wall” album. As for inspiration that comes from my loved ones and their determination to succeed in a world where the odds are stacked against them.

MJ: Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

Hugo: More of my music as that’s the best way I know how to express myself. It’s always been like that. You wouldn’t know how I was feeling if we shared a conversation, but if you hear one of my songs you’d know exactly what’s going on with me.

MJ: Much continued success your way, salute!

Hugo: Thanks MJ!

Follow Hugo @hugo_sings

Management: daddyboyent@gmail.com

Listen to “8 or 9” below.

 

 

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Interview

20-YEAR MUSIC VET SINN IS HEATING UP THE SCENE

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SINN, a seasoned 20 -year vet in the music industry, has an incredible story that credits to his rise to fame. I had the opportunity to link up with SINN to discuss his story and truly embrace his journey.

MJ: I want to begin by taking readers way back to the early years of SINN. when were you introduced to music? Was there a certain circumstance in your life that pulled you into music?

SINN: I was introduced to music at the age of 6. My family had a studio that I would sneak into and my mother would take me to church with her where I would enjoy the sermon and the choir. What pulled me into music was the way music made people move, react, and feel.

MJ: Share with us that moment in your life when you knew music was much more than just a passion or hobby.

SINN: I would say after winning a few local rap battles in high school. I surprised my school by performing a song I created in a talent show and after seeing the reactions for something I created I knew God had blessed me with a gift. I also knew that when I couldn’t sleep without hearing beats and rhymes in my head at all times that I had to share what was in my head with the world.

MJ: Riding also plays a significant role in your life. How does that lifestyle intertwine with creating music and your deliverance to fans?

SINN: I have certain passions in life which are Money, Music, and Motorcycles. When I am riding my mind is free and clear to enjoy the beauty of life and its surroundings and I become inspired by it. I am part of the biker community so I live the biker lifestyle. I want the world to experience it thru my eyes and feel the love and passion that I have for it.

MJ: Not many know that you have worked with many major artists such as Prince, Alicia Keys, Jay Z, and that’s just to name a few. I’m sure those experiences were both rewarding and knowledgeable. Tell us some key pointers about the music business that you learned during those times. How would you say those experiences influenced the path of your own music career?

SINN: Yes, I was blessed to have been at the right places at the right time. What I learned from them was to never waste time because no matter how much money you have you can never buy time. I learned that you have to stay focused and it takes time to make quality and timeless music.

MJ: Let’s talk about your music! As a 20-year vet in the game I know you create timeless music and music that exceeds what’s hot right now or the latest trends. Describe your style and flow. What separates you from others artists?

SINN: My style and flow is original. I let the beat tell me how I am going to approach each and every song, so as the beat changes so does my flow. When people first hear my voice they say I sound like DMX, but with my own swagger. I am honored by that fact.

MJ: You have an extensive music catalog all of which is available on digital streaming platforms. Talk about your progression as an artist throughout the years.

SINN: My progression came about in a totally different way than most. I focused on creating the music and learning the music business first. I focused on producing and engineering, then mixing & mastering other artist’s song. That lead me to ghost writing songs for other artists. I decided to focus on building a musical legacy after my near death motorcycle accident. I went to visit my uncle in Pittsburgh who was dying from cancer, barely could speak with a tube in his throat…his last words were you need to put out this CD…One week later I was in Ohio riding when my uncle past. I was out riding with my sister when I was struck. I woke up in traffic when I regained consciousness and her first words to me were “It would be a shame for you to die with all that music inside you.” So I went to the hospital, healed up a bit, went home still bandaged up and began recording. I haven’t stopped since!

MJ: Thank you for sharing that, this is your destiny! What is out now for fans and listeners to get their hands on? Also tell us about some upcoming projects, collaborations, or tours.

SINN: I have released 17 songs this year so they can experience Ryder Music. As far as my projects, collaborations, and on my upcoming tour fans can stay up to date by logging on to www.hmdmuzic.com.

MJ: Hip Hop…What does that mean to you? As an artist do you feel you contribute to the culture of Hip Hop?

SINN: Hip Hop is a culture, a language, and a lifestyle that we are involved in. I would like to believe I give back to Hip Hop what it has given to me, and that is a purpose and a drive as well as an avenue to deliver a message.

MJ: Before we wrap up let’s give fans a better feel on who SINN is. Name 3 artists in your personal playlist. What 3 places would you like to tour? Who would you name as the most influential person/being in your life?

SINN: The artist in my playlist are: Jay-Z, 50 Cent, and The Temptations. Three places I would like to tour are: Japan, Africa, and Guam. The most influential person in my life is my mother! Her drive is an inspiration in itself.

MJ: Is there anything else you would like the world to know about SINN?

SINN: Always stay hungry for success but never starve for attention.

MJ: Thank you for taking time out for the readers and fans. I wish you continued success, salute!

SINN: Thank you and I am honored.

Listen to SINN below

http://www.hmdmuzic.com

Facebook: Sinn DaRyder King

Instagram: @HMDsinn

Twitter: @SINNrose

 

Follow MJ @MJsHipHopConnex

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HIP HOP LEGEND DOITALL ENTERS THE REALM OF POLITICS @DOITALLDU

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True Hip Hop heads know that Rap is not Hip Hop, it is an element of Hip Hop. There are far and few artists who undeniably represent Hip Hop as a culture and all of its elements. What seems to be lost in today’s day in age is the element of knowledge…Hip Hop legend and pioneer DoItAll from Lords of the Underground has taken a pledge to formally give back to the communities and boroughs of society by running for Councilman-At-Large for Newark, NJ. 25 years ago Hip Hop was introduced to The Lords, and now 25 years later “Chief Rocka” is rocking the political realm.

On May 8th be part of history in the making, be part of unity, and be part of change! Vote B5 for DoItAll Dupre Kelly Councilman-at-Large for Newark, New Jersey!

The Message, “When you love your city you can change it!”

MJ: First and foremost, salute to a strong and prominent 25 years in Hip Hop, and the entertainment business as a whole! For those who don’t know you have starred in some Indie Films as well as Law and Order, Oz, and even the Soprano’s! So why politics? What possesses a renowned and celebrated Hip Hop artist to open the door of politics?

DoItAll: Thank you! My decision is an accumulation of many things. One being a Hip Hop Artist. That allowed me to travel the world and to be able to see firsthand how different countries and different cities use the culture of Hip Hop to galvanize people in their communities. Another decision was based on my time being around elected officials in the great city of Newark NJ. That allowed me to be a fly on the wall and learn who was working on the people’s behalf and who was not. Lastly, the decision was based on a conversation that I had with Tupac Shakur over 20 years ago about how Hip Hop Artists need to become as popular as we can so that we would be able to go back to our perspective cities to create big and better youth initiative programs and to be able to start nonprofit organizations as well as run for political office. A goal so we can directly and effectively vote on Laws, Ordinances, policies & issues that concern the residents.

MJ: You mentioned on the radio how early on in your music career about that profound conversation with Tupac. I think of the irony with that conversation as Tupac was extremely political with his rhymes and known for preaching to his fellow artists about coming together and changing the world. If he was still with us how would that conversation flow today? I can envision Tupac being one of your biggest supporters!

DoItAll: Tupac would have most likely have followed his own advice and entered into politics himself.

MJ: You have a powerful campaign followed by patrons of every walk and culture of life from our youth to seniors. Can you share some of the immediate changes you plan on developing in the city of Newark?

DoItAll: I will fight for the city to make a greater investment into our youth. For example, the city had a summer jobs program that was under funded. 5000 young people applied and only 2500 were placed into jobs. In our city every child deserves to have the opportunity.

MJ: Aside from the campaign you have other endeavors heightening this new year. Tell us about those.

DoItAll: I have a few film projects that are on hold until the campaign is over as well as a 25-year anniversary tour and music coming with my group Lords of the Underground.

MJ: As a fan I have to say thank you! Thank you for continuing to create timeless music and blessing fans with 25+ years of longevity!

DoItAll: We’re still at it. We just came back from Switzerland. We do about 60-100 shows a year!

MJ: Let’s take it back to music. As a vet, what jewels can you drop for up and coming artists? What would you say is needed for them to truly embrace the essence and elements of Hip Hop?

DoItAll: I would say Hip Hop was always used as a platform where you could tell or showed people how you and your family, friends, loved ones or your peers were living the culture. The narrators of the culture are the rappers. I would tell these rappers to narrate what they see and how they are living the culture. I would also tell them to be mindful of the influence they have over a weak or impressionable mind and deliver a message. Utilize your platform to inspire.

MJ: Are you hopeful the DoItAll for Newark Campaign will encourage and empower those artists to become more involved within their communities?

DoItAll: Yes. I pray that I am the spark for artists who are more popular than I am. I want them to go back to their communities to do great work.

MJ: As we wrap up, please let everyone know how they can donate to the campaign and continue to support you and “Raise The Torch”.

DoItAll: People can donate to the Doitall for Newark@ Movement by Texting “Doitall” to 973-846-2211 (wait for a quick text back). Donate from $1 to $2,600. If anyone donates anything over $2,600 I will have to send it back.

MJ: Thank you for taking the time for our readers, it has been an honor! It is refreshing to experience a political campaign with a candidate who is genuinely for the people, his community, and the city as a whole! This is far from new for you. You have been giving back to the city of Newark for over decades and providing countless platforms for growth and success! I vote B5!

DoItAll: Thank you! Just remember when people love their city they can change it!

http://swaysuniverse.com/lords-of-the-underground-member-dupre-doitall-kelly-is-running-for-city-council-of-newark-nj/

http://www.espn.com/espnradio/play?id=23313715 DoItAll Live on ESPN

http://www.doitallfornewark.com/

https://www.facebook.com/doitallfornewark/

https://www.instagram.com/doitallfornewark/

 

City Of Newark Conversation

City Of Newark Conversation with Doitall Du Kelly. Questions and comments are welcome and will be addressed live!Hit Share!!!

Geplaatst door Doitall For Newark op dinsdag 1 mei 2018

Follow MJ @MJsHipHopConnex

 

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INTERVIEW | THE REAL SIMBA @THEREALSIMBAA TALKS MUSIC, FAMILY, AND POSITIVE VIBES

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I had the pleasure, yet again, of chopping it up with young and successful artist The Real Simba. I first discovered Simba a couple of years back when his music caused a world wind across airwaves and stages throughout the states. Without hesitation, I linked up with Simba to release his distinctive story. Since then, his music has voyaged from state to state, and from country to country!

MJ: I know fans are fascinated to hear the back story of Simba. Tell us what life was like growing up as a child in Jamaica? Did it prepare you for your new life in Mount Vernon, NY?

Simba: I was born and raised in St. Catherine Jamaica and came to the states when I was 7 years old. In Jamaica I came from a one-bedroom house shared with me and about 9 cousins, brother, and mother. I grew up in the country side where people raised animals and grew plants as one of the main motives of survival. I spent time with my dad at his home in Central Village, perhaps one of the most dangerous places in Jamaica. That experience made me humble but it also made me a fight for the things I want most. It also matured me faster because I experience things normal kids didn’t see at my age. I came to Mount Vernon and the violence seemed nothing new to me because I saw it countless times in Jamaica.

MJ: The environment around you in Mount Vernon was and is horrific. You were exposed to the horrors and nightmares that no child should be. Rather than fall victim to that you chose an escape. Talk about your writing and how it ultimately became your savior.

Simba: Mount Vernon is hectic but I feel that if I grew up anywhere else it wouldn’t feel the same. I don’t think I’d appreciate many aspects of life that I do now. Growing up in Mount Vernon made me wise and how to carry myself. Mount Vernon hardens you, it makes you a fighter, and teaches you not to give up. At the end of the day I don’t want to die not having done something great. Living here helped me to set goals and also showed me the things that I don’t want to fall victim to. The main reason I work hard is so I don’t have to fall to the negative stigmas of my town. Ultimately my writing became the main reason for me to do so. It gave me something to dream for and gave me away to express myself. Music is my love and gives me meaning.

MJ: One of your very first records was a result of that escape, “Susie’s Story”. Was that the beginning of your career?

Simba: “Susie’s Story” means a lot to me. It’s a record I wrote from the heart. I wrote that for people to see how their actions affect people outside of their initial intentions. I’ve seen too much happen to innocent people and I just wanted to tell people of the tragedy that takes places almost day to day in my town. Initially that’s a story I wrote about a mother who lost her daughter to violence. Things like that break my heart and I found a way to express how I was feeling in a song. Sad to say I feel like it’s a story I’ve seen too many times. It wasn’t the beginning of my career it was just one of my first emotional songs.

MJ: Although you are young in age, you are very family orientated and hold that above anything else in life. What kind of impact does your family and their support have on your career?

Simba: Family is one of the main reasons I do this. Ultimately I want to be the one that helps my family to advance in life, and that’s because they’re the ones that motivate me the most. My brothers, cousins, my mother, and dad tell me all the time that I’m good at what I do. I also have my sisters always supporting me as well whether it’s buying my mixtapes or coming to my shows, they always show love. It’ll mean so much to me when I can give my family the things they deserve. I even have my little nieces and nephews singing my songs every time they see me. My family really supports me and pushes me to be great and I just want to do that for them.

MJ: You have experienced a tremendous amount of success in a short period of time, yet you are not flashy or egotistical like many other young artists. What keeps Simba humble, and grounded in his tracks?

Simba: Through my music I want to inspire people. I want to show them that we all have the potential to be great. I want to stay connected to the people. Though I love fashion and I always try to look fly in my own way, at the end of the day I don’t want people to see jewels and expensive clothing. I want them to first see me for who I am. I’d rather take that money and give back to the people. I’m currently saving up to build a basketball gymnasium for the kids of my town.

MJ: For those that are not familiar with Simba, and shame on them, talk a little bit about your style. What separates you from other young up and coming artists?

Simba: I make music that isn’t bounded by a year. I feel like most young artists nowadays make music that’ll last a few months then it’s gone. My music is something that’ll be timeless. There’s a deep meaning behind every word when I craft a song. Originality and personality is what separates me from other artists. My music is positive, fun, and intellectual because I am that way. I integrate my life, ideas, and personal views into the music. It’s my story I don’t know someone that has lived the exact same life as me.

MJ: Let’s get to the music! What is hot right now and available for all your fans?

Simba: “Ohhmyygoodness” was the single that first got people looking at me as an artist. It’s a catchy, fun, and also very lyrical track. It has the classic rap feel. The single “Blue Faces” is one of my breakout hits. It’s a single that’s being played all over the world right now. It integrates my playful, aggressive, and love for the music. All of these can be found on iTunes, Tidal, Spotify, Google Play, Soundcloud, etc. In both these songs you can hear my seriousness and determination. It just shows how bad I really want and believe in myself as an artist. It is also something listeners can be motivated by.

MJ: Give us a little inside scoop on some forthcoming projects you are working on.

Simba: “This Is Only the Beginning” is a project I am creating that collectively shows all aspects of my personality and just a peek at my life and who I am as a person. I give a Reggae feel on songs such as “Good Love”, a playful feel on songs such as “Come Up”, I share my love life on songs such as “Fear of Love”, and family struggles on songs such as “Yeezy Taught Me”. My music is me! It’s real and exciting filled with love, pain, and joy. This project takes you through all the phases of my life, my pain, struggles, love troubles, and family issues. I wanted to give the people something they can relate to as well as something that will let them know we all share similar stories. But those stories are what push us or drive us to be great.

MJ: As we wrap up is there anything else you would like to share with the world of Hip Hop?

Simba: I just want to thank the people for all their support and their love for my music. Ultimately, because of them it pushes me to be better knowing that I have people checking for my music and constantly showing love and support!

 

https://www.facebook.com/TheRealSimbaMusic/

https://www.instagram.com/therealsimba._/

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MJ CHOPS IT UP WITH JERSEY’S RENOWNED GRAFFITI ARTIST LEON RAINBOW @Aerosoleon

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Leon Rainbow is a Graffiti Artist and founder of Jersey’s biggest Hip Hop Festival, Jersey Fresh Jam.  The festival was established in 2005 and has grown to be one of the most respected celebrations on the east coast of Hip Hop Culture and all of the elements. Each year Leon brings together aerosol artists from all over the world, indie and legendary emcees, deejays, and photographers. This annual celebration of Hip Hop is well known in the communities attended by babies, kids, adults, and families!

MJ: First and fore most I want to congratulate you on the continued success of Jersey Fresh Jam and making it a mission to celebrate the culture of Hip Hop.  Share some history about the festival and how you came to play a major role in it.

LR: Thanks MJ. In 2005 one of my friends contacted me about painting at a warehouse he was working at. It was a young, hip company with big ideas and lots of blank walls. That is when I met Tom Tszaky, the CEO of the company Terracycle. This now Trenton based company was talking about worm shit like it was gold, and in a way it was. So they were taking worm shit, making a tea out of it, packaging it in recycled Pepsi bottles and selling it as plant fertilizer.  Go to https://www.terracycle.com to find out more about the company. So when we met Tom, Will Kasso, Brandon Jones, and myself did a test wall. We have been painting the whole building ever since. It was important because it gave us a location to do classes, bring people from out of town to paint and throw events.  Our first Jam was 15 graffiti artists from NJ, Philly, and NYC, a boom box and a few cases of beer. The first few years it was called the Terracycle Jam or The Worm Poop Jam until eventually we came up with Jersey Fresh Jam, a nod to the state’s agriculture campaign. Only we were growing a Hip Hop community. Things started out slowly and grew very organically. We started having music one year and that really made it into a festival. I still don’t know how it worked. I helped Pose 2 with Philadelphia’s Legendary BBOY BBQ and I just tried to create a similar quality event. It’s a little bit harder in Jersey because it’s a smaller market but we have made a name for ourselves and I am proud of what the event has become. Each year we try and do a little bit more and improve. Right now we have all 4 elements represented as well as vendors, and sponsors. It has evolved into a strong community Hip Hop event. We have had amazing artists like El Da Sensei, Cappadonna, and Masta Ace.

MJ: Take it back for our readers. How were you personally drawn into the art form of Graffiti?  We hear so many stories of how emcees and deejays got their start, but it is very rare we get the history of Graffiti artists.

LR: When I was a kid Hip hop was big in the 80’s. I loved Rap, Deejaying, Breakin, and Graffiti and how it blew up on the scene. At the time I lived in San Jose, CA. Like many graffiti writers my first influences were books like Getting Up, Subway Art, Spray Can Art and the movies Style Wars, Wild Style, and Breakin. As soon as I saw Style Wars I was drawn to graffiti. Then I started tagging locally, Bus Hopping, as it was called at the time. We would cut class and steal markers and paint and tag the buses all over our city. Local influences were King 157, Picasso and Dare Wcf.  In ‘92 I moved to New Jersey and graffiti was put on the back burner. I got into drinking and getting high. During that time, I just drew on paper in Black Books. I got clean and moved to Trenton, NJ in ‘97. I started going to school at Mercer County Community College for graphic design and walls in Trenton in 1999 and 2000. In 2003, I met Philly artists Pose 2, Joe Base, Sew and others. They really schooled me. I was doing it wrong, hahaha. There are certain things that are better learned from another artist than a book, magazine, or the internet.

MJ:  I am curious to learn; do you dabble in any of other elements of Hip Hop? Does Leon rap? Your pieces of art offer a visual story with knowledge…I guess I answered my own question, but would love to hear it from you.

 

LR: Oh man when I was a kid I dabbled in Breakin. I have a lot of love for Dj’s and MC’s but I’m just not musically inclined. Rap and Poetry inspire me because the words are so visual but I only create visual art.

MJ: Hip Hop is for the kids! What is your reaction to that? How would you say Graffiti ties into that?

LR: Yeah Definitely. I always try and inspire the youth as much as possible. But I feel like sadly that they don’t want it. I guess with the internet things are so accessible. When I was coming up if you told me to stand on my head in the corner I would do it if I thought it would make me a better artist. Don’t get me wrong there are some young people that are passionate about Graffiti and Art. But as a whole not so much. I have done after school programming and workshops off and on for the last 15 years.

MJ: There is a plethora of unrecognized talent in Trenton, NJ mainly because of the reputation the city has.  Do you think the festival is helping to diminish those stereotypes and spread positivity?

LR: Yeah. I feel that Jersey in general is just starting to get props. It is tough being between NYC and Philly. I think the city’s rep is what it is. It is a city that has crime. However, I believe that the graffiti and art scene in Trenton is spurring a lot of positive change. When the event started in 2005, the graffiti scene in Trenton was in its infancy. We had graffiti writers that came into town from Pennsylvania or North Jersey but we didn’t really have a tight knit community like we do now. Over the last 5–10 years’ people have been coming into the city mainly because of the arts and culture scene. There is great underground hip hop and rock scenes in this city, as well as a lot of talented artists both of my generation and those that came after me. I have a lot of love for the City of Trenton. It is a city of second chances and talent. The important thing that Jersey Fresh Jam has been is a melting pot. It has allowed us to bring in other artists, rappers, djs from all over, and showcase them to the public. It is truly a community event for people of all ages, races, colors!  All just for the love of Hip Hop.

MJ: Talk a little bit about your own pieces and what they contribute to Hip Hop.

LR: For my fine art stuff I am working on a Dynamic Abstract series. They are brightly colored pieces that incorporate patterns and designs into cityscapes, characters, and scenes. For my graffiti, I try to be well rounded. Taking traditional styles, good letter structure, and color schemes and giving them my own twist. I like to do themed pieces where the background goes with the lettering and characters. I take a letter’s first approach. Basically, all the other elements support and exemplify the pieces.

MJ: As we wrap up is there anything else you would like to share?

LR: Go after your dreams, continue to improve yourself, get with people better than you that can school you, pay your dues and stay humble.

MJ: Much respect and continued success to you and Jersey Fresh Jam! Thank you for keeping the culture alive!

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Interview

Mercy Gang Emancipates Hip Hop With Their Latest Album “M.E.R.C.Y.” (Murdering Every Rapper Coming at You) @MercyGang1

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MJ here your favorite Hip Hop blogger!  Tonight it is more than a pleasure, it is an honor to interview Pennsylvania’s and East Coast’s own Mercy Gang!  Mercy Gang embodies the definition, lifestyle, and culture of Hip Hop.  Album after album the group conveys unity, brotherhood, and Hip Hop in it’s true form.

Their latest album “M.E.R.C.Y.” is an imperishable work of art created with blended talent and a mastery of lyricism, beats, and straight bars! This album is in tribute to the group’s fallen soldier Hefty Metal…

MJ: Let me begin by thanking you for taking the time to chop it up with MJ. Its an honor, you’re an amazing journalist, and poet.  Let’s jump right in and talk about the new album M.E.R.C.Y.  You have some of my favorite emcees on the album as features such as Chris Rivers and Ren Thomas.  Give everyone the who, what, where, when, why, and how of M.E.R.C.Y.  What does the acronym stand for?  Talk about the production. Talk about the cover art. Talk about the meaning behind it.  How was it creating music and an album without the core member Hefty (RIP)?

MG: The acronym M.E.R.C.Y. stands for Murder Every Rapper Coming at You. It was an honor to work with some of the nicest lyricists in the game.  Ren Thomas is like family, we have done plenty of shows with him and our brothers over at Sensi Starr so it was bound to happen. Our fellow Bax War brother Pryme Prolifik did the production on that record. As for Chris Rivers we chopped it up on the phone with him, sent him the track and he murdered it. We also have U.G from the legendary Cella Dwellas. He has been like a big brother and mentor to us since we went on tour with him, and Adlib in 2013. We wanted to work with some producers we didn’t get a chance to work with on our first album, but still keep that in your face sound that our fans were used to. We had some of the usual suspects like JL Studios, Level 13, U.G, Chris Fields, Nysom, and a couple of new producers like Holla da Schollar, Will Sully, and Pryme Prolifik. The artwork was done by the Soloist. We wanted to let Hefty know how much we miss him and that we know he is watching over us. This was a long and emotional 2 years; a lot of tears were shed working on this album without him. He was very creative and had such a powerful voice that was a big part of our sound. We appreciate the amazing poem you wrote for Hefty on this album; it really meant the world to us and his family.

MJ:  What do you want fans to embrace most from this album? Tell us what three words would Hefty use to describe the album.

MG: We want the fans to truly appreciate the blood, sweat, and tears we put into this album. The three words Hefty would use would be amazing, compelling, and honored.

MJ:  Will there be a M.E.R.C.Y sophomore album or trilogy?

MG: Yes, we’re constantly working on new material. Maine has a project with suspect from Marmel coming soon, and DJ Merc is working on a mixtape.

MJ:  I have to share that Mercy Gang is in my top 5 of favorite Indie Hip Hop groups for many reasons!  To begin each of you share the same core belief that Mercy Gang is a reflection of a family and true brotherhood.  To further, the group has an incredible know-how and skill to combine individual unique talents into fused perfection!  So often you hear of groups that break up or call it quits after a few hits or an album.  2017 Mercy Gang is still thriving.  Share the secret of a successful group. Also what would you say are some challenges?

MG: Thanks MJ! That’s means a lot coming from you, being the Hip Hop head you are.  We trust each other’s creativity and respect each other’s point of view as it comes to beats, rhymes, and life. We argue and bump heads like most groups do, but the love and respect that we have for each other and for our Mercy Gang Brand is stronger than our pride or any egos.

MJ:  Listening to M.E.R.C.Y talk about how the group has progressed musically from previous albums.  How would you like to further progress as a group?

MG: Just continuing to make the music from our hearts, and daring to be different. We’re not afraid to take risks, always giving our all on every song, verse, or hook. We don’t sit around trying to make a hit. We just let the music bring the best out of us organically.

MJ: Mercy Gang has shared the studio and stages with several major artists!  Talk about a memorable time in your career that still stands out to you.  Also, who would you like to add to that list of collaborations?

MG: We have had a few but the performances that stick out the most were the Staten Island shows where Method Man came on stage and started rocking to our song. We have also had the honor of rocking the stage with both Sean Price and Prodigy who sadly are no longer with us. May they both rest in peace. Our bucket list of artists we would love to work with, for Maine would be Redman and Nas. Paulie would like to collaborate with Eminem and Tech N9ne. We would also love to work with Philly’s own the 30 and Over League.

MJ:  As we move into the new year give us some inside scoop on upcoming shows or other projects you will be working on.

MG: We’re working on some dates for a couple of mini tours in Canada with Marmel and with universal entities from MA, VA, and NC.  We are working on another Mercy Gang album. Maine and Suspect are working on a project titled “Cross Boarder Connections Vol 2”.  DJ Merc has a mixtape coming out, and we have a couple of surprises under our sleeve as well, so stayed tuned!

MJ:  Let’s talk about support!  I find it amazing how incredibly supportive and encouraging you are to other artists.  I remember one show, our first time meeting in person, you arrived early, supported every single performance and performer, and even stayed afterwards to network.  Why is that so important to you?  How does that help you as artists?

MG: Well first and foremost I’m a fan of the culture so I love to see other dope artists, and we are always down to do build for collaborations. Networking is extremely important when you’re an artist, dj, promoter, manager, or even just a fan. So many doors can open up through networking. We’ve met some great people who share the same love and passion as we do.

MJ:  I get called an ol’ head quite frequently because I debate and critique music that so many are quick to categorize or label as Hip Hop.   When I think of Hip Hop I think lyrics, boom bap, knowledge, delivering a message, instruments, poetry, art, etc. I think of a 4-minute track with a hook.  I think of catchy intro’s and outro’s.  I think of longevity; I can go on forever.  Tell me in your own words how do you define Hip Hop?  Do you see Mercy Gang ever conforming to fads or trends?

MG: We will never conform to fads or trends, that’s just not us. Hip hop is a way of life for us!  we eat, sleep, and shit Hip Hop…Hip Hop is a feeling, Hip Hop is competitive, Hip Hop is beats, rhymes, originality. It’s being true to yourself, and not trying to fit in.

MJ:  I’m curious, how did everyone link up and create Mercy Gang?  If it wasn’t for music where would you be right now in life?

MG: Maine did a record with Sway one of our earlier members, and Hefty came to the session and the three of them hit it off instantly. I was part of a group called Unstable Minds when Hefty reached out to me about joining the group. The original group consisted of Hefty, Maine, Ace, Sway, myself, Paulie, and Bagz. Our name was “The Mercenaries,” but Maine wasn’t feeling it so he started saying Mercy Gang and it stuck. We met DJ Merc at a show we did in Jersey and he was dope. So three months later Hefty approached him about being in the group and the rest is history. We still try to keep the essence of the original group by putting the former members on a lot of our projects. If I weren’t doing music I would probably be pursuing my interest in writing scripts for movies (Maine).

MJ:  Play along with the quick 3…. Name three places you would like to tour.  Name three artists in your playlist regardless of genre. Name 3 people who have influenced you both personally and musically.  Describe in three words a Mercy Gang performance.

MG: We would love to tour overseas like Europe, Japan, and definitely the United States. My playlist right now has Redman, John Mayer, and Conway. Paulie’s playlist right now has Twiztid, Wu Tang, and Benny from Griselda. My three influences would be my cousin Sudan who I learned how to rap from. My mom who made me the person I am today and I would have to say the culture of Hip Hop.  Three words to describe a Mercy Gang show without a doubt would be energetic, raw, and amazing.

MJ:  Each member of the group has their own personal lives, where does the balance come in?  How do you balance career and family?  Sometimes in this industry to be successful in both is extremely difficult.

MG: It’s a thin line, because one is going to effect the other.  For Paulie and myself we both have wives and kids, and both of our wives are nurses and their schedules are crazy.  So when it comes to touring we have to work around our family’s schedule. But the thing that makes it work is the love and support our family shows us when it comes to our music, they know how much it means to us.

MJ:  As we wrap up, is there anything else you would like the world to know about Mercy Gang?

MG: We would want the world to know that we love what we do, and we try our best to give our all on every track we do. We love Hip Hop!  We love our fans, and we love making music.

MJ:  I wish Mercy Gang a future filled with success and extraordinary accomplishments! Thank you for being true to Hip Hop, salute!

MG: Same to you MJ.  We want to thank you for being our voice for Hip Hop. Continue to hold it down for us independent and underground artists. We salute you and it was an honor to do this interview with you.

M.E.R.C.Y. The Album

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