Ladies First Interview Series: Amotion

 

In honor of Women’s History Month Strictly Hip-Hop interviewed various Industry Professionals who have created their own brand and are influential within the music industry. They are also very active within the Entertainment industry ranging from Studio owners, Communication Consultants and Record Label Executives.

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Check out the Q&A session with:  Deep Flow Entertainment Owner Amotion

 

 

Strictly: Please give a Brief Description of what you do

Amotion:  Own and operate Deep Flow Entertainment. Recording studio, rehearsal space, video production, TV show, internet radio station and music publishing company. DeepFlowStudios.com. I also flip houses and agent deals for buyers and sellers in real estate.

 

Strictly: What inspired you to establish your own brand?

Amotion:  Inspiration to start rapping was Tupac. From rapping became producing my own music which grew into everything it is today

 

Strictly: Who are your role models in the music/entertainment industry

Amotion: Role models are Oprah, Russell Simmons, Tupac and Ani Difranco

 

Strictly: When did you feel as though you made an impact within the community?

Amotion: I began feeling I made an impact on the community when people started telling me! From teaching the writing, recording and promotion process, to hooking up artists with deals with record companies, to making artists money placing their songs in TV and movies, etc. A lot of people got their start with me and my company and grew their own brands from there

 

Strictly: If there was someone who wanted to pursue a career in your field what advice would give them?

Amotion:  My advice is to always realize it’s going to be a lot more work, money and time than you think. You have to find out what makes you stand out, capitalize on that, make the right connections and never stop pursuing. The day you take a break is the day you lose relevancy and have to start the work all over. You need to have the right team/company/people behind you as advisors and supporters

 

Strictly: Was there any other information you wanted to share with our readers?

Amotion:  If you’re interested in starting your career, growing your brand, or just need top quality production and promotion, come see us!

Thanks!

Ladies First Interview Series: Natasha T. Brown

In honor of Women’s History Month Strictly Hip-Hop interviewed various Industry Professionals who have created their own brand and are influential within the music industry. They are also very active within the Entertainment industry ranging from Studio owners, Communication Consultants and Record Label Executives.


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Check out the Q&A Session with: Natasha T. Brown, Author, Activist, Communications Consultant, and Founder of Think Brown INK.

 

Strictly:  Please give a brief description of what you do.

Natasha: ​I’m an author, activist and communications/branding consultant. I am the founder of Think Brown INK, a social responsibility branding agency that helps non-profits, artists and entrepreneurs brand their stories and also the co-founder of SmileNATIONWIDE #12MonthsOfService, a cause communications community. Most recently, I published a non-fiction, spiritual self-help book – 10 Blessings of Betrayal on Valentine’s Day. ​

 

 

Strictly:What inspired you to establish your own brand/ company?

Natasha: ​I initially wanted to help people tell their stories and create an impact in society, using the storytelling skills that I had acquired in previous positions as a journalist, development communications associate, marketing and public relations specialist. The foundation of Think Brown INK is rooted in building communities. Our mission is to mobilize people, empower organizations and build communities for impact. ​

 

Strictly: Who are your role models?

Natasha: ​The women in my family, such as my mom and aunts inspire me. As far as public role models, definitely Oprah, Maya Angelou, Cathy Hughes, fellow writers and activists Angela Davis, Nikki Giovanni, musicians/writers and business women, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill and Beyonce,  and in the PR field, I’ve always admired Echo Hattix who is a trailblazer in entertainment media.

 

Strictly: When did you feel as though you made an impact within the community?

Natasha: ​Prior to starting TBI, one of my positions was at a credit union, where one of my roles was a community outreach specialist. I first realized my ability to create programs that make an impact and unite people while in that role. I had to run United Way campaigns​, and raise between $30,000 and $60,000, and help develop statewide financial education programs. I also created and pitched executives to begin a scholarship program, that’s still running to this day – almost a decade later. That’s when I knew I could inspire wide-reaching community impact.

 

Strictly:  If there was someone who wanted to pursue a career in Public Relations what advice would you give them?

​Natasha: I would tell them not to pursue this professional, for superficial reasons, such as working with celebrities or red carpet events. The four skills that will make them successful are 1) writing, 2) a go-getter attitude, 3) follow-up and 4) creativity. If they have those skills they can learn the rest – relationship building, campaign development, media pitching and event-planning. Intuition and research skills are also very important. The latter list of skills can be developed over time, but in the beginning what will set them apart are those first four skills.

 

Strictly: Finally, tell our readers about your two new books?

Natasha: ​Sure thing. I wrote and published The Build Up Branding BluePRint: 7 Step Guide to Launch and Sustain Impact Brands,via my company Think Brown INK in January.The Build Up Book Cover (1)

My current passion project, is 10 Blessings of Betrayal: A Spiritual Journey of Rebuilding Through Tragedy, which I self-published on February 14th. The success of 10 Blessings has really caught me off guard. It’s reached three Amazon Best Seller lists, been featured by Black Enterprise and I’ve been invited to work with various communities, on the lessons of 10 Blessings. ​This book uses my personal experience of being wrongfully accused of a very serious crime, and how God rebuilt me following that experience, as a way to inspire people to a place of healing and restoration.

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Connect with Natasha on Twitter and Instagram @NatashaTBrown, and visit natashatbrown.com to learn about her work and get copies of 10 Blessings or The Build Up.

 

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Ladies First Interview Series: Candice Nicole

 

Candice Nicole  In honor of Women’s History Month, Strictly Hip-Hop interviewed various Industry Professionals who have created their own brand and are influential within the music industry. They are also very active within the Entertainment industry ranging from Studio owners, Communication Consultants and Record Label Executives.

Check Out the Q&A Session with:

Candice Nicole Owner of Candice Nicole Public Relations

Strictly: Please give a brief description of what you do

Candice: My name is Candice Nicole and I am the owner of Candice Nicole Public Relations which is a PR & Events Boutique Firm based in the Washington, DC area. I have worked with numerous A-Listers throughout the eight years of operating my company such as Spike Lee, Marsha Ambrosius, Wale, TI, Big Boi, Jacob Latimore, Musiq Soulchild, Howard Hewett + more. In addition I have handled movie screenings, TV premieres, product launches and Festivals in the DC/Baltimore region.

 

Strictly:  What inspired you to establish your own brand/ company?

Candice: When I graduated from Morgan State in 07′ there wasn’t an entertainment based PR company in DC I could find so I said I would start my own and my good friend was my first client. I actually had always known that I wanted to operate my own business, I just didn’t know in what capacity and what my focus would be. Once I graduated from Morgan State, I of course knew what that would be. So, Candice Nicole Public Relations was born!

 

Strictly:  Who are your role models in the public relations industry?

Candice: I absolutely love BJ Coleman, Marvet Britto and Lizzie Grubman. There are other amazing talented PR professionals but they have truly made a name for themselves in the PR industry and I admire that because that is a goal of mine.

 

Strictly:  When did you feel as though you made an impact within the community?

Candice: The time I was on the team who organized DMV Helps Haiti. I was 1/5 of the team and I also handled all of the Press and we sold out the 930 Club, headliner was Wale and raised $37,000 in ONE night! That is still a highlight in my career and I believe it will always will always be the top one because I love giving back to the community and that night we were giving to another country and it felt exhilarating!

 

Strictly: If there was someone who wanted to pursue a career in Public Relations what advice would you give them?

Candice: THICK SKIN!! It doesn’t matter what industry you decide to pursue your PR career in, you will hear the word no a lot. Never take it personal, it’s just business. If you do in fact know it is personal just leave that situation a lot. Always remain a student as well. You should never have the mindset that you know everything about PR because to this day I am learning. Look to attend PR conferences, join you local PR Chapter and definitely network with other PR professionals in your market. Always, always remain professional.  Professionalism will always take you further then you putting on an “act” just to get a new client. Also, understand the essence of PR. Just don’t “do it”, become it. You’re your brand and know that people are always watching you.

 

Strictly:  Was there any other information you wanted to share with our readers?

Candice: Always believe in yourself. If you can’t be your own #1 fan then why should you expect anyone else to be? I can be contacted @CandiceNicolePR on Twitter/IG and my Facebook is www.facebook.com/candicenicolepublicrelations.

 

Ladies First Interview Series: Wendy Day

In honor of Women’s History Month Strictly Hip-Hop interviewed various Industry Professionals who have created their own brand and are influential within the music industry. They are also very active within the Entertainment industry ranging from Studio owners, Communication Consultants and Record Label Executives.

 

Check out the Q&A Session with: Wendy Day, Author and Founder of Rap Coalition

 

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Strictly:  Please give a brief description of what you do.

Wendy: I help artists make money with their music by helping them set up their independent labels, release their music, and organize their companies.  Most artists are good at getting attention and building fame, but very few can monetize their efforts as they build a buzz.  That’s where we come in: we help structure and organize artists’ companies and teach them how to make money via music sales, streams, and downloads, merchandising, touring and shows, sponsorships, etc.  We do this by working along side of the artist and their team, and showing them how to do it so they can keep repeating it for themselves or even for artists that they sign under them.  The best analogy I can make is: We teach folks how to fish rather than feed them.

 

 

Strictly:  How long have you been active within the industry?

Wendy: I’ve been in the music industry since 1992, so 23 years.  I’ve seen a lot of changes, and I’ve seen a ton of people come and go.

 

Strictly:  What inspired you to establish your own brand/company?

Wendy: I loved rap music and decided this was what I wanted to do for a living.  It’s my way of giving back to artists since they have given me so much happiness with the music over the years.  But I wanted to start my own company because I suck at working for other people.  I also didn’t like how many fuck boys I saw in the industry screwing folks out of money and selling them a dream–so I brought morals and ethics to the business, which is one reason I stand out.  I under promise and over deliver.

 

Strictly:  Can you describe the foundation of your brand?

Wendy: I started my company helping artists get out of bad deals and into good deals.  I have played a role in Master P’s original deal at Priority, helped Eminem get signed and helped negotiate his deal at Interscope, shopped and negotiated the Cash Money deal at Universal, shopped the Trill deal for Boosie and Webbie back in ’05 ( I didn’t negotiate their deal at Asylum/Warner, however, because I felt they could do better), and negotiated David Banner’s deal at SRC/Universal.  With the influx of 360 Deals in 2005, I began teaching artists how to make money without a major label.  I believe independence and “do it yourself” is key and certainly more profitable.  Signed to a major, an artist is lucky to get 15% of sales (after they pay back the majority of expenses) and 70% of their own show money.  Independently, they control how much they make–anywhere from 50% of sales to 100% of income depending whether they have an investor or not.  Truth is, it’s easier to find an investor than a record deal.

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Strictly:  When did you feel as though you made an impact within the music community?

Wendy: I knew right away I was making an impact because I saw how many artists were attending the “how to” panels I was orchestrating monthly in New York back in the early 90s.  Then I saw the contracts getting better and artists began seeking me out to help them.  Still today, I have a waiting list of artists vying for my help.  I’ve been able to change with the times, change with the industry and stay relevant–that’s a feat that most folks can’t seem to accomplish.

 

 

Strictly:  You have a long history within the industry involving artists, management and labels; was there a time when you thought there was a positive change of how record/management deals were being created?

Wendy: Up until 360 Deals, the contracts had been improving annually.  Additionally, the labels were getting better at artist development and working the artists’ projects in rap.  Once Napster hit and music became basically free, the labels panicked, cut budgets, and began grabbing an even bigger share of the pie.  Artists suffered.  Sales declined.  And the indie scene flourished.  All of my clients are making money or are about to make money.  That’s just awesome.  Most artists can’t say that.

 

Strictly: If there was someone who wanted to pursue a career in your field what advice would you give them?

Wendy: The number one thing is to learn how the industry works.  Intern, learn, read everything, work for free.  I didn’t make money for the first 6 years that I was in the industry. Then it took another 4 years until I could really support myself.  This is an industry that takes connections, knowledge, and experience to succeed.  Luck plays a bit of a role, too.

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Strictly: Was there any other information you would like to share with our readers?

Wendy: Check out my websites and blogs for free how-to information about this industry at www.WendyDay.com.  Talk to me on Twitter or Instagram @RapCoalition.  This is an awesome industry once you understand how to win and succeed.  I can’t imagine doing anything else!

 

 

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New Music: @ALROGERSJR 2 Songs New Tracks “Nobody.Betta & RAWRRR” (Feat. @ItsBeeAnderson, @Drelax_ , @ArielImani_)

BABY AL from Baltimore artist Al Rogers Jr. is planned for an early/mid summer release, although neither of these two songs will be present on the project; we wanted to give out new music to the public. “Nobody.Betta” is actually a bit more insecure then it might come off, seeming braggadocios. The song was produced by Freaky Ty and features Brittany Anderson. “RAWRRR” the second record is an acronym, “Realize a Woman’s Reaction Regarding Relationships” a song that metaphorically talks about the struggles and joys of a Lion and his Lioness. Al produced RAWRRR along with Drelax, the song also features a verse from Drelax and vocals by Ariel Imani. Enjoy!

Click here to Stream both tracks.

New Mixtape: @Bntheloop Releases #OndeckUnder30 Tape. (Baltimore Edition)

#OndeckUnder30 is a artist showcase series curated by Bentheloop’s Founder Bizzy, compiled up of Young indie artist that he believe are a hell of a talent and need to be heard & seen. (all artist are under 30 of course). From state to state city to city Bizzy looks to take #OndeckUnder30 national searching and finding the dopest hidden gems. This first installment hails out of Baltimore city, after a energetic show in City of God Boutique in Baltimore city Bentheloop.com crew puts together a mixtape of some of that cities hottest upcoming talent! Stop one in the #Ondeckunder30 series…..BALTIMORE,MD. Enjoy!

Click here to stream tape.

Top 8 Hip Hop Albums of 2014

With 2014 coming to a close, it’s only fair that I give my top 8 hip hop albums of the year. As a music junkie, I thoroughly enjoyed music from every genre…but the hip hop impressed me. The hip hop lives! For me, this year has proven that the hip hop genre exist in various sub categories. There is no way one can look at the music and dissect it, vibe to it, and criticize it all under the same microscope. With that in mind, I paid attention to the production, the cohesiveness of each project, the story told by each artist, lyrical content and delivery. Each of the projects selected broke barriers in one way or another and ignited the left half of my brain. These are my personal picks and my most listened to hip hop albums of this year. I’m DropaJewel, and I’m running for mayor.

  1. Greenspan- Stairway To Heaven

You should’ve seen this coming. Greenspan dropped Stairway to Heaven in January and didn’t hesitate to make a big impact as usual. The album has a classy, mellow, laid back feel. Features include Kissi B, Dunson, Kane Mayfield, Lee Scholar and Al Great to name a few.

GreenSpan- Stairway to Heaven

Key Tracks: Heaven, Soul Right, Do Your Thing

  1. Common- Nobody’s Smiling

This album dropped in July of this year, and it was perfect timing for the state of the African American community all over. The album was a bit heavy but overall a good listen. No ID never disappoints, damnit.

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Key Tracks: Kingdom, Speak My Piece, Hustle Harder

  1. Logic- Under Pressure

It does my heart good to have so many Maryland artists in this top 8 lineup. Logic shocked some of America when he ripped the BET cipher and then followed up with this solid album. I admit, he has some Kendrick-esque tendencies in reference to flow, but he’s still spitting nevertheless. The album is super laid back, but you barely skip a track.

Logic-Under Pressure

Key Tracks: Buried Alive, Under Pressure, Metropolis

  1. Aj Suede- Gold and Fire

Without so many dope albums out this year, Gold and Fire could’ve EASILY been in my top 3. Aj Suede is an up and coming artist with a solid ear for music. He produced a lot of the music on this project and I was super impressed. The album dropped with a proper release in September, but his visuals leading up to it kept you hungry. I LOVE the fact that he sampled Tame Impala and spits what he feels, even if the opinion is not popular. Salute that brother!

AJ Suede-Gold and Fire

Key Tracks: Slit Your Wrist Vertically, Don’t Over think, After Earth

  1. Royce Da 5’9” & Dj Premiere- Phryme

Ok so, here’s where it gets sticky! Dope album from Royce and da gawd Premiere! In my humble opinion, you have a solid hip hop album when two things are present: dope beats, dope lyrics. Done! Right? No! The album has a tendency of being overly rappy at times so that made Phryme slide a little higher on my list. Don’t hate me, still a dope album.

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Key Tracks: Dat Sound Good, To Me to You, Underground Kings

  1. Al Great & Street Scott- GreatScott

I anticipated this album’s release like Morganites awaiting college graduation. It does not disappoint. They NEVER disappoint. This is hands down thee best release out of the city of Baltimore in 2014. Street’s beats are reminiscent of Pharrell-ish melodies and his vocals like Ryan Leslie…then he punches you in face with some drums! Bow! Al Great has the gift of gab, and an approachable flow…a relatable flow. It’s the story rap doesn’t often tell, the honest hard working brother just trying to make it in America. I’m rambling…Good effing album.

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Key Tracks: Cars Ride By, Slip Away, Black Denali

  1. J-Live- Around the Sun

Around the Sun is by far the most slept on album of this year. J Live dropped this one back in April, and I didn’t catch wind of its greatness until damn near September. The album has a good traditional New York hip hop sound, in my humble opinion. Producers include himself, Oddisee and Korede to name a few. You can always feel the light and life through his lyrics, a necessity in this hip hop game! I will definitely cop this on vinyl, and I suggest you do the same.

J Live-Around The Sun

Key Tracks: Eight Minutes, Not Listening, Money Matters

 

  1. Run The Jewels- Run The Jewels 2

Coming in at number one, RTJ2! This joint is stupid hot and El-P and Killer Mike give you hell, literally. The beats are quite sinister, dark, heavy and busy. They will break your car speakers. In comparison to other hip hop albums of the year, I can say this is the most creative of all. RTJ2 is all spit, no filler. I think P and Mike filled this years gap in hip hop for all raw and southern swing. The icing on the cake for this album, for me, was that it broke the damn internet. Not only were ALL the credible hip hop blogs promoting and raving about it, but the project lived up to the hype. How do you chart billboard as a free download? Stellar work.

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Key Tracks: All of them!

Some honorable mentions for this list included: Rickie Jacobs- Remember To Smile & Rapsody- Beauty and The Beast.

Follow my twitter (@DropaJewel) and share your favorite albums of this year. Keep it Strictly!

NOT TOP 5 OF 2014

Hey, look.  Everybody can’t win.  For all the good that came of the year 2014, there was definitely some NOT GOOD. This is all based on personal taste of course. Look out for my BEST of 2014 on New Year’s Eve.

Wu-Tang Clan “A Better Tomorrow

“What can I say that hasn’t already been said about this album? Not only does it not meet the expectations of most Wu fans, it’s just another sign that as a group…the Wu is dead. From an uneven and basically boring track listing to the phoned in beats, rhymes, and hooks. I tried to get into it but this album just isn’t  good. If another Wu album ever happens, someone  needs to executive produce with RZA. Never thought I’d say that but it’s real.  Tomorrow could of been better…”

The Roots “And then You Shoot Your Cousin

“I forgot this album came out.  That’s how forgettable it was for me.  Don’t get it twisted. It doesn’t sound as if the band slacked on the overall production of this project. The message was lost for me in a cloud of tracks that never engage you.  Lyrics and beats are just boring. That’s the thing about having a message in your music…you still have to “entertain” the listener from time to time. It’s not all bad, it’s just not on par with their last couple of stellar releases.”

The Game “Year of the Wolf

“Talk about forgettable albums.  Who knew this album came out?  After releasing what I see as his best overall album in The Red Album, this one is hot garbage. Way too many guest appearances. This album feels like a contractual obligation. From the album title to its cover, I couldn’t wait for this to be over.  He’s put out mixtapes better than this.”

Dilated Peoples “Directors of Photography

“To be fair, I was never a fan of Dilated Peoples. I found them wack as a group. Sorry. I’m just not a fan of a 90s sound released in 2014 that sounds like it came out in 93′. Nas’s Loco-motive is what 90s era sound should sound like in 2014 and beyond. Nostalgic but updated. If you are a fan of the group, this will be dope.  For me, it was hard to buy into the overall goal of this project.  The production was cool but the rhymes and concepts didn’t make an impression on me.”

Rick Ross “Hood Billionaire

“Rozay! It get’s worse with every album since Teflon Don. Every album since has been a failed effort to recapture the success of that one. I like Ross for what his music typically represents but, let’s be honest, he doesn’t have much of sh*t to say.  That is more noticeable this time around than any. It’s only but so long that we can listen to verses about food, cars, women, and food. I’m all for the fly sh*t but please stop trying. This one is forgettable.”

It’s all good. It comes down to personal preference. Check out my Best of the Year on New Year’s Eve!